This year’s Halloween is marking two years as we left for Romania for our spooky holiday. This country was never high on our list of places to visit, but in 2016 we were quite strapped for cash so the flight prices kinda decided for us. As it was Romania, the home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we decided to go in the Halloween period and do the whole “Yeah, we went to Transylvania for Halloween because we’re so badass”. Our two stops were Bucharest and Brasov (starting point to get to Bran’s castle), the length of trip was one week, Saturday to Saturday and the weather was sunny and freezing.
The majority of the planning for the trip was done on the short flight so we needed to find headquarters with food and warm drinks (or beer) and make a battle plan. A restaurant situated in an old court house proved to be a good choice. They had delicious food for reasonable prices and the beer, even though it was cold, was just what we needed. But I think the view of the old style courtyard was what sealed the deal for us when picking this place; it looked absolutely stunning and made you feel like you were back in cca 16th century. They even had a Renaissance reenactment, complete with archers, knights and fair maidens, later on in the week. The restaurant was a good starting point for exploring the Bucharest Old Town.
Now, I can go in all the details of the history and importance of the Old Town but you can find that anywhere online (like here). In short, the old town is lovely, it has some beautiful old churches like Stavropoleos Church whose courtyard looked abandoned and overgrown with ivy which is something I really enjoy (see featured photo). I love finding beauty in old, dilapidated buildings; this might be the reason why I love Havana so much. Oh, one thing to mention here, please don’t be douchebag tourists who talk on their phones or are very loud in churches/mosques/any other religious buildings; I am not religious myself but I found it the height of rudeness and disrespect to other people who go there to pray and reflect on their lives. It only shows your own poor upbringing.
The Old Town also has quite a lot of connections to Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler, Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula. You didn’t really think a trip to Romania during Halloween would go by without mentioning Bram Stoker and Count Dracula?!? Now that would just be poor story telling 😀 Basically, the Old Town was the palace and there are some ruins from the old palace walls to be seen. The narrow streets of the Old Town are bursting with restaurants and clubs and there are so many people trying to rope you into going to their place. I found it all quite annoying and it did diminish my whole experience and take of the old town. You could not walk for more than 5 minutes without someone inviting you to their club. The area is also full of generic souvenir shops on every corner.
One part of Old Town I liked a lot was Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse, a small passage cramped with hookah/nargila bars where we spent most of our evenings enjoying the shisha and warm drinks, perfect way to end a day of sightseeing. Thus the Alice in Wonderland reference in the title, just in case someone missed it. We also stumbled upon a small market filled with old trinkets and some antiques. It was dark and gloomy inside, you could smell the moldiness and the old of the place. It was exactly what a vintage/antiques market should look like. We did not buy anything but we did spend good 40 mins there just walking around and browsing.
Apart from the Old Town which is basically the centre and where more or less everything touristy happens, there are other parts of Bucharest definitely worth seeing, especially if you are spending couple of days here.