The Lost Transylvania Tapes
The year was 2005 and after having the overwhelming burden of the Static II video on our shoulders for a couple of years, we were all still decompressing a bit and trying to get out on another adventure. Traveling with Kenny Reed doesn't really allow you to pick relaxing vacation destinations like Hawaii or Cancun. If Kenny had his way every trip would include a few near death experiences and breaking some sort of UN peacekeeping agreement. I had just turned down his invitation to travel into Afghanistan with a little side detour over the border into Iraq. So, after a little bit of thought, Paul Shier, Kenny Hughes and myself figured that a proposal to as bizarre a location as Transylvania was one that Kenny just might actually not turn down....unless of course he'd already been there before. Thankfully, he hadn't....but he DID have a contact just outside of Transylvania in a the capitol city of Bucharest who was anxious to show us around and act as our tour guide. Little did we know that he was only 17 years old.
We started off in the crusty eastern European city of Sofia, Bulgaria to launch our mission. Sofia is home to one of the most incredible skate spots in all of Europe, known as NDK, and it had been traveled to by scores of other skaters already. Including a recent Enjoi trip, a Blueprint trip and another recent visit by the PopWar team. So we were not exactly Christopher Columbusing this city. But it was a great plan because the skatespot was not only amazing, but you could literally skate there all day long without getting kicked out. The bad thing about this was that we basically never left this one spot, leaving a lot of Sofia unexplored. But on one of our last days we finally ventured around and filmed a lot of additional stuff of Shier which ended up in the Blueprint video "Lost & Found". Unfortunately, that was the one tape I haven't been able to dig up from this trip. So Paul Shier is sadly missing out from the majority of this edit below. He still, however, makes a few appearances for comic relief.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="886.0"] The skate posse that frequented NDK Plaza every day til sundown. Photo by Josh Stewart [/caption]
After a few days in Bulgaria we boarded a dark and creepy cold war era train bound for Romania. It was a 10 hour trek by moonlight through the Carpathian mountains and across several terrifying boarder patrol checks with armed police thugs who didn't have time for niceties or smiles. Every time we'd fall asleep the train would come to a blood-curdling screeching halt and a new set of police would board and start pounding on our cabin door to see our passports. By the time we finally arrived in the tiny Transylvanian town of Brasov, we were so delirious we almost wondered if the little gypsy kids we saw huffing glue in the bushes all around the train station were just our imagination. But, unfortunately, they were not. We soon found our way to a random hotel and even though Kenny assured us he had booked rooms for us he wandered in and asked if they had any vacancies. This is how Kenny preferred to travel. It made it more interesting to him that way. For the rest of us it added to our anxiety. Brasov was ancient and the cathedral at the center of town was originally built in the 13th century. We were all far too exhausted to skate so we wandered into the towering, Transylvanian church and watched a free organ performance that was perfectly eerie and terribly fitting for the rumors and history of the region we had just wandered into. But, as haunting and beautiful as it was, it didn't stop Reed and Shier from falling asleep and snoring audibly while the elderly Romanian women turned to cast disapproving gazes.
We spent the entire next day walking every inch of the town looking for skatespots and we literally couldn't find a one. It wasn't until we were walking back to our hotel in defeat that we discovered that there was a goddamned SKATEPARK right behind our hotel the entire time. A fucking skatepark in Transylvania. Go figure. We spent the rest of the evening talking to the 20-30 local skaters as more and more kept showing up since word had obviously spread that some American pros were skating the park. It soon turned into a one-man demo as Kenny Reed ollied a massive park bench separating two basketball courts and the proceeded to interview a few local little vampire skaters about skating in Transylvania. Pretty rad looking back on this now in the footage.
The finale of the trip culminated in our excursion out to visit "Dracula's Castle". If you didn't know, the story of Dracula was actually based around a real man. A Romanian prince named Prince Vlad, or as the locals called him, Vlad the Impaler. Due to the horrible way through which he would dispose of his enemies, leaving them impaled on massive stakes for all to see. His family was from the order of the "Dracul". Hence the name Dracula. We were lead to an amazing tourist trap credited as Dracula's Castle and we proceed to roam the grounds, enduring about 10 t-shirt vendors and gift shops. But after a couple of hours in we came to discover that Dracula's REAL castle was now in ruins and rested another 15-20 miles from where we were currently standing. The castle we were being paraded through was only a temporary residence he would stop through during trips into Brasov. Oh well, at least we got the t-shirts and the photos.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="874.0"] Paul Shier in front of "Dracula's Castle" in the heart of Transylvania. Photo by Josh Stewart [/caption]
This trip was one of several amazing adventures I had the pleasure of going on with this same crew of explorers. Reed, Hughes and Shier were all roommates in Barcelona and I miss my yearly excursions to Spain skating and filming with these maniacs. I recently tried my best to round up all of the footage from this trip and put together a little edit of raw footage from the short 7 day adventure. Unfortunately, one tape went unfound, but the video below is what I did manage to find. Enjoy and thanks for reading.