Friday, August 11, 2006

Transylvania

We had a great day today on a tour of Transylvania. it was really beautiful up there in the forest covered mountains. The castles we visited were very fairytale like.

First stop was the Palais castle, which is quite a modern one really

Transylvannia was awesome today. Beautiful, very atmospheric and fairytale. I can understand the mystic about it, although the whole dracula thing is just a myth created by someone who'd never been here.

We never made it to dracula's tomb (well, Vlad's tomb). It is much more difficult to get around Bucharest than you would think. It is so not set up for tourists yet - there are no signs, people try to help but don't really know how to... Its generally a pretty crazy city, and it reminds me of a latin american city. There are parallels too - Romanian is a romance language (latin) and like some latin american countries they are just emerging from a hard core dictatorship.

The day before yesterday we walked around Bucharest to see some of the sites. Not as easy as you might think! We went to the people's palace, which is the second largest administrative building in the world, the brain child of the dictator Ceausescu , a megolmaniac to say the least. From 1984 to 1989 all the resources in romania went to building this thing, while most people were queuing for 20 hours to buy meat and had no running water. So walking around this enormous building encrusted in marble kind of gave you the creeps. The palace is at the end of a 'copy' of the Champs Elysee in Paris - only it is 1m wider and 15m longer... the dictator guy thought he was tops to say the least.

We are catching a 18 hour train to Istanbul today - we are skipping bulgaria so that we can spend some more time in Turkey. We have heard lots of warnings for all the scams when travelling in Istanbul so we feel prepared. Good there are 4 of us too.

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