Peles Castle Gardens
Transylvania fully restored my faith in Romania.
After one day in Bucharest it was seriously waning, and I would have been happy to stay comfortably ensconced in our hotel for the remainder of our trip.
Our original plan was to arrange an overnight trip into the wilds of Transylvania once we arrived in Bucharest, so with the help of our hotel's concierge, we happily drove out of the city a day later with our guide, Nic and driver, Igor (no, that wasn't his real name but since he said his real name was impossible to pronounce, he suggested that we call him Elgor, which jokingly became Igor - he cracked up every time we said it).
Before I go any further, I have to mention the obvious; What is the first thing that you think of when you hear the word Transylvania?
Surprisingly, the focus on Dracula wasn't as overwhelming as I thought it would be. Especially after living in the French Quarter of New Orleans and seeing all of the goth/Ann Rice fans/vampire wannabees taking Vampire Tours through the Quarter and the Garden District.
The tour groups that we encountered in Transylvania appeared to focus more on the historical figure of Vlad Tepes, not the fictional figure of Bram Stoker.
Though if you wanted them, there were some Dracula souvenirs to take home.
Braşov Central Square
Various modes of transportation
The two day tour was action packed.
We visited beautiful Braşov, toured the very ornate and breathtaking Peles Castle and the smaller, charming Bran Castle, spent the night and morning in the stunning UNESCO World Heritage medieval city of Sighişoara and spent an afternoon in colorful and friendly Sibiu, the 2007 European Capital of Culture.
By the time we returned to our hotel in Bucharest, we were churched and castled and medievaled out. We'd climbed to the top of not one, not two, but three very tall church towers and had aching thighs. We'd spent a late night out in a happening little night club in the center Sighişoara's old town. We'd covered hundreds of kilometers and learned volumes of history. We were exhausted.
And it was worth every minute.