Edit Blog Post
Published: June 25th 2008
The palace of Parliament in Bucharest
This photo is taken from across the road in a park. It was the only way to get the whole building in.
After our time in Bulgaria we headed north to visit Romania, from Sophia we took a night train which saw us given our own sleeping compartment with beds and a sink. This was a far cry from our night train in Egypt which was very uncomfortable and people got on and off all night long trying to sell immense quantities of things that don't interest you at 4 in the morning like newspapers and giant pretzels. So after our train ride we arrived in Bucharest the capital of Romania refreshed and ready to do some sightseeing, the only problem was that it was 6am and nothing was open.
So we waited till a more suitable time and headed out and about to see the sights. Bucharest is a pretty place but has somehow gotten itself a reputation as being a bit dodgy, this however seems to be largely due to taxi drivers overcharging up to ($150 US for a $5 US cab fare). The city has a very interesting history, Romania was the only country in Europe that had any fighting when it tried to break away from the USSR. A lot of this fighting was centred around Bucharest which
meant that as you walked around the city you could be reminded of the events of this revolution, it was also strange to think that all this happened in 1989, and both us were alive. This is very different to most places where things happened 50+ years ago when peoples parents where alive. (obviously not ours as they are to young and vibrant!!!)
Many of the buildings in the city are from the communist era and have varied histories, from our hostel a 5 minute walk took us to the former communist party headquarters, where the Romanian leader Nicolae Ceauşescu gave his last speech. The crowd was chanting "down with Ceauşescu", he briefly escaped by helicopter however as he was doing this soldiers opened fire on the crowd killing hundreds of civilians. Right next to this is also the former Romanian KGB known as the 'securitate' building, which was destroyed in the 1989 revolution and now houses a very uncommunist coffee shop which is a bit like starbucks. (We couldn't help thinking how ironic that was). The city of Bucharest also has a copy of the Champes de Lisess in Paris, except the Romanian version was designed to be
Not the Brazilian Peles the Romanian one
1 metre wider and 3.7 metres longer.
One of the main sights in Bucharest is the Palace of Parliament, this was ordered to be built by Ceauşescu, however at the time he was overthrown it still wasn't finished. The palace is the second biggest building in the world at over 370,000 square meters with the biggest being the Pentagon. The building now houses the Parliament and is still waiting to be finished! However after the revolution people weren't sure what to do with the building; when Rupert Murdoch offered to buy it his plan was to turn it into the worlds biggest Casino, an offer which was thankfully turned down.
From Bucharest we hopped on a train and headed off to Transilvania, to protect ourselves we loaded up on garlic and wooden stakes and Triona watched Buffy. The transilvanian region of Romania, apart from being full of vampires, is also home to some really beautiful places as it is smack in the middle of the Carpathian mountains meaning the scenery in this area is awesome. We are staying in a town called Brasov and from here there are many day trips that you can do.
trip we took was to place called Peles castle and despite not being owned by the Brazilian soccer player it is a pretty awesome place set in some beautiful scenery and with another castle just 100m away it is definately worth a look.
The next trip we did was to the castle of Dracula himself so with the aforementioned garlic squarely around our necks we took the plunge. The castle was actually home to Vlad the Impaler the Duke of Wallachia, an area near Transilvania. Vlad whos real last name was actually Tepes got his lovely nickname because of his method of punishing his enemies. Good old Vlad would drive a wooden stake along the backbone of his enemies thus ensuring around 48hours of concious suffering before death. At the time in Romania Vlad was seen as a bit of a hero as his punishments were mainly reserved for the Ottoman whose empire Vlad fiercely resisted. It was also recorded that Vlad would herd people towards cliffs where down below there were hundreds of sharp spikes awaiting the people when they fell off. The name Dracula is actually a take on Vlad other nick name, at the time he was
Where there are no vampires or bats or anything.
known as "Dracul" which means son of the dragon as his father was known as "The Dragon". So with all his impaling people and his catching nickname, it wasn't to hard for Bram Stoker to come up with the story of "Dracula".
When we arrived at the castle we were a bit disappointed expecting bats and vampires and lightning and armed with our garlic. All we got was a castle that inside was a lot like an old house and from the outside was decidedly unscary!!!! However we do have a story to tell and with a little embelishment it will all work out fine.
Tot: 1.13s; Tpl: 0.087s; cc: 13; qc: 67; dbt: 0.0409s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb