Bran Castle, where no Dracula can be found
“Oh, it is wonderful! I am a big Dracula fan and it was great!” – her wrinkled lips extended into a wide smile, as she stepped around in those black sparkly boots of hers. We saw them the night before, glistening in the dark underneath her slim body. I don’t even know how we got to chatting, but we found out that she is from the States, traveling with her friend and both of their husbands died from smoking. She was lovely, reminding me of a Californian style grandma, long blond hair, loud and full of energy.
“We heard that there is not a whole lot of Dracula stuff there” – Mr.Blab said questioning, but I felt the disappointment comment in his voice.
“No, no! There is. It is great!” – and she was off with her equally blond traveling friend, hurrying to finish their 3 week journey around Europe.
We were here not because of the famous story, but because this is supposed to be a worthwhile visit and it was very close to our last stop. So far I was not impressed. The castle looked ordinary from the road and instead of the perched amidst lavish forests location, an impression left by the skilled photographers hired to promote it, it is on a small hill above the town that services all the visitors around.
Somewhat less enthusiastic we moved on. Trinket sellers lined up the path to the entrance. There was nothing blood thirsty about them – wood masks, embroidered clothes and textiles, scarves and whatnot. Romanian things, I guess. Thankfully unlike in Asia, here vendors keep to themselves and the walk was a lot less stressful. We passed a badly made house of screams on the left, the only vampire item so far.
As soon as we passed the gates to the Bran Castle, things changed. It was beautiful. Rich green sprawled all around reaching the huddled up village houses in the distance and surrounding the calm ponds. The kids ran up the stone ramp, while I was still trying to pull myself from the gardens.
I am not a castle person. Other than just generous curiosity about things which can bring me to a place like Bran, you will not find me running from one castle to the next and calling it a holiday.
I am not a Dracula fan either.
Still, the Bran Castle charmed me.
It looked small from the outside, but once in, you can lose yourself in its narrow passageways and hidden rooms. Plenty of wood around and peaking green hills from the windows made it…homely.
Yes, I imagined myself living in the “scary Dracula castle”.
Lets get something straight though. Even here, you will find out that the connection between the place and the story is imagined at best. An idea blown out of proportion for attracting tourists at worst. Bram Stoker had never stepped foot in Romania. Vlad the Impaler, who might have been part of the inspiration for the book, used a few castles in his life.
Other than a small room with exhibits showing the lack of connection, there is nothing vampire about this place at all.
It is homey and inviting.
As we were leaving, the kids plays had turned into a mad running around. I was busy thinking about how everyone sees what they want, in life and in travel. Our sparkly booted American lady, enjoyed the place because of Dracula, while we did because it ended up being completely non-Dracula.
Coming down the steep ramp I realized that Mr.Blab was missing.
We went back inside to try and find him.
And you, if you are thinking of coming here, remember that there is nothing vampire about it. Just a surprisingly pleasant castle amidst a mildly touristic town.
So come prepared.