Sunday, 12 October 2014

Day five: Date with Dracula

Started the day enduring the familiar rigmarole of changing cash in an under-developed nation – the search for a bank, the search of the correct teller, the race back to the car to get my passport and then the disconcerting sight of the woman beside me pulling multiple bricks of tightly packed notes from her handbag.

Then it was off to Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle - although any connection to the world's most popular vampire is dubious at best. In fact, the attempt to link the fortress to Dracula is a bit sad, as it's a wonderful attraction in its own right – compact and full of funny passageways, cosy little rooms and amazing views. It almost feels like a large house perched on a hilltop – somewhere you could actually imagine living. (The Dracula 'connection' has also led to the accumulation of a rather tawdry collection of horror-themed tat stalls at the entrance to the castle.)

After touring the castle, we drove to our 'hotel', which turned out to be a local woman's house. She turned out to be a typical Romanian granny – plump and head-scarfed – with no English at all. She hadn't made our room up yet, and proceeded to do so as we stood around feeling slightly uncomfortable.

We then headed out to the small city of Braşov, which was about half an hour away. We found a nice parking spot close to the city centre, but then had to spend 15 minutes accosting pedestrians and asking them for change for the pay and display.

The centre itself was lovely - pedestrianised and pretty - and after wandering around for a while, we had a pleasant meal in a 104-year-old Art Nouveau-styled restaurant.

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