Transylvania (Romania)

Day 76
This was essentially a transit day, as we left our guesthouse and bicycles in Dometa-Turnu Severin early morning and walked approx. 1km to the train station, where we caught the 9.10am train to Bucharest. The journey East was pretty uneventful, other than being slow and arriving at Bucharest Nort station an hour later than its scheduled 2.15pm.

We then waited a further hour or so and caught the 4.45pm train north to the city of Brasov in the heart of Transylvania. Fortunately this ran on time, although it was already dark when we arrived at 7.45pm.

From there we caught a city bus the short distance from terminal 1 to bus terminal 2, which is the departure point for buses to the village of Bran (the home of Bran Castle, depicted as Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s novel). We reached terminal 2 at 8.15pm but had to wait until 9pm for the next bus to Bran.

The bus to Bran took a little under an hour, during which Vanessa fell asleep…but immediately we jumped off of the bus, we were greeted by both a fresh cold breeze (the temperature had dropped to zero) and the amazing sight of the castle under a near full moon, less than 100 metres from us. Due to the late hour and the cold, we were very pleased that our guesthouse was near. In fact it was literally across the road from the castle. The manager showed us to our room, we grabbed a shower and then crashed.

Day 77

We were up reasonably early as we had a lot to pack in to the day. The weather was perfect…A crisp cold start but beautiful cloudless blue skies, emphasising the autumnal colours of the surrounding forest. 

First we needed to buy breakfast and find a laundrette as we had dirty cycling gear that was overdue a wash. We struck it lucky because, as we stepped out of the door, the guesthouse manager was hanging her washing up to dry. We asked about our own and she offered to wash it for nothing and hang it on the line for us…bonus!

After breakfast we headed across the road to Bran castle. We had already taken several photos from the garden of our guesthouse and were excited to explore it close up. 

We decided against visiting the nearby ‘Dracula’s Horror House’, as Vanessa declared that it was probably aimed at kids (plus she didn’t want to have nightmares). Instead we paid for the castle entry, plus audio headsets and opted for the additional ‘Blood Curdling Torture Chambers’ tour.

We spent the best part of half a day exploring the various rooms and ramparts in the castle. We learnt about the various owners from the 14th century up to modern day, including the Romanian Princess Mary in the early 20th century. We were informed of the association of Dracula with real life Romanian ‘Vlad Tepes’ and the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s novel, and we took a bucket full of photos. 

The torture chamber had many examples of original devices used for medieval torture, together with graphic descriptions and the odd diagram. Luckily it was a hands-off exhibition (definitely not one for the kids)!

We headed back across the road for lunch and then at around mid-afternoon we set off to walk/climb the 270m peak of the hill behind our guesthouse overlooking the village, as Mapsme indicated that there was a walking track of around 2km in length, culminating at a viewpoint, which we hoped would give us a good view of the castle and surrounding mountains.

The track was very steep, which was difficult wearing our bike shoes (we still had the cleats in), as it wound itself up through the woods. At times we caught a glimpse of the castle and mountains through the trees. Whilst the single track was obvious and there were clear markers, we did not see another person throughout (probably not the case during weekends and holidays).

About 45 minutes in, the trees cleared and we were bathed in sunlight. We got a little warm with the climbing and had to take off a layer or two of clothing but the views were spectacular from the top, despite not being able to see the castle.

As the route back down was very steep, we opted on taking the slightly longer alternative route shown on Mapsme, which gave us the opportunity to see the village and castle from a different angle. 

All up, the walk/climb had taken 2 hours and we rewarded ourselves with a stop at a village bar, where we ordered a couple of warm blooded red wines. 

We headed back to the guesthouse for dinner as the full moon rose above the castle and then settled down for the night. What a great day!

Day 78

This pretty boring day was the reverse of our journey up to Transylvania from Dometa-Turnu Severin. Only this time around we managed to mess up by arriving back in Bucharest at 4pm in the afternoon, only to discover that the next train to Dometa-Turnu Severin wasn’t until 9.25pm, meaning we didn’t arrive there until 3am in the morning.

Fortunately a kind cafe owner in Bucharest rang our guesthouse ahead and explained that we would be arriving ‘very’ late. As it was, we ate dinner in the train station and slept a little on the train but would much rather have got back a few hours earlier. We crashed out as soon as we got back to our guesthouse.