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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Day trip to Dracula's Castle

ROMANIA | Thursday, 29 October 2020 | Views [21]

You can see why it was the inspiration for Dracula's gaff.

You can see why it was the inspiration for Dracula's gaff.

Apparently you can not visit Brasov without visiting Castel Bran, aka Dracula’s Castle , located in the small village of Bran some 28 km’s southwest of the city. So who were we to argue and we planned a day trip to see the infamous castle.

We jumped in an Uber to Autogarda 2 ( bus station 2) and it was only 8 Lei despite being much further than the train station. Told you we would learn from our taxi errors! We only had to wait a short time for the bus to Bran to pull up and we were off to enter the vampire’s lair. The bus journey was uneventful and the scenery uninspiring but the murky weather didn’t help matters. We passed through Rasnov which our guide book said was a nice town but it looked very drab to be honest. People normally combine a day trip to Bran with a stop off at the Rasnov Fortress but we had read that it was closed for 2 years for renovations so unfortunately we wouldn’t get to see it. Actually, due to the mist we couldn’t see it at all ! We were also a bit concerned that Castel Bran would be closed too due to covid but we thought we would take the risk and have a day out anyway.

We knew where to get down from the bus because as we entered a village a number of hotels sprung up and there were loads of tourist shops and restaurants. This must be Bran, oh yeah and there is a massive castle looming over the village which gives you a bit of a clue too. The bus pulled up right outside the castle, so very convenient and no need to pay for an expensive tour or taxi to visit Bran (The bus was 7 Lei).

We tried to get in the gate but where advised that the ticket office was round the corner and of course you have to pass a plethora of market stalls selling all manner of Dracula related tourist tat. However, there were also several stalls selling wheels of local cheese. No that is a souvenir that we may very well be taking back.

The number of tourist stalls gave us an indication of how popular this tourist attraction is. Our guide book warned us that it gets ridiculously busy but we were hopeful that being out of season on a cold early Thursday morning during a global pandemic that we may be able to avoid the crowds. This turned out to be the case as the place was very quiet and had only just opened for the day. We paid the 45 Lei entrance fee and walked up the slope towards the imposing castle. The castle doesn’t actually have much of a link with Dracula and was built by the Saxons in 1377 to 1382 to safeguard a trade route. They think that good old Vlad may have attacked it at one point but that is about it. I guess images of it helped Bram Stoker when writing his fictional tale set in Transylvania and it certainly looks the part.

We enjoyed looking around the castle and reading all the informative information boards learning about the history of the castle. The castle looks like it would have done when Queen Marie lived in the castle and we found out a lot about her life. Seems like she was the Princess Diana of Romania. The castle had lots of nooks and crannies to explore and you got a great view of the surrounding countryside from parts of the upper terraces. Of course people want to see Dracula so there is a section dedicated to him and the films made about him. There have been over 430 films made about the fanged one. You’d think that someone would come up with a new character by now.

 

After looking around every room in the castle we wandered around the grounds admiring the castle from different standpoints. We are glad we made the trip but I think it would be horrendous in peak season, so make sure you go off season and early in the morning. The crowds were starting to come in as we were leaving. We looked around the market and avoided buying a Dracula Castle snowstorm but I was tempted. We did however buy a wheel of smoked cheese, a whole kilo for less than 3 quid. Result. We decided on a spot of lunch before heading back on the bus to Brasov. We spotted the Conacul Torzberg Hotel which had an empty terrace with views directly of the castle. All the other tourists were further up the road crammed in with no view. All for the sake of walking 300m. We enjoyed a delicious meal of a local cheese pie and sweet potatoes. We reckoned that they know about cheese in these parts and we were not wrong, very tasty indeed. Washed down with a glass of red wine which felt like we were drinking blood with a view of Dracula’s Castle as Halloween approached. Not really, it was a very decent Romanian red and we ended up having more glasses as we were watching the bus stop opposite the hotel in order to work out the timetable for the bus back. We seemed to get ordering a glass of wine and drinking it in time for the bus wrong on a few occasions before the wine/bus stars were aligned. Oh well, a very enjoyable trip out and on the way back passing through Rasnov with the sun now shining we saw the impressive Rasnov Fortress high up on a hill. Oh, it looks like we will have to come back to see that after all.

 

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