A Travellerspoint blog

October 2010

Halloween Party in Romania!

31 October 2010

sunny 40 °F

Brasov

Brasov


Halloween Day in Romania!!! What do you do to celebrate Halloween after you have been visiting Dracula’s castle?
Brasov fountain

Brasov fountain


Brasov side street

Brasov side street


Brasov sign

Brasov sign


Hollywood sign in Brasov!
First though our guide walks us around Brasov- he tells us the story of the Black Church, black because of soot from a fire.
black church in Brasov

black church in Brasov


But the builder had an apprentice who ended up learning very quickly and became better than the teacher. The instructor didn’t like it so once the roof was complete he pushed the boy off to his death. He later confessed and was hung but the people put a statue of the little boy on the top in remembrance.
symbol of Romania

symbol of Romania


We saw the coat of arms for Brasov which is a crown for royalty and oak roots which mean stability.
Skinniest street in Europe

Skinniest street in Europe


We also got to walk down the skinniest street in Europe called Rope Street.
Pele's castle

Pele's castle


Next on the agenda is a bus ride to Sinaia and Pele’s Castle. This castle was a summer residence for the kings of Romania and a mountain resort.
View from Pele's Castle

View from Pele's Castle


Pele's castle vines

Pele's castle vines


Unfortunately every tour group seems to be on the same itinerary so we get stuffed into a group with lots of pushy Italians. We have to put on special booties to walk through the castle. It is very ornate and actually filled with lots of things to look at. There are mirrors in Moreno glass and wood carved furniture. Inside the weapons room we see a German sword that was used to behead people. Supposedly if you were killed with this sword you would go to heaven. The peasants were usually hung.
Bran castle[i

Bran castle[i

[/i]]
By this time we are once again way behind schedule so we drive to Bran Castle – the whole purpose of the trip and get hustled through the castle. There isn’t really a place to get a good shot from a distance which is unfortunate.
Bran Castle on the walk up

Bran Castle on the walk up


The knocker to Dracula's castle

The knocker to Dracula's castle


Dracula's library

Dracula's library


Bran Castle spire

Bran Castle spire


DSC03158.jpg
Somehow the same Italian tour group is with us, pushing us through the castle. Our tour guide does a good job of trying to keep our group together. But honestly the other castle was better. This castle is famous because it guards the entrance to the Bran pass, once the main route into Wallachia. It is called Dracula’s castle but has little association with him. It is said that Vlad the Impaler seized it in 1460 on and attack of the land of Bran. Queen Marie of Romania has lived in the castle but not Dracula. As opposed to Pele’s castle there is not a lot of substance. After hustling through the castle we are set loose for 30 minutes to try and find some food below the castle. By now that is what every other tourist is doing so most of the places had no food left. We ended with bread and meat from a shoppette.
Back to the bus for another excrutiating drive for many hours to Sighisoara. This is called the Pearl of Transylvania and the old medieval city is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We are dropped at the Sighisoara hotel to get ready for the Halloween party.
Curt and 50's girl

Curt and 50's girl


I have not had so much fun in a long time. The party was in the basement with costumes, dry ice making smoke and tons of decorations. We first got what everyone was calling grappa in tiny little cups. Then when we sat down had a plate of appetizers like hard boiled eggs, cold cuts and vegetables. Each couple also had a bottle of wine which I’m sure led to the good time everyone had. They had a couple of shows outside – one had hot wine and the other which was Dracula’s wedding had champagne. I got to be part of the wedding :(
me with Dracula

me with Dracula


Everyone was dancing the entire night – at 0300 the party was still going. I think we were finally served the main course at 0100 and at 0200 the dessert. I think it wins as the longest dinner I have ever eaten.
Dracula

Dracula


The music was decent. They seemed to find songs people liked and played them several times – we heard thriller and love shack at least 3 times.
pirates at the halloween party

pirates at the halloween party


The costumes were great – from pirates, Rainbow bright, Waldo, hillbillies and of course, Vlad the Impaler.
Curt as Harry Potter

Curt as Harry Potter


I was a 50’s girl in a poodle skirt and Curt was Harry Potter. In the end hands down one of the best parties I have been to.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:46 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Poienari's Castle

30 October 2010

sunny 42 °F

Little did we know that the hard boiled eggs and bread we had at the hostel for breakfast would be virtually the only food we got for the day. The tour company, Go Romania Tours, sent a driver to pick us up and take us to another hotel to meet the group. We went on a hair-raising journey across Bucharest, driving on tram tracks more often than the road.
As is custom on tours with a bunch of people we set off about an hour late after waiting for other tourists at two different locations. Most of the day is spent on the bus and the first thing we see is a little pig crossing the road. This set the stage for all the cattle in the road and horses with buggies we would see during the day.
DSC02948

DSC02948


DSC02953

DSC02953


We drove to Curtea De Arges but this also took longer than expected due to a traffic jam. This is in the region of Wallachia and here we see a beautiful monastery made of Romanian marble.
DSC02968

DSC02968


DSC02958

DSC02958


DSC02979

DSC02979


This is a recreation of the original built in 1512-1517. After about 30 minutes here it is back on the bus. Around this time I had an experience I have never seen before – our tour bus was pulled over. The driver had to get out and talk to the Police but we were never able to figure out why.
DSC03028

DSC03028


We drive again to Poienari Castle which is said to have some real association with Dracula and Vlad the Impaler.
DSC02992

DSC02992


DSC03026

DSC03026


To get to the top you must climb 1400 steps and it’s a doozy. There are stray dogs littered all over just like the rest of Romania. It is quite sad for me. One kind of bites at our leg, I think to get our attention to say he is hungry.
DSC02996

DSC02996


This castle has only 1/3 of it left, the rest crumbled down into the beautiful Carpathian mountainside. The citadel is small at the top but we find plenty of opportunity for photos.
DSC02999

DSC02999


DSC03012

DSC03012


DSC03019

DSC03019


According to legion Dracula’s wife flung herself out the window of the castle, declaring this a better way to go than be captured by the Turks that were besieging the castle. Supposedly Vlad escaped over the mountains on horseback.
DSC03030

DSC03030


This girl was at the bottom of the mountain trying to sell alcohol and pretzels.
We were to eat lunch at the bottom of the mountain but due to our late start, traffic jam and waiting for out of shape people to climb 1400 stairs there was no time. Instead we had a soda and chips from a gas station before driving 4 more hours to Brasov.
The countryside of Romania is quite beautiful especially in the Carpathian Mountains. There a hay stacks all around and almost everyone you see is doing hard labor. The cows are in the road and the dogs are scattered in packs everywhere.
DSC03037

DSC03037


In Brasov we are an hour late for the traditional Romanian dinner at a place called Crama. It is supposedly a very old building that makes wine. We get to sample 3 kinds with dinner, have a plate of appetizers, then cabbage rolls filled with meat and rice, port chops and a donut for dessert. Since we were so late the dancing goes on while we eat.
DSC03042

DSC03042


The costumes are neat and the music is all up beat.
DSC03061[i

DSC03061[i

[/i]]
The men do a lot of yelling along with dancing. This is beneficial in trying to stay awake when I’m eating dinner at 2300 at night.
DSC03067

DSC03067


Finally we leave and drag our bags to the Wagner Hotel. It has been a very long day but Romania is a very unique and interesting country.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:12 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Bucharest, Romania

29 October 2010

sunny 50 °F

Bucharest building

Bucharest building


The flight to Romania was on a tiny plane with propellers that had a stopover between Munich and Bucharest in Sibiu. When we stopped there we did not even know what country we were in and if we were to get off the plane. As it turned out they shut off the plane, had a few people get out and about 10 people stayed on the plane and flew the extra 50 minutes to Bucharest. I did find out that Sibiu is in northern Romania.
The Butterfly hostel picked us up at the airport for 15 euro so the ride to our lodging was pretty painless. Bucharest has its own arch de Triumph and Champs-Elysees that looks just like its model in Paris. It is also rumored to have the largest building in the world, The Building of the People which was a laugh when it was under communist rule.
River in Bucharest

River in Bucharest


Bucharest is still getting back on its feet and growing. Our driver and the owner of the hostel said cars are a status symbol and lately they have had a boom. However the streets aren’t large enough for all the parking and the city doesn’t seem to be doing anything to improve things. There also seems to be much graffiti all over the city and an inordinate number of stray dogs.
carv eu bere restaurant

carv eu bere restaurant


Our hostel is friendly and clean with good recommendations for dinner. We try to go to Dracula’s Pub for a drink but it is reserved for the night (it is Friday night before Halloween). We go on to the restaurant which is a beer hall called Caru’ eu bere.
carv eu bere sign

carv eu bere sign


It is a rare find in the atmosphere and the food are amazing. It was recommended as a traditional Romanian location and we snagged the last table for two of the night without a reservation. The Caru’eu bere beer was tasty and our appetizer was the best we have had in a while. IT was crepes rolled up with chicken, peppers and cheese! Delicious. Next we shared bean and bacon soup in a bread bowl. The main course (I am already full) was a meat plate with chicken, pork chops, kasekrainer (YES) sausage and potatoes.
romanian food

romanian food


The only disappointment was the pommes with cheese that were cold. As if all that wasn’t enough we had profiterole. We had a long and confusing walk back to the hostel but our tummies were happy.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:06 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Dresden Half Marathon

24 October 2010

overcast

DSC00465.jpg
Our guesthouse had a great breakfast to fuel us up for the run. The race starts at 1000 and we run along the river and past all the beautiful buildings in the city. The route is also flat as a pancake which is a major benefit since this is our third race this month. We did relatively well even though I stop several times to take photos like this one of Curt crossing one of the bridges.
Curt in Dresden

Curt in Dresden


I was still quite happy to finish and glad we were only doing the half. After turning in the chip and drinking some alcohol free ? beer we headed to the car and home. Who knew that Germans even had beer with no alcohol in it?
dresden with paddle wheel boat

dresden with paddle wheel boat

Posted by ErinDriver 09:44 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Dresden, Germany

23 October 2010

overcast

Russian inspired Dresden building

Russian inspired Dresden building


Running is a perfect excuse for travel!! This time we found a marathon in Dresden this weekend. So this morning we got up early, did a run and drove the 3.5 hours north to Dresden. The city was under communist rule after WWII and a lot was destroyed during bombings.
Dresden landscape

Dresden landscape


Many of the buildings look like they could use a good cleaning but the setting of the city is along the river Elbe. This makes for some beautiful landscapes. We went directly to the run expo which was a pretty decent one with free pasta! That wins my heart right away :)
Dresden pathway

Dresden pathway


Our hotel was Guesthaus Laschwitz in the New Town. It worked for us and was within walking distance of a restaurant. Actually it was more like a place for appetizers and a drink but we were too lazy to drive anywhere else.
We had two giant radlers and I ordered antipasta which I figured would be a small plate of pasta but we are in Germany, not Italy. So what I got was a plate of ham and salami with peppers and olives. Can't win them all I guess.

Posted by ErinDriver 09:37 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Polish Pottery Shopping....again

16 October 2010

overcast 50 °F

polish pottery

polish pottery


Only truly dedicated shoppers can stand a polish pottery shopping trip. We left the house at 1000 on Friday night to arrive in Graf at 1230. The bus picked us up and we drove all night to arrive at our first shop at 0530 Saturday morning.
polish pottery shops

polish pottery shops


Curt and I were going this time just to get a "few more things" that we didn't get on our last visit. These were famous last words. After the first few shops we were warmed up and totally forgot the "few more things" mantra.
Curt happy about buying pottery

Curt happy about buying pottery


We got more plates to go with what we had before, teapot, and a set of appetizer/dip plates with hot chili peppers on them. These will be perfect for when we are back in Texas!
pottery with the girls

pottery with the girls


Jen Warren and Audrey Hensley (the wives of two of the medics) went with us and made the trip even more fun. They are really fun girls and had not been to pottery before. They weren't as crazy about it as we were but they did find a few things to purchase.
Jen buying pottery

Jen buying pottery


We had lunch at a place that used to be a hang out for hitler. His name is still etched in the wall outside the door.
polish food

polish food


I had perogis with cheese and potatos and Curt had this bread bowl with stew that had beef, plums, sourkraut and potatos.
Europeans love michael jackson

Europeans love michael jackson


After lunch we had a few more shopping stops before heading home. Even in Poland Michael Jackson is popular!

Posted by ErinDriver 09:07 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Last day in Bruge

11 October 2010

sunny 45 °F

Bell tower

Bell tower


Today is our last day on this trip but we have a few things to do first. The belfry opens at 0930 and we are there waiting when the door opens. We pay 8 euros each and climb 366 steps to the top of the bell tower.
belfry view

belfry view


Here you can get beautiful views over the town of Bruge.
Belfry View #2

Belfry View #2


Half of it is closed so it doesn’t take toolong to snap a few photos and make our way back down.
Basilica of the Holy Blood

Basilica of the Holy Blood


Last but not least was the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Supposedly a bit of Jesus’ blood was brought back to Bruge by a soldier and has been kept in this basilica since. Every year on Acessions Day they take out the sample in a fancy carrier and parade it around town. Otherwise it is kept in this basilica and you can’t see it. There is a museum where you can view the carrier.
Back to work sculpture

Back to work sculpture


Reluctantly we left Bruge to drive home for work tomorrow. This sculpture says it all!
us by canal

us by canal


Bye Bye Bruge!

Posted by ErinDriver 11:54 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Brussels Half Marathon on 10-10-10

10 October 2010

sunny 50 °F

canal along our street

canal along our street


On 10 October 2010 Curt and I woke up and walked the 15 minute walk (actually 30 minutes) to the train station to catch our train to Brussels for the half marathon that started at 1000.
boats on way to train station

boats on way to train station


The trains run between bruge and Brussels twice per hour but we missed the train we were shooting for and had to take one that left at 0900. This put us to Brussels at 1000 (race starts at 1030). When we stepped out of the train in central station we saw someone with a race number who looked like he knew what he was doing so we shuffled after him to the metro. Five metro stops later we arrived at the start!! I was skeptical but we had just enough time to adjust our gear before the start.
start of Brussels half marathon

start of Brussels half marathon


This marathon is through the city so outside of buildings there wasn’t a whole lot of scenery. They also had water bottles instead of cups so we ended up carrying one for the duration. The ridiculous part of this run was that the marathon runners started 1.5 hours prior and the courses came together with about 4 miles to go. This was very unfortunate for the marathoners who in the final miles had to swerve around slower half runners.
The run ended up being long at 13.34 but we still did a respectable 2:08. The finish was a disaster. It ended in a beautiful plaza but it wasn’t big enough for thousands of runners and their fans. We inched our way through medals, water, foil blankets and chip turn in. The changing area was about 1 mile away and we didn’t get away from the crowd until then. We were glad to have the one hour train ride back to Bruge to stretch and rest our eyes.
Curt with dragon bench

Curt with dragon bench


After careful thought we decided the spaghetti we had yesterday was too good and cheap to pass up. The restaurants here are very expensive. We went for the small portion today though :)
Market square with horses

Market square with horses


On the way back home to rest we passed horses waiting to give rides around town.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:50 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Touring Bruge

9 October 2010

sunny 60 °F

view from our B&B

view from our B&B


Our wake up was 2 hours after we intended this morning so we had our breakfast before heading off on our run. Because we are training for craziness in Orlando in January we can’t skip this. The morning is VERY foggy and the canal is hard to even see. Somehow it made the run even more enchanting.
running trail

running trail


There is a trail along the canal all the way to another town called Damme.
damme paddleboat

damme paddleboat


We didn’t make it that far but we did pass four windmills and a paddlewheel boat coming from Damme.
street in bruge

street in bruge


The street reminded me of where you might find Jack the Ripper.
Market square

Market square


After a shower we set off to the center of town or Market Square. IT is ringed with restaurants and shops. Unfortunatley today in the center is a big stage and lots of sound equipment. It wasn’t a great time to get a view from the bell tower so lunch was in order. Due to the run tomorrow and because we can be cheap we took a suggestion from Rick Steves and ate at Medard Brasserie.
Grande portion of spaghetti

Grande portion of spaghetti


You get a GIGANTIC plate of homemade spaghetti for 5.50 euro. And food here is very expensive. We strolled down the shopping street which was very crowded now that the weather got warmer.
postcard view of canal

postcard view of canal


Next up was a boat ride along the canal. There are several vendors that will pack you on to a boat and drive you up and down the canal for 30 minutes.
dog along the canal

dog along the canal


The best thing we saw was this dog sticking his head out the window watching the boats go by.
canal houses

canal houses


We passed a flea market that we walked through and scored a black elephant tea pot!
Belgian beers with matching glasses

Belgian beers with matching glasses


You can’t go to Belgium and not enjoy the beer – they have hundreds of kinds. The shop 2Be had hundreds of beers all with the glass that matches. The Brugse Zot beer is the only remaining kind still brewed in Bruge. The store has a patio where you can sit and enjoy their brew. We took this opportunity to have the Zot and cherry beer.
Our Belgian beer

Our Belgian beer


Our first dinner option had no open tables so we went to De Gastro which is the restaurant owned by the sisters that run our B&B. The meal was amazing and the restaurant has a good atmosphere with black and red interior. Since we are in Belgium we started with mussels. Next for me was grilled salmon and potato croquettes. Curt had Flemish stew and fries. We finished it off with tiramisu and crème caramel with dessert wine. In the end we didn’t feel like we missed out, in fact we got lucky!

Posted by ErinDriver 11:45 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Driving to Bruge

8 October 2010

sunny 55 °F

Bruge canal

Bruge canal


Today was a long day of driving in the car but worth it in the end to get to the gem of a town called Bruge, Belgium. First we drove 2.5 hours to Ramstein to have American food (Macaroni Grill) and shopping (PX) at the Air Force Base. After waiting 20 minutes in the line to get gas we were off on another 3 hour stint to Brussels.
I’m sure Curt would like to ban me from the internet because earlier this week I had found that Brussels is having a marathon and half marathon this weekend. So we stopped in Brussels at 1730 on Friday night (not a smart idea) to register for the race. The registration was inside the Royal Military Academy which was a tiny bit intimidating but the expo was one of the worst I have seen. It had about 4 vendors and fit inside one hallway. It was lucky I guess because we still weren’t to our final destination.
Another one hour that ended up being more like two thanks to traffic and we were parking at the train station in Bruge. Buses come to give you a free ride to the center however the number we were told to look for 6 and 16 turned out to be 92. We didn’t waste too much time before Curt asked the bus driver and we were dropped off at the fish market.
Because we were coming late we went to the restaurant of our B&B owner so they could give us directions. The Canal House B&B is adorable and we have a studio room. We quickly dropped our bags and went to dinner along the canal. I had shrimp croquettes and curt had mixed grill with cherry beer.
Spider at dinner

Spider at dinner


This spider was my dining companian - He reminded me that it is Halloween time!

Posted by ErinDriver 11:42 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 10) Page [1]