When I was invited to Romania I jumped at the chance. Honestly, I knew very little about the country but heading to Transylvania sounded like a lot of fun and I wasn’t disappointed!
Primarily, the purpose of visiting this beautiful country was as a guest at Rockstadt Extreme Fest, a festival with the most spectacular backdrop. This open air metal festival is held in the mountains of Rasnov, 160km from Bucharest, close to Brasov. The Carpathian landscape is stunning, with its rolling mountains and dense forests, all of which made the three hour drive from Bucharest a very pleasant one.
Transylvania is known for its medieval towns, mountain scapes and castles but none so much as the infamous Bran Castle. This dramatic 14th century castle is allegedly the inspiration for many of the Count Dracula stories. To the locals it was simply a popular tourist attraction but it was stunning to see none the less. My local guides explained how the castle in which Vlad the Impaler supposedly inhabited was in fact a different castle some distance from Bran.
Brasov itself was lovely, with colourful baroque buildings and the fascinating Gothic Black Church in its centre. For striking panoramic views of Brasov head up Mount Tampa in the cable car. From 960 meters above sea level, here you can see Brasov and the surrounding areas in all their glory and even enjoy a beer while you do it!
Rockstadt Extreme Fest was awesome. Having been to many festivals over the years this was one of my favourites. The setting no doubt contributed to the fun atmosphere and the top notch organisation meant everything ran smoothly. You could eat some amazing local food, grab a cold beer and relax watching bands from all over the world. The festival had much more to offer than just music which in itself offered a fantastic line up of local and international bands. The food was great. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. There was the Drum Stage. Merchandise. And located in such striking scenery, what more could you ask for?
Close by in Rasnov were the Dino Parc and Rasnov Citadel which were well worth a visit. Half way up the mountainside you find a land of Dinosaurs, chiefly aimed at children it was also fun for any “big kids”. It was fantastic to walk around the forest finding full size dinosaurs, taking photos and enjoying the atmosphere. Perhaps more suited to families but I personally enjoyed my brief encounter with the Romanian Dinosaurs!
Rasnov Citadel is perched on the highest point in the background of the festival. It is a historical monument and was built as part of the defence system for the Transylvanian villages below it. In order to survive invading armies the villagers sought refuge inside the citadel and were forced to stay there for decades turning the fortification into a dwelling. It’s an interesting place to explore for a few hours and the views from the peak are stunning.
Knowing little about Romania when I set off on this journey I was so pleasantly surprised. The people were some of the nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met and I left feeling I had more friends in Romania than in my home town. The local food was delicious, plenty of meat and pickles. There’s so much more to Romania than I had ever thought and I want to see so much more.