Romania was another country that was definitely not on the original plan, so I didn’t initially budget for it. It was on the list of countries that I was using to replace the three weeks of trekking I’d planning in Nepal, so I was hoping it would be less than $50/day (which was what I’d originally earmarked for Nepal).
In all, in 6 days in Romania, I spent $270.93.
How did that work out?
When I decided to go to Romania, I knew exactly one thing about it: Transylvania was there, with Dracula’s Castle!
So of course, I immediately downloaded Dracula so that I could start reading it (I love reading books when you’re going to the place – it’s so fun!) and read the book through my trip in Romania.
Castle Bran is the only castle in Transylvania that meets Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s castle, but that’s about where things end – even Castle Bran doesn’t really play up the Dracula connection nearly as much as you’d think they would. There’s a room at the top of the castle that talks about different Transylvanian legends and puts Dracula in that context, but that’s about it.
If I asked you what the most visited attraction is in Romania, what would you say? For me, I would have guessed Bran Castle (Dracula’s castle). But nope! It’s actually Peles Castle.
Peles Castle was built in the 19th century and was a vacation home for the royal family of Romania. So it’s really more like a palace than a castle.
Do you know the difference? (Something else I learned in Romania!) A castle is a defensive fortification, whereas a palace is simply a very nice place for royalty to live. Royalty frequently lived in castles, but to be a castle, it has to be a defensive structure.
But it’s still called Peles Castle, and it’s about an hour train ride away from Brasov. I took the early train over (thank goodness), mainly because I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was there right around opening time.
After Bucharest, I decided to go to Brasov, Romania. It seemed like a good stopover on the way to heading into more of Central Europe and, let’s be honest – it’s in Transylvania. For real. Transylvania is not just a place of legend, it’s a place in real life!
There are lots of castles and other sites you can get to from Brasov, and the town itself is just completely picturesque and charming. Brasov is very centrally located in Transylvania, and it’s in the mountains so the weather was far cooler.
Bucharest is one of those cities that’s on every “upcoming hot cities” list I’ve seen for a while. It’s cheap, it’s got interesting architecture, it’s got a sort of “grunge” appeal and so much more. If we’re being real, I honestly didn’t like Bucharest.
One thing this trip has taught me is the impact of the first people you experience in a city and/or country and the impact they have on your whole perception of the city. Bucharest was not a great first experience. I was fresh off the bus from Bulgaria (happy with myself for making it and finding my way!) and I was taking the tram into Bucharest. Again, I was pleased with myself for having figured out how to get a ticket, which tram to take, and was happy that I was about to be at my stop.