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Published: October 20th 2007
whilst the inside was too showy, we couldn't get enough of the outside
Rob spent a lot of the evening being rather ill, so when we woke this morning we ran down to the nearest pharmacy to get some medicine, but being a Sunday it was close. We didn’t have much time because at nine thirty we had to meet the rest of our group in the hallway of our hostel to set off for our trip. We were going with Justine, and three Australians. The bus driver didn’t arrive until around ten, but when he did he agreed to stop off at a pharmacy.
The schedule for the day included Peles Palace, Bran Castle and the Fort at Rasnov. None of us had a clue which one we were visiting first, so we waited to see. It was snowing on and off. Not heavy snow that settles, but the romantic whisps of snow that linger in the air for ages; very appropriate weather for the scenery we were going to see. The group of people we were with were all really nice and so chatty. I found out that Justine is also an Oboe player which was pretty cool.
The first stop was Peles castle at Sinaia, however we didn’t know
that until we had stumbled across the actual palace and read the entrance sign that told us where we were. It was very busy and after we paid we were immediately herded into a reception room where we put slippers over our shoes and joined an English speaking tour. The palace was impressive but entirely over the top which made it rather claustrophobic. We were informed many times that it was decorated in a Neo Renaissance Germanic style. There was a large amount of Americans on the same tour as us and when we got bored of the talk, we amused ourselves by listening to the stupid comments that they came out with. One American pointed to a sensor that monitored humidity and asked whether it was a modern contraption. Outside the palace we wandered around the grounds admiring the views of the hills and enjoying the scenery that was becoming more magical as we watched the mountains become topped with snow.
Back in the bus we were once again subjected to Eastern European driving. The bus didn’t really have seat belts in the back, so we clung on for dear life as the driver overtook constantly and drove
around icy corners at scary speeds. At one point on the drive a car spun off the road right in front of us and even this didn’t deter the driver from his thrill seeking driving.
The next stop on our whirlwind tour was Bran castle and definitely one of the biggest disappointments on our trip so far. We pulled up a small distance from the main entrance and the street ahead of us was lined with tacky tourist stalls and a huge amount of tourists queuing to buy them. After buying pastries at a stall we pushed our way through the crowds to the main entrance of the castle, paid and went in. It was dull, small and utterly pointless, the castle itself was pretty and not too dissimilar to a castle a princess may have in a fairytale and not in anyway a castle that could have inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. Inside the castle was a dull exhibition on pieces of metal work found in the nearby areas. We spent a while in the courtyard and the surrounding galleries because the views were spectacular and because a member of our group was rather obsessed with taking
pictures, which he did plenty of.
Our driver had to stop short of the fort at Rasnov due to a local festival that was taking place. There was a stage where the worst performers in the world were playing some of the worst music in the world, it was fantastic. Because the road was blocked we had to climb up to the fort by means of an interesting path. It alternated between almost normal steps, rocks, and slippery pathways. It took a good amount of time to climb to the top and when we did we arrived at another Hollywood type sign, although this time saying Rasnov. We stopped at the top a while to appreciate the view before paying to go inside the fort. This was the most expensive of the three destinations and again had very little of interest inside. The museum was rather forced and really felt like it had been created purely to give tourists something to do once they had climbed up. We headed straight for the panorama which really made the climb worth while. You could see as far as the horizon in every direction and mountains and lakes were in the distance.
We spent quite a while taking pictures and having our pictures taken. At one point we asked a random guy if he could take a picture of us as a group and he was immediately besieged by six cameras.
We went back to the hostel to arrange plans for tomorrow. We hadn’t quite decided whether to go to Tulcea or to head straight for Bucharest. Once we realised that the trains for Tulcea went all the way to Bucharest first we then realised we had nowhere to stay. Anyway we sorted most things out and booked a highly recommended hostel called The Midland Youth Hostel.
Despite it being a Sunday evening, we found a cute little restaurant which was surprisingly busy. We both ordered soup as a starter which was really appreciated. The meal was pleasant and the woman who owned the restaurant was so friendly. Back at the hostel we intended to have an early night so Rob could get some rest. We ended up going to bed around one after chatting to people and attempting to catch up a little on the diary.
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