Articles tagged with "transylvania"

Bran

Bran

I wanted to cycle to Bran while I was in Braşov. It’s about 20km away and is the site of castle, claimed on scant but tourist-attracting grounds to be Dracula’s castle. But it was the weekend, and all the bike shops in Braşov were closed, so I reluctantly headed out to the autogara and got a bus. I watched sadly as the nice flat tarmac round wound through the mountains to Bran, and then managed to miss Bran completely because it was far smaller than I’d expected. Seeing a sign saying ‘you are now leaving Bran’, I got off the bus and walked back towards the castle. I saw it now, on top of a hill. Its location was pretty impressive, but it hardly looked mediaeval or terrifying, and when I got back into Bran itself I was confronted with a horrendous tourist nightmare of Dracula souvenirs, sold by people wearing fangs and capes, and decided to head back to Braşov as quickly as possible. The only thing I liked about the town was the view of distant snowy mountains behind it.

When I got back to Braşov the sun had just set. Earlier, I’d got a bus from the centre of town to the autogara, and the journey had seemed very short, so I thought I’d walk back. It seemed the journey had been quite long after all and two hours later I made it back to central Braşov, having walked along dimly-lit streets through endless suburbs, guided only by occasional glimpses of the cheesy hollywood sign, glowing up on the dark hillside.


Transylvania

Transylvania

At Bucureşti Nord station I said goodbye to Cristi, bought a strong coffee for breakfast, and then got on the first train to Braşov. I found a window seat on the top deck. A lot of the Romanians crossed themselves as we pulled out of the station for the three hour journey into the heart of Transylvania.

We rolled through Bucharest’s northern suburbs under deep blue skies, and before long hills were rising from the plains. After an hour or so we were in the forested Bucegi mountains, where wild bears still roam. Rocky peaks towered over the train lines and although I was tired from the overnight train journey, I didn’t want to miss the scenery by sleeping. A couple of hours later we arrived in Braşov.

I liked the town straight away. The air was cool and fresh, the sun was shining, and the atmosphere was friendly. I spent a day ambling around narrow streets lined with grand old buildings, and took a cable car to the top of Mount Tâmpa. The mountain towers over Braşov, and once you’re up there you can’t see the very garish hollywood-style BRAŞOV sign attached to it, which reminds everyone which town they are in. In a blissed-out tired haze after my overnight train journey, I stayed up there fore a while in the sunshine, enjoying views over the town and its surroundings, and also enjoying being in Romania, which depending on how exactly I define ‘country’ and ‘been to’, might be the 60th country I’ve been to.