Europe Romania Study Abroad

Transylvania: Mountain Climbing and Dracula’s Castle

On Monday, we spent all day climbing mountains.  At first, it was just fairly normal (albeit a bit steep) forest trails.  Then at one point we got to a clearing and we were taking a break, drinking some water, and all of that.  We looked up towards the top of the peak and saw people rock climbing, and someone commented that it looked hard or something to that effect.  Our guide turned to us, confused, and said, “That’s the route we’re doing.”  And indeed, it was essentially just rock climbing without a harness.  The holds were good, but it was honestly pretty terrifying at parts.  One moment, in particular, I was going across a narrow section where the wind was howling, holding onto a cable that was not quite as tightly attached as I thought it was and I experienced the scariest moment of my life.  We got to the top of three mountains, including the second highest one in Romania.  After six and a half hours, we made it back to our cabin, and I felt incredibly accomplished.

Had I known exactly what we would be doing, I’m not sure if I would have done this trip, considering I’m not a particularly outdoorsy person and, although I’m in decent shape, I’m really not that athletic if we’re being perfectly honest.  But despite all of that, it was totally worth it.  The views were unbelievable, and I got to have an amazing experience in a part of the world I had never imagined I would even go.

The next morning, we hiked back down to the base of the mountain and returned to civilization.  We had a night tour of the historic part of Sibiu, which was awesome.  Our guides told us about a tower that another town wanted to copy and make higher, and so the other town sent a few people to come measure it with a rope.  The people from Sibiu found out about it, got them drunk, and cut a meter off of their rope.  And so there is another tower in Romania that looks the exact same but is a meter shorter.  Our guides also took us to a Scottish themed bar that had American and British newspaper articles lining the walls…

For our last full day, we went to a fortified church, where I think I may have found the gravestone of a very distant relation (it was an Austro-Hungarian soldier with my great grandmother’s maiden name who died in WW1, so it’s completely possible).  In the afternoon, we went to Bran’s Castle, perhaps more commonly known as Dracula’s castle!  Highlight: the secret staircase going from the first to the third floor.  All I want in life is to have a secret area in my home.

The next morning we got up before dawn so that we could have a three hour bus ride to the airport, and then I spent the rest of the day traveling from Bucharest to Copenhagen and then Copenhagen to Munich.  Those pictures will come later though 🙂

Hej hej!

Europe Romania Study Abroad

Transylvania: A Reflection

Hello again!  It’s been nine busy days of traveling, and I’m back in Copenhagen for… the next few days at least.  This past week will take multiple blog posts to describe, because I went to three countries and took over 500 photos and did a lot of things!

My week started in Romania, with a DIS hiking trip to Transylvania for six days.  After a three hour bus ride from Bucharest to Transylvania, we started out at Peles Castle, which was very beautiful.  They had separate rooms to greet important people from different nationalities, and there was a ton of intricate woodwork and stained glass inside.  We also had a night tour of the city of Brasov!  Our guides, Vlad and Stefan, were awesome and knew so much history of the places we saw.  A few initial impressions of Romania:

1. Stray dogs.  It’s a big problem in Romania.  They’re everywhere.

2. It’s kind of like taking a trip into the past.  It seems that a lot of the people we saw are farmers, and I saw quite a few cows and sheep during our bus rides.  A lot of the buildings we saw outside of the cities were fairly run down, although parts of Sibiu (and I would assume Brasov) have modern or at least recently updated buildings.

3.  The roads are a bit rough.  At one point we hit a pot hole that was enough to launch a few people into the air.  I experienced more turbulence on our buses than I’ve ever felt in a plane.

The next morning we headed up to the Rasnov citadel!  It was cool to see the medieval defense systems, and our guide told us about how they poured boiling oil on people and shut other people between walls.  The views from the hill of Rasnov were stunning.  In the afternoon, we started our hike into the Carpathians, which was through the forest and fairly steep.  For the next two days we stayed at a cabin with no running water, so it was a bit out of my comfort zone!  However, due to the volume of pictures I took, the hiking portion will be continued on the next post….