Fortresses, Failures and Fatty Pork

rasnov fortress

Most people come to Transylvania for one reason.


The area’s largest city, Brasov is usually used as a base for which to explore Bran Castle. This is supposedly where Vlad the Impaler, who Dracula was based on, lived.

We didn’t go.

Instead, Dave and I decided to visit Rasnov Fortress, 15km outside of Brasov. This was for several reasons. The incredible views, the lack of tourists and the fact that the fortress is a lot better preserved.

rasnov fortress

Unable to find much in the way of directions on how to get to Rasnov, our morning was spent trying to figure out which bus to take, wondering if we were actually on the right bus and attempting to guess which stop was the right one to get off at. As always, my inability to commit and make a judgment call resulted in us missing our stop and having a long walk back into the Old Town.

As we approached the fortress, I gazed up at the 150 metre climb and for the first time in my life I was filled with confidence. Having spent the past few weeks wandering around European cities and lugging my backpack from hostel to hostel, my fitness levels were at an all time high.

For the first time in my life, I actually felt healthy. I knew Dave hadn’t yet noticed the change in me and knew this would be the perfect opportunity to impress him.

“Dave! What would you rate my fitness level as?!”

Smiling slightly, I knew what the answer would be before the question had even left my lips. As I listened to Dave unfairly compare my fitness levels to that of a sloth, rage and fury begin to bubble up inside of me.

I wasn’t that unfit. I wasn’t.

Taking a deep breath, I swiftly raised my hand to silence Dave and began to run. Climbing higher and higher, I tripped over rocks and stumbled up steps. I was determined to reach the top in minutes.

For that very short moment in time, I was a beast. I was a beast of fitness and I was absolutely massacring anything that stood in my way.

With my sides feeling like they’d ripped in half, my lungs burning, my eyes weeping, my clothes drenched in sweat, and my hair the size of a small bush, I conquered the hill and arrived at the fortress.

“HAHA! Bet you didn’t see that coming!” I turned triumphantly to face Dave, cheeks flushed, fingers jabbing the air.

And then my legs gave way and I fell over.

…And then I felt so dizzy that I had to sit down for over an hour because my legs were so weak that I couldn’t move. Dave explored the fortress. I hid in the watchtower and sang Bob Dylan songs.

Rasnov Fortress Watchtower

Eventually, my legs started to strengthen and the room stopped spinning. Gingerly walking outside and up to the fortress walls, I found a view that made all of the trauma worth it.

Rasnov was so adorable!

View from Rasnov Fortress

And then I found the Hollywood-style sign… slightly less adorable.

rasnov hollywood-style sign

Wobbling back down the hill again, it was time for us to head back to Brasov. There was just one problem though.

We didn’t know how.

Yet again, we had been given very little information about how to get back. We had found a sentence on WikiTravel informing us that there was a bus leaving every hour.


Picking a random bus station, we stood for exactly 59 minutes while we waited for the next bus. I kept myself amused myself by making up songs about Romanian drivers and singing them every time a car passed.

“Boy racer! He’s racing! Racing along at the speeeeeed of light” 

Dave went for a lot of walks.

When the bus finally arrived, we were both exhausted. My vocal chords were strained and Dave’s eardrums had split. Arriving back in Brasov late afternoon, there was only one thing on my mind.


And fortunately our apartment owner knew just the place to get it.


pork at Sergiana, Brasov, Romania

Oh. My. God.

Sergiana is a traditional Romanian restaurant, which basically means that there is a 40 page menu consisting of meat.

So. Much. Meat.

With our mouths salivating from the incredible smell our waitress then brought over the definition of heaven.

It was a plate of pork fat.

For the first time in my entire life, I literally cried with happiness over food. I sat there and for five beautiful minutes I sobbed.

It was life changing, and it was the perfect way to end our time in Brasov.

As Dave and I packed up our bags the following morning, we both agreed that we would be returning to Brasov for a few months sometime in the future.

And we would definitely be eating at Sergiana for every single meal.

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  1. November 9, 2012

    Pork fat = heaven? Wow, that’s news to me; That’s the type of the thing I thought would have grossed you out! Glad you recovered from your run though!

    • November 10, 2012

      Nah, I’m mostly scared of foods that I deem to be *foreign*, which normally means Asian foods. I’ve eaten pork my entire life and love it!

      • Ian [EagerExistence]
        December 6, 2012

        Pork belly is an Asian food (Babi Guling)… I had it a few weeks ago in Bali :-p

  2. DebbZie
    November 9, 2012

    Oh my, those pork makes me drooling now. Looks delish! I really want to go to Transylvania to meet Mr. Dracula :D

    • November 10, 2012

      It was SO GOOD! I think you’d really like Romania!

  3. November 9, 2012

    It’s never as good as you think. My gf and I climb Mount Olympus thinking that we run a few times a week, we should be fine!

    Not so….when you’re constantly going up hill, and even down. It turns in to the beast… not you!

    • November 10, 2012

      So true! My legs were actually vibrating after the climb!

  4. Amanda
    November 10, 2012

    Isn’t the fried pork fat amazing?? I mean, it sounds gross at first. But then you put it in your mouth, and it’s heaven. (And yes, I’m sure there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere…)

    Glad to hear you guys made it to Rasnov Fortress! I liked it WAY better than Bran Castle, though that climb nearly did me in, too.

    • November 12, 2012

      YES! It is so so so good! I’m glad to hear you prefer Rasnov Fortress, I wasn’t sure if we should have made the effort to visit Bran Castle too…

  5. Scarlett
    November 10, 2012

    Hahahaha. I LOVE YOU. I hope Dave was still impressed x

    • November 12, 2012

      I think he was impressed until I had to sit down and missed seeing the entire fortress LOL.

  6. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas
    November 10, 2012

    When some friends and I tripped out to Romania, we used Brasov as a base to explore the region. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that EVERYTHING shuts down on Monday! We hiked all the way up that hill until our legs ached, just to find it closed!!

    • November 12, 2012

      Ugh, that sucks! I think I would have cried if I’d made it all the way to the top to discover it was closed!

  7. November 10, 2012

    I’ll be in Romania next summer and I KNOW what restaurant I’ll be eating EVERY SINGLE MEAL AT now. Lauren, you have changed my life with this post.

    Also running up a hill? You’ve gotten me exhausted with this post, even if my fitness levels are increasing. Flat, I can do. Uphill? YOU CRAY-CRAY!

    • November 12, 2012

      Yes! Oh my god, you’re going to LOVE the pork fat, I promise! Order a bucket of it and plop your head in hahaha!

    • January 10, 2013

      There are lots of good restaurants in Brasov. It’s worth trying a new one as well, not just Sergiana. I have eaten well at Taverna Sarbului or at Butoiul Sasului too.

  8. November 11, 2012

    I grew up eating pork that looks a lot like what you posted here. In Cajun French we call these bits of pork fat ‘grattons’, in English ‘cracklins’. Crunchy, yet oh so tasty! Still available at many small boucanieres in SW Louisiana. When I get to Romania I look forward to sampling their version. Congrats on making it up to the fortress. Some things are worth the effort and you get great photos and interesting memories to show for it ;-)

    • November 12, 2012

      Ah yes, I’ve had pork crackling. This was more of lumps of fat though, than the crispy skin, which I think is crackling!

  9. Jade -
    November 12, 2012

    Ew yuck! Pork fat! When I was in Brasov I accidentally ordered chicken liver and almost died.

    • November 14, 2012

      No! Pork fat is amazing. Chicken liver, though? That sounds horrible!

  10. November 13, 2012

    OMG that pork looks amazing! My mouth is watering right now just seeing the picture.

    Transylvania is def. on my list of places to see – I watched a few TV specials about Vlad, quite fascinating and disturbing. The Rasnov Fortress looks pretty neat too.

    • November 14, 2012

      I really didn’t know what to expect from Transylvania, but it is a seriously gorgeous region!

      • January 10, 2013

        I think it’s better that you did not have expectations. You are one of the fortunate people who can enjoy it to the max, in this case… ;)

  11. Runaway Brit
    November 17, 2012

    I have just got back from Romania, which is easily one of my favourite countries in Europe. I am a total literature-geek so I did go in search of Dracula, although I didn’t visit Bran either as the link to Dracula is very tenuous (apparently based on US tourists 30 years ago who first referred to it as Dracula’s Castle). Instead I went to Snagov, where the Impaler is allegedly buried.

    I just love the countryside in Romania (actually writing my next post about it right now!). I didn’t go to Rasnov, but it looks great and I am sure I will go back to Romania again to do so :-)

    Your pictures of Brasov are lovely. I must go there too!

  12. November 19, 2012

    I really want to go to Romania and see some of the not-so-touristy places. Sorry you weren’t as fit as you thought, but good for you for giving it a try!

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