Retro: Sighișoara, Romania

You’d expect the place that “Dracula” was born to have some good, but kind of disgusting, eats.

Right on both counts.

Sighișoara was next up on the day’s agenda, and if you’re touring around Transylvania, you pretty much have to stop here.  This is the town where Vlad Tepes was born and if you’re going to go “Full Vlad” in Romania, you can’t skip it.  The town boasts a population of over 30000 and can be seen as a day-trip from Brașov or Sibiu.  There are also a few day trips you can hit from the town proper, getting out into Saxon Land or the previously posted-about Biertan.  After having checked it out, I felt like a day would have been enough, but it’s a nice enough place that you could probably spend a couple if you try and see the surrounding area.

The main focal point of the town is most definitely the clock tower within the town’s citadel.  Dating from the 13th century, the tower contains a pretty little history museum and boasts some good views of the town and the surrounding countryside.  You also get a close up look at the intricate wooden figures that get switched on to the clock display on a daily basis.  There’s also a torture museum and a medieval weapons museum nearby, if either of those things are the sort of thing that catch your fancy.

Passing through the old square (Piata Cetatii) within the citadel, you come across a covered stairway which leads you to the appropriately titled Church on the Hill, which is a Lutheran church on a hill.

We took in the views around the church and the city before heading back down the the square, taking in the citadel in all it’s UNESCOness before doing a bit of souvenir browsing.  One of the more interesting characters we met was the “Spoon Man”, who proudly told us he named himself after the Soundgarden song on account of him specializing in making hand-carved wooden spoons.  I picked up a wooden snake spoon (looked like a dragon to me), a symbol of power, while mom fawned over the ingenuity of a guy calling himself “Spoon Man”.  With my power spoon in hand and mom already having been wowed by the second-most famous celebrity of Sighișoara, we figured it was time to eat at the house of the town’s main draw.

Casa Dracula is the Hard Rock Cafe of Sighișoara.  Definitely the most famous place in town, on account of it being the house in which Vlad Tepes lived until he was 4, and there is a nice balance between an eerie but not-too-kitchy interior (minus the bust of Vlad at the entrance) and a patio area in the back, which is where we sat.  Apparently, if you ask, you can go upstairs and “see” Dracula in his coffin, which he will then pop out of to say hello.  I don’t think the option was afforded us on this day, and I can’t say I would have gone for it one way or the other, but there you go.

Fortunately and unfortunately, my most prominent memory of Sighișoara will be the traditional Transylvania stew that was served in a bread bowl.  Fortunately, because it was one of the most delicious things I ate on the trip.  Unfortunately, because as I ate the bread bowl and flipped it over to further rip it apart, I noticed a pretty freaking large cockroach baked into the bowl.  This was not a scary, Dracula-themed decoration.  It was an actual cockroach.

Claudiu, who was still taking us around Transylvania, pitched a right fit to the owner and we managed to get our meal comped (don’t mess with somebody in the travel industry), and we were also told that the bowl was brought in from an outside bakery.  Either way, yuck.

As is the theme for these Transylvanian towns, Sighișoara is best experienced as part of the larger unit – nobody’s flying across the world specifically to see this place – but it is one of the more picturesque stops along the way.  Plus, whether it’s a fake Dracula popping out of a coffin, a torture museum, or insect-laden bread, it’s good for the scares you’re looking for.

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