|I'm going to have to rent a bunch of those Dracula movies to understand the connection. The reason is that being here in Transylvania, there is certainly a lot of reference to Vlad Tepes, aka Count Dracula, but there seems to be no connection whatsoever with some dude who lives forever by sucking other people's blood. I don't get it. Clarification required. Whatever the reasons, the Romanians have certainly seized the opportunity to sell a lot of kitschy sort of tourist junk to people who come to visit the area, particularly Bran castle - the castle most associated with Vlad Tepes. Therein lays another problem. Vlad never actually lived at the castle, and it is much more fairy tale like than dungeon like, the latter being the expectation I had upon visiting this famous castle. Maybe the whole thing is a giant hoax. Just like the Americans going to the moon ;)
Our little excursion yesterday took us to three places. Sinia, where the fabulous summer residence of ex-Romanian royalty is located, the above mentioned Bran castle, and the medieval fortress of Rasnov. Of the three, the residence at Sinia was very likely the best, overwhelming in opulent sumptuous decor which more than eclipsed what it lacks in scale and grandeur. In fact, the sort of understated size, but overstated decor made the place feel very comfortable, with the walls not being too far away, revealing the wonderfully carved walnut that surrounded us on every side. It was truly superb. They even have many original carpets that are hundreds of years old necessitating the little felt booties we all had to wear during the tour.
Brasov itself has a nice town square, but it is not as grand as others we have seen, yet the Romanian culture is more interesting to observe. When we arrived at the train station, we were met by "Dave", and American guy working for the hostel, and we were quickly escorted to a cab and accompanied to the hostel. Apparently, a lot of backpackers get ripped off quite badly at this station, so they feel they have to do this for people. Actually, I think they over do it a little, making you feel like you have to walk around with your hands on all your stuff every second of the day. Mind you, a guy at the hostel did get his jeans stolen... But I don't think it's as bad as they make it out to be, and I think some people just aren't careful or observant enough in the first place. The hostel is ok and we have a nice room, but it's a bit too crowded for us, especially in the kitchen. We did managed to make spaghetti and stuffed peppers once again for our meals through ;P
Actually, after seeing so many of these hostels, I am starting to dream about hostels. One dream I had the other night involved our friend Bob. He and I had decided that we we're going to run a hostel in Vancouver and sit and drink coffee all day in a coffee shop across the street. We had bought a good central building and converted the whole place into the type of hostel that Vancouver really lacks - one that is accessible and has all the features backpackers need. I think the reason Bob was in the dream is that he's got this huge Lonely Planet picture book that has something in it about every country in the world, and the plan was to have that available in the hostel library (Yes, it would have a library, but not quite like the stuffy English smoking type you might be thinking of). Plus, both being MBA's, we were going to make this the most profitable hostel in the world, both of having Ferrari's with the hostel logo painted on the side. The plates said BAKPAK 1 and BAKPAK 2. Then my head got really warm, and I thought there was an exhaust leak in the car or something, but in the end it was the radiator right next to our bed that my head had slipped on to as I awoke at 4:30 am...
Ah yes, the joys of sleeping in a different bed every night. At least you get entertaining dreams...