September 21, 2008 Sunday
The center of Brasov is meticulously restored. I walked around a bit before departing town and then drove up Mt. Tampa that offers wonderful vistas of the city and the Bucegi Mountains beyond. The tile rooftops, the church steeples and distant greenery made for nice photographs despite my 9th straight day without sunshine.
I drove SW out of town toward Rasnov looking for a gasoline station along the way. I was soon up in the mountains and stopped at a lodge to inquire about refueling options. They recommended that, given it was Sunday, I go back to Brasov. I coasted down the mountains and stopped at a taxi stand as I still didn't see a gas station. One gentleman finally offered to lead me to the station which 6 blocks away but involved a couple of turns.
Despite losing an hour, I was on my way again and not long after arrived in the vicinity Rasnov with its attractive medieval castle capping a peak behind the modern town. The walk to the top was not as steep as it looked and well worth the 20 minutes it took to reach the interior of the castle walls. Parts of it are nicely restored and the views of the surrounding valley and mountains are dramatic.
From Rasnov I drove a few more miles into the Bucegi Mountains to Bran Castle, the castle associated with legend of Dracula. When the legend is stripped bare and only the facts considered, the castle has very little if anything to do with Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) other than its towering gothic spires make it look like a place where a vampire would hang out.
The castle was actually built to forestall attempts by the Turks to invade Brasov and points beyond in Europe. Vlad may have spent a night or two here at some point but never resided here.
The castle grounds are lush and green, and would be a nice place for a walk were the day not damp and cold. The castle has been meticulously restored inside and out and is full of period furnishings. All in all, it is a fun place to roam around in for a half an hour. Between the parking lot and the castle grounds, you pass through a maze of shops and stalls that offer the world's widest selection of Dracula souvenirs.
I had intended to drive back down the mountains and overnight in Sinaia but darkness persuaded me to retreat to a hotel not far from the castle to warm up and dry out. It was a new hotel and since the high season had passed, I was one of a handful of guests.