I promise I'll post pictures later!
We figured that while we live in Switzerland we should take advantage of that and see as much of Europe as possible. Jason travels to all the "normal" places for work so he wasn't thrilled about Paris, Milan, Barcelona or any of those traditional vacation spots, because he's been there. He said, "What about Romania?" I said, "okay."
We flew into Bucharest and spent the first night there. Then Monday morning we got in our rental car and headed for Transylvania. My 6 year old Sarah started to complain that she felt like she was going to vomit. Now, she always complains that she is going to vomit in the car and she never has, so we ignored her.
We took a wrong turn and ended up in a grocery store parking lot. I said, "Let's stop here and get some water and a snack for the trip." Sarah said, "I have to vomit." I said, "well, open the car door then," fully thinking she was just being dramatic. Well, she wasn't and she managed to vomit all over the parking lot.
Fortunately, only a little got on the car, and the rest was in the parking lot. (Sorry about that, Carrefor people!) We got some water and headed out. She slept in the car and we decided it was a fluke. Ha! How silly we were.
Romanian roads are mostly in horrible conditions. Pot holes everywhere. Windy, dirty roads. Fortunately, our GPS (through the Iphone) had everything. I love Google. We drove through crazy villages and got to the base of the real Dracula's castle. We didn't climb up because it was raining and Sarah was feeling awful.
At one point, we pulled over into the mud, and she and I got out of the car so she could vomit again. It was raining as well and after she finished and changed her clothes and got back into the car she said, "some day this will be a really great story." We've trained her well.
We spent two days in the town of Zabola at a Bed and Breakfast (http://www.zabola.com/home/). She stayed in bed and Jason and Daniel went on a few walks in the woods and I read to her. The food there was so good. It was an absolutely lovely place to be and I would love to go back when no one was puking.
Then we headed to htttp://www.transylvaniacastle.com and, fortunately she was feeling better. This place is run by an actual count whose family had to leave Romania 60-70 years ago. After the revolution in 1989 Romania started to allow displaced Romanian nobles to reclaim their land. Count Kalnoky came back (he's the grandson of the last count) and started restoring the old family lands. He was born in Germany and didn't even speak Hungarian (the language of the region) when he came back. He also spent a stint as a pharmaceutical executive, which which makes me laugh, for some reason.
The villages were crazy. People still drove horse carts around. The buildings were falling down or unfinished, but everyone had a satellite dish. I can't even explain how weird it was.
We learned a lot about what it was like to live in a communist country. Our tour guide, Monica, told us about how her grandfather was arrested and beaten for listening to clandestine radio.
We asked about religion in the country. The Romanian speaking people are Romanian Orthodox. Apparently there is no relationship between that church and the Roman Catholic or Russian or Greek Orthodox churches. If you don't like someone you can go to the priest and pay him money and he will pray that harm will come to the person. If you are having a string of bad luck, you can go to the priest and pay him money to find out if he's being paid to bring harm to you and then pay him to pray against your enemy. I don't know how accurate this is, but craziness.
There is a huge minority that speaks Hungarian. (That was the language where we were.) They feel very oppressed by the Romanians and consider themselves Hungarians. We ate dinner with some Romanians from Bucharest and they told us how they felt like the Hungarians had way too much control in the country and how they should be forced to learn Romanian.
It was clear that there were hard feelings between both groups, but the one thing they could agree on was that they all hated the Gypsies. The stories we heard about the Gypsies--wow. Nobody had anything positive to say--they were lazy, thieving, blah, blah, blah. I have no personal experience in this area, so I won't comment other than to say that it would be hard to overcome that stereotype to achieve anything.
We got to ride on a horse cart, we fed wild pigs and ate more delicious food. (I gained 4 pounds! Bah!) If it wasn't for the rainy weather and puking child it would have been a great vacation.