Lost in the shadows... The ultimate journey into the land time forgot

Paruseruru mafubu

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On Friday I received an update with less than two months until my Halloween travel adventure, and the excitement is starting to build. In the past few months I've been promoting my Vampire Vacation to the most infamous land of the unholy, Transylvania (Romania), to many people and some are just as excited for me to return as I am in going.

I have been given a wonderful oppurtunity which I'm very excited about. Dr. Elizabeth Miller who is a leading expert on gothic literature and President of the Canadian/US branch of the Dracula Society wants me to keep a journal just as Jonathan Harker does in Stoker's 1897 victorian novel 'Dracula' and she will publish it in the official newsletter the society puts out with its home office in Bucharest. I've received a hand signed copy of her book and information she provided to me will enable me to take an initiation tour in 09' that she, herself attended some years back for knighthood in Transylvania, a noble in other words that sees only around 3 or 4 annually attend I understand. I am poised to begin organizing this adventure as soon as I return. I will be sure to post pictures every step of the way, it is hard to imagine but all true. Fitting that my favorite Digimon is a dragon warrior that evolves into the strongest holy knight. Vlad III Draculea was in his lifetime, son of Dracul meaning son of the dragon or devil and a knight of the sacred order of the dragon sworn to protect the cross from the enemies of Christ. If I succeed I will bear a coat of arms and official seal from the head office in Bucharest so it's a once in a lifetime oppurtunity that began almost two years ago, what an amazing journey and it's almost time.

I've been informed that the ACTUAL airline departure tax/fuel-security tariff for my trip this year is $424.62 USD but the deadline was very unexpected, September 10. This means I'll be charged an additional $50 because I can't actually send the final expense until the 18th. Thankfully the airline itinerary hasn't changed so I won't have to change my tickets for the connecting flight to NY a second time. International travel is insanely expensive these days, even the roundtrip connecting flight from Oklahoma to NY/JFK cost nearly $650.

Outbound from NY/JFK I will arrive in Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday, October 28th and finally land in Bucharest, Romania later that afternoon to officially begin the tour. I'm excited because my family is German on both sides so it'll be a wonderful chance to see the homeland of my ancestors, my grandmother traced our tree all the way back to the 1700s.

That's what's currently going on, I'll use this topic to actually share my story when and IF I return. They say some of the guests don't show up on film and if your "smitten" or bitten you may have to ride back alone. I visited an optometrist back in June and got my prescription filled for the theatrical medical contact lenses I'll be wearing for the annual grande masquerade in Piatra Fantanele on Halloween, Stoker's Castle for the fictional vampire and will be a Lost Boy from the 1987 cult phenomenon with full prosthetics and dental acrylic fangs. More later, see ya soon!
 

Bakuryu Asuka

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The Tiger's Butt, eh Den.
Ah, we talked about it back at the Digimon CCG Forums.

Now, Mr.Harker, you probably should avoid a trio of suspicious looking women on your trip there. You know, those with the non-prosthetic fangs. Beautiful, yet deadly. Better stay near that crazy old man. You know, that one who has a name that implies that his ancestors came from Helsinki, is himself Dutch and speaks German.

Enjoy your trip!
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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[quote author=Bakuryu Asuka link=topic=10188.msg125291#msg125291 date=1220113522]
Ah, we talked about it back at the Digimon CCG Forums.

Now, Mr.Harker, you probably should avoid a trio of suspicious looking women on your trip there. You know, those with the non-prosthetic fangs. Beautiful, yet deadly. Better stay near that crazy old man. You know, that one who has a name that implies that his ancestors came from Helsinki, is himself Dutch and speaks German.

Enjoy your trip!
[/quote]So I've been told. Solo travelers are reported to have the most fun because you always find someone to "neck" with. I'll be spending one night's accomidations at Stoker's Castle on Halloween night (Castle Dracula Hotel) which is the highlight of the trip and explore the Count's lair which is reported to be haunted amongst other things and a mysterious room with strange boxes lying in the depths of the site where no light may enter. The dinner at the Golden Crown, Harker's eat before journying through the Borgo Pass by way of a coach which we will do will mark a special highlight of its own. I had a reproduction of the military embroidered evening coat Gary Oldman wears on screen in the famous Absinthe scene of Copola's production of Bram Stoker's Dracula constructed for this event and I can't wait to sample Harker's dinner of blood wine and robber's steak.

So many things happening fast, I'm a little overwhelmed. Seeing Germany where my people came from, Transylvania of course and the inaccessable climb to Vlad's sanctuary on the Arges, the real Castle of Dracula some 1,500 feet on a steep mountain top is the event I am most eager to participate in.
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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Just have a quick update but a big one. I received word from Tracie L. Arnold of Past and Present Creations that the reproduction garment that Gary Oldman wore in Francis Ford Copola's 1992 production of 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' she constructed for me was completed and shipped to me today. Proof that the Delivery Confirmation and Insurance Receipt number were inculded in her e-mail along with a photo of her work which I'll share with all of you here. The movie won an Academy Award for best costume and this piece seen in the famous Absinthe scene at Rule's Cafe was one of the most stunning.

I first sent the deposit fourteen months ago and was starting to grow concerned if it would reach me in time for the Vampire Vacation I'm about to embark on in just a month. She improved the embroidery file twice to match the film version as closely as possible and not to violate copyright laws. A great addition to the mini museum in my room of props and screen used pieces I have for this feature.


http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u240/Parukeruru-san/DraculaFrtRevision1.jpg?t=1222225480
 

osirist

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That is Awesome! I've always wanted to go to Transylvania! Ever since I found out it was an actual place, and not just the setting of Castlevania 64!

maybe I could quit high school and take up vampire hunting :p
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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[quote author=osirist link=topic=10188.msg129194#msg129194 date=1222226931]
That is Awesome! I've always wanted to go to Transylvania! Ever since I found out it was an actual place, and not just the setting of Castlevania 64!

maybe I could quit high school and take up vampire hunting :p
[/quote]Thanks and I agree that it is an awsome and mysterious place. It started with a documentery for me years back, about his bloodline but prior, I like most had no idea that a real historical figure partly inspired the vampire or that everything surrounding it actually existed in a distant country on the fringes of outermost eastern europe. The ruined remains of his mountaintop castle on the Arges is what captured my imagination so getting to actually climb to it will be a once in a lifetime event, the trip overall will be. Following Harker's jounrey from Bram Stoker's novel, everything.

You definantly wouldn't want to drop out of school, it is one of the hardest and actual most expensive things I've ever taken on so the better off financially you are the better. Even the orgainizers say most will never do something like this.

A return trip next year is in the planning for an initiation for knighthood which wouldn't have been possible if not for the historian and Dracula scholar Elizabeth Miller to whom I owe a lot of thanks. I'll have plenty of images, just a quick update but much more is on the way.
 

osirist

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I'll just wait then(I graduate this year anyway!)

I wonder how I could get to go there, do you have to schedule it or can you just fly there?
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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[quote author=osirist link=topic=10188.msg129268#msg129268 date=1222288408]
I'll just wait then(I graduate this year anyway!)

I wonder how I could get to go there, do you have to schedule it or can you just fly there?
[/quote]You can just go on your own but I personally recommend a group setting like I'm participating in. I wouldn't recommend you travel internationally without the aid of experts, translators and organizers so that is why this is the best option.

There are many organized tours but as far as I know International Tours and Events is the only one fully escorted one from the United States and the land only option allows people outside the USA to meet us in Bucharest at a lower fair than those flying out from NY. They promote theme travel and the Vampire Vacation to Transylvania is just one, the have a Ghost Tour to England and even a Beetles tour to Liverpool for the fans of that band. I chose them because they have by far one of the best itineraries I ever saw, including Dracula's historical castle which is so inaccessable many don't have it included on the tourist trail as well as a huge masquerade costume ball that has been televised by Discovery's Travel Channel in the past.

You can send away for a free brochure and a deposit of $1,000 USD will reserve your spot for a future outing, there is a limited amount of seats available and the remaining $1,499 is due at a later date but I recommend you plan as I did, eighteen months or so in advance. The total cost is $2,499 which covers your round trip from NY to Bucharest and back, meals, accomidations, etc., all parties and scheduled events. You'll need a passport which runs more than a hundred dollars now, insurance which likewise is around that price also. Later if you actually make it that far, the airline fuel tax/tarrif if you travel from NY with the group which I strongly advise, in the past ran about $250 but due to the soaring costs cost me over $400. The connecting flight itself to meet the group at JFK/NY isn't covered by the free airfare included in the trip cost, you'll have to make your way to New York from your closest airport and ticket costs are soaring, it cost me over $600 for my tickets.

As you can see it isn't cheap at all, not counting spending money and luggage you'll need at least $4,000 I'd say just to attempt it, at least $5,000 when all is said and done. You can contact the organizers of my event at dractours@aol.com.
 

osirist

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you'll need at least $4,000 I'd say just to attempt it
:eek:
Woah, suddenly a trip to Transylvania doesn't seem as cool
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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[quote author=osirist link=topic=10188.msg129310#msg129310 date=1222302728]
:eek:
Woah, suddenly a trip to Transylvania doesn't seem as cool
[/quote]A dream vacation to a foreign land isn't cheap, any promoter saying otherwise is a liar or a fraud. It is a once in a lifetime event, anybody ever having gone will tell you the price becomes irrelivant ocne you attend but that's why many don't ever get to do something like this. I started almost two years ago, it is extremely expensive and with soaring costs now it will probally be more difficult later on. They were honest up front, the cost would be high so at least you knew what to expect from the start.

I hope you get to go if you really want to, the schedule is going to be amazing. We see his birth and burial sites, city were he lived in exile in Transylvania, follow Harker's journey from the novel 'Dracula' all the way to Stoker's fictional vampire castle and finally visit the real historical ruined castle just to name a few things.
 

osirist

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oh don't worry, I plan to go eventually. I'll just wait until my wallets a bit thicker. If all goes well I should get a job with a real good paycheck, so money won't be much of an issue. I really want to see it myself.
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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[quote author=osirist link=topic=10188.msg129316#msg129316 date=1222304354]
oh don't worry, I plan to go eventually. I'll just wait until my wallets a bit thicker. If all goes well I should get a job with a real good paycheck, so money won't be much of an issue. I really want to see it myself.
[/quote]Great, I hope my experiences will be good for you and I'll try to help if I can. I'll have pictures posted and once my journal is published you'll know as much as possible.
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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A last post until I return, I leave for the airport this morning and will arive at NY/JFK late afternoon and depart for Europe about 10:45 tomorrow evening and finally land in Romania Tuesday. I'll be back on on the fourth with plenty of exciting things to share.
 

DarkTamer Steph

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Good luck, and have a load of fun, Paru!!

[me=Steph]eagerly anticipates your return for the pictures and stories *[/me]
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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I just returned tonight from my adventure abroad, I'll upload images as soon as I get through them all. Two sites no scheduled on the itinerary were made possible by the legendary Radu, our tour guide and living encyclopedia. Mircea the Elder, Dracula's grandfather (1386 – 1418) is buried at the Cozia Monastery in Wallachia, now southern Romania and we were allowed to photograph his actual tomb and original well-preserved indoor frescoes of Mircea and his sons. An actual service was in progress and access was prohibited but Radu gaining access led me personally into the monastery and photographed the fescoes and tomb.

We learned that we will be one of the last people to get to travel to the remote Snagov Monastery, Dracula's burial site because tourism is beginning to destroy the site and it won't be on the tourist trail much longer in the future so it was a humbling experience. I was allowed to touch and photograph King Vlad Dracula's gravestone. Dining at Jonathan Harker's Golden Crown and ascending the Borgo Pass eventually arrive at Stoker's Castle in the Carpathian Moumtains were the Grande Masquerade was televised all over Europe on Halloween. Being led down into the bottom of the castle we eventually come to tomb of the vampire count whose coffin lies in the center of the room, surrounded by colorful artwork. Finally the 1,486 step climb to the historical citadel of Dracula, Poenari Castle on the Arges bordering Transylvania.

Join me and see what I was truly blessed to witness this past week, the land beyond the forest and step back in time.
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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Here is the flickr site for my Dracula Tour 2008 group were all the photos I and my fellow vampiric travelers have posted.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/933340@N21/

You'll need an account with flickr to view anything but I'm matgeuse there so you can view my photos under that member group name, Mathew being my real name or Matt as everyone calls me. I added detailed information with everyone so you can understand what your looking at. I'll update the community as I add new photos, I've got a lot to go through.
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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My journal is in the process of being published by the Dracula scholar Dr. Elizabeth Miller at the moment and I'd like to share it with everyone here in the community. I've decided to share some of my photos here also, so everyone can view them directly. Its long so I've broken it up into smaller nstallments. Please feel free to comment as I share a day-to-day account of everything.

28 October. Bucuresti.-Left JFK/NY at 10:45 P.M., on 27th October, arriving at Frankfurt early next afternoon. Bucure?ti seems to be the most developed city in Romania, both economically and in industry, from what I saw walking through the streets. Of the city's medieval architecture, most of what survived into modern times was destroyed by the Communists and replaced by high-rise apartment blocks. I was weary to go very far from the hotel, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible.

29 October. Snagov. -By bus we drove 40 km north from Bucure?ti to Snagov, a commune in Ifov Country. Snagov village was built around the Snagov monastery where it is believed Vlad III Draculea was killed here in the forest close to Balteni village by the Janissaries during a battle between Wallachian & Ottoman forces, the historical figure on whom many believe Bram Stoker's 19th century victorian novel may have been based, is said to have been interred there at the monastery. Today, it is a place of pilgrimage for Dracula's fans, and many villas have lately been built on the shores of Snagov lake.

On an islet, in the Northern part of the Snagov lake, the preserved monument itself - the church of the Snagov Monastery is dedicated to the Entrance of Virgin Mary into the Temple. Despite numerous restorations and changes - frescoes, and the portraits of Neagoe Basarab and Mircea Ciobanul are still visible. I was overwhelmed by the Princely Church and its beautiful frescoed interior, I photographed and touched the original tomb of Dracula sitting in the front of the church altar as restorations were in progress. I began searching around the doorway, questioning Radu about the exhumation of a richly dressed decapitated body discovered in a second grave inside the entrance identical to the one on the alter steps in 1931 during the Florescu-Rosetti expedition headed up by the Romanian government. Rosetti believed they were the last earthly remains of Dracula, which may have been removed from the more exalted position near the alter and reinterred. Too wicked of a prince to be so close to God on the alter footsteps, and the vandalism that was permitted on the island, it would have been little short of a miracle for Dracula's tomb to have survived intact. I photographed the entrance inside the doorway, still unable to really speak as I further explored the church. I purchased two postcards from the priest as we departed, a ring I wore may have been lost off my finger so perhaps in some small way a piece of me was left behind but this place will always reside with me.

http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u240/Parukeruru-san/Picture003-1.jpg?t=1227534775
http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u240/Parukeruru-san/Picture007-1.jpg?t=1227534810
http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u240/Parukeruru-san/Picture021.jpg?t=1227534834
http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u240/Parukeruru-san/Picture019.jpg?t=1227534854

We transferred to the town of Bran, situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, whose castle is often mistakingly referred to as the home of Draculea because it is marketed as the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. We passed the Bistritza River, recognizable from Bram Stoker's novel and drove through villages and acres of forest-covered hills. Arriving late in the afternoon, we had little time to spend at the beautiful preserved fortress. I photographed a view of the courtyard and walked the secret passage inside the castle that connects the first to the third floors. After the photo session I visited the open-air gypsy bazzare where I purchased a t-shirt. Finally as dusk approached we transferred to "Aro Palace" hotel in Brasov for a night's accomidation and late night activity.

More soon, later.
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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Here is the next entry, leading up to our departure through the Borgo Pass and finally Stoker's Castle, the vampire count's lair in the Carpathians. Following Harker's journey, we arrived first at the birthplace of Dracula on our way into the shadows.

30 October. Brasov. -After breakfast we explored Brasov, where at the base of Timpa Hill the infamous 1499 germanic woodblock print of Draculea from Nurnberg shows him having his meal while attending a mass impalement of thirty thousand. It is reported to have taken place on St. Bartholomew's Day in 1459, an early print some claim links the infamous impaler to vampirism, as it is said he had the blood of the merchants gathered in bowls in which he would dip bread in. Not all experts agree that the prints are historically sound, rather propaganda meant to defame him. As we passed we could see the church built on Timpa Hill before sightseeing, inlcuding the Black Church as Radu explained this scene, using me as a visual aid because the infamous woodblock print was on my shirt. Inside the western porch I bought a ticket for visitting the church, including two postcards and a booklet. Upon entering the nave, I was in amazement by the large interior. Approaching the alter east through the center nave, I saw rhe parapets of the galleries and the stalls in the side naves were decorated with old oriental rugs. The benches had mobile backrests, allowing us to face the alter, then turning west backwards to the organ. Up to ten meters high, the tin pipes aren't meant only as adornment but concerts we were told each summer.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3212/3010499758_c4de637cb2.jpg?v=0 - Brasov from the White Tower

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3193/3009829071_c99868e97d.jpg?v=0 - The Black Church in Brasov

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3225/3009831283_f6e06e7f88.jpg?v=0 - Interior of the Black Church

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3163/3010634280_64be2392e4.jpg?v=0 - The legendary Radu, my tour guide and I outside the Black Church in Brasov. No photographs or video of the inside can be taken.

We departed for Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval towns in Transylvania and birthplace of Draculea in 1431. I immediately began making my way for the house that Draculea's father, Vlad II Dracul where it is believed Draculea and his younger brother Radu the Handsome were born. I saw the plate honouring Vlad Dracul and the emblem of the Order of the Dragon that the father, and initially the son (Draculea) were invested in on the building itself, now a restaurant and bar. After exploring the rest of the town, including the gloomy Torture room and historic Clock Tower, we had a short photo session and was set free to visit the open-air markets but warned of beggars and theives. I sat outside the house and was answering questions for a fellow traveler but didn't see the only other thing I came to this place to visit, the contemporaneous portrait of Vlad Dracul that I knew was somewhere inside the restaurant where many closed doors blocked access. Radu, somewhat taken that I knew of the fresco took me personally to it, opening doors and finally coming to an empty room in the restaurant where near the top was the picture. Radu explained that the unknown noblewoman, one of Dracul's wives was Hungarian from her clothing and an Albanian nearby, second in command was also pictured which I later photographed on a return to Sighisoara for the Witch's trial a few days later. From one of the merchants on departure I purchased a homemade wooden plaque depicting the emblems of the Order of the Dragon and Sighisoara itself, as well as Draculea's crude image carved into the wood.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3013/3060709659_5b2e021c79.jpg?v=0 - The house of Vlad II Dracul in Sighisoara.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3197/3061547310_25511070d8.jpg?v=0

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3170/3060709707_0a3f6ce069.jpg?v=0
 

Kaid115

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[quote author=Paruseruru mafubu link=topic=10188.msg138365#msg138365 date=1227713539]
I sat outside the house and was answering questions for a fellow traveler but didn't see the only other thing I came to this place to visit, the contemporaneous portrait of Vlad Dracul that I knew was somewhere inside the restaurant where many closed doors blocked access. Radu, somewhat taken that I knew of the fresco took me personally to it, opening doors and finally coming to an empty room in the restaurant where near the top was the picture.
[/quote]
get a picture of that by any chance?
Was you able to
 

Paruseruru mafubu

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[quote author=Kaid115 link=topic=10188.msg138433#msg138433 date=1227734935]
get a picture of that by any chance?
Was you able to
[/quote]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3170/3060709707_0a3f6ce069.jpg?v=0

I posted it below the journal entry for Sighisoara but here you go.
 
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