A Letter & Photos From Transylvania
Dear friends and family,
We thought by way of a New Year's message we would post this account of our millennium holiday in Brasov.
In case you did not know, Brasov is in Romania in the Carpathian Alps. It is seven hours by car from our home in Chisinau, capitol of Moldova (formerly Soviet Moldavia). We went to the Carpathians for snow, but instead experienced Global Warming: 60 degree F temps and sunshine. So, instead of white stuff, we were treated to witness crowds of dazed Europeans in spanking-new ski outfits staggering up and down the muddy roads of the low-rent Romanian resorts. As for us, we were happily in our car touring the somber winter countryside and scoping the resorts for future reference. (Can I add we were very grateful not to trapped in a low-rent Romanian resort with no snow?) After a look at these places, like Poiana Brasov, we decided that, snow or no snow, it is better to stay in Brasov itself: More to do and a lot more charm.
Elin and I do not have ski outfits. (Well, not *real* ski outfits.) We went to snowshoe or go cross-country. Since snowshoeing and cross-country were definitely out, we went sightseeing. We were just as happy to do so in the fine spring-like weather. We visited Dracula's Castle. (The old bloodsucker actually never lived anywhere, of course, except in Bram Stoker's mind: A fictional guy, the Count, like Sherlock Holmes.... And you didn't know...). The castle is not even associated with anything or anyone related to Dracky, not even to Vlad the Impaler, who is said to have been Mr. Stoker's inspiration. This lack of historical verity did not stop the snow bunnies, however, who staggered up and down the crooked steps of the place in their new ski outfits. It didn't stop us either.
For a phoney tourist trap Dracula's crib was worth the two bucks to get in....just: cool 16th Century furniture, nice views of the countryside. It itself is also a fairly handsome pile (see photo below). We also enjoyed the winter fashion show. Well, I did, anyway.
Brasov itself is in the heart of Transylvania. It is a charming old Teutonic-style city nestled, as I said earlier, in the Carpathian Alps. It has a great town square, an impressive cathedral and a very appealing pedestrian prommenade. The whole center city drips with old-world charm. We celebrated the new millennium there. Because I made our reservations on the Internet with a Romanian travel agency we got looped into a Festive 2001 Dinner with Romanian tourists and locals (part of an unavoidable hotel package). It was a stroke of good fortune. Great meal, good company and the liveliest folk dancing I have ever seen (And you see a lot in diplomatic service): The performers shout and chant while they fling each other around the room. See the last picture in the photo gallery, which follows, for a little more on the dancers.
We had a good snowfall for the drive back. ("Ironic" is the word that comes to mind here. ) So at least we got to test the snow-worthiness of our SUV. It got a B+. Our journey was dreamlike as we crept up and down the Transylvania Turnpike in the fog and snow. All along the way knots of drunken New Years Day mummers in bizarre Druidic costumes stalked the villages, slowing the cars and begging for handouts. We got home at dusk. We awoke to find Chisinau frosted, but not buried, in the lovely white stuff. Still not enough for a snowshoe sojourn, however.
Love from us,
Bruce and Elin
January 1, 2001
(Do not forget to scroll down to the picture gallery . Click on a thumbnail to get the full view and caption. Then use the arrows to navigate the photos or go back to the gallery and choose another thumb.)
Click on the thumbnail to get the full view and caption.
Once you have a full view you can use the arrows to navigate the photos or come back to this gallery.