The intensely beautiful Carpathian Mountains are an undiscovered corner of Europe - mostly. They contain beautiful ski resorts, wild game (a few hunters come here for deer, bear, etc.) and hiking trails.
Castle Bran, Count Dracula's Castle, is the #1 tourist attraction in Romania. It lived up to its reputation the day we visited as it was "Children's Day" a school holiday, and the place was packed with sight seers. The castle was originally built at Bran pass, as a fortification to keep the Ottoman Turks from entering the area. Of course the real Count Dracula didn't drink blood, but he was a bloody tyrant known as Vlad the Impaler. Combine his tyrannical reign and the name, which means son of Satan in Romanian, and Irish author Bram Stoker had fertile material for his 1897 Gothic horror novel, Dracula.
In spite of the fact that religion was discouraged under Communism, 90% of Romanians are Eastern Orthodox, about 3 % Catholic and similar numbers of protestants and Muslims. As in most Europe, few of the young people are active, but the older generation fills the churches.
About 10% of the residents are Roma, or Gypsies as they are more popularly known. These people originally came from India and have spread throughout Europe. They remain culturally separate from the mainstream, maintaining their traditions, and keeping their children from school resulting in high levels of unemployment. The Romanian government is making efforts to integrate these people into society but meeting with little success.
Yesterday we left the mountains of Transylvania and returned to Bucharest and on to the Black Sea where we boarded our boat for our lower Danube river cruise. Constanta, the largest port on the Black Sea.
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