As we slowly but steadily reach the end of February we realize that snow is almost gone from the side of the road. Those huge piles that gathered all winter, shoved aside by the utility machines that cleared the road are almost melted completely and we can see on the field pretty clear now the early canola crop that pierced the ground and timidly grew beneath the thick layer of snow. Now that the sun is actually shining you can see that things are not gray around you and you get all warm and fuzzy inside and you suddenly get the urge to set off and do something exciting.
This winter we tried so many times to get out and do something, but some days it was so cold that you would believe that even the rocks are shivering.
Snow is so lovely and beautiful, but too bad it’s so cold. But in the mountains the sun shines so bright some times that the snow is almost warmed. That is why the end of February and why not all March would be the best time to go and have some fun in the snow, not wearing your entire wardrobe and seeing all the beautiful scenery in the Carpathian Mountains.
Leaving Bucharest in the morning and driving by the small towns and villages you will eventually see the outline of the mountains and soon the beautiful plateau of Busteni. Here the rocky mountains look like stony giants, bare and beautiful, a sky lift line going all the way to the top, and behind the peaks to the Babele and Sphinx rock formations, this curious wonders of the nature that were carved by wind and time. Not far from the train station and the road, the way to the ski slopes begins. The snow is good so many tourist come here to ski, or to learn how to ski.
Driving past Busteni, not too far away, we reach another popular ski resort, Sinaia. But here skiing is not the only thing that brings the hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Here the jewel of the mountains is the Peles Castel. Finished in 1914, this beautiful monument was the summer residence of the Royal Family, but even in winter the castle and the surroundings look like a page torn from a fairytale book. Snow sparkling in the mountain valley, fir trees heavy with snow, icicles hanging here and there dripping water, and a paved path close to the castle leading to yet another castle, smaller but just as beautiful, Pelisor Castel. This one was built as a wedding gift from King Carol I to his nephew Ferdinand (heir to the throne) and his wife Marry of England.
Driving even further from here the mountains seem wilder. The road is winding like a huge snake, up and down, and on the side thick forests of pine and fir. We can see massive mountains in the distance separated by gorge, and in that gorge a castle standing tall, grading the entrance to the other side. That castle is Bran Castle, aka. Dracula’s Castle where legends were born, where movies were inspired, and lies were told. This medieval castle used to be a military garrison, and a winter residence for Queen Marry of Romania, but not the home of Dracula. Still, many tourists travel here to find in immortal count, but they find stories of knights and battles, narrow corridors, beautiful architecture and lots of heroic stories and legends. At the foot of the castle there’s a big souvenir market with all you can think Dracula items, delicious smoked cheese and the strongest brandy there is.
As we leave Bran we take road to go to Brasov City, we pass Rasnov town and we can see the Rasnov citadel on the top of the hill, this XII century stronghold protected Transylvania from the Turkish invasions. In Brasov we drive around for a few minutes and then we start exploring the medieval city by foot, passing by the Black Church and the Old Town Hall, and taking a nice stroll on the pedestrian area.
Two castles, amazing scenery, all in a day’s trip. Just take advantage of the last days of winter and buckle up for adventure. Book your seats for the Castles and Dracula Tour!