The foggy, chilly air wrapped around Orla like a blanket of hugs. She felt anxious looking up at this monstrosity of a building but as a historian, she was in her element that she was standing in front of this castle in Bulgaria. The solitude added to the atmosphere she was feeling.
Standing, gawping and smiling, Orla felt like a child on Christmas morning, this castle was her Disneyland and she was about to see in person how people lived long ago. She had read copious books about the area and her imagination was running wild inside her head, thinking about the workmanship, the skill and arduous work involved in building such an impressive sight, the battles fought here, the brave soldiers crossing the fortress and if they made it out alive.
A firm believer that travel broadens the mind, Orla walked on the bumpy pebble stone path towards the front door, a quote from Turkish writer Mehmet Murat ildan came to mind, instead of building castles against your enemies, build bridges for them to come to you! Orla turned the knob of the front door to be greeted by a local tour guide, Ivan, a friendly man with broken English but enough to amaze Orla with tales of how land was swapped between one army to another, families lost young men in battle and amazingly how the castle stood the test of time and has been left unscathed throughout centuries of wars.
Orla took numerous photos of dungeons, banquet halls that would have served lavish meals and spiral staircases that would have been intimidating in candlelight during a battle, “Imagine not knowing if you were going to walk into an enemy”, voiced Orla quietly to the tour guide. “Exactly”, responded Ivan. Orla finished her tour an hour later and returned to her rental car, taking one last look at the stunningly mystical setting of the castle, she smiled, and turned the ignition on in the car to return to her hotel.