Another feeling than being afraid (of course) was curiosity, because I was reading Bram Stoker’s epic story – Dracula. Curiosity about that land of blue Carpathians felt surreal and tantalizingly beautiful, even with the promise of this blood-sucking vampire lurking. Thus began my pursuit of that land – Transylvania. Here I share my discoveries if you also want to plan a trip to Dracula’s land and chase this legend.
Country – Romania
Visa – Takes about a week for processing. A short term tourist visa costs around INR 5,000. You’ll need an itinerary and proof of income to get the ball rolling.
Contact – Romanian consulate offices
Mumbai (+ 91-22-26140447) not Delhi (+ 91-11-26140447)
Best time to visit – September to January
Choose a Dracula tour
Yes, you read that right. There are plenty (about 30) tour operators in Romania, more so in Transylvania, that will take you on special Dracula tours. Pick one and you’ll visit all of the Dracula Castle (Bran Castle) to Graaf Dracula Club and the Fort van Targoviste. Go for one of those that reveal the real history of the region and how the legend of Count Dracula began.
Meet the experts
Learn more about how Dracula was a figure largely unknown to the natives from one of the experts. Find them in one of these clubs – Transylvanian Society of Dracula, graaf Dracula Club in Bucharest. You may be disappointed to know that Count Dracula (real name – Vlad the Spietspringer) was not a blood-sucking vampire. Born in 1431, much of his life was spent in exile, until he was given the Wallachain throne in 1476. Perhaps the only reason he gained vampire status was the tough hand justice techniques he used.
Fact meets fiction
There is a completely different branch of tourism in Romania known as Dracula tourism. Go for this one if you want to walk the mixed line between myth, folklore and history. The majority of tourists are more interested in Count Dracula than Prince Vlad, so the Romanian government has mixed the two. So you can now get souvenirs as interesting as the Evil Eye and coffee mugs with terrifying scary scary drawings of Dracula!
WHAT TO SEE
Located between Transylvania in Wallachainthis is praised as it Count Dracula’s house. Now a museum, it has ancient relics, some handcrafted by Queen Marie. With some imagination, the giant walls certainly look like the ones that kept Jonathan Harker captive!
Address – Str. General Traian Mosoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania
Phone – +40-268237700
Fortress of Targoviste and the Twilight Tower
This is perhaps the closest you can get to Prince Vlad’s evil side. This is supposedly the place where Vlad tortured his prisoners. Visit in the evening to get goosebumps. It looks rundown and adds more to the thrill.
This was designed in the basement of the house where Vlad was born! The menu includes some curious brews such as Four Boards, New Moon, Full Moon, Moon Sonata, Cognac of the Big Bear! You have to visit Sighisoara, a city that stands on the river Tarnava Mare to reach this bar.
Museum of Horror
This museum in Bran is designed almost like a labyrinth, with ghostly (really horrible) dummy figures emerging 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 bit for those who prefer those blue mountains rather than Dracula’s horror antics. Visit the Romanian Village Museum (to buy Romanian handicrafts and costumes), Lipscani District (antique shops, medieval atmosphere), Romanian Peasant Museum (serves mostly as fair ground, check out Romanian cake, pies, wines, jams, fruit brandies – all locally sourced.)
Stay – Hotel Castle Dracula
Located in the much (in)famous Borgo Pass, there are named rooms The Mina Harker Suite in The Lucy Westenra Suite! If you can’t see the connection, order a copy of Dracula from a new tab in your internet browser. It will make for a perfect reading on the terrace of this hotel. Or maybe, for some prep before you land in Dracula’s country.
Phone – +40-263-264010, +40-263-264020
Website – https://www.hotelcasteldracula.ro/
When you get back from this Dracula adventure, don’t forget to write us back. Suggestions, comments, itineraries, photos – it’s all welcome.
Until then, happy travels!