“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Transfagarasan and Dracula's real castle

My parents finally arrived in Romania, and after tripping around to show them my life in Romania so far (the dig, the Mosna church, the fantastic restaurant at Biertan, Sibiu, etc), we drove off across the Transfagarasan Road. This amazing road curved up and over a superb mountain pass (the Fagaras mountains). It was built by Ceaucescu and cost 40 + workers--disgusting dictators again! After passing the gondola/cabena, we twisted and turned up a snaking road to the beautiful mountain lake (surrounded by snow!) at the top. There my mother and father dismantled my detachable jacket and we all shivered in the chilled wind at the top while we ate a typical Romanian lunch (more on the predictable food at another time!). What an amazing road... certainly closed in winter, and an amazing journey in summer, I will have to show you pictures later to really impress you.

On the other side, after winding down a hydro lake and passing it's huge dam, we came to Poienari Citadel (I hope that's its name... I didn't bring my map to check). It's perched on top of a super steep cliff overlooking an equally precipitous valley. Mum and I climbed to the top in the rain and were very impressed by the legs (in our imagination of course) of the family that lives at the top and collects the entrance fee. Their house was stashed under a ledge and hidden among the trees but what a place to live your days! The man was painting, for example. What else to you do in a place where tourists come along perhaps once an hour or so (and yes, it really was un-visited considering how many were at the fake Dracula castle at Bran)? No dangling Dracula key chains and haunted houses here!

The castle itself wasn't much... just a few walls and a nice empty tower. Its stone and brick mix was interesting though! The most amazing thing was our wonder at the utter genius (or stupidity) of Vlad Tepes to build his castle there in the first place. It was just so amazingly high and up such a steep hill that no doubt getting down to get supplies was a great mission. Apparently, the turks laid seige anyway, and some cute little village helped him escape into the surrounding hills (feasible, considering them!). His wife was distraught and disbelieving, however, and threw herself from the battlements. Half the castle has now fallen down the steep cliff as well, so you can imagine her no doubt beautiful but mangled body at the bottom.

Did I mention dad got a ticket? Hee hee... for not seeing a red light (we didn't see any light at all, which amused the policeman incredibly). It's been a mission to pay for it though--supposed to be done at the post office (but only one with a computer, and of course it has to be open, which most aren't when we look for them!), and then taken to a police station (but they keep refusing to take it--I guess we'll have to go back to Sibiu, then, what a pain!).

1 comment:

Rama said...

Vlad Tepes is my historical hero. I love him. Love.him. :) but you knew that...