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ROMANIA | Tuesday, 22 April 2014 | Views [847] | Comments [4]

It's not one of the trendy 'must see' places in the world, but the thought of visiting Bran Castle, famous for being the one-time residence of Vlad the Impaler whose reputation spawned the Dracula myth created by Bram Stoker, was good enough to bring me all the way to Bucharest, Romania.
This time around I'm travelling with my dear mum Rosemarie on the Bucharest to Berlin rail journey we planned over the last year (although the actually rail journey doesn't start until we reach Brasov in Transylvania). The flights over from Perth were typical of long flights half way around the world in economy class - exhausting, cramped and just so long! But first impressions of Bucahrest have been good. The new leafy green of spring time is evident in the many parks and gardens all over the city, and it's such a different green from the grey and olive greens of the Aussie bush. This is a European green, vivid and alive with new growth of pine forest, oaks and other trees I can't identify.
Being Easter Monday, a public holiday, families were gathered in parks, and the atmosphere was relaxed. Our hotel is largely vacant as the peak season hasn't arrived just yet, and after gathering a second wind (or was that a third wind) we scoured over some tourist maps and plotted a few places to see while we enjoyed a drink in the hotel bar. We may have been a little optimistic, but off we went to look for the old town which is 2 or 3 km away. After taking a couple of wrong turns we turned back in the general direction of the hotel, and decided to leave it til the next day. So the long flights and long day finally took it's toll, and after a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant, we literally passed out in bed for an early night.
Ok, so a good sleep and a hearty breakfast got us off to a great start. The weather is a bit cooler today, perfect for walking around the old town, but that meant dragging out a jumper, dammit!  We found our way easy enough, and ambled through the cobbled streets following the path of a tourist walk highlighted on our map. It started off in a lovely green park, Parcul Cismigiu, complete with lake, ducks, frogs, vendor stores (closed until summer), oh yeh and a hand analyser machine! The fortune tellers have adopted modern technology to allure the gullible tourist! The old town centre itself is now a hub of bars, restaurants and cafès nestled amongst some of the oldest buildings in Bucharest, and even though the stale reminder of old communist regimes are still evident in many places, the Romanians have a proud history which they maintain in the stone and mortar of these folkloric edifices.
We stumbled upon an old ruin called Paltul Voievodal (Palace of the Voievodal) that Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) made some enhancements to during his time here in the 14th century I think. It was complete with subterranean storage areas, the remains of some old stonework and gravestones haphazardly strewn along the ground, and the inevitable stray cat. It immediately set the scene for some dark tales of Wallachian mythology and folklore.
But after some lunch and a beer, we decided to walk back along our tourist route down long tree-lined boulevards and past the grand house of parliament on the hilltop. Images of feather-capped soldiers in gold-lined uniforms and riding boots atop their magnificent white horses leading a ceremonial guard to the old rulers of Romania came to mind. But snapping back to reality, I realised it was probably time to head back to the hotel. Sore feet and rain clouds drove us through another garden park and back along the busy streets just in time before it started raining :)
We've both been pleasantly surprised by Bucharest, at how easy going the atmosphere is here, how clean the place is, how lovely the parks and gardens are, despite the obvious lack of development or maintenance on some of the buildings. Tomorrow we head off on a three castles tour of Transylvania, including Bran Castle, before being dropped off in Brasov. Now should I buy that cheesy Dracula t-shirt or not? :)

Tags: sightseeing



love the blog looking forward to the next one xxxxx

  Trudi and Jeff Apr 22, 2014 11:39 PM


Great blog, so, you've been everywhere..so..Mattso...Sunny Esperance ah? Happy trails, jealous much xx

  Rachael Wilson Apr 23, 2014 10:07 AM


Get the t-shirt.

  Paul Apr 23, 2014 11:00 AM


Love it! You paint such a wonderfully vivid picture; I almost feel like I can hear the families in the park, feel the chill in the weather, and taste the beer. I'm looking forward to more vicarious travel.
I'm curious: did you get any feedback from the palm-reader?
Say "hi" to Rosemarie for me!

  Summer Apr 25, 2014 12:53 PM

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