Ah. Dracula's Castle. Should have known better.
I rounded the corner in the shadow of the legendary castle, possessed by the spirit of Van Helsing, to be met by... Dracula's Bazaar. Stall after stall of Vampire merchandise: rubber bats, false fangs and masks. And to top it all, the castle was shut. I drank an instant coffee and eased the bike between the tour buses and rode on in search of the 'authentic' Transylvania...Once again I'd let my imagination run away with me.
The further east I rode the more I found. I found it, yes, but couldn't bring myself to stop in it. Through enchanting villages, passed picturesque pensions...but I kept riding, searching for that perfect location. Needless to say, I ended up in the communist built Hotel Venus. You live and learn.
The Hotel 'Venus' (I'd ridden passed it several times thinking it was a brothel) didn't do breakfast so I pulled into a roadside Service station and was met by some very 'friendly' locals....(see comic strip)
I declined the gentleman's offer, straightened my tie and rode purposefully to the Bulgarian border.
Romania. Worth a visit, Si? Definitely. Click on MORE below for Romania tips and advice and how to make your own Dracula mask. Got a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Advice? Buy a large motorcycle, sell the house and kids and get out there before it's too late. Go for a month or three - this country needs exploring.
My Tips? 1. Get a good map, turn off the main routes and head across country - Medieval Europe awaits. 2. Stop. Drink a beer with the locals. Show them a picture of your Grandma. Maybe they'll introduce you to theirs.
The countryside looked different. People looked different. They drove differently. An old Lonely Planet guide states "...since the revolution many drivers lack discipline. On the other hand, you'll find the Romanians eager to meet foreign motorists". I just hoped that didn't mean 'head on'.
It's a cliche, I know, but crossing the border into Romania was a culture shock. I hadn't expected this kind of change until maybe eastern Turkey. This was where the motorcycling became 'adventurous'.
I regret not spending more time there...but, I will go again.
And finally, as promised, the Dracula mask. Simply copy this picture onto some card and get an adult to cut it out for you. Then scare the hell out of them...
Posted by Simon Roberts at February 06, 2008 05:58 PM GMT
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