Welcome to the Transfăgărășan, one of the most spectacular and one of the most dangerous driving roads in the world.
The road climbs over 1600m in just 17km of daring switchback turns and hairpin bends. It was crowned by Top Gear as “The Best Driving Road In The World”, and 40 people died whilst building it. It has 830 bridges, 27 viaducts and 5 tunnels, and was constructed using dynamite.
As you begin at Cârţişoara, you pass by wooden chalets and weave between the river, the road begins to climb, and the mountains loom tentatively in front of you. The views are mysteriously withheld from you by the forest of trees as you climb in anticipation. You catch a glimpse of a heart-stopping drop beside you but you press on.
As the network of bridges and tunnels reveals itself in full, you can see why this road is called Ceaușescu’s Folly. It’s impossible, inexplicable, as near to a vertical climb up a mountain as you can get in a vehicle.
The peak beholds Balea Lake, encircled by a sort of shanty shack town of women selling strong wine and honey. Then you pass through a solid half a mile of mountain, the longest, darkest section of mountain road, which brings you out on the descent, an equally as unfathomable snake of Tarmac draped across the sheer edge of the Făgăraș mountains, which surround you and cradle you on your slow decline back to earth.
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Let's talk (rant) about wizarding schools for a minute
Okay so I’ve seen these amazing gif sets of wizarding schools around the world (they’re in the queue somewhere, you’ll see them in a few days) and they got me thinking.
I’m gonna start with common information here: everybody knows that Charlie Weasley was working with dragons in Romania. Everybody knows that for the Triwizard Tournament there were four dragons brought from Romania. You know what I deduce from that?
Romania has a fucking dragon farm. (Or possibly a research facility)
Point is, why wouldn’t we? Our geography is, basically, what every country would want. Except for deserts, we have everything: mountains, hills, plains, a delta, access to the sea, four seasons (that are, actually, how real seasons are supposed to be, with like 30 degrees in the summer and lasting snow in the winter).
There are so many unexplored areas in this country where dragons could be bread and studied and trained. I wouldn’t be surprised if we organized dragon races, that’s totally a thing we would do.
Point is, where are so many wizards studying dragons, there has to be a wizarding school somewhere, considering how rich this country is with myths and legends.
So, Romanian wizarding school. (While we do have the equivalent of the words witch/wizard, our mythology is way more complex: our wizards were called “solomonari” and they were believed to control the weather; the female personifications of witches are both good and evil, but they tended to be more mythological creatures than persons with magical powers.) I can totally see a school hidden in the Carpathian Mountains, maybe somewhere not too far from the Poenari Castle, home of Vlad the Impaler. They’ll have to get up in the mountains on the Transfagarasan road and, maybe on a side road well hidden from muggles, say goodbye to their parents while they get their luggage into carts pulled by, well not horses, but some kind of magical creature, that would get them to the castle.
And all I can think of is Romania as a safe haven during the Middle Ages, because of Vlad the Impaler’s reign in the 14th century. Vlad the Impaler, who was the son of Vlad Dracul, a member of the Order of the Dragon, and an unknown Transylvanian noble woman who was actually a witch. Vlad the Impaler who was a halfblood, who’s mother cared for him and taught him magic, just as she was taught at a hidden magic school deep in the Carpathians, who’s father never found out about his wife, who’s father never knew his son was attacked by a werewolf when he was maybe 11 or 12. His mother was desperate and took him back to her old school, begging for help. The witches and wizards there helped him, taught him how to stay focused, stay human. A young Vlad remaining forever grateful for their help and seeking it again when the witch hunt extended in Europe.
Sometimes the beast took the better part of him and that was when people called him a ruthless ruler, but while his methods were indeed harsh, they were never without good reason.
People were superstitious in those times, yes, but they also didn’t venture too far in the woods or tried to explore the mountains. The magical community remained well hidden even after Vlad’s death, and the news spread, news that magical beings were helped in that small, hidden fortress in the mountains, and soon more and more went there, protected by the dragons that had their nests not too far.
(They had to extend the castle a great deal in those times, since there were so many souls there, and now almost half of it is empty, because there aren’t nearly enough students to fill it, even though most of the dragon trainers and workers stay there too.)
I mean it would be great just imagine:
complete acceptance of werewolf students since Vlad the Impaler’s rulership (and our patron saint is also the patron saint of wolves… and the Geto-Dacian people, our ancestors, had a wolf as their symbol)
nobody would use quills just because the fountain pen was invented by a romanian professor
there is a dragon farm
students would stay at the school during the winter vacation just so they could go skiing or ride a sled down the Transfagarasan (seriously, google that road and be marveled) no matter how many accidents happened before
students wandering the forests at night just so they could get a glimpse of the legendary Iele
care of magical creatures lessons would include dragons
while quiddich would be a popular sport, there would also be a lot of muggle sports played (seriously, we’re sports people, believe me, football is really big here)
while Halloween celebrations were adopted in maybe the mid 2000th, they became even more sinister just for the fact that on the first of november it’s the Day of the Dead
while the school won’t have a problem with the ghosts, they’ll guard themselves against moroi or strigoi
Harry might’ve flied on a hippogriff, but students here often find themselves flying the zgriptori
have I mentioned dragons?
Okay so yeah I may have gotten a bit carried away but still romanian wizarding school is totally an awesome thing.