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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Map - Haunted Illinois goes on a Dracula Tour in Transylvania - Romania

Day 5:

Even though I didnít get much sleep the night before, I still got up reasonably early so I would have time to pack and possibly do a little exploring. After weighing my options, I decided to check out the row of souvenir stands that were set up outside the hotel.  When it got to be about 10am,  I headed back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group, to check out. Since the hotel towels had ďCastel DraculaĒ embossed on them, I of course wanted to buy one for a souvenir, but the desk clerk didnít seem too keen on the idea. I'm sure he got sick of me asking, so in this case persistence paid off.  Eventually he sent one of the bellhops to go get one for me. Leaving Piatra Fantanele, we would have to back-track along Borgo Pass and travel through Bistrita and Sighisoara, on our way to Sibiu. The day was quite travel-intensive compared to the first few days of the trip. Luckily Radu had brought along several vampire movies to play on the busí VCR, which seemed to make the long hours on the road more bearable. 

About mid-day we stopped at a gothic citadel in the small village of Biertan, which is located just past Sighisoara. The fortified church, which dates back to the 14th century, was remarkably well preserved. Being on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Biertan is one of the most visited villages in Transylvania. The church could be accessed by walking up a long flight of stairs, but itís not as easy as it sounds. The stairs were purposely built warped, with irregular dimensions, so it would be more difficult for enemies to run up and storm the church. I canít imagine soldiers in armor trying to run up those stairs; with their uneven construction, I had a hard enough time even walking up them! Inside the church there was a beautiful gothic shrine carved out of wood. Created in the early 1500ís, the shrine featured 24 painted icons which represented biblical scenes. I was impressed with the specially crafted door for the vestry, which protected the treasures of the church. It had an intricate locking system, which moved 15 locking bolts simultaneously, to secure the door on the top, bottom, as well as on the left and right sides. It was quite a feat of engineering. The entrance of the church also had a clever locking mechanism. Having two keyholes, it was a combination lock of sorts. Even if the key fell into the wrong hands, the door couldnít be unlocked unless the key was turned, following a specific sequence. We also went into the mausoleum tower. Inside stood several tall tombstones ( ~ 6 ft. high), each bearing the likeness of a renowned priest, chiseled out of stone. After we were done checking out the sites in Biertan, we boarded the bus and headed for our next stop, Sibiu. 

Fortified City of Biertan, Romania
(Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge)
The Pulpit
The Vestry door lock with 15 locking bolts The combination lock View over the wall

We arrived in Sibiu in the evening and checked into the hotel. After everyone got settled into their rooms, we met in the lobby and then went for a walk around town. Everywhere you looked, there was construction of some sort. Due to the city being named the Cultural Capital of Europe for 2007, there was a city-wide restoration effort. After seeing a few sites, we decided to get something to eat. Radu suggested a restaurant that he thought that we would like. When we got there, the waitress informed us that there was no food. After asking her why, she replied that the kitchen was broken. Radu spoke with her for a while and after we left, he translated her explanation. Apparently the reason they didnít have any food was because the cook had a nervous breakdown. How weird! Having no luck at the first restaurant, we went out in search of another place to eat. The streets were pretty crowded and all the restaurants we saw were full. Iím sure it didnít help any that the Finnish rock group HIM was playing in the town square. We did find an outdoor cafť that looked promising, but like all the other restaurants, there werenít any open tables. I thought we were going to have to wait forever to get something to eat, but some persuasive negotiating by Radu got us one of the next tables that opened up. The food was pretty good (I had pizza). After dinner, we all returned to the hotel. 

Sibiu, Romania
(Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge)
Air vents were built into the roofs of many buildings
Half restored roof Our tour group at an outdoor cafť

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