It was chilly and rainy when I was walking towards Bucharest North Train Station. A journey of two hours and forty minutes awaited me. It was Halloween and I was heading to Transylvania. I arrived early to the station, feeling cold and wet, but excited. That afternoon I would be visiting Bran Castle, the fake home of Vlad, the Impaler, also known as Dracula, the vampire king. What I wasn’t expecting was enjoying that train journey so much.
Once we passed the border to Transylvania, the scenery changed. The mountains appeared, covered in shades of orange and red, the blessing of fall. I was warm and comfortable inside the train. I had a Murakami book on my hand, one I was barely able to put down on my flight from London to Bucharest. But facing such natural beauty from the window, the book lost its interest. I could only think that beyond those pages I was living reality, and that was a peaceful one. My whole body relaxed further. I was then warm and comfortable, but I could feel how cold it was just outside. Especially when the shades of fall changed to the shades of winter. White was covering the tops of the mountains. The white was getting closer and closer to me, and suddenly it was touching the train tracks, it was everywhere. Snow covering the pine trees, the houses and the cottages we were passing by.
I believe that was the first snow of this winter in Transylvania and despite its beauty I was happy to see that in Brașov, only the cold prevailed. There was no snow there for me to slip on and fall over. The air though was frosty, cutting through my skin. The sky was grey, no sunshine to be seen. It was about eleven in the morning, but anyone without a watch who had just woken up could have said it was actually much later. Five in the evening, perhaps.
Trying not to let the lack of sunshine discourage me, I Uber to my accommodation. Yes, I was incredibly surprised Uber was an option in Brașov. It was indeed, and how cheap as well. Dropped off my backpack, and headed immediately towards the bus station to catch my next transportation towards Bran. I could not go all the way to Transylvania and not visit the infamous Bran Castle, even knowing that, again, Vlad probably only spent in there two nights in his entire life and Dracula’s legend comes only from a book written by an incredibly imaginative Irish author who never visited Transylvania himself.
But being obsessed with vampires stories as I have been my entire life (and the gothic overall), I had to let myself be the believer. I had to let go of my scientific and factual reasoning, and give room for my emotional, senseless self to take over.
When I got to Bran, after a forty five minutes’ drive that was, to be completely honest, quite painful – the bus was old and uncomfortable and there was a group of Spanish teenagers obviously speaking very loudly about tampons and periods in general -, it even got the point my head was hurting and I was quite frankly feeling dizzy, I welcomed the cold air of the mountain once I stepped out of that old and frail bus. The weather over there was definitely worse. There was no light to help my camera design the perfect photos. A mist covered the castle, and even myself. And, a bit demotivated, I walked to the line to buy my entrance ticket to the Bran castle.
At the entrance there is a market for tourists. I mean it can only be there for tourists – it sells these incredibly tacky Dracula souvenirs. You can also find other typical Romanian souvenirs, from clothing to porcelain dolls dressed up in traditional costumes. After getting my ticket, I headed to Bran Castle.
I was so happy to be ridden of that touristic tackiness and even happier to finally see such medieval jewel in front of me. A path covered in autumnal leaves carpeted the way up to the castle. The mist covered its conical tops and I felt I was really living in a gothic tale.
They did something really well. The Halloween decorations were elegant there. After the spectacle in the market I has just crossed, I was dreading my Bran castle experience would be tainted by the same tacky and tasteless things I had just seen. But it was the complete opposite. It was elegant and adorable. Very well presented, as well as the history of the castle itself. For instance, how Marie of Edinburgh is the only queen who actually matters over there. Who dedicated herself to restore the medieval castle, doing a pretty good job at it as well.
I would have liked to have had a better view to the castle though. This wasn’t possible simply because I really didn’t get enough time there to explore Bran. Or only because I didn’t have a car at my disposal. Or because it was also way too cold for me to get lost in the mountains. Either way, perhaps one day I’ll go back to Transylvania and perhaps that time my path will cross again with Bran.
More tales from my recent trip to Romania are yet to come, so stay tuned 🙂