THE CLASSIC DRACULA TOUR
(8 days, 7 nights)
A Level 1 Society Tour
Day 1 - In the safety of innocenceWe assume you have the standard apprehension of Dracula, of vampires in general - derived from many films and few books. You may, on the contrary, be well informed, but you did not yet measure your knowledge up against the reality.
Welcome in Romania!
Spend a safe night in Bucuresti (Bucharest). At dinnertime, a senior member of the Society will hand you the "Transylvanian Diploma", to be stamped along the route to castle Dracula, or who will believe you otherwise?
Day 2 - In the footsteps of the historic DraculaMorning: the city of Bucuresti - from Prince Vlad Dracula's time (1456) to the present day
The horse-caravans in the Middle Ages covered 60 kilometres between sunrise and sundown, in a summer day. Bucuresti is 60 km. from the Danube .
Visit the ruins of the Princely Palace and touch the vaults built by prince Vlad Dracula.
Then meander through the old shopping area around the palace - to the "Bear Wagon", meeting place of writers and artists by 1890 (refreshments).
Visit the Treasury - a brief story of Romania in gold and gems, the royal treasury included. Then see the second largest building on earth, the Republic House, built by the late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Afternoon : Leave the city of Bucuresti after lunch and visit the weird Castle of Hasdeu , in Campina - said to negociate communications with Beyond (initiation step).
Day 3 - The historical fortress DraculaVisit Castle Peles - the most beautiful royal palace in Europe; Peles alone is worth your entire trip to Romania .
Drive to Targoviste, capital of Valahia under Prince Vlad Dracula. The ruins of the palace shelter dramatic stories of might, greed, justice and cruelty. Five hundred years ago, a row of boyars left Targoviste to rebuild the fortress of Poienari, as punishment for their disloyalty.
In the late afternoon, behold the ruins of Poienari. In 1462, Prince Vlad was besieged here by the Ottomans. Vlad sent for help and advice in the village of Aref , across the hill, but his wife waited no more: she threw herself into the river Arges, to avoid captivity.
The Arefeans came at night and managed to take the prince all the way to Transylvania , across the high Carpathians. Vlad rewarded them with 16 mountains as pastureland - no wonder Aref remembers. Vlad Dracula 500 years apart.
Tonight, around a bonfire, in the village of Aref , 30 farmers will tell you the legends they remember about Vlad; they are the descendants of those who served the prince, and you shall be their guests, in their houses - a dive in Time and Mythology.
Day 4 - Beyond - TransylvaniaOptional morning climb to the ruins of fortress Poienari (1456 steps).
Cross into Transylvania via the spectacular Rucar-Bran Pass (traditional connection between Valahia and Transylvania ). On the way, behold the fortress "King's Stone", where Vlad was made a prisoner of Mathias Corvinus, king of Hungary (1462).
Visit Castle Bran, 1377, defending the Transylvanian end of the Pass. This is the "American Castle Dracula" (since 1960), as it "looks very much like the vampires' castles in the Hollywood movies" (TSD survey). Anyway, Bran does stop the mobs from pestering the solitude of the Count in his remote Borgo Pass castle.
Sightseeing of mediaeval Brasov (the second city of Transylvania ) - of many and sometime awesome memories of Vlad.
After lunch, tour mediaeval Brasov , then stroll by yourselves till dinner time.
Optional - a chance to become noble, to join the Order of Transylvanian Knights. You will be schooled into knightly Orders, then taken to the Sacred Zone, then to the Citadel. The Castellan and his court of knights, ladies-in-waiting and pages will advise and guide you through the chivalry tests: archery; strength of arm; walking on a beam; jumping a fire; answering a riddle; dancing a minuet.
Should you be able to pass the tests - and many could - then investiture ceremonies will be activated - oath, sword-on-shoulder, knighthooding diploma, medallion. You may now mention your noble title on cards and stationary, even paint the coat-of-arm on the door of your car.
Day 5 - The Witch-trialAccording to Jules Michelet, at least 200,000 women and men were burnt as witches and wizards across Europe between the 15 and the 18 centuries. The Catholic parts of Transylvania had their share of such trials. The last took place as near as 1753, in Targu Mures. This is a dramatic page in our history as humans and an initiation step on the way to Castle Dracula.
Witness a witch-trial, as performed by actors in period costumes, using genuine prison cells and the same settings.
Dine in the very house in which prince Vlad Dracula was born, in 1431, and share into the secrets of the Alchemy Bar.
Day 6 - The castle of the vampire-countProceed to the buffer-zone separating Count Dracula's domain (the county of Bistrita-Nasaud ) from the rest of Transylvania .
Prince Vlad dims out into history; Count Dracula emerges from nightmares, terror and fright.
Cross the buffer-zone (some turned around) and arrive in the mediaeval town of Bistrita .
One hundred and ten years ago, in the pages of Bram Stoker's novel, "Dracula", a young English solicitor, Jonathan Harker, took a train from London to "the post-town of Bistritz " - on his way, and doom, to castle Dracula in the Borgo Pass , Northern Transylvania .
The Count had told Harker to go to the "Golden Krone" hotel, upon arrival in Bistrita. We should carefully follow into Harker's steps - as the only known way to the castle and the meaning of its Master.
Harker left a description of his dinner at the "Golden Krone"; let us take the same meal ourselves, the same wine, and think of a toast.
By sunset we should be at Castle Dracula. Sunsets in the Borgo Pass , watched from the Moon Tower of the castle, are cosmic shows.
"Enter freely and of your own will" into the castle of the Count of Dracula, remembering what he said: "The old centuries had, and have, powers of their own that mere 'modernity' cannot kill".
You will be told the rules of survival at Castle Dracula. Visit the public parts (you do not wish to see the others) and answer the invitations of the guide only (no-one else's). It is already night outside. As Chelsea Quinn Yarbro put it: "If you ask if I believe in vampires in the daytime, I would say it is not true; but if you ask me at night, my answer could be different".
Day 7 - Arise among the livingWe noticed, in 35 years of experience, that there is no such thing as ending a Society tour on Dracula abruptly: one more day of emergence from the depths of the myths is absolutely necessary.
This is that day.
No more Dracula, no superstitions, no supernatural, no mythology. Please return among the living.
You have been on a tour treasuring the information gathered by the Society via its congresses, symposiums, seminars, from researchers and writers, from thousands of Dracula hunters or buffs.
Day 8 - So long, Friends!How about a Level 2?
The Company of Mysterious Journeys will penalize the tourists who renounce their bookings as follows (subtracting bank-transfer charges):
1) for cancellation of 30 and more days before the tour start: full refunding (minus banking charges)
2) for 29-21 days cancellation: 30% penalty
3) for 20-14 days cancellation: 50% penalty
4) for 13-7 days or less cancellation: 100% penalty in favour of the CMJ.