(almost) funny, Living Abroad, Travel

I found a Vampire (and he’s totally cool!)

Beautiful Romanian Destinations | Carpathian Mountains | Romanian villages

I hardly pouted at all when our search for vampires in Romanian cities came up empty. A skeptical observer might raise an eyebrow, but I assure you: foot stomping and annoying grunts is not pouting. It’s an incredibly effective way to shed the city grime. Besides, exploring Romania’s cities wasn’t a total loss. Timisoara and Cluj are beautiful places to visit. And after way too much immersion in Bucharest’s intoxicating night life, I learned that “clubbing” has the same impact on me as it does for baby seals.

The search wasn’t over yet. Once we left the big cities, I was sure we were going to get lucky.

Escaping from Bucharest

Once we leave Bucharest, things change quite a bit. Romania is a surprisingly big country, roughly the same size as the entire U.K. (or Minnesota if you remember your US geography better than I do) but has a population that is nearly 4x smaller. And most of these people pack into the cities. Beyond the cities, vast swaths of Romania are untainted, undeveloped, and offline. The perfect place for a vampire to settle in for a few centuries. No expectation to keep up with the latest political scandal, fend off nosey neighbors asking to borrow a cup of sugar, or worry about being harassed by millennials looking for a free hotspot.

There are several escape routes to follow, but hopping in a car or on the train are the most common for those planning to stay in the country.


Carpathian Mountains: Romania’s answer to roller coasters

Romanian roads are an adventure in themselves. Narrow and poorly maintained, drivers are too busy dodging potholes and oncoming traffic to admire the scenery, or give intelligent responses to questions lobbed from passengers about whether the stove was turned off before we left.

You’d think roads would straighten out once you leave town. Buildings constructed before paved roads were an option are behind us. The only distractions separating us from a straight path to the horizon are wide gorgeous meadows, lightly wooded copses, and the occasional farm. Instead of building highways that follow straight lines, I suspect that Romanian road designers compensated for the lack of amusement parks in the country by throwing in extra curves and roundabouts. For the fun of it.

This is particularly true of two major arteries passing over the Carpathian Mountains.  The mountain range reminds me so much of the northern portion of the Appalachian Trail it makes me a little homesick.



Beautiful Romanian Destinations

The Transalpina provides a scenic path between Bucharest (in the south) and Transylvania. It forces drivers to slow down and enjoy magnificent vistas. Near the summit (roughly 7,000 ft), The terrain looks so similar to the presidential mountains along the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire that I began to get a little homesick.  Or nauseated from following the serpentine route.


Transfagarasan – I’m pretty sure it’s Romanian for Fahrvergnügen*

While not as direct as the Transalpina for those hoping to go from Bucharest into northern Romania, the Transfagarasan is arguably one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Past several glacial lakes, through brief but eerie tunnels, and over a saddle between Romania’s highest peaks (Moldoveanu and Negoiu), it’s impossible not to live in the moment.

Unless you’re a dedicated vampire seeker like me.

beautiful romanian destinations

Designers of the Transfagarasan don’t believe that the most direct route between two points is a straight line.


*Please tell me at least one of you remembers this Volkswagen slogan from the 90’s. The blank stares I get when I mention this to the “whippersnappers” is making me feel old.


Poenari Castle

Along the way we pass Poenari Castle. This 13th century ruin perched precariously on a cliff was once home to Vlad the Impaler (the guy who made torture and bloody deaths cool long before vampires hopped on the bang wagon). The steep climb keeps many tourists away, but a quick tour of the crumbling ruins was enough to convince us that no self-respecting vampire would continue to call this place home.

beautiful Romanian destinations

photo credit: Saturian via Creative Commons

Romanian Villages

After a dizzying tour over the Carpathian Mountains via the Transalpina, or Transfagarasan, we’re deposited into Transylvania. Lodged in the heart of Romania, much of Transylvania still maintains traditions and lifestyles that originated hundreds of years ago.  While there are several thriving cities (like Cluj), it’s easy to search out villages. Modest but colorfully painted homes are closely spaced around a central market. It’s common to see a handful of village elders lounging outside a shop on wooden benches, watching sparse traffic pass in silence. Horse-drawn wooden carts filled with loose hay or scrap metal are led by pleasant laborers.  Surrounded by these idyllic tableaux, it’s easy to forget we are in the 21st century.

beautiful Romanian destinations

Being “instafamous” hasn’t caught on here yet. The smile comes back as soon as the camera goes away.

All this driving has given me plenty of time to practice my Romanian. However, when I ask: “Ai vazut un vampir pe aici” (have you seen a vampire nearby), I’m surprised that no one seems to take me seriously. Monica gets a few sympathetic looks, but the best advice we leave with are suggestions that we try looking someplace else, preferably one that is far away.


Minis – A quintessential Romanian village

We finally got lucky in a small village near the northern border of Romania. Same wooden carts. Same silent and skeptical group of elders watching over the town from benches. However, beyond the village proper, on a dirt road leading to several tenant farms, we were welcomed by Mr. Traian.

Luck wasn’t the only thing that led us here though. We’d visited Mr. Traian in Minis before.

During our initial visit, I didn’t give much thought to his overwhelming hospitality. He feasted us on a steady stream fresh food that he and the 2 women living with him raised themselves. They pressed us to “Eat! Eat!” and “Drink! Drink!” so often, I began to wonder if we were being fattened to take a more active role in the next feast.

While we were devouring ciorba (a delicious sour meat and veggie soup) boiled in an enormous outdoor caldron, he sat with his never-empty glass of tuica (a homemade plum brandy that tastes like moonshine and burns like bleach). Despite being several decades older than me, he looked younger and was never tired. He had never even heard of an “after-breakfast nap.”  Apparently, his tuica diet was responsible for the seemingly endless energy, and strength.

Or was his incredible vitality an attribute of something far more interesting? Could he be the “real” vampire I had been searching for?

The more I thought about it, the more pieces fell into place.

 beautiful Romanian travel destinations not on typical tourist plans #Romania #holidays #travel

The modern-day vampire

Monica was skeptical: “He’s so tan!”

Me: “Sure, he has no problem spending all day out in the sun. But I’ve always suspected the vampire’s aversion to sunlight was a myth they perpetuated to throw us off.”

Monica: “I’m pretty sure that’s not the only myth we’re dealing with here. Besides, Mr. Traian is a wonderful man. And he tells such amazing stories!”

I wanted to point out that this was the most convincing evidence of all. I noticed the way groups would listen with undivided attention as he shared stories about the Old Ways. He was an even better storyteller than me. Clearly, he had supernatural talents that we mere mortals couldn’t compete with.


Undeniable proof that vampires exist is in the guacamole

I was convinced, but the scientist in me knew that we would need undeniable proof to support my claim. Fortunately, I knew how to design an infallible experiment to prove that Mr. Traian was in fact, a vampire.

It all hinged on one of my irresistible recipes: homemade guacamole.

It’s incredibly difficult to get ingredients to make guacamole in Bucharest, so I was sure that it had never been served in a little village in Transylvania. My guacamole also has a ridiculous amount of garlic (3 large cloves for every 2 avacoados). Nonetheless, my green goop is so delicious that no human has ever been able to resist it. When I offer to share my prized creation as a gift with our host, Mr. Traian would be honor-bound to accept.

If he tried it and didn’t like it, then he would obviously be a vampire. No need for wooden stakes or holy water. It was brilliant.


The experiment

When we arrived at Mr. Traian’s farm, I was excited. However, the chaotic cacophony of farm animals and pets raising the stranger-danger alarm briefly caused me to forget my mission. Dozens of roaming chickens, 2 territorial roosters, flocks of ducks and geese, one rambunctious goat, and 2 lovable dogs all swarmed to check us out. Mr. Traian waded through the pandemonium with a big welcoming smile.

Within minutes we were whisked to a picnic table, seated, and feeling like family that had been away too long. The sense of comfort and belonging was undeniable. I knew that if I didn’t focus on my experiment, I would be lost to his spell. I told everyone that I had a surprise gift I wanted to share, and that I needed to use his kitchen to prepare it. It was difficult to ignore Monica as she rolled her eyes.

By the time I returned with the guacamole and chips, the tuica was already out. The label on the bottle even said “Dracula.” He gave me a knowing look as he handed me a half-filled glass. He knows I know that he’s a vampire!


The proof

We all raised our glasses for a toast. I mourned the loss of my taste buds as the tuica burned its way down to my stomach. However, in moments, we would all have undeniable proof.

I scooped some of the irresistible guacamole onto a chip and explained that this was a delicacy where I was from. As a testament to its greatness, I could still detect a hint of garlic despite my lost taste buds. I scooped another and waited for him to join me. I could tell that he had doubts about the “irresistibility” of the green creamy gel with chunks of tomato and jalapeño suspended in it. He tentatively raised a loaded chip to his mouth. His face had that fixed expression of pleasure that can only be learned after years of telling grandma that her burnt meatloaf was delicious.

He quickly followed up with a long drink of tuica and said “multumesc pentru minunata experinta.”

In English, this means “thank you for the wonderful experience,” but we both knew what he was really saying…


Vampires do NOT like garlicClick To Tweet




  • Reply rugby843 November 18, 2017 at 5:01 am

    This is a great story and the photos wonderful…so glad you are back and with no holes in your neck! I love plum wine, it’s more like a liquor to me, but only have a glass once a year on my birthday. I don’t think I’d like the concoction you tried, though!☺️☺️

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 8:43 am

      One glad once a year sounds about right. But in this case, it was worth it to prove that I finally found a vampire!

  • Reply Bypass November 18, 2017 at 5:59 am

    As always another great post. Songbird and I miss you and are anxious to meet Monica. We’ll be in Europe in April and May. We’d love to connect.

    BTW, I’ve found the Vampires. They hang out in Bethesda.

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 8:46 am

      That’s wonderful Bypass! Monica and I are planning to hike the Camino Norte this Spring. Dates aren’t firm yet, but looks like a mid-April start date. Regardless, it would be great to catch up. I’d love for you both to meet my better half!

  • Reply ralietravels November 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

    “Clubbing has the same effect on me as it does for baby seals” — I love that line.
    Thank you for the wonderful post – but I am serious and am going to share it with my nephew’s wife, who has a Romanian family – and a sense of humor.

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Thats great. Share as much and as often as you’d like!

      Working on a Romanian translation for this post as well. I received permission from Mr. Traian before publishing this, but I’m looking forward to seeing his reaction.

  • Reply Wendy November 18, 2017 at 6:27 am

    Fahrvergnügen, I almost spit my coffee out laughing. That was priceless. Great post.
    I’ve never considered Romania as a destination, but I might have to now.
    Glad you found your vampire. 😉

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Yay! so glad I’m not alone. You’ve made my day Wendy!

      I should probably put a coffee disclaimer on my posts in the future. I wouldn’t want to find myself facing a lawsuit for caffeine abuse. Cheers!

  • Reply angelanoelauthor November 18, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I do remember the the long unspellable F word of my youth that means something like joy of life (or not). Though I remember the more common–in my world at least bad F word version that ends in “groovin.”
    You clearly worked hard to find a modern day vampire, and even harder to introduce guacamole to a whole new audience. I’m impressed! What is travel and experience without a few possible vampires and green garlicky goo?

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Angela, your comments sure do make me smile. But I’m a little jealous I didn’t think of the “green garlic goo” phrase. Love me some alliteration:)

      And now I’m gonna have to google to see what the “bad F word” is.

  • Reply susielindau November 18, 2017 at 7:25 am

    I’m glad you survived to tell the tale and got the proof to show for it!
    I didn’t realize how tree-less it was there.

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Its actually not as treeless as these photos suggest. But the timber line is comparable to the tree line in New Hampshire and Maine. Above 5,500 ft, its sturdy grasses and shrubs. Makes for vistas that stretch out forever without that breathless sensation we have to overcome at Colorado altitudes.

  • Reply Didi November 18, 2017 at 7:36 am

    You survived! Thank you for sharing this. Transfagarasan looks/sounds good, I’d love to drive through there and take it all in. I’ll stick with your German translation as that language i speak and Romanian..well i doubt i do.  Fahrvergnügen was never a slogan here btw…or it must have been before 1979. I do recognize the feeling old when getting blank stares as i mention certain things but hey; arent we all as old or young as we feel?

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 8:58 am

      Thanks Didi we all survived! And your absolutely right – we’re only as old as we feel. But it sure helps when others can agree with our “feels-like” age;)

      • Reply Didi November 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

        Stare back at the “blank staring ones” as if they just missed the latest hype (instead of being to young to know) when they don’t recognize things you say. It’ll make you go from ancient to trentsetting in a sec.😂 They’ll agree with your “feel like age” very soon.

  • Reply SickChristine November 18, 2017 at 7:41 am

    This is great. You are great. That is all.

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 9:01 am

      I’m so jealous of you Christine. Your writing is brilliant. And now, you’ve demonstrated the awesome power of brevity. However, when it comes to rambling… I think I’ve got you beat;)

      • Reply SickChristine November 18, 2017 at 10:18 am

        I love your rambling. We should all be so lucky to have your gift.

  • Reply Writing to Freedom November 18, 2017 at 8:03 am

    This sounds like the setting for a bad B movie with Transfagarasan, vampires, guacamole, and tuica, Thankfully, you salvaged the trip with humor, farm animals, and daily transfusions. Viva la travel adventure and Fahrvergnügen!

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Yay- I’ve graduated to “B movie” status! I’ve waited for this day for so long, and now that its here… I can’t wait to see the contacts from prospective producers waiting to buy the movie rights;)

      Seriously though, I love this: Viva la travel adventure and Fahrvergnügen!

      • Reply Writing to Freedom November 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

        LOL. I’ll send over the contract, along with my pet vampire. XD

        • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 9:13 am

          Deal. If we keep this up, you’re at the top of a (very) short list as my agent. 😉

          • Writing to Freedom November 18, 2017 at 5:27 pm

            Cool. Maybe we can soar synchronistically or flop in frantic foibles of fancy!

  • Reply Tara November 18, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Great story and photos. And I remember the VW slogan!

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Thanks so much Tara. Makes me happy to see that there are several others out there that have held on to cherished memories of late 20th century advertising.

  • Reply Bel November 18, 2017 at 8:22 am

    I am absolutely amazed by the scenery. It’s so pretty in pictures that I’d probably just stare in awe at it. From the Transalpina serpentine route to the Transfagarasan road – for real?! I would have spent the entire day just gazing at that road and probably taking a million pictures 😂 I would totally climb the steps that leads to the Poenari castle – besides Vampires who live there didn’t need those steps since they turn into bats anyway – lucky bastards. One last – “holy guacamole” – glad he had a drink of dracula wine to kill the “onion” taste that would have converted him into one. Btw, you forgot the “buffy” boots…😉

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 9:06 am

      I’m sure you would climb the steps leading to Poenari castle Bel (although there are supposedly more than a 1000 – unconfirmed as we didn’t count). But a little warning, while the view is gorgeous, the ruins themselves are fairly underwhelming.

      • Reply Bel November 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

        I have a thing for underwhelming – besides with that view I could live in a tent and still find it beautiful. 👍

        • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 9:12 am

          Yes! You are totally my kind of people Bel.

          I even packed my hiking tent out here in the hopes I could convince Monica to spend a few nights outdoors with me. It’s still airing out though. If I keep it outside, should be ready by spring;)

          However, hope you’ll forgive me…still don’t have a decent pair of Buffy boots;)

          • Bel November 18, 2017 at 9:17 am

            I’m itching to explore again. Life gets in the way and I haven’t done much lately but that will change in a couple of months 😊 I hope Monica says yes to camping outdoors with you there even for a few nights- the place is just too beautiful to stay indoors. Don’t waste an awesome space – 😊

  • Reply Maggie Wilson November 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Dizzying is right! You are made of sturdier stuff than I, venturing up to that castle!

    Now I must be off – I just remembered that there is an avocado or two ripening. No garlic tho. Hubby doesn’t tolerate garlic.

    Hey, wait a minute! Do you suppose…?

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 11:16 am

      hehehe Wouldn’t surprise me a bit Maggie, you strike me as someone who surrounds herself with amazing people.

  • Reply Cheryl November 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Love the above comment!: ))

  • Reply George November 18, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Fantastic. That’s infallible proof. You’ve convinced me. Surely you must have convinced Monica too or she wondering how to broach the delicate subject of therapy?

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 11:19 am

      hehehe she’s known for years that I’m crazy. Fortunately, I’m her kind of flavor of crazy;)

  • Reply Retirementallychallenged.com November 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

    As a native Southern Californian – avocado central – seeing the two of you devouring garlicky (is there any other kind?) guacamole in far off Romania did my heart good. I’ve never had it with tuica though (normally there is beer or tequila involved)… perhaps I should try it.

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 4:50 am

      hehehe nope, Janis you’re doing it right. Guac with beer (or margaritas) is absolutely the way to go!

  • Reply Andrea Stephenson November 18, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Fabulous photos of a very atmospheric landscape. The Carpathian Mountains is one of those places I’d love to go though it may be nothing like it is in my imagination! You were very brave to test whether Mr Traian was a vampire, it’s just as well he obviously wanted to remain incognito so didn’t want to risk biting you 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 11:36 am

      hehehe actually I’m fairly certain that i’m not his type. I’m A-…

  • Reply D. Wallace Peach November 18, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Success! Clearly you found a vampire, Gabe, and such a lovely one at that. I can’t imagine turning down a garlic-loaded guacamole. Love the winding roads and the fact you actually asked village elders for directions to the vampires. Crazy tourists! Ha ha. They must have had a laugh. 🙂 Loved the photos and thanks for the adventure!

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Crazy tourists is right 😉 And I’m going to keep playing that card as long as I can.

      • Reply D. Wallace Peach November 18, 2017 at 12:34 pm

        Ha ha ha. Nice. I’m sure you’ll leave smiles wherever you travel. 🙂 Monica’s eye-rolling will get lots of practice.

  • Reply JT Twissel November 18, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    A way cool experience! Thanks for sharing. I don’t think I have a stomach for those roads though. Oh my.

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      No worries… hopefully the virtual tour satisfied your curiosity for now!

  • Reply Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] November 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Had to laugh at your comment regarding the lack of straight lines. If you ever travel to NZ be prepared for many curves in the road 🙂 Romanian roads are not ones we have experienced as yet. Maybe one day!

    • Reply Gabriel November 18, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Really? I wouldn’t have though New Zealand would follow the winding path to nowhere. But Hiking the Te Arora is in my bucket list, so maybe I’ll get a chance to see a bit of New Zealand’s highway system.

  • Reply Lisa Orchard (@lisaorchard1) November 18, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Great story and the photos are wonderful. I think the reason you didn’t find any vampires is because they only come out at night. They can’t be in sunlight. Just an FYI for the next time you go vampire hunting! 😉

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Hehehe I’m so glad I didn’t pay attention to all those myths. Otherwise, I would have missed out on my chance to ate guacamole with vampires 😉

  • Reply RMW November 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Now I know it’s possible to have guacamole in Romania I might consider visiting there…. that’s always a worry whenever I travel…. will there be guacamole? Good to know!

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:29 am

      ahhhh a woman after my own heart. Love it!

  • Reply Green Global Trek November 18, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Spectacular scenery Gabriel and I do love the castle and how you photographed it! The description of the villages and your experience there makes for great reading, and is so well written. I know so very little of Romania that I am really looking forward to your next post too.

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Peta! Coming from you (travel blogger extraordinaire) that’s a big compliment. Cheers!

  • Reply Lignum Draco November 18, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Wonderful story. Great landscapes. Love that portrait.

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Thanks so much and congrats on the recent feature with Discover. You Cuban photos are amazing!

  • Reply Mick Canning November 18, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Proof, I guess. I mean, if you can’t eat guacamole…And the pictures are lovely.

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Good science is all about designing the right experiment.

  • Reply amindfultravellerblog November 19, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Beats me why they just can’t whack a striaght roud right through he middle…how hard is that right?
    Well, well, so you finally found one! And all with the help of guacamole bait….hehe… 😉

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:35 am

      This post was already running a bit long so I couldn’t include some of the history, but it’s fascinating. (Ceausescu, a narcissistic and cruel dictator, wanted to design a spectacular “scenic highway” that would also prevent either the Russians or Americans from invading. And it had to be longer than the Transalpina.)

  • Reply Shallow Reflections November 19, 2017 at 4:04 am

    What a wonderful tour of Romania, Gabe. It is truly beautiful. Your description of its size, bad roads, and spread out population reminds of Maine where I live. So I am going to start searching for a vampire, because wouldn’t it be just like them to hang out in a remote area like mine? And maybe Stephen King is actually a vampire in addition to a best selling author. Your garlicky guacamole was a brilliant idea to help you identify a real vampire!

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Yes! I’m a big fan of Maine as well. Some of this country actually reminds me of Maine. Particularly Mt Kathadin, and the area around Saddleback Mountain.

  • Reply inesephoto November 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    You are such a brilliant storyteller, Gabe! Love your clever trick with the guacamole – a sure test that you could even get a patent on. i also love your painting of the castle – so enchanting.

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Thanks for the compliment Inese. This was a fun post to write.

  • Reply Jennifer November 19, 2017 at 6:04 am

    A switch backing highway? Now that must have been fun.

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Yup. fun enough that we will undoubtedly return when the road opens back up in the Spring.

      • Reply Jennifer November 20, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        Oh, it’s like the Kancamagus? Closes in the winter?

        • Reply Gabriel November 22, 2017 at 4:26 pm

          Yup – usually closes in November and reopens in Spring. Not surprised that roads around Lincoln NH close during winter, the Presidential mountains are no joke.

          • Jennifer November 24, 2017 at 5:25 pm

            Only a small portion in the Bartlett area is closed all winter. The rest of the road is closed when it snows and reopens when they get around to plowing it. Interestingly enough, though the roads around Mt. Washington don’t close (except for the road up to the top, but even then a Snow Cat takes people up.)

  • Reply Phil Taylor November 19, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Yes, of course I know fahrvergnugen! I’m happy that someone besides me remembers that!

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Sweet! If you remember Phil…then it MUST be cool.

  • Reply sydspix November 19, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Have totally enjoyed your blogs on Romania. This guy does look young. And could not get over the way the highways turned – a long time ago someone’s uncle must have owned the cement company. Well maybe not. Anyway, it was a lot of fun to read and it seems like you had a lot of fun.

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:40 am

      so glad you’re enjoying it! This series has been a lot of fun to create. Have a few more, then the blog will be returning to the states for more hiking.

  • Reply Suze November 19, 2017 at 8:34 am

    how could anyone not know fahrvergnugen???? lol Lovely photos. I really wish you had found a vampire. and those roads are just nuts! Is there a reason for them switchbacking constantly? moors maybe? sucking quicksand hiding under peat? sheesh!

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 8:43 am

      But I did find a vampire! I’m convinced Mr Traian is a real vampire. After all… how could he not like my irresistible guacamole;)

      • Reply Suze November 19, 2017 at 8:46 am

        lol…I somehow don’t think the guacamole was the definitive factor there…..personally, I can’t abide guacamole and I have yet to bite people…

  • Reply Amy November 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Thank you for taking us there, Gabriel! Beautiful captures!

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      Cheers Amy! And thanks SOOO much for giving me the chance to use the word “fuchsia” in a comment on your gorgeous photo 😉

      • Reply Amy November 19, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        🙂 🙂

  • Reply Unbound Roots November 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

    So, I kind of wish I was there experiencing this entire trip with you and Monica, is that weird? Visiting small towns that still embrace the horse and cart, eating healthy foods that the locals are proud of (and obviously flourishing off of), and watching the reactions of those trying guacamole for the first time sounds like a wonderful experience. Thanks so much for sharing, and I may just have to go in search of the vampires myself. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      Yay Erin! That makes me really happy. This post was a lot of fun to create (almost as much fun as living it) so I’m thrilled it triggered your travel bug.

  • Reply Liesbet November 19, 2017 at 11:50 am

    You are incredibly good with words, wit and guacamole, Gabe. Those roads do look like roller coasters. Lombard Street in San Francisco doesn’t even come close. I love the landscapes and the photos. Great story and I’m glad to finally see a real vampire and a photo of Dracula!!

    PS: Your guacamole looks delicious and similar to mine. But, I use even more garlic. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      I’m better with the guac, but the writing is a lot of fun Liesbet.

  • Reply Ann Coleman November 19, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    So glad you finally found your vampire! (Although he does look younger and healthier than I would have expected.) And thanks for sharing your story of exactly how you found him. Those roads would have made me sick in no time, but nothing that a huge helping of your guacamole couldn’t cure. Do you think if you packed it in dry ice that it would arrive fresh enough to eat if you mailed me some?

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Hmmmm guac as a treatment for motion sickness. I wonder…

      • Reply Ann Coleman November 19, 2017 at 7:37 pm

        I think it is worth a try, and I’m willing to be the human guinea pig.

  • Reply Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC November 19, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Woo hoo – touchdown! All that seeking only to discover that you had found your vampire long before – lol. What a wonderful collection of amazing experiences in your life today, Gabe. Thanks for taking me along.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 10:09 pm

      My pleasure Madelyn. There are a few more posts in this series, but it’s been a lot of fun to share.

      • Reply Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC November 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm

        I love your artwork – of COURSE – but seeing the actual photo was fun too. btw- how come you didn’t use the mirror test? Another myth, perhaps?

        • Reply Gabriel November 19, 2017 at 10:17 pm

          Arrrrgggg I can’t believe I neglected to include this in the post.

          There are none – zero – mirrors on his property.

  • Reply Arionis November 20, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Everything about this post was awesome! I think you are now a modern day Van Helsing with a more subtle style. Garlic laden guacamole as a vampire detector? Good one!

    BTW, I totally remember the Fahrvergnügen commercials. I also remember a video where a guy had a Fig Newton in his hand, throws it a good distance, and then calls it a “Far Fig Newton”.

    • Reply Gabriel November 20, 2017 at 8:15 am

      Hehehe that’s awesome. Far fig newton 😂

  • Reply watchingthedaisies November 20, 2017 at 7:54 am

    What a wonderful place to visit. I love that everything is so unspoiled. That was a very clever vampire test!

    • Reply Gabriel November 20, 2017 at 8:44 am

      That’s a perfect description. So much of the Romanian Countryside is “unspoiled.”

      So weird. Don’t know why your comment ended up in the Spam folder. Gonna have to retrain my Spam monster 😉

  • Reply Dave Ply November 20, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I do remember Fahrvergnügen. I don’t think I knew what it meant back then either. Far from sea level? Those are some serious looking mountain roads.

    • Reply Gabriel November 22, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      I knew you were my kind of people Dave.

  • Reply bedlamanddaisies November 20, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I’m so glad that you found your vampire. I’m not sure I would have been as brave as you in carrying out the testing of my theory! I’m not even sure my mind would have been functional enough after those roads! They are beautiful though. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel November 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      I’m so glad I finally found a vampire too. This was another one of those “quests” where the journey was as rewarding as the destination!

  • Reply Dippy-Dotty Girl November 20, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Hmmm firstly, what an adventure in the mountains of Romania… I am green and bluish green (one can sustain green for only that long plus I think I like blues add so much character – and now I am babbling). Anyhoo, these modern-day vampires serve you garlic flavoured guacamole so that they are not tempted to kiss you – which can only mean that they must really like Monica and you. How wonderful!
    About curved roads and roundabouts, America has spoiled you. Our young nephew and niece from Seattle would complain ceaselessly from the back seat when they visited us in the UK earlier 😛
    The logo is grand on your blog btw. It is new, right?
    It is quite late here, so pardon me if I am rapping out these words in a staccato rhythm and a distinctly rambling manner…
    Peace out.

    • Reply Gabriel November 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      I love it! Your “rambling” sounds even better than my carefully crafted prose.
      Still the same logo (created it about 6 months ago), but I love it too. Cheers!

      • Reply Dippy-Dotty Girl November 22, 2017 at 6:13 pm

        Thank you Gabe 🙂 You know that carefully crafted prose be of the greatest value.
        And uh oh, I revealed my slowpoke powers *creeps away

  • Reply restlessjo November 24, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Gabe, you are a wonder and a joy! 🙂 🙂 I’ve been offline a while so I didn’t know about your mission. I’d just like to know when you’re going to share that guacamole with me.

    • Reply Gabriel November 24, 2017 at 6:04 am

      I’ll gladly share with anyone nearby. I’ve found that the key to enduring garlic breath is wide distribution 😉

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  • Reply Di December 17, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Hello dear Gabe…
    I’ve missed so many of your posts…I’m having my fix today! It’s sooo good to see you are still searching for vampires!
    There is so much I could refer to from your post that it would in fact be a post of my own…
    Just know that I truly appreciated your humor as always, and the stories about a very different kind of life there in Romania.
    It looks like you have created a little travelogue from one of your images??
    Good for you if that is the case…
    We love our ‘avo’s’ in Australia too.
    On to more posts now…
    A great great read, thank you Gabe 💐💐🙋🏻

    • Reply Gabriel December 17, 2017 at 5:36 am

      ohhhh sweet Di!!! I’ve so missed seeing your delightful contributions. But it looks like you came just in time. I’ve been searching for vampires for quite awhile, and finally found one;)

      • Reply Di December 17, 2017 at 6:19 am

        What a lovely response, my little ‘mate’…
        Thank you so much. I did get quite behind but a ‘binge session’ and not on Netflix is a great tonic when I’m home under the weather today…
        So happy you found your real, live vampire. Don’t stop there though 🙋🏻💐💐

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