Day three (May 2) in Sibiu is laundry and Dracula day. Mari-an had to duck back into her dorm this morning and when she came back, she brought a bar of laundry soap for me. It’s the first time since I started my trip (April 16) that I had to do my own laundry. When I was with the Mithens in Cornwall, Christine just chucked my dirty clothes into the washing machine and then into the dryer. When I was in Cambridge, Rhea and I chucked our clothes (mine were all just undies, though) into Paul’s washing machine and then hung them up in his room to dry. When I was in Paris, my aunt chucked my dirty clothes into her washing machine and hung them up to dry. Now I had some serious hand-washing to do. Then there was the issue of where to dry them. The sun was beautiful and hot and perfect for what chore I had at hand. We spotted a clothesline outside my room but I didn’t think it was for guests to use. Leave it to Mari-an grab every opportunity to Marius! No sooner had I wrung my last pair of socks was she back with a big smile telling me that I could hang my clothes out.
With that chore out of the way, we were ready for our trip to Vlad Tepeș’ birthplace, Sighișoara. Again, this was another bus ride from hell with the air-con only mildly blowing air. This day was so hot that in one of the towns we passed, the outside temperature was recorded at 38oC and to make matters worse, this was 1.5 hour-long bus ride! Much as I wanted to see the other towns along the way, the one-two combo of a full stomach and a hot midday always equates to a good siesta. Mari-an and I were in and out of consciousness throughout the trip.
Don’t think that Sighișoara is only known for Dracula. Actually, it’s a tourist destination for other reasons, one of which is the fact that it’s a well-preserved walled old town. In the past, Transylvanian Saxon merchants and craftsmen lived here. Even now, there are still a few artists in the area. I bought a pretty watercolour painting that I instantly fell in love with and I had my picture taken with the local artist.
Let’s go back to Vlad III Tepes for a moment, though. I know you’re dying to know more about the man behind the legend. So Vlad Tepes is supposedly the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In reality, Vlad Tepes is not a blood-sucking-bat-turning-undead. He was actually a prince of the area once called Wallachia and was known for his sadistic ways of torturing and killing. The name Dracula means “son of the Dragon” because his father was called Vlad II Dracul. Vlad II received the name Dracul when he was inducted into the Order of the Dragon. I don’t want to go into any more historical detail but this has something to do with the Ottoman Empire and wars, etc. None of which we really studied in high school. What’s interesting to note, though, is that in the Romanian language, Dracul means both dragon and devil. Coincidence?
Mari-an and I took our sweet time at the café that once was Vlad Tepes’ birthplace that we nearly didn’t make it inside the church on the hill. Yes! Another damn church atop another damn hill! It’s hard enough to get people to go to church without having to punish them by making them climb endless stairs. Tsk, tsk. But up the covered stairs we went and by the time I got to the top, my heart was ready to explode.
And we still had another short uphill trek to go. By the time we got to the church, we only had about five minutes to look around before they were closing. Mari-an managed to charm her way into the husband and wife team at the door by speaking in Romanian. And thank the Holy Spirit we were able to enter. There’s a reason I thank the Holy Spirit in this instance. At this particular church, there is a fresco of the Holy Trinity where the Holy Spirit is female. Growing up Catholic, the Holy Trinity had always been male, but the inner feminist in me secretly hoped one of them would be female.
Mari-an had asked the man at the door where this female Holy Spirit was. The man’s face lit up and asked if we were Catholic. He was so surprised that we’d known about the fresco. He eagerly showed us and said that most Asian who visited weren’t interested in that kind of thing but were more interested in the architecture. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a stranger’s face light up like that after I say I’m Catholic. Too bad we weren’t allowed to take photos inside. There are postcards for sale, however, and I bought a few of the Holy Trinity image. I know a few ladies who’d appreciate something like this.
Next time: Final installment of my Sibiu adventure.