Budget-friendly and (almost) Dracula-free Transylvania
February 8, 2014Posted by on
In some sense, things haven’t changed much since Bram Stoker published those words in 1897. I arrived by train myself in mid-January and I, too, found strange things: A picture-perfect medieval town square packed not with tourists but primary school students. “Bagel” shops that don’t sell bagels. An Eastern Orthodox priest denouncing guitar lessons and raising bees.
Still, Sighisoara, under three hours from Brasov by train, was the highlight. I’m very picky about medieval walled towns, having skewered places from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Èze, France, as little more than polished museum pieces. But unlike those places (and true to what guidebooks said), Sighisoara is truly living medieval town, its 16th- through 18th-century homes largely still inhabited. When I stopped into a place called the Medieval Cafe for a 5-lei warm winter drink made of black currants, I could hear children playing in the neighboring schoolyard; I would later see the same kids rushing out of school in the square in front of the clock tower, which in many other places would be strictly tourist territory.”
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