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October 28th 2017
Published: August 25th 2018
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It was still dark outside when our bus set out to begin our tour of Romania. The weather was cold and rainy as we headed west out of Bucharest. Hopefully this morning's weather wasn't a sign of bad weather to come. We were headed to Poenari Castle and thankfully by the time we had arrived a few hours later, the skies had cleared to reveal a cool and sunny October day. What remains of Poenari Castle is located at the top of a hill and we had to climb approximately 1500 steps in order to get there. We all made our way up to the top and eventually it was Gabo, Margaret, and myself leading the pack. Once at the top, we were rewarded with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains whose trees have all dropped their leaves for the upcoming winter. Although many castles in Romania claim a connection to Dracula, very few actually do. Poenari Castle does in fact have a connection to Vlad Tepes as it was one of his main fortresses. Along with the great views, the first thing that you notice are the 2 impaled dummies at the entrance of the castle. I assume they were put there by the administrators of the castle in order to exemplify Vlad Tepes' other well known nickname of Vlad The Impaler. Exploring the castle was unimpressive as it was literally just a pile of rocks atop a mountain. I walked around soaking in all the views and tried to imagine what it must have been like to live here back in the castle's heyday in the 1400s. As others in the group started to arrive, I made my way back down to enjoy a cold beer before having to re-board the bus. While waiting aboard the bus, a bit of drama had ensued. We were given a strict deadline to be back on the bus at 1:00pm. Apparently, somebody didn't get the message. We were about to leave at 1:10 pm when someone spotted the missing person hiking down the hill. Before re-boarding the bus, Gabo had gone out there to give her a stern warning about being punctual.

We drove about 40 minutes south of Poenari Castle to the town of Curtea de Arges where we had time to visit the famous cathedral and grab a quick bite to eat. Shea and I checked out the cathedral which looked impressive from the outside. The inside was filled with worshippers some of whom were crying due to whatever spiritual feeling had overtaken them. I felt awkward looking around while these people were trying to worship. Needless to say, Shea and I left pretty quickly. We went out in search of food and followed a group of other G Adventures people to a nearby restaurant. Shea and I were seated at a table right next to 6 others from one of the other groups including the girl who arrived to the bus late at Poenari Castle. While enjoying our delicious pizza lunch, we were entertained but really more horrified by the actions of the 6 people at the other table. They were exhibiting all the stereotypes of an ugly tourist, and more specifically the ugly American. The girl who arrived late to the bus was continually talking about our guide Gabo and how rude it was of him to tell her that she must be on time. However most bothersome was the manner in which all 6 of them were speaking to the restaurant staff. The constant complaining about the service, timeliness of getting their food, and the snapping of their fingers to get someone's attention was so irritating that I was embarrassed for them. My disdain for them was clearly evident by the look of disapproval I would give to them as we watched their antics. After that entertaining lunch, we headed back to the bus for the long drive to Sibiu.

From Curtea de Arges, we had a few more hours on the bus where we had a quick stop in Cozia National Park before arriving in the city of Sibiu. Our hotel for the night was the Hotel Apollo Hermanstadtt. Not too long after arriving, Gabo lead us on a quick orientation walk through the city center. Wandering through various small side streets to get to the main square, Piata Mare, I was a bit disoriented as to where exactly we were. That's one of the drawbacks of taking a group tour. With all the logistics and the itinerary already planned, there were many times on this trip where I really had no clue where we were. Once at Piata Mare, Gabo pointed out a few banks, some places to have dinner, and some places to buy some necessities. From here, we were left to our own devices to figure out what we wanted to do for the night. Shea and I gravitated towards Erin, Angie, David, and Paul to hang out for the night. David and Paul wanted to watch an English soccer match that was taking place so we found a nearby restaurant to have dinner and watch the game. It was a good evening where the 6 of us got to know each other better. Little did we know at the time that this was the start of a little clique that would last the duration of the trip. After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel where we found a few other from our tour group having some late night beers. We joined them for a bit before making our way back up the room after an extremely long day of traveling.

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