Sunday, October 31, 2010

sighisoara for halloween

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeen Everyone!!
We are in Sighisoara, Transylvania...where Dracula was born!!! Romanians don't really celebrate Halloween at all really ... but just being in this historic town is kind of amazing and a once in a lifetime experience. We will also go to Poenari, which is the most haunted castle ever!!!

bran castle

Our group consists of me, Kat, Reiner, an American writer named Chris, and an Italian chef named Francesco. We five had the best dynamic and I am so thankful for it because we were stuck in the car with them for pretty much the whole day. Reiner is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. He has a way with storytelling, and his recap of famous history is unsurpassable. The stories of the first kings of Romania seem like fairy tales, especially when he talks about Karl’s two wives Catherine and Mary. Pelesh castle also has a Bavarian look and feel to it, so with the added history lesson, the castle just comes alive. The same went for Bran castle, but by then, we were all quite comfortable with each other, and we took off running and taking pictures. The following are pics inside Bran castle.

wishing well

kat falling down the stairs again

charred ruins outside Bran castle

reiner, francesco, chris, and kat... i'm taking the pic
we did not take a group pic. my camera ran out of battery right as I was setting up for it =/

Our guide is actually the owner of Butterfly Villa. He was the most interesting and knowledgeable tour guide I have ever encountered. I think he may be the best tour guide I’ve had yet. His name is Reiner, and he is a German who moved to Romania 4 years ago to open this hostel. He was a wealthy banker in Germany, but got sick of his stoic life there, wanted to see the world so he took his hard earned savings and went to Romania to open a hostel. I wondered why he picked Romania of all the places he’s been to [he’s been all over the world], but later realized that there is quite a bit of German influence in Romanian culture. Long ago [not sure how long], the Germans had brought over a ton of imperialism into Romania, so many aspects of their cuisine and culture have remained. The most influence was in architecture. Gothic cathedrals cover Romania, and many parts of the German language are still inscribed in the churches and buildings. Nowadays, less than 10% of the population is German, but the influence is still very prevalent. Reiner happened to love Romania and since it was easy for him to adapt to the culture here, he decided to make it his new home. With the hostel [now one of the highest ranking hostels on Hostelbookers], he gets to meet new people everyday and travel as much as he wants. 

His tours are usually to Peles, and then to Bran castle where Dracula supposedly is from. However, as we learned, this is NOT where Dracula originated from. Bram Stoker decided to use Bran castle because of its look and mystery. However, the original castle is much more scary and in ruins. It’s called Poeneira, and is known as one of the most haunted places in the world. Stoker chose Bran for his setting in Dracula and the Romanian government ran with it because it caters to tourism much better than Poenara.

brasov, romania

We spent two nights in Brasov eating and taking pictures. Just a small fun town by Bran castle with an old square and pretty buildings. Again, the fall colors everywhere. This awesome car was on the way up to the Brasov sign. I thought it was the coolest car ever.

zara sweater, topshop black pants/tights, H&M neck fur, H&M booties

Brasov is smaller than Bucharest, and a fantastic old town. Reiner talked about the Black Church in the square, but we only saw the outside façade the night before. Kat and I went inside the next day and I thought it was a beautiful and simple church. The church is called something else, but everyone refers to it as the Black Church after it endured a fire in the early 20s, which covered it in soot. It’s more grey now, with bullet holes still marking parts of its history on the outside, and the most fantastic organ on the inside. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but the organ inside the church is 4000 pipes, all in working order, and I wished it was Sunday so I could attend mass to hear it. The pews in the church all face the alter, but the back rest is engineered to reverse so that the laity can turn around and face the organ in the back during concert times. How ingenious is that????

I’ve also developed an addiction this past week to this Hungarian pastry. It’s a gigantic pastry, about a foot in length, hollow on the inside, and caramelized on the outside. The bakers will sprinkle powdered sugar, nuts, or whatever flavor you ask for a measly 10 lei [$3 US]. I bought one with caramelized sugar, took it home and munched on it all night. I left a large chunk in the kitchen but it disappeared by morning. I hope someone appreciated it just as much as I did.

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