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Lions in Romania

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Coming Home
Everyone was exhausted. We were glad to be on the way home. The next morning we loaded baggage, including the lost bags belonging to the Joyce’s and Clestor’s that Mona had managed to rescue from the Sibiu airport administration, and headed toward Brasov.

Along the way we stopped to see the fabled monastery, Simbata de Sus and to buy 20 pizzas to go at a restaurant in Fagaras.

Simbata de Sus
Castle Bran

Simbata de Sus was beautifully located. The buildings and grounds were in excellent condition and hundreds of Romanian tourists enjoyed a day in the sun.

On we drove, our goal Bran Castle, linked to the Dracula legend and beautifully perched atop a steep hill among even taller mountains. That’s a group of Lions to the left and Joe Marcheggiani posing to the right. We walked the cobblestones up to the castle after paying a modest entrance fee. Inside, the castle was spare. It was obvious a medieval “working” fortress designed to stop assault, rather than to entertain romantic nobility. The castle was decorated with furniture from various periods over the last three hundred years and is now preserved by the Romanian government.

Below the castle, “Draculaland,” a relatively nice tourist trap with tee-shirts dripping blood, straw-doll witches, and many nice Romanian folk art pieces, provided a shopping opportunity.

We arrived in Brasov late in the afternoon, checked into the Capitol Hotel. An hour later we formed up in the lobby to walk toward the city center. Jim Sack walked the group out of the lobby and promptly turned in the wrong direction. After we straggling through a few alleys and Jim lamely pointing out the “historic dumpsters” of Brasov to the group, the group emerged onto the main pedestrian street of Brasov and the gasps of delight were obvious.

John Shopping
Head MC
Mobile Office

The main commercial street of Brasov stretches for a half-mile lined by delightful shops and chic restaurants. Here John Clester contributes to the local economy a bit. It opens into a spacious town square that is bordered by the massive Black Church, a German Lutheran fortress church from the 1600s. Behind that edifice climb the Carpathians which guard Brasov and which offer spectacular views down on the red tiled roofs.

Our second day in Brasov we took our bus up to Poiana Brasov, rode a cable car to the top of a mountain and basked in the fresh breezes. That’s Ron Joyce of Little Rock in the middle of the photo, another of the kind and talented Lions. We delighted in the beautiful views and sipped beer under umbrellas at an open-air restaurant. By consensus, the toilet facilities at Poiana Brasov got five stars for cleanliness and function. In fact, the hotel would compete with any four-star facility in the west. Romania is making progress in tourism very rapidly.

Simon Dragan, by the way, in the modular building and trailer business in Indiana and just couldn’t pass up searching for design innovations on a Romanian cousin of his line of trailers. You might want to see the work he does at

After a couple of days of R&R in Brasov we reboarded the bus and turned south toward Bucuresti.

Along the way an incident occurred that spoke volumes about our friends, the Lions. A car travelling in front of us had an accident. The car was loaded with potatoes for market and part of the load had shifted and broken shattered the front window of the old Dacia. Potatoes were all over the road, the main road between Bucuresti and Brasov. Traffic was snarled. What had started as an effort to make a few bucks at the market had ended in economic disaster for the driver and his family. It would take hundreds of dollars to fix the damage. Lions told our driver to stop the bus and open the door so that we could help collect and bag the potatoes.

Potatoes on the Road
Betsy and Mia at Castle Peles

On the way we visited the Royal Castle, Peles, where Fort Wayne volunteers Mia and Betsy Dragan enjoyed the view.

In Bucuresti we drove about in search of the ill marked, but lovely, Hotel Ambasador. After we finally found the hotel, debarked and checked in Simon arranged dinner for all in the adjacent restaurant. Dinner was a time for congratulatory speeches and more beautifully played folk music. Prior to dinner Fort Wayne volunteer Ron Kersten had strode the energetic streets of Bucuresti in search of some sort of commemorative gift for Simon. He purchased a book of photos of all of Romania and everyone in the group autographed it, in the manner of a high school yearbook. Music played, eyes watered, and words of appreciation were spoken by five or six of the good Lions. It was a nice end to a lovely adventure and satisfying work.

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