S: Honeymoon 11/22/2010 - 12/4/2010
FC: Sibiu - the Liar's Bridge
1: After a seven hour drive, we arrive in Newark for our flight to Zurich then on to Romania.
2: The two of us had differing first impressions of Bucharest. Monica, unaware of the multitude of stray dogs, thought that this might not have been the best of ideas. Johnny, on the other hand, found the instant Dracula sightings a welcome sight.
3: Our brief, first night of the honeymoon in Bucharest included dinner and wine at the hotel restaurant, l'Estaminet. | Our room offered an exquisite view of the finest architecture decades of communist rule had to offer. | ...on to Brasov!
4: The city was first attested in 1235 AD under the name Corona, a Latin word meaning "crown", a name given by the German colonists.
5: Originally built in 1383, the Black Church gets its name after an April 1689 Habsburg invasion left the walls black from fires. | Thanksgiving was celebrated in a 400 year old wine cellar beneath our hotel, Bella Muzica. | If you need the organ to play here, just mention the word "organ." Or maybe Johnny just has special powers. | Monica on the steps in the hotel | Strada Republicii
6: The view north from the castle into the town of Bran. | A castle has been at this location since 1212. The area was controlled by the Teutonic Knights, Saxons and Magyr Kings, among others. In later years it became a royal residence and favorite retreat for Queen Marie. The castle sits on a mountain pass that connects Wallachia and Transylvania. | The view southeast from the castle | The coat of arms of Transylvania | Secret stairway form the first to the third floor
7: Queen Marie and King Ferdinand of Romania | The crown of King Ferdinand. This is the crown, originally worn by Carol I, is cast of steel rather than gold. The steel came from a gun captured from the Ottomans during the war for independence in 1877-78. Steel was chosen to represent bravery of the Romanian soldiers. | Contrary to popular belief, this is not "Dracula's Castle." There is no evidence to suggest that he was ever here. It has also been suggested that this is the inspiration for the castle in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula,' but there is no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle. | The castle and the open air museum
8: Founded in the 12th century and birthplace of Vlad Dracula, this medieval citadel transports one back in time. | Monica and Johnny at the bust of Vlad, a stone's throw from his birthplace | Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, was born in Sighisoara in 1431. He was a three-time voivode of Wallachia, ruling mainly from 1456 to 1462, during constant Ottoman invasions of the Balkans. The name "Dracula" comes from his father who was a member in the Order of the Dragon (Dracul). Vlad had a reputation of being very cruel to his enemies, but was also known to be very fair. Today he is still considered a "hero, true leader" and patriot of Romania.
9: Iron marker of the Order of the Dragon affixed to Vlad Dracul's house. | The restaurant sets the mood well considering it's in the house that Dracula was born in. There are paintings, weapons, murals, armor and a bust of Vlad.
10: The main point of attraction of the citadel, the Clock Tower, also known as the Council Tower, was built in the second half of the 14th century and expanded in the 16th. | The Tailors' Tower, built in the 14th century, is the second gate to the citadel. It belonged to one of the richest guilds in the citadel. Fire destroyed the original tower in 1676, due to barrels of gun powder and weapons inside.
11: A modern addition to the skyline, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church sits along the banks of the Tarnava Mare River. It was built 1934-37. | It seems that Johnny's reputation preceded him
12: Mentioned for the first time in 1191, Sibiu is one of Romania's most important cultural centers. A former capital of Transylvania, it was ranked in the top 10 of Europe's most idyllic places to live. | Upon arrival in Sibiu, we checked into our hotel, Casa Luxemburg, where we were greeted by young and spry Paul, who offered to carry our bags up the hotel's winding staircase. Thanks, Paul! | After getting situated in our room, we wandered out and found Sibiu's annual Christmas Festival. | This is considered an "American Hot Dog." I don't know about you, but I can't say that I've ever seen a hot dog like this stateside.
13: The tomb of one of Vlad the Impaler's sons, Mihnea (1460?-1510) is found in the Evangelical Cathedral. Mihnea was assassinated on the front steps of the church after attending mass. | Johnny with Mihnea, or what's left of him. | The Council Clock tower from just under the Liar's Bridge. | The Liar's Bridge at night looking into Piata Mica. Legend has it that if one tells a lie on the bridge, it will collapse. | Originally built as a Roman Catholic Basilica in the 14th Century, it became the Evangelical Cathedral in 1520. It is considered one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Transylvania. | Reschner Clavier... | ...and the eyes of Sibiu
14: Built in the 14th century, a former home of Vlad III the Impaler. It was from a citadel tower that Vlad's wife threw herself into the Arges River below to escape being captured by the Turks. | One of Johnny's lifelong dreams finally realized. | Monica climbing the 1,480 steps to the castle.
15: Our escort up the mountain - a giant black dog that appeared out of nowhere, disappeared once we got to the top and reappeared, sitting at the bottom like he was waiting for us. | The view north from Poenari Castle | Our cab driver (left) and his brother. What an adventure... Six hour drive, no English...
16: Arcul de Triumf, is a triumphal arch just north of the city. This is the third arch to stand in this spot replacing two temporary arches which stood between 1878 and 1922. The final arch was inaugurated in 1936. | We returned to Bucharest in time for their national holiday. We had an unsuccessful trip to Snagov to see the "supposed" tomb of Dracula, but we did manage to experience a severe ice and snow storm than left much of Europe crippled. | Monica checking the board to see if our flight is delayed or cancelled.
17: After extending our layover in London to catch a few sights, we get off of the plane and got stuck in customs for a couple hours, apparently there was an "incident." Either way, it ruined our chance of a night out in London. | Waiting for our bags upon arrival at Heathrow... | ...little did we know that we didn't need to wait for our bags | Hotel in London - a fifteen minute bus ride from the airport | Ceiling in Heathrow | Dinner at The Lounge at the hotel. Good food, even better Guiness. Johnny isn't the biggest fan of Guiness, but it tasted much different in London than it did in the States.
18: From the world's best goulash at Bella Muzica in Brasov to the chocolate raspberry mousse at L'Estaminet in Bucharest, Romania offered a wide variety of food. | Train tickets... Bucharest to Brasov to Sighisoara to Sibiu and back | Evangelical Cathedral in Sibiu | Handwritten coupon for Restaurant Casa Vlad Dracul in Sighisoara | Black Church in Brasov | Bus tickets from Brasov to Bran Castle | Bran Castle and the Open Air Museum
19: Monica at the wishing well at Bran Castle. | Saxon bishop Georg Daniel Teutsch at the Evangelical Cathedral in Sibiu | Johnny with "Benji" in Sighisoara | Even the undead need to bank | Johnny enjoying some wine in Bucharest | Manhole cover in Sibiu | Johnny and the infamous hot peppers | Money goes along way in Romania | Monica on the train from Sighisoara to Sibiu | At Bran Castle | Lutheran reformist Johannes Honterus outside the Black Church in Brasov | Honterus School in Brasov | Monica at Poenari Castle | Outside Old Friends Pub & More in Sibiu | La Cristi Restaurant below Bran Castle | At the airport in Zurich | An owl just below the Clock Tower in Sighisoara | Even Wallachian princes need a retirement plan