Vanja and I recently had a trip to Paris, and of course visited Disneyland Paris as it’s a part of our “routine” when we travel there. This time, our favorite attraction “Phantom Manor” had been given some upgrades and the first reopening since 1992. First of all, Vincent Price’s introduction in the opening area was back once again, with original excerpts as well as previously unused material from his 1990 recording. The French actor Bernarde Alane is doing the parts in French. They’ve also tied the story of the manor a lot more into the attraction itself, which in my opinion makes it even more “horror”. So, good work by the “renovators”, and two thumbs up from us!

 

Below is an older photo from our second visit, which was in October 2012. The facade remains the same.

Phantom Manor

 

 

I filmed a little bit of the hallway and the attraction, where the hallway had some very nice additions regarding the paintings on the wall. Photos wouldn’t really do them justice, so I decided to make some animated gifs from the videos I captured. Enjoy:

 

The painting in the hallway featuring the Phantom, showing both his previous human side and what he eventually becomes.

 

 

Another painting in the hallway, showing a duel in front of Phantom Manor.

 

 

The loading area, where you get into the “doom buggies”. A new addition to this area, is that the bride is now present on top of the stairs.

 

 

And of course, the upgraded animatronics of the Phantom in all his glory, from inside the attraction (the cemetery part)! His upgraded version has more fluid movements and overall looks much better.

 

For more photos from Disneyland Paris, and other places,  check out my SmugMug page: https://tomte.smugmug.com/Travel

 

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After visiting Pele’s Castle, we were heading for Brasov for a short stop to do a little bit of sightseeing and walking around. We spent the time taking some photos, did some shopping, and ate some ice cream.

 

Brasov

The famous “Brasov” sign, just like the Hollywood one. The Rasnov area has also its own sign, which we’ll be visiting next time.

 

Brasov

Brasov

Brasov

Brasov

Brasov

Brasov

 

 

Then, we were off to our final stop: Bran Castle, also known as the (unofficial) Dracula’s castle. This is not a very long trip from Brasov, so we were there shortly afterwards. Before coming over to the castle, there were loads of souvenir shops which we wished we’d had more time to explore, but due to the time limit we had to focus mostly on the castle, the main reason we came there. And it was so fun to finally see the Dracula castle, made famous by Bram Stoker’s novel. In the real life Dracula just spent some nights in the castle, while his real home Poenari Castle, which is now in ruins, is located on a mountain 60 km south/east from Bran. The place was not open for tourists during our visit, but we’ll definitely check it out sometime.

 

Brasov

Bran Castle, seen from the park area.

 

Brasov

Some interior photos.

 

Brasov

Brasov

From the courtyard.

 

Brasov

A pretty cool “do not smoke” sign in the park area.

 

Brasov

Outside one of the secret passageways to the castle.

 

So, all in all the “2 castles in 1 day” trip with TravelMaker was excellent, and we were able to get so much done in just 1 day. Both the guide and the driver made the trip truly enjoyable. Highly recommended if you’re wanting to make the most out of your day while visiting some castles near Bucharest!

And that was Romania for now.

Some final thoughts: Great country, great people, great food, and Bucharest was a surprisingly clean place in spite of being in a relatively poor country.  There are police everywhere to make the streets safe. Easy access to Taxis which also is very cheap. And of course a lot to see, and we haven’t checked everything off our list yet, so we’re definitely going back sometime. Here’s some of the souvenirs we brought back home:

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

Romanian souvenirs

One of the Romanian traditional masks which is used  in some customs, rituals and traditional dances, depending on the time of year. It’s also handmade, and really big.

 

See also:

In order to visit “Bran Castle”, we did some research before we took our trip to Bucharest. There are multiple ways to go there, including several tours, and we wanted to try the “2 Castles in 1 day” tour with TravelMaker, which also included visiting Peles Castle and stopping shortly in Brasov. So, early in the morning we went to the Romanian Athenaeum which was the meeting place (and just a few minutes walk from our hotel), and in a small group of 16 people we were soon on our new adventure!

 

Bucharest, Romania

Carpathian Mountains are starting to show as we’re driving through the Transylvanian countryside.

 

Bucharest, Romania

A fun trivia: The Kazakhstan scenes from “Borat” was filmed in one of these villages.

 

Peles Castle

Aside from a short stop at a café, Peles Castle was the first place we visited. And the castle, its interior and the surroundings were just breathtaking. If you’re ever going to Romania to visit some castles, make sure to have this one on your list!

 

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

The Cowardly Lion, what happened to you..?

 

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

 

See also:

To be continued..

Let’s have a look at the nicer surroundings of Bucharest.

 

Bucharest, Romania

The Romanian Athenaeum.

 

Bucharest, Romania

The Illuminati Headquarters of Romania. Just kidding. It’s just a hospital.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Some old churches in The Old Town.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Some rich bastard’s residence, I guess. Cool vines, though..

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

The Old Town with Nipples.

 

Bucharest, Romania

The Old Town provides most of your needs: a dozen of restaurants, pubs, souvenir shops, casinos, brothels and strip clubs in every corners.

 

Bucharest, Romania

The Cărturești Carusel Bookstore, Old Town. Go down the stairs to look for CD’s, vinyls and maybe some obscure DVD’s.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

An Italian Flying Umbrella Restaurant not so far from the hotel.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Top from left: CEC Palace (first two), A Random Street, Odeon Theatre, A Random Building (hotel maybe), Central University Library

 

Bucharest, Romania

Saray Restaurant serves the best beef ever. I don’t remember the name, but its mixed with cheese, and it’s so delicious that even Gordon Ramsay would have an orgasm.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Someone said beef with cheese?

 

Bucharest, Romania

The iDracula Restaurant in The Old Town. While this restaurant had some dishes for vegetarians, just be advised that Romania is not the greatest place for vegetarians, especially if you’re entering a restaurant on the countryside where the closest to vegetarian you can get is a steak. As our “Travelmaker: 2 castles in 1 day” tour guide advised us (a post about this coming later): the best vegetarian dish in Romania is pork chop. If that’s not vegetarian enough for you, you’ll just be served a beer instead.

 

Cișmigiu Gardens.

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

So what to choose… A heart container or a stamina vessel?

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

A mall in Bucharest called “AFI Cotroceni”. With a roller coaster…

 

Bucharest, Romania

… a dragon…

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

… and your trulys, having some fun in the “Museum of Senses”.

 

See also:

To be continued..

So, the next day we explored some of the streets and alleys of the city. Bucharest is the capital of Romania, located at the south of the Transylvanian region, with 2 082 000 inhabitants. The city is called “Little Paris”, so let’s grab a taxi and take a look around.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Mega Image is the regular grocery store chain where you can buy bread, goat cheese, beer, Jack Daniels, and of course the best red wine I’ve ever tasted. And I’m of course talking about Romanian Wine. Whisky is usually my thing, but the Romanians sure know how to make their wine. And everything labeled with “dark” and “stout” is a win(e) for me.

 

Bucharest, Romania

There’s a lot of abandoned and damaged buildings in Bucharest that’s clearly seen better days. Many of them are so decayed and dilapidated that they seem to be on the verge of collapsing. This one above is an enormous, unfinished shell of a building that’s been abandoned for 30 years. The plan was that this should be a historical museum, but after the fall of the communist regime in the late 80s, the project was tossed over to the Romanian Radio Company, which had no money to complete it. Since then, it has been empty.

 

Bucharest, Romania

One of the hundreds of churches and chapels.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Romania is a hardcore Christian country, and this taxi driver will make sure you know it.

 

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Some more urban decay. What we found quite fascinating, was the mix of “rich” and “poor” surroundings so close by each other. There were areas with old abandoned buildings and clean, renovated ones right beside them.

 

See also:

To be continued..

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