Introduction

North of Curtea de Argeş, the population thins out to just a few scattered villages as the highway nears the Carpathians. One of the highlights of the region is the Poienari Citadel, one of the few castles in Romania that really does have a legitimate connection to the notorious Wallachian prince Vlad Ţepeş (1431–76), aka 'Vlad the Impaler' or, better yet, 'Dracula'.

If you've got a few days, the area around the citadel is lovely. About 4km south of the citadel, the village of Arefu retains a special untouched-by-time charm. It's allegedly inhabited by descendants of the minions who served Vlad Ţepeş, a point of pride the villagers still boast about to this day. About 1km north of the fortress lies the massive artificial Lake Vidraru, which was dammed in the 1960s to feed a hydroelectric power plant. From here, the winding Transfăgărășan road wends its way north over the Carpathians into Transylvania.