After my trials on the mountain pass, I woke the next morning to blue skies once again. The ride down into the valley was pretty relaxed as I stopped frequently to take photographs. I really like Romania, it has a nice ‘spacious’ feel about it. The villages are not tightly packed with dwellings like in many of the other countries I’ve visited, instead generally spread out over a wide area. I’ve noticed sometimes traveling through these small villages that the boundaries can extend for many kilometers.
Then there are the small hamlets, with dwellings scattered over the hillsides. It really is very beautiful.
Where the houses had farmland attached, invariably I’d see the families working on it, often (as in this case) from the youngest to the very old. When I was spotted I usually got a wave and a warm ‘buna’ or ‘salut’ which means hello.
The Romanians have a really neat way of making hay bails, which can make for interesting patterns when taking photographs!
As I made my way towards Brasov, I climbed up and out of Câmpulung, a popular tourist destination and famous for being one of the very earliest urban settlements in Wallachia, dating back to 1300. At the top of the hill I pulled over to get my breath back (it had been a long and hard climb) and on looking up saw this most amazing building. Closer inspection revealed it to be a war memorial museum – 1916-1918.
Although I didn’t explore the museum I did have a good wander around outside. The first world war cannons were in amazing condition given that they are constantly exposed to the elements…
The weather was turning dark again as I rolled into the town of Bran. Here was a town that had taken an idea out of all proportion, as everywhere you looked you saw references to ‘Dracula’. There was Dracula’s Cafe, Dracula’s Pension, Dracula’s Restaurant, etc. I suppose if it’s proving popular they’re making the most of it and they owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Irish novelist, Bram Stoker. But there was no denying how impressive ‘Dracula’s Castle’ was sat up on the hillside. Quite simply it was awe inspiring…
The really strange part about the whole ‘Dracula’ thing is that there is no evidence Bram Stoker knew anything about this castle, his inspiration for the one mentioned in his novel was an empty mountain top near the border with Moldovia. The castle is now a museum open to tourists, displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie. Speaking with the local guide, he assured me almost all the visitors were here because of the legend of Dracula. Visitors can see the interior individually or by a guided tour.
Just down the road there was no mistaking the next major landmark, Rasnov Fortress. They should definitely lose the sign as IMHO it looks a right mess. I’d originally planned on visiting it close up and personal, but declined when I saw the huge hill it was sat on top of. I still had a way to go before my camp for the night and the skies were once again turning black and rain was spotting.
The sounds of thunder storms can be a little unnerving, especially if the thunder claps are directly overhead. Lightening was flashing and what started as large spots of rain were now torrents falling from the sky. I was desperately seeking somewhere to wild camp with no success, then suddenly I came across a sign for a campsite. Bet you can’t guess it’s name?
Campsite Dracula was very basic, but it got me out from the storm. The cost of a cabin was only 10 leu more than pitching the tent – result! Thankfully I hadn’t got too wet and unloaded all my kit into the small wood cabin. Next up was a trip to the capital Bucharest and my rest period… I also had the unwelcome task of applying for visa’s to continue my journey, so stay tuned!