So, Peles Castle ... amazing. It's architecture, woodwork, design and furnishings had influences from all over the world, including France, Spain, Asia, England, Germany and Russia.
The weapons display and armor were breathtaking and overwhelming to say the least. I snapped a few photos as I was able to (we had to pay extra to take pictures so I snuck some ;-), but really, they won't do it justice.
I was enamored of every single room inside that place. It took over 40 years to complete and just the woodwork alone must have taken a brunt of that time to produce. I am truly humbled by the fact I was able to see this place, to take this trip really ... all of it.
And Queen Elizabeth ... she really intrigued me. She was a writer :-) so maybe that's why. She wrote 43 books, she knew over 7 languages and also played the piano and organ (I think she played a few other instruments as well). She was beautiful inside and out.
I think Romania has a knack for producing artists. The famous composer George Enescu also has a home in Sinaia (where Peles is). We passed it. He has a few homes in the country. But his compositions are quite beautiful and his violin play is amazing.
Then we went to Bran Castle. It was quite different from Peles, but in a very cool way. It was a gothic style castle, originally built in the 12th Century. It is also known as the castle that influenced Brom Stoker's "Dracula," along with Vlad Tepes (the Impaler).
Unfortunately, during the communist period, a lot of the original furnishings were taken from the castle — which was built as a fortress (aka. not meant to be glamorous) — so most of what was in there were furnishings of that time period meant to mimic what was once there.
Queen Marie, who lived here, was also talented and intelligent, an artist. In her will, she had her heart preserved and it eventually was kept at Bran Castle, however, after the communist period, it was removed and is now at the National Museum of Romanian History (which I will see on Wednesday). It remains a controversial topic.
While different from Peles, Bran had a definite air of royalty surrounding it, but a darker one, perhaps a bit colder. It seemed sadder inside somehow, the energy there.
It wasn't warm and plush like Peles. It felt royal in a different way, a fiercer, stronger way, whereas Peles felt more majestic, like a fairytale really. I could only imagine being a princess in that castle, wearing a lavish dress, swishing across those posh, red rugs and silk spun carpets from Spain.
I could go on and on, but lets just say, if you ever visit Romania, these are two places to definitely stop. The abyss of history is far too deep for me to dive into in one blog post.
We went to Brasov, one of the four major cities in Romania and quite beautiful. I will try to have more on that next post as well as more on my mom's village, Vistea de Jos and Fagaras, where my aunt Dorina lives as well as the Monastery of Simbata de Sus.
Unlike my other travels to Europe in the past, this one is different in so many ways. I think perhaps the biggest reason is I'm seeing the way my mom grew up, the way my family, both my mom's and on my dad's side, grew up. My family is so warm and welcoming, so generous and eager to please and love and care ... it fills me with emotions I find hard to express.
My roots, my heritage and the traditions my mom instilled in me throughout my life have become so much more animated, so much stronger during this trip. I want to embrace so many more things, things I didn't realize were in me. And the language, the way it's coming back to me, how much more I understand than I gave myself credit for.
When I was a kid, I would often be "embarrassed" about my Romanian dancing, some of the traditions, etc. I was a kid and wanted to "fit in" with all the other kids. But in the recent years, I've grown to truly appreciate my heritage, my family, our history and my culture.
I am proud and yet humbled to be here, to be able to soak up this history and my family. I see a lot more of myself and my mom, my dad's family and our characteristics in my family members and cousins here than I could have imagined. I absolutely love it.
And I love sharing it with you all. I wish I could place what's in my heart right now in this blog, in you all.
But I suppose photos and words will have to do ...