Today we took a day trip to Bran, where for sure Dracula's castle is not. However, what is there is a castle that Dracula really should have taken more interest in as it looked fairy tale perfect. First we had to get there and  after a walk to the train station to buy a train ticket for a couple of days time and then we jumped in the taxis at the front of the queue. What we should have done was read the price on the doors of the taxis which they are legally obliged to display and realised that this one was over twice the price of a normal taxi. When we mentioned the bus stop he clocked where we were going and offered to take us all the way for a cut price fixed fee of 100, his last offer coming as the slip road to the bus station was almost past. We explained that the bus for 6 was a better deal and so we swerved off.

The weather was pretty bleak and miserable with a steady flux of snow coming down and it didn't perk up during the bus ride but we were still excited, if a little cold, when we got off and could see the castle itself. What was less obvious was the entrance, we were waved away from one gate and walked the perimeter of the fence as the snow fell. At the right place we paid our money and walked up the steps to the top of the rocky outcrop and into the castle. It's peculiar and haphazard structure can probably be attributed to the history of construction, with elements added over time and others rebuilt as required. There is a certificate allowing the construction from 1377 and since then at least some structure has existed, but there are accounts of it being the site of an earlier fortress as well but by now this is buried beneath the existing structure. In more recent times it housed Queen Marie who used it as a summer residence. Queen Marie was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and married Ferdinand I, the heir to the throne, in 1892 when she was only 17. In 1914 she was crowned Queen and endeared herself to the public by selflessly serving in military hospitals during World War I. From 1920 she renovated  the castle to be fit for her royal residence and it remained so after her death until 1947. In 1957 is became a state museum but in 2009 it was returned to the royal family who have reverted the furnishings to those that Queen Marie had chosen. The architecture is hard to describe and includes turrets, towers and even one hidden staircase. While not being large it is a confusing place to walk around with the layout being very haphazard. Near the top of one of the tower there is a 'Dracula' room drawing the parallels with Vlad the Impaler and the claiming that the location is the inspiration for Bram Stokers book. In reality he never saw this castle and is more likely that he was inspired by some spooky buildings in Scotland - where he wrote his book. However, it is undeniable that the castle certainly looked the part and it was fun to imagine bumping in Dracula in the secret passageway.

Back out we weren't exactly greeted with sunshine but at least it had stopped snowing. There was little else to see or do so we set about trying to find some lunch. We brushed off the first place as a bit too posh but after finding that everywhere else was shut, obviously we are ahead of the tourist curve, we relented. In fact it was perfect and crucially at this point warm. After eating we looked at our watches and rushed for a bus, only to arrive about a minute late and then spent half an hour circling the very small center waiting for the next bus, arriving in plenty of time at the stop.

Back at Brasov we had some of the day left and walked into the center via the citadel, located just outside the old city walls. At the top was a very impressive building, a large circular building with an imposing door way. Unsure whether it was open we strolled  in and walked around the courtyard to see derelict restaurants and night clubs being renovated, all closed. With no one seeming to mind we walked up to the walls for a view over the town and again saw the marked contrast between the old town and the more modern sprawl alongside.

We finished the trek into town and treated ourselves to a relatively very expensive but much needed meal of steak, chips and vegetables. The food was excellent, the beer nice and of course the company fantastic (do I get my brownie points now?!). On the walk home we stumbled across what looked like an official boy racer circuit just at the end of the main street. We watched a couple of cars negotiate the tight track, which included a couple of markers they had to loop around affording the opportunity on the slick roads to impressively slide around them. We didn't fathom just what the event actually was, and indeed there seemed a big mix of cars, but it all looked like they were enjoying themselves. We did see one of the competitors driving home afterwards as we walked home and judging by his revs I think he thought he was still racing!