top of page

EuroTrip 2017 - Week 4 (Making friends in Dracula's Romania)

In Bran Castle, Romania

With the madness of Bulgaria behind me, it was time to pack my bags and head to Romania - the final destination on my mini EuroTrip.

By way of context, I should explain that Romania was not a country I knew a whole lot about. It wasn't a place I had seen my friends going to, and it wasn't a place I particularly wanted to visit.

If truth be told, I only really tacked it on to the end of my trip because the flights were cheap. It pains me to admit that... Considering how amazing Romania turned out to be. In actual fact, I don't think words can ever truly express how fantastic my time there truly was, and how much fun I had.

Sunset over the lake in Herastrau Park, Bucharest, Romania

I flew into the city of Bucharest, successfully navigated the underground system, and arrived at my accommodation - Pura Vida Sky Bar and Hostel.

As soon as I arrived, I felt at home. This was largely thanks to the quirky signs erected by the hostel, showing they clearly have a great sense of humour!

After a little while, I went on a bit of a walkabout to see the city, making my way to Herastrau Park where I took a boat out on the lake.

It was a beautiful evening.

The next morning, refreshed and replenished, I was up bright and early for my day trip to Transylvania with TravelMaker tours. I didn't know it at the time, but that day trip going to be the best I'd ever taken.

We had small numbers, a hilarious and informative guide (the wonderful Valentin), beautiful castles, gory history, and amazing scenery. While all this would have made it a great day in and of itself, it was the other people on the tour who really made the difference.

The beautiful Peles Castle, Romania

After some initially shy greetings on the bus, everyone was relatively quiet for an hour or so... and on their best behaviour. After a little while we arrived at Peles Castle. It was absolutely stunning.

Amazed by the beauty of the building, a few of us congregated by the steps to the castle gardens, having realised it was the best vantage point for pictures, and began to bond over our selfies and our shots of each other.

As it turns out, there were two other solo longterm travellers in the group - an Australian girl and an American guy - who were also trying to see as much of the world as possible.

It was a rare find. Usually I am the only solo traveller in such tour groups, and had become accustomed to being the perpetual third wheel - everyone else is almost always a couple.

Those two soon became my partners in crime, along with two other friends who were there together - a guy and a girl from Northern Ireland. The craic, as we say in the Emerald Isle, was mighty.

After a worthwhile visit through the interior of Peles Castle, it was time to pile back on the bus and head to Bran Castle.

There was great fun on the bus this time around. So much so that I was nearly a bit disappointed when we reached our destination!

That feeling dissipated fairly sharpish, however, once I caught sight of the formidable fortress.

While Peles Castle was built for royalty, for pleasure and for living comfortably, Bran Castle was very much built for safety and defence.

The two are polar opposites, and yet both retain an otherworldly splendor. Bran Castle, as some of you may well know, was one of the aspects of Romania which took the fancy of Irish author Bram Stoker when he was penning his now famous tale of Dracula.

While the castle is sometimes erroneously called Dracula's home, it is actually only loosely associated with the actual Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler because of his preferred method of killing his enemies.

Inside the castle you'll find cold stone walls, bears made into rugs, and walls adorned with Vlad's family tree and with the ancient legend of the Strigoi.

In Romanian mythology, the Strigoi were the troubled spirits of the dead rising from the grave. Some strigoi can be living people with certain magical properties, including the ability to transform into an animal, invisibility, and the propensity to drain the vitality of victims via blood loss. Strigoi are essentially the myth behind the modern Bram Stoker vampire.

Having dinner and drinks with my tour group

My mind now awash with myths and folklore and tales of bloodlust, I slowly made my way through the castle with my new found friends. After the experience, we all went for dinner, some of us indulging in a few too many cocktails, which prompted a somewhat juvenile dash for the off licence in order to get some beer before the long bus journey back to Bucharest.

It was honestly some of the funniest few hours of my life, sat down the back of the bus, swapping travel plans and stories, coughing to cover the sound of the beer cans opening, and hoping our tour guide wouldn't catch us drinking. I honestly felt like I was 16 again.

Hugs with Anita in Brasov, Romania

We stopped off for a half hour or so to see the sights (and use the rest room!) in the beautiful little town of Brasov.

Believe it or not, locals in the town claim the Hollywood sign was modeled after their own Brasov sign located on the mountain behind the town.

Theirs, they say, was up first. Then a neighbouring town (Rasov, I think) followed suit, then Hollywood.

In any case, upon arrival back in Bucharest, at least two of us were well on our way to being drunk.

The party continued in a local bar (an Irish pub believe it or not!) and then moved to a nearby nightclub called Freddo's.

Though we had filtered down to just three at that point, we drank and laughed and danced like nobody was watching.

I paid for my night out the next day with a hangover of epic proportions. I slept all morning and only got up to meet two of last night's crew for dinner and sober farewells.

The following day I joined a walking tour of the city, and then I flew home.

By all accounts it was a short trip to the city and country, but it was an extremely fun filled one. And it's definitely one I will never, ever forget.

#romania #transylvania #wallachia #dracula #bucharest #Vladtheimpaler #strigoi #mountains #travel #europe #travelmaker #Pelescastle #brancastle #tour #adventure #tourism #backpacking #holiday #blog #blogging

You Might Also Like:
bottom of page