Entries in Romania (2)
While in Bucharest we took a day-trip out to Snagov to see the shrine where Vlad the Impaler (aka, Dracula) was buried. Our driver surprised me by speaking quite passionately about Vlad Țepeș. Vlad was a prince of Romania in the 15th century who earned his nickname "the Impaler" the hard way, by "impaling" his enemies*, and that wasn't even the worst of it**. So it was odd to hear that Vlad Țepeș was a folk hero across Romania. In fact, in the Presidential elections (with the run-off election being held that day), many people drew a box at the bottom of their Presidental ballot, wrote "Vlad Țepeș" and voted for him.
So why is this savage murderer, "the devil" or "the Impaler", so popular? The explanation was quite simple. "Sure, he was brutal and savage, but he protected Christianity. It was said that crime was so low that you could drop your wallet in the street and come back a day later to pick it up. Only madmen or people with hemorrhoids who wanted a stick enema would dare to break Christian values while Vlad was in charge". Hmm... I think I'd rather deal with the occasional pick-pocket than live in Dracula's Christian country.
Anyway, the tomb of Dracula is now guarded by a gaggle of delightful puppies:
*this is a whole lot worse than it sounds, taking days to die in the most horrible pain imaginable.
** a description of Vlad Țepeș's savagery from the 16th century: "He let children be roasted; those, their mothers were forced to eat. And (he) cut off the breasts of women; those, their husbands were forced to eat. After that, he had them all impaled."