What a beautiful day in the Carpathian mountains! As if the sunny skies, verdant vistas, and homey horse-drawn carts galloping alongside us weren't enough, our route was almost entirely downhill.
…which was good, because we left our hotel at 12PM with a meager four hours of sleep and a very small breakfast. Whoops.
A short 300m climb to the top of the pass completely drained what little energy we had, but the rest of our ride was mercifully effortless. Cruising down the mountain, we passed several men in the midst of sheep-shearing:
We came to a quick halt, turned around, and asked if we could watch for awhile. They consented, and we observed as the men carefully and skillfully clipped wool from the animals' bodies.
…there was a LOT of it!
The whole process looked pretty tricky, and the sheep didn't seem to be enjoying themselves very much. The shepherds often had to wrestle them into various awkward positions, kneeling on them so they would hold still. They had to have a firm grasp, lest they cut the sheep in the process.
…that would be baaaaad.
After all that thick wool is cut off…
…they must feel a lot better. It's was hot out!
After thanking the shepherds and making our way down the road a bit, Tyler took a hint from all the shearing and asked if I would cut his hair. And so, by the side of the road, I did just that. He was happy as a lamb after his own poof of hair was trimmed and tamed.
Continuing on, the scenery only got prettier. We passed through quaint little farming villages, where men transported loads of rocks and firewood in their horse-drawn carriages.
Cows seem to graze freely here in the mountains of Romania, unencumbered by fences or inhumane ropes tied around their necks and secured to their legs. Here was a particularly funny one. After I snapped this photo, she walked right through someone's gate and into their yard! Maybe she lives there?
After an easy day of coasting, we made it to the town of Bran and saw a sign for a campsite! Vampire Camping, to be exact. Tyler didn't see the point, citing that we'd just showered, possessed everything we needed to free-camp (food, water, etc), and had passed a multitude of beautiful, secluded free-camps on the way into town. But, I love campsites and we come across them so rarely these days that I wanted to take advantage of it while we had the chance.
For €10 we set up among masses of cute, elderly Dutch couples in huge, white campervans. We couldn't help but chuckle when we saw many of them sporting equally white, perfectly cropped hair. Next to us, a young Belgian couple made camp after arriving on foot. Clouds rolled in and our beautiful day came to an end as rain began to fall. We set up quickly, making sure our belongings were safe, and then walked over to Bran Castle in the dark drizzle.
Billed as "Dracula's Castle" we were disappointed to find that Bran Castle actually had nothing to do with Dracula. Vlad Tepes' castle is somewhere else, and this one had little to do with the myth of vampires or even Bram Stoker's Dracula novel.
It was okay, but not amazing.
The rain clouds passed and we were able to snap this photo of the inner courtyard.
With many rooms blocked off, arrows pointing us which way we were supposed to go, groups of tourists being shuffled along like sheep, and Tyler trying to shake his sour mood about the "waste of money", I had a hard time enjoying myself. There was a cool secret passage though:
A bit disappointed, we left the castle, quickly walked past several stalls selling cheap nicknacks, and headed home.
Lastly, here's our doggie friend of the day! This guy had just gotten up from a nap and wasn't quite awake yet. His face was even sprinkled with dirt from where he'd been laying. What a cutie!