Romania: Not Just A Place For Dracula!
Traveling to Romania has been one of my dreams, and finally it came true. I know it’s not the coolest holiday or summer vacation you can go to, compared to a number of other countries where people mostly go. Why Romania? I’ve always been fond of reading Dracula stories since I was a child, and knowing Dracula’s history and birthplace is such a mystery to unravel. I’m kidding right? Why not go because of Vampires? Anyways, knowing that this country has not been changed by modernization, which is quite odd, is something to discover. And since it has not been affected by progress, travelling to Romania is cheap, which means one country to travel but certainly a lot of things to discover in a small amount of money. There, that made you want to go to Romania, too, right? But before booking that flight let me share to you my journey to this lovely place and why it’s not just a place for Dracula.
The first thing you’d love about Romania is because it’s cheap. The country isn’t cheap at all, but the accommodation to transportation and food is within your means. And even their tourist spots are reasonably priced. Why not try to eat at the most expensive restaurant they have? I was amazed to pay $12 for a very sumptuous and savory meal. So how’s that for the perfect tourist destination? If you’re a traveler who wants to get the most out of a cheap budget, then Romania should be a mighty fine choice. And I was right to have chosen it.
Secondly, the country is mesmerizing from its locals to its cities and most especially its countryside. The country is not crowded and their heritage remains intact. You would love to stay here and live, because of its simple but attractive environment.
After appreciating the cheapness and beauty of Romania, which I can hardly take, I started to tour around the country to savor this moment. But before deciding on where to go, I had to research for my travels so that I won’t have to rush or waste time deciding where and when to go. I also asked a few locals if such place is worth going to, and luckily I made the best choices.
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First stop, Sighisoara, this is where Dracula (Vlad Tepes) was born, specifically in “Vlad Dracul House”, but it doesn’t show any traces of him anywhere, so don’t expect meeting him here. While I did expect to see something eerie and creepy, Sighisoara is far different. Sighisoara is located in Transylvania (very Dracula-ic) and has maintained its features of a medical city, with lots of historic places such as churches and museums. This place is popular for its preserved old town which is walled, a very good place to take your pictures. The main attraction in this city is The Clock Tower which was 64 meters tall and was built in 1556, which I really liked. That was pretty historic, right? But you’ll never experience Romania if you won’t go to Sighisoara. Now I’m guessing, you’re thinking; “Is that what Romania all about?” Quite boring? Well, think again.
Next stop Timisoara, which is popularly called “Little Vienna”, this is because of its long period under the Habsburg Empire. It’s packed with theaters, churches, historic squares, art galleries, museums, and a lively night life. I went to this one art gallery which is Calina Art Gallery. This gallery presents works of different artists all across Europe. If you love art, you will surely love visiting this place. And after an afternoon walk, spend your night at Fratelli Lounge and Club. One of the busiest and most energetic bar in Timisoara. So how’s that for history?
Now let’s back to being historic, because that’s what Romania is all about. I think the best places I’ve been here are these two amazing places; Bran Castle and Peles Castle. For some it may not be the best, but for me it was. I felt like I was a royal blood roaming around my castles. It was my first time to be in such places and hopefully not the last.
Bran Castle was actually believed to be where Dracula lived. But according to the guide, there was confusion with the story because Dracula and Vlad Tepes are really not the same. Anyways, Dracula or Vlad Tepes isn’t here so why stay confused when I can wander around the castle as if my own. The Bran Castle had a long history of owners and undergone changes for a quite a few times. One of the changes made was a dedicated room for Dracula which is called Bram Stoker. Now here are traces of Dracula.
On the other hand Peles Castle has more than 160 rooms and was built in marble, stone, wood and bricks. It is surrounded by seven terraces that are adorned with statues, marbles and fountains. Inside the castle are paintings, more statues, gold and silver plates, and ceramics, porcelain, chandeliers, and stained-glass windows, sculptures made from ebony and ivory, and a mass collection of weapons. Now, this is what I call castle. I felt like I was drifted to 1870 and was one of the princess’ who stayed here.
As much as I wanted to stay longer in the castles, I had to continue my Romanian journey. And who would have thought that there’s an extreme adventure in Romania. The Transfagarasan Pass should have the title for being the best road in the world, as it was featured in Top Gear. The road or pass has bends that would surely test drivers. As we were passing through it I had a beautiful view of Balea Glacial Lake and we went through Romania’s longest road tunnel, which was surely an excitement to experience as some of the drivers were honking at each other, a sign of delight of having passed through the road. Surely, a drive here is an adventure you shouldn’t miss. Where else can you see a road like this?
Last stop, I’m sure Romania is not all that historic. And where else can I experience Romania on a different way? Who would have thought that a cemetery can be funny? And here in Romania lies the most unique cemetery in the world, The Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. It’s like Christmas in All Saints Day. The crosses in the cemetery were painted with humor and tell you the story of the person. This Sapanta culture draws way back in 1935 where the first cross was painted by Stan Ioan Patras. People in Sapanta believe that dying is passing on to a better life. As I was walking through these 800 crosses, instead of the eerie feeling you usually have on cemeteries, I felt a sense of life on death. I smiled while I was reading the poems and stories and really appreciated the paints made on the crosses. How I would love to have mine just like that.
My travel to Romania was brief but full of different experiences; history, adventure, fun, and unique. Romania is more than rich of culture and history, but one article would not suffice such experience. I guess, there are no two same places in the world. Romania is one of the unique parts of the world that you ought to visit because after all it’s not just a place for Dracula.