Europe | Romania | Transylvania – Back in Brasov
Well that was a horrible anti-climax. My first impression of Bran Castle was the golden sunlight gleaming on its bright white towers. It looked more like Disneyland than the lair of a foul daemon. Still I was sure that lurking inside would be the creaking coffins and flapping bats I hungered for. I was wrong.
The castle was full of old furniture and bits of cracked pottery. I like furniture and pottery, I do, but there is a time and a place for everything. This could have been any old castle. In any European country. I felt duped. The only mention of the Count was a tour guides pointy teeth and the baseball bats and other Draculamorabilia being hawked outside. The only scary thing I saw were two milky white buttocks forcing their way out of a middle aged lady tourist’s too short shorts. I was doubly sickened.
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to visit Transylvania. I read Bram Stoker’s book for the first time when I was about eleven. The film of the book, with Keanu and Anthony Hopkins, was my favourite film as a teenager. I read all Brian Lumley’s Necroscope books and Anne Rice’s Lestat books. I love Neil Jordan’s film. Visiting Dracula’s Castle was to be the highlight of my trip. But it sucked ass.
I know that Vlad Tepes – the original Dracula – never lived in Bran Castle, but that seems totally irrelevant to me. Who cares if he never set foot in the place. He lived in the general area, and he gave his name to one of the most popular myths of the twentieth century. You have to give the people [i.e. me] what they want. And the people want creaking coffins, wolves howling outside, and the foxy chicks who try and seduce Keanu in the film.
When I grow up I’m going to take over the Romanian Tourist Board and things will be a lot different. The country obviously badly needs money, so it should be exploiting the fact that millions of people worldwide are mad into Dracula. I’m not saying they should chop up all the old furniture and sell them off as authentic vampire slaying stakes, but they have to do something.
Maybe I’m being too rough on the poor Romanians. They’re not having the best of times at the moment. But I think expanding the Dracula experience in Transylvania would be one way of helping themselves. Give the people [i.e. me] what they want. If you build it they will come. Bram Stoker wrote the best damn travel brochure they are ever likely to get. They should take advantage of it. Well I think so.
Additional Reporting: Jonathan Harker