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Happy Halloween everyone! Here in the states it is a big deal, full of little children in costumes running around and gorging themselves on candy. For Alex and I it means packing and gorging ourselves on candy (I mean why not? It is Halloween). I couldn’t help but think of the past few Halloweens I have spent and one came back to me in particular, when Alex and I went to Bucharest.
I had always wanted to go to Bucharest and visit Vlad the Impaler’s castle both in Bucharest and Poenari (Not Bran Castle, the one Bram Stoker based Dracula’s castle on but Vlad the Impaler’s actual castle) thanks to a book I read called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. The Historian is not your typical book about Dracula but more about Vlad the Impaler and it blends historical research with a hunt for Vlad the Impaler/Dracula and crosses three different periods of time. I absolutely adore the book and it has definitely influenced where I have traveled and how I have seen certain cities. I viewed Istanbul through a different lens because of that book, the Romanian countryside as well. I also can’t deny that I love Dracula by Bram Stoker as well. There is something intriguing about a real historical figure that is still so prominent today. The 15th century was by no means a time of great communication and the fact is that Vlad the Impaler was famous even during his own time speaks something to the force of his personality and his cruelty. Because of this I was set on visiting where Dracula had actually lived during his tumultuous reign of Wallachia and fought back the Turks from Europe.
Unfortunately I miscalculated a bit and was not able to make it out to Poenari Castle which is about 150Km from Bucharest and required renting a car (Something that has always been a downfall of all our best plans, think of that ill-fated punk rock road trip Alex mentioned) but we were still able to visit his Castle in Bucharest. It is a crumbling ruin and holds nothing of the grandeur you would expect from a 15th century King who fought so hard to keep his throne but it had a haunting presence to it, perhaps because Vlad looks down on you while you explore the bare remains of his seat of power.
While Vlad’s Castle was not exactly what I expected it to be I loved it for its crumbling facade, columns laid out on the ground everywhere and for the man who watched us the entire time. It was a unique way to spend Halloween abroad and it definitely was a little more creepy than some of the Haunted Houses I’ve been to and I am so glad that my odd obsession with Vlad the Impaler (and possibly vampires, I may watch Vampire Diaries…..) convinced me to visit a city that is up and coming, full of life, with great food and beer and warm people that I am definitely going to visit again, plus now I have a reason to go back. I still haven’t seen Poenari Castle!
Check out some of our other awesome articles about Fall and more History!