Through our hostel in Brasov, we were lucky to get cheap transportation to visit several castles around the city, including Rasnov Citadel, Bran Castle, and Peles Castle. Our driver was a Romanian man who spoke basically no English, and our vessel a modest taxi cab. The view from our car was lovely – faraway mountains, brightly colored trees, and many cows – but the view from these castles was even lovelier.
Rasnov was our first stop, and our guide had told us we had to take a tractor-trolley up the mountain. Little did we realize that the tractor traveled at speeds slower than a human walking backwards. In actuality, it would have been more efficient to simply walk up the road to the citadel, but the tractor ride was quite fun. The citadel was mostly empty and all the stores closed, probably due to off-season, but the view of the Carpathians and nearby cities from the rocky top of the castle was fantastic. Mom, I made sure to grab you a rock from there.
It was very strange to tour Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s Castle despite the fact that it has few connections to Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s character. Most of the castle was furniture and art collected by the Queen of Romania, but there was a room filled with informative posters about Bram Stoker, Vlad Tepes, and the Dracula story.
Our last stop was Peles Castle – it was absolutely gorgeous. The grounds were covered with fountains and statues looking off into the red, orange, and gold-colored Carpathians. We decided to take the long tour of the Castle, which was led by a woman with the most wonderful Romanian accent. We looked at a weapons room, which had many interesting pieces of metal shaped and distorted to kill; there was a theatre with art by Gustav Klimt; all the doors to bedrooms were secret corridors through armoires; the concert room was covered with wallpaper made of gold-covered, gilded leather. The woodwork on the walls was unbelievable, the stained-glass ceiling in the entrance hall was gorgeous, and in all, we walked around the castle totally in awe for an hour. We chose not to pay to take pictures at this castle, so memories will have to suffice to describe just how beautiful the castle was.
The Romanian taxi driver was nice enough to drop our trio at the train station, where the woman selling tickets refused to sell us tickets. We occupied ourselves with dinner and dessert for a while and went back to the train station, where the woman finally sold us our tickets to Bucharest. We played with a tiny dog in the station for some time before boarding the train to Romania’s capital.