Part 1. Introduction, Bran Castle and Rasnov Fortress
Romania is a country of great contrasts. On the one hand, renovated modern cities, on the other, sunken villages, where you will meet a horse-drawn carriage rather than a car.
When I decided to go to Romania, I wondered what I knew about this country and what to see. In fact, I knew that the capital was Bucharest with the palace of dictator Caucesco, that Constanta and Mangalia lay by the sea, and then that there were a few castles and chateaux in the Carpathians that were worth seeing. I originally wanted to be accommodated in Bucharest, and leave from there, but after watching the TOP Romanian destinations on the Internet, I chose Brasov as the base, from where there are 7 attractions from the TOP 10 within driving distance (up to 150 km). The hostel about 2 km walk from the main station cost me 9 € per night, it was a 4-bed room with its own bathroom, where I was the whole stay, ie from Monday to Friday, completely alone. And one more thing was lucky for me, as the green carrier was introducing new routes to Romania at that time at special prices, an eleven-hour trip from Budapest cost me € 6 (same back). Romania is a country of the European Union (outside the Schengen area), which is home to almost 20 million people, the area is about 3 times larger than the Czech Republic. The Romanian leu (international designation RON) is used for payment here, which can also be obtained in some Czech exchange offices (June 2018 for 5.6 – 5.8 CZK). In Romania, it is a bit cheaper than in our country, especially accommodation, meals, passenger trains, but something is more expensive, for example, two floors of Peléš Castle will cost you almost CZK 350, Bran Castle to CZK 230. Romania has vast mountains and beautiful nature, unfortunately, because I traveled alone, I did not risk solo trips through the mountains, so in the end my plan to visit important monuments was: Brasov, Bran, Rasnov, Bucharest, Sigishoara, Sibiu, Fagaras, Sinania with Peles castles and Pelišor and Busteni with Cantacuzino Castle. As for the security situation, beware of pickpocketing and a large number of stray dogs are also alerted. On this trip, however, I basically did not meet them, they do not move in the city centers, I saw a few of them from the train at smaller stops, but it is difficult to say whether they were really stray dogs or just local free running. On Monday morning, in the early morning hours, after a formal document check, we enter Romania. I still have a relatively long journey of almost 500 km. However, the quality of the roads has improved a lot, so we arrive at the Bartolomeu bus station in Brasov without any problems around 9 am. Just as one can secure a cheap ticket or accommodation, there are things you must be really lucky with. Unfortunately, the prediction that it will rain on the whole area on Monday morning at least in the morning came out. Well, maybe it will get better. Bartolomeu Bus Station, from where there are mainly international and long-distance connections, is about 3 km from the main train station, so I choose public transport. Since it is a weekday, I buy a ticket at the pre-sale stall in the station building. For 4 RON a ticket for 2 rides valid for up to 40 minutes. Line No. 28 running at 15-minute intervals takes me to Brasov train station. It is quite easy to find a luggage room and for 10 RON I entrust the backpack to the lady at the window. Right next to the station is a large department store, where only a grocery store and about 30% of business units operate, and otherwise it is empty. I return by line 28, but not to Bartolomeu, but I get off two stations earlier, at the stadium, where I go about 200 meters on foot to Autogara 2 (bus station 2) from where there is a bus every hour to Bran Castle.
The ticket for 8 RON is sold to me by the driver on the bus and we set off in a southerly direction. I'm sadly watching the wipers trying to get drops from the windshield of the vehicle, in the afternoon it should be better so maybe … It doesn't look like that in Rasnov yet. It is Monday and Bran Castle opens on this day, but only at 12 o'clock. We arrive in the village and outside it just drizzles. My ideas that who would go to castles on Monday in June take over when I share the crossing of the road with about 200 other tourists from the Asian distances, equipped with selfie poles. Well, this castle in Romania is about like Karlštejn in Bohemia. I obediently line up with the vision that I will probably have to shorten my program. The Lord at the box office discusses something for a long time, he asks, he thinks, but when he is checked in, the line moves by about 50 people who follow him. The castle box office is down, the check is also so you can't get directly to the castle without a ticket. I leave 40 RON at the box office in exchange for a ticket and start to climb to the entrance to the building. Here another queue awaits me, people stand on long narrow stairs behind which are still turnstiles, where the ticket must be attached to the reader and we go inside. The tour is without a guide, photography is included. In front of me is a Russian expedition with its own guide, so at least I will capture something from the interpretation, otherwise in each room there is a description of the exhibition in Romanian and English. By the way, in Romania you can easily speak at least in tourist places and on the railway. The main attraction of visitors to the castle is the cruel ruler Vlad III Dracula, whom I placed Bram Stoker in my novel Count Dracula. Although it is not at all certain whether the ruler has ever stayed here, thousands of tourists from all over the world do not mind at all and visit this monument, which today belongs to the Habsburgs in large numbers. It was originally a stone fortress. And a small note, I do not recommend a visit to people suffering from claustrophobia, because some places are really only passable for one person, such as the stairs from the first to the third floor, which is located within the tour. It is true that the castle looks a bit scary, its windows in the tower with a sloping roof resemble the furnace door from afar. After a circle of about an hour, I go outside, if you want to capture the castle as a dominant, you can take pictures from the road from the village or you can bypass the hill with the castle and take a photo from the other side. Here I also came across a signpost leading to the local mountains, as I would like to walk, but unfortunately. The Rasnov Fortress (read Rišnov) is waiting for me next place.
I take the bus in the direction of Brasov, but get off after about 10 km in the center of the above village. Well, it is almost impossible to cross, the large inscription of the village printed in huge white letters towering on the hill above the town and shining at night can not be overlooked. I'm going to climb the local fortress. From the bus, I actually walk the only local historical street in the Republic to the evangelical church on Unirii Square. From here you can use something between the cable car and the elevator to the fortress, a cabin running along the tracks, but I walk. It's not raining anymore, so what. I continue along the road leading to the mountain resort of Poiana Brasov, where after about 700 meters I come across a parking lot. Here is the second option to climb up with a train harnessed to a tractor. I can handle those 500 meters uphill alone. I pass another local attraction – a dinosaur park and climb higher and higher to the fortress. Admission is 12 RON. The fortress was built in the 13th century to defend from the south. It was conquered only once in 1612 due to lack of water. Therefore, a 146 meter deep well was subsequently dug. The fortress was built so that the locals could live here in case of danger. There was a school and a chapel. Currently, there is a museum of local history, which shows how the locals lived. There is also an exhibition documenting tourism in Romania, the grainy photographs show scenes from travel from the communist era, there is also the local dictator Ceaucescu and advertisements for tourist destinations from the past. There are also decent views from the fortress, which unfortunately was still somewhat limited after the rain rising haze from the local forested mountains. I return the same way back, but this time I choose the train for the trip to Brasov. I originally thought that the Braşov – Zarnesti line, on which Rasnov is located, is out of traffic, but several times a day the private carrier Regio Calatori runs here with old French motor cars. Tickets are bought at the station, and the price to Brasov is 3.90 RON. Just be careful on the way, the train doors are usually open during the journey (but almost everywhere on the Romanian railways) because the locals like to smoke on the waypoints on the way. After about half an hour I arrive in Brasov, pick up my backpack and go to the accommodation, it's not raining anymore, so I choose my own way. I'm going to stay and Bucharest is waiting for me tomorrow. So far …
Tourists view the courtyard from several floors of the castle.
One of the rooms of the sightseeing circuit
View of the courtyard with a well
It is almost impossible to cross the town of Rasnov (unless there is fog). The sign above the city can be seen in the distant surroundings.
The massive fortress protected against invasions from the south.
A view of the city from the fortress.
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