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Romania

THE BEGUM

During one of my trips to India, I met a rather unique maharani. Her husband owned India’s most beautiful library, which was filled with ancient manuscripts about medicine and botany. She was short and round. She wore real Christmas decorations wrapped around her neck as a sort of necklace. And yet on each of her…

On Dracula’s Footsteps V

In 1459, during the course of a devastating raid in Transylvania, Vlad attacked Brasov. He burned the poor suburbs, in particular the church of Saint Bartholomew, today full of factories. He bombarded the ramparts, particularly the stronghold of weavers. On Quinta Hill, in full view of the besieged, he impaled dozens of prisoners. One of…

On Dracula’s Footsteps IV

Tuesday, 21 June The ancient city of Brasov is now besieged by hideous factories and modern quarters. We stared down upon it with horror from a high vantage point, a sharp contrast to the overflowing beauty and charm of the old city. The neighborhood around the famous Black Church is extraordinary. Vaguely Austrian despite having…

On Dracula’s Footsteps III

Monday, 20 June We left for Sibiu. Fivos chose a country road that passed through Agnita. It was an unimaginable splendor, valleys and fields, lush forests, magnificent trees, distant horizons, and old villages, untouched since the 19th century. Keeps and donjons of fortified evangelical churches, with their imposing ramparts, defended by secular oaks. Birds sang…

Romania

King Carol of Romania When Romania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, a foreigner, Prince Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, was chosen to become sovereign, in part due to political influences. Prince, then King of Romania, he was the true creator of the modern Romanian state. An austere German, feared by his family, he was also a…

On Dracula’s Footsteps II

The countryside we drove through was less sumptuous. Fields with gentle valleys as far as the eye can see, with few scattered villages and even fewer inhabitants in the opulent landscape. We arrived at Sighisoara, a lovely little 19th century city built around a plateau upon which rises the old city fortress. The Park Royal…

On Dracula’s Footsteps

Sunday, June 19 I left for Romania with Tigran and Darius. My friend Fivos accompanied us. A Greek, he speaks Romanian. I had never been to this country before, and I decided to discover it with my eldest grandsons. We flew Aegean Airlines; the flight was comfortable. The airport in Bucharest is clean enough, very…