Adriana and I took advantage of the bank holiday in England at the end of May with a quick trip to Romania.  Romania is a place we’d both been wanting to visit for quite some time – we’ve been to many countries throughout Europe but a visit to Transylvania remained on the list.  We arrived late Friday evening, staying in an apartment in Bucharest that Adriana had researched online.

Romania is a beautiful country with a lot to offer – we took a drive in the morning with a guide to Transylvania, the legendary home of Dracula.  The fictional character is modeled after a real national hero, Vlad Tepes, who reigned during the 15th century and was a pretty bad-ass ruler.  In actual fact he was from Wallachia, a province south of Transylvania.  Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, basically had done some research on Vlad and put the famous story together from legends of Vlad’s cruelty.

Our first stop on our journey was Castle Pelas, which was beautiful.  They were having a fancy car contest while we were there, so the place was absolutely packed.  The outside of the castle is impressive and has some great photo opportunities, but the inside is out of this world.  However, they charge a rather hefty fee of 10 Euros to take pictures inside.  I didn’t pay the fee, so wasn’t allowed to take photos while inside and immediately after entering I regretted the decision.  It was incredible and there are some great photo opportunities inside, so if you get the chance to go I would suck it up and pay the fee.

After Castle Pelas we paid a visit to Brasov, a small town in Transylvania.  We grabbed lunch and took some photos while walking around.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, didn’t really match my traditional view through movies and books of what Transylvania should look like!  We ended our first day with a drive to Castle Bran.  This castle is known as “Dracula’s castle” but as to why that connection exists is pretty much beyond me (and most others).  Vlad never formally resided there, but apparently he did partake in a battle that took place around the area.  The castle is pretty impressive from the outside, but to be honest the place was so packed with school field trips it was rather difficult for us to get any good photos or have fun for that matter.

On our second day in Bucharest we took a trip down to Snagov.  This is the church where Vlad is supposedly buried.  They’re not able to prove this, but the legend continues because many years ago they found a beheaded skeleton dressed in finery, and they made the assumption that it was Vlad because his family had connections to the place.  The inside of the church itself is absolutely incredible.  It’s an ancient church, and there are frescoes and paintings on the walls and ceilings that are truly impressive.  But be warned, we paid a whopping 20 euros to take pictures in the church.  I know it’s extremely steep, but after regretting my decision at Castle Pelas I decided to suck it up – I’ll probably never be back there in my life and didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

We finished up our trip back in Bucharest, walking around the city and checking out some of the other churches and building in the city, including the famous “People’s Palace”, the second largest building in the world (behind the Pentagon, which came as a surprise to me).

All in all it was an absolutely wonderful weekend.  The country is beautiful, the people are amazing, and the photo opportunities are plentiful.  If you get an opportunity to make the trip be sure to suck it up and pay the extra fees for the photos in Snagov and Castle Pelas.

Below is a small selection of photos from our trip.  If you’d like to see the rest I’ve posted a larger set on Flickr.