*Guest post alert! Compliments of SVV.
Sometime back in 2005, Kristin and I took a come-hell-or-high-water road trip across the lower spline of Eastern Europe and deep into the Carpathian Mountains. We spent two days in the bullet-ridden but quite charming Budapest before finding a local car rental and striking out towards the Black Sea. Despite my worst driving we made it about halfway. The roads were typically one lane and while the maps showed say, a distance of 100 miles, the reality on the ground proved vexingly different. I don’t think we minded much -seeing as my face was plastered to the landscape, searching for a wolf pack headed by a black-caped fiend and Kristin, well, she’s just happy to be traveling.
The country is awash in fortifications and churches. I heart crumbling beauty, ruined civilization and our manifest devotion to higher powers and cannot stop wishing I could travel the world taking photos before they melt into the earth like some poor kids chocolate sundae. The monasteries are quite simply gorgeous.
Once you get past the cheesy vampire stuff and sad-eyed strays the place has a starkness to it – at least in winter – that I find particularly attractive. Don’t you just want to shoot an arrow or at the very least, storm the joint like a berzerker? Oh wait that’s right, you really want to sip hot palinka and munch on cinnamon rolls when there’s snow on the ground. Save the marauding for Spring.
These streets were walked by Vlad Dracul, Dracula’ s father, and by the main man himself, Vlad the Impaler when he was but a wee little fang. Sighişoara was an interesting town. Dracula’s birth house is a two star hotel – why not four? And an old cemetary lies at the top of town.
The fence was locked – presumably to keep the zombies in – so we walked around the freestanding gate and felt like trespassers in your mom’s house. So many photo opportunities there but needed a better camera than my pocket Olympus.
And how does one segue to monkeys? Easy.. MONKEYS ! See?
Many people know about Gibraltar but not about the Barbary Apes living all over it. Apparently those swash buckling rogues of yore – ya know, back in the day – liked monkeys just as much as we do now. Hungry little fellows, the good Brits have rationally made it illegal to feed them. Since I read signs like this as permission to, a) let an ape bite my hand, or b) snack on my crackers, I chose the latter.
They have the best view in Spain. Well, technically this is England but who’s really counting?
And the backside of the ROCK..
Also, since I was there to interview the local population, I thought I’d ask for comment on the recent influx of seagulls into the neighborhood. Mr Monkey patiently waited for more peanuts instead of answering my questions.
I’d brought beer for the long walk down but Mr Monkey demanded a sample of the goods.
At first I thought he’d spilled it because well, his brain is the size of my fist. But on closer examination, I realized I was in his church. The guidebook didn’t mention this.
I’d brought more than one sacrificial beer, decided to relent, and joined the horde.. **
** I am so NOT posing like a high-school douche-Q-back. My hat kept falling off. I was simply holding it on. <sniff> But I LOVE monkey bars. Don’t you?