Europe | Romania | Transylvania – Transylvania Revisited
Left Buda-Pesth at 4PM on 12 July, arriving at Bucharest early next morning. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse I got of it from the train, and the little I could walk through the streets. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most Western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.
Having some time at my disposal when in Dublin, I had consulted the internet, and made search among the texts and maps found there regarding Transylvania; it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a noble of that country. I find the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the border of three states: Transylvania, Moldavia and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian Mountains, one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some imaginary whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting.
After a short sojourn in Bucharest, I travelled on to Brasov, where I was to rest a night in preparation of the ascent on the Count’s castle. All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of every kind. Unfortunately though, I had to stand on the bus. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals. At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in all sorts of attire. They are very picturesque; but do look very unfashionable and poor.
It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Brasov, which is a very interesting old place. It has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows marks of it. Brasov is of Saxon heritage, being once a Hungarian frontier post against the heathen Turk. It has some quite pleasant colourful baroque townhouses and a Gothic black church. But, alas, it also betrays the unfortunate signs of Communist influence. Ugly, some only half finished, grey concrete tower blocks surround and dwarf the old town.
Count Dracula had directed me to seek lodgings with Maria Bolea [00 40 68 311 962], a talkative native woman who lets rooms in the town for a reasonable price. When I made inquiries about the Count of Maria, she seemed somewhat reticent, which was strange for her, and pretended not to understand my English. When I asked a passing peasant what he knew of Count Dracula, both he and his wife crossed themselves and, saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was all very mysterious and not by any means comforting. After supper I retired, a little disconcerted, to bed early, to conserve my strength for the morrow.