Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Saints in Romania: Searching for Dracula

Today was another tourist filled day in Romania. The morning started with a traditional breakfast at the inn. We then packed the bus and drove a short distance to Bran Castle. Legend has it that Vlad the Impalor once lived at this castle, but there is actually no proof that this is true. Regardless, legend of this castle spread and was an inspiration for Dracula. Sadly, no vampires were spotted. After we explored the castle the students spent a little time exploring the small shops below to see if they could wager a deal. Serena Gillian wrote about her experience at Bran Castle.

"Jessica and I woke up, got ready, and headed downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast. Our meal consisted of delicious fresh baked bread, eggs, different cuts of ham, an an array of vegetable spreads. After a hearty and filling meal we all finished packing up our things and headed on little country roads to Bran.

Once we arrived we got our tickets and headed into the visitor's center where they advertised a "5D movie" and plenty of cheesy Dracula merchandise was sold. We then started heading up a cobblestone path leading up a cliff. We entered a pretty little courtyard then climbed a steep flight of steps to the first room. The rooms were filled with anything from art and 60s style furniture to chain mail and medieval weapons. There was even a secret passageway! Many of the doorways and staircases were meant for shorter people than some of us which became the cause of some awkward stumbles and falls.

After our tour we wandered around the little souvenir shops. We purchased all sorts of little odd trinkets, even an intricately painted wooden egg!"

(Pretending to be vampires!)

Following Bran, we again loaded back into the bus and drove to the town of Sinaia to tour the Peles Castle. In the 1800s, Romania flirted with a monarchy and invited a German prince to come and be their king. He came and built the opulent Peles Castle. Along with having a strong German influence, the castle has particular rooms that are designed after the French, Italian, Morrocan, and Chinese aesthetic. Below is Josiah Mackays experience at the castle.

"Today we went to see the Peles Palace.They  kept it in great shape; we had to wear slippers over our shoes to protect the floors from dirt. Unlike other castles this one was made party of wood, where granite and marble would usually be. In one room there were over 14 different types of wood used. The castle also featured a couple of modern devices such as an elevator that still functions today. Overall, the Romanian castle featured great beauty and technology that sparked the interest of all of us!"

Unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside, but we did manage to take a few outside the beautiful majestic residence!

Below the palace were shops where we spent some time bargaining for homemade crafts to bring home. Available were handmade table clothes, woodwork, slippers, and much more. Our Saints enjoyed trying their hand at bargaining for deals and bringing home a small reminder of our time here in Romania. Our day ended with a stop at Carrefour, the Romanian equivalent to Walmart. It was a shock to see such a Western influence in the middle of rural Romania. We are now relaxing and watching a movie back at Pro Vita before our final day tomorrow. We cannot believe how fast time has gone and are all looking forward to one last day with the community!

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