One feeling other than being scared (of course) was curiosity, as I sat reading Bram Stoker’s epic – Dracula. Curiosity about that land of blue Carpathian Mountains felt surreal and enticingly stunning, even with the promise of this blood sucking vampire lurking around. Thus started my chase of that land – Transylvania. Here’s sharing my discoveries if you, too, wish to plan a trip to Dracula land and chase this legend.
Country – Romania
Visa – Takes around a week for processing. A short term tourist visa costs about INR 5,000. You need to have an itinerary and proof of your income to set the ball rolling.
Contact – Romanian Consulate Offices
Mumbai (+91-22-26140447) and Delhi (+91-11-26140447)
Best time to visit – September to January
Choose a Dracula Tour
Yes, you read that right. There are plenty (around 30) of tour operators in Romania, more in Transylvania, who’ll take you around on special Dracula tours. Pick one and you’ll visit everything from the Dracula Castle (Bran Castle) to Count Dracula Club and the Fortress of Targoviste. Go for one of those that reveal the real history of the region and how the legend of Count Dracula started.
Meet the Experts
Learn about how Dracula remained a figure largely unknown to the natives from one of the experts. Find them in one of these clubs – Transylvanian Society of Dracula, Count Dracula Club at Bucharest. You might be disappointed to know that Count Dracula (real name – Vlad the Impaler) was no blood sucking vampire. Born in 1431, much of his life was spent in exile, until he got the Wallachain Throne in 1476. Perhaps, the one reason that got him the vampire status was the tough hand justice techniques he used.
Facts meet Fiction
There’s a very different branch of tourism in Romania, known as Dracula Tourism. Go for this one if you wish to walk the mixed line between myth, folklore and history. The majority of tourists are more interested in Count Dracula rather than Prince Vlad, thus the Romanian government mixed the two. So, you can now get souvenirs as interesting as the Evil Eye and coffee mugs that have eerie, really creepy face drawings of Dracula!
WHAT TO SEE
Situated between Transylvania and Wallachain, this is hailed as the home of Count Dracula. Now a museum, it has old relics, some handmade by Queen Marie. With some imagination, the giant walls sure seem like the ones that trapped Jonathan Harker!
Address – Str. General Traian Mosoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania
Phone – +40-268237700
Fortress of Targoviste and the Twilight Tower
This is perhaps the closest that you can get to the evil side of Prince Vlad. This is supposedly the place where Vlad tortured his prisoners. Visit in the evenings to get some goose bumps. It looks decayed, adding more to the thrill.
This is designed in the cellar of the house where Vlad was born! The menu here has some strangely named concoctions like Four Boards, New Moon, Full Moon, Moon Sonata, Cognac of the Big Bear! You need to visit Sighisoara, a town that stands by the Tarnava Mare River to reach this bar.
Museum of Horror
This museum in Bran has been designed almost like a labyrinth, with ghostly (really ghastly too) dummy figures popping out from the darkness. It also has a restaurant and a 3D cinema hall that plays movies belonging to only one genre. Horror. Obvious, isn’t it?
Off the Horror Track
There’s quite a lot for the ones who are more in love with those blue mountains rather than Dracula’s horror antics. Visit the Romanian Village Museum (to buy Romanian handicrafts and folk costumes), Lipscani District (antique shops, medieval ambience), Romanian Peasant Museum (usually serves as fair ground, check out Romanian cakes, tarts, wines, jams, fruit brandy–all locally produced.)
Stay – Hotel Castle Dracula
Situated in the much (in)famous Borgo Pass, it has rooms named as The Mina Harker Suite and The Lucy Westenra Suite! If you can’t see the connection, order a copy of Dracula from a new tab on your internet browser. It’ll make for a perfect read on the terrace of this hotel. Or maybe, for some preparation before you land in the land of Dracula.
Phone – +40-263-264010, +40-263-264020
Website – http://www.hotelcasteldracula.ro/
Once you’re back from this Dracula adventure, don’t forget to write back to us. Suggestions, comments, itineraries, photographs–it’s all welcome.
Till then, happy travelling!
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