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.
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.