Over a month since my last post! Way too long. I'll try and catch up in bits and pieces.
I survived my Dream Ten Years in the Making Trip. I spent a few hours on a bus getting to Tirgoviste and eventually found Vlad the Impaler's palace. I walked all the way around the outside before I found the entrance, which was through a gap in a gate. Much longer and I would've scaled the walls. There was a photo tax and entrance fee, but you're free to walk around all of the ruins.
Not everything is labeled, but there are some signs that tell you, in English and in Romanian, what was going on in certain sections of the palace and the time period. I wandered around all of the grounds, saving Chindiei for last. Chindiei was a watch tower that the Impaler commissioned. You can go up inside. The stairs are questionable right inside the door, and going down was even more fun. From the top you can see the entire palace complex and get a great view of the city. Watch your head if you're tall. The door is shorter than I am, and I'm 5'3"! Gorgeous place. I'd live there if I could.
I spent two nights in Tirgoviste, and after spending most of the day in the palace complex, I returned to my hotel and prepared for my next adventure--Castle Dracula. Yes, there is a real Castle Dracula. It is NOT Castle Bran, near the small village called Bran. That is the Hollywood Castle Dracula. The real one is near the village of Arefu. I spent most of the day travelling, but I met some great people.
I hitchhiked for part of the way. It is safe, but you've got to use common sense. Bad things could happen to you. I didn't have my knife with me, so I was extremely paranoid, but I had my keys with me. They never left my hand. I went to one of the four bus stations in Tirgoviste, trying to find a way to get to Curtea de Arges, which is where I would take a mini bus to Castle Dracula. The only bus I found was leaving at 3 pm and going to Pitesti. It was 9 am. Ok no. I went to the road that led out of town going in the direction of Campulung (on the way to Curtea de Arges), and a man walked up to me. I don't speak Romanian, and he soon figured that out. He spoke Spanish, and so do I. How crazy is that?! My Spidey-senses weren't tingling, so I pointed to Curtea de Arges on my list of locations. He nodded, we agreed on a price (120 lei, approx. $40) and I got in his car. We spoke in Spanish for about 2 hours.
When we arrived in a small town, we picked up Vlad. Yes, his name was Vlad. He was about my age, early 20's, and he translated from Romanian to English for the remainder of the trip, about an hour or so. Vlad and I parted with our driver in Campulung, and we walked across town to the next bus station, where we just made the next mini bus to the city of Pitesti. Vlad said that Pitesti would have a mini bus that would get me to Castle Dracula. At the bus station there, we tried to find the bus in question, but we were at the wrong one. A man approached us and offered to take me wherever I needed to go. Every nerve in my body screamed NO! He was a creeper. A sketchy, shifty creeper. Vlad said something to him and pulled me away quickly. Apparently, Vlad said, the man thought I was rich and manipulative. Ok...?
Anyway...that's the teaser. I'll update more later.