|Vlad Tepes, the Hero ?|
|The Story Told|
|Along A Nondescript Gravel Road|
We started our day by driving on a dirt road, looking for the actual spot on the battlefield where Vlad Tepes died. The road was rough and bumpy but easy to follow. After some miles we found a sign proclaiming this was the spot. A nearby spring flowed out of the woods and it is said that this spring started flowing when Vlad (Dracula) was killed. Besides this spring, the location is very ordinary today. I could not even ’feel’ the logic of this spot being a battle ground.
But, since we are tourists, we just stood there and took pictures of what we saw. There were no guides, there were no buildings, and there was nothing but this plaque with the tale of Vlad Tepes written on it. We can now say we have been there.
|Walnut Fountain Now Made Into A More 'Civilized' Spring|
After this stop we made our way to Snagov, the other location where Dracula is supposedly buried. Snagov is not that far from Comana. Comana is south of Bucharest, Snagov is north. We had to drive ‘around’ Bucharest and boy was this a bad road. I am told Romania is building a new ring road around Bucharest and let me tell you, they need to do this. What they have now is as bad as it gets. The city is too large and too busy to have a 2-lane road that is designated as a main thoroughfare. So many potholes, traffic lights, trucks and traffic in general with bad road conditions that I wonder what is Romania thinking, having a beltway like that. I have not seen the new ring road, but the old one we were on is just terrible.
I found a B&B in Snagov that is by far, the best B&B ever. Our GPS found it for us, it was on a dirt road, and we had to use the dirt road setting, but what a gem. Pool, gardens, romantic gourmet dinner with soft music and a very large room were ours for the day/night. We were the only guests as they were closing for the season. Casa Radu is the name of the place, if you are ever in Snagov. And if you can, if you are in or around Bucharest, Snagov is a must see place. I did not know much about Snagov until the owner of Casa Radu gave us a tour and explained some intricacies of the town.
|Our B&B, Casa Radu (Ours Was the Room With the Balcony)|
When Romania was still in the strong grasp of Ceausescu, the late dictator, the city of Snagov was a guarded, closed off town, only for the political elite of RO. Even today, there are some parks, villas, compounds that are guarded and you cannot visit or even get near the buildings. The whole of the area is filled with old fashioned villas, hidden houses, fenced yards and snobbish looking elitism. Even our B&B is behind a high wall, away from roaming eyes. But so are most of the larger estates and bigger houses. If you drive through the town by car, you might think it’s a sleepy place but it is not. Romanian politics were and are formed here.
The young man who owned Casa Radu had the day off and took us under his wing to show us ‘his’ town. His English was excellent and self-taught. His mother ran the kitchen; he ran the bar and served his guests. What a nice man!
|Had to Be Approved By the Guards To Enter Ceausescu's Summer Palace|
|Huge Carpets, All One Piece. It Took 12 Women 10 Years to Make||.||Each Thread is Individually Knotted|
|I Don't Think I Could Sleep Here|
|Foyer Entrance Mosaic|
|Many Selected Woods Used to Make This Door|
|The Front Entrance|
|The Entrance Off the Lake|
|Ceausescu - Nice Looking Guy But His Mind??? Was He Lost??|
I drove and he was our tour guide for just one day. Our first stop was the summer residence of Ceausescu until he was executed for war crimes. This Palace was originally built for King Carol I, but then later redecorated, revamped, rebuilt or re-assigned to be a show place for the then Romanian Political Bosses. Communism at its finest. Our guide knew the Manager of the Palace (which is normally closed to the public) and arranged for us to have a tour inside. The misguided opulence was scary. Huge, hand knotted carpets for large rooms that would take a dozen women 10 years to make were strewn about like leaves in a forest. Wooden décor, hand fitted doors in multi-faceted wood grains, silken wallpaper, and opulence you would not believe. Hundreds of rooms, all stuffed full with ‘stuff’ that is not my taste and, I dare to say, not the taste of most folks in the world. What a waste of money, what a waste of energy. What was this all about, what was this guy Ceausescu trying to show the world? I was told that the late pop singer Michael Jackson once rented the whole Palace for his ‘needs’. I had entered a strange, unreal world, in this not so well-known town of Snagov. Even today there are sections that are off limits to mortals like me. How I came to see this palace, with the help of our ‘guide’ was the weirdest experience in itself. I saw a side of the world I know nothing about and somehow I just know I don’t fit in at all with people like this.
|Not My Kind of Living Room|
|Michael Jackson Slept Here|
With pride, our guide pointed out the gardens around this palace, modeled after those in Versailles. I just stood and nodded, not knowing what to say about such a wasted effort. Definitely not my kind of place, yet yes, there are some weird places around this globe. Misguided as you can only imagine.
Gold, silver and crystal shimmer and that might impress some people; but I am much earthier, way too much a simple creature to be taken in by this squandering of wealth.
After we passed the guards again, who opened the gates to let us out of this compound, we came to another resting place for Vlad Tepes,where the local people
|Our Way Out|
believe he is really buried. Situated on an Island within Lake Snagov is a small Monastery and it is said, that Tepes is buried within its walls. Yes, there were plaques, signs and lots of tourists that needed to see this spot. But was Dracula really laid to rest here? We will never know for sure, all we learned was that his head, after he died, was pickled in honey and then shipped to Istanbul so that the Sultan could see that Vlad was really dead. So the corpse, if there is one, is a headless body, buried someplace in Romania. I let the experts try to find out what really happened to Vlad. I did what I could to get a view of Dracula, to get a feeling of the times when he was in charge and to see Romania and its people then and now.