As an intro to this tour report, we asked “what happens when a true writer takes on the assignment of keeping a log of the Dracula Tour to Transylvania? Does his imagination run wild? Or does his enhanced senses experience something only a medium would on such a journey?”
We’re still leaving it up to you to decide. In any case, it’s the most creative and unique tour report we have ever received, and are proud to present it in a multi-part series for Horror Happenings.
Unlike the typical log/tour report, some attractions or sites may have been omitted (or some embellished), but that’s fine. For just like the Dracula/Vlad legend/myth/truth/history, this literary piece may be combining actual events with something supernatural.
Romania Travel Log – Dracula Tour, Summer 2011
Part Two by Damian Serbu
Day Three. 16 July 2011. Snagov Island
And so it has come to be with us.I recognize now how it called to us in the City Center last night, determining whether or not to join our tour.I cannot confirm whether Radu or perhaps Charles knew that this may happen.
But inside the monastery on Snagov Island, the location of Vlad Dracula’s grave, though they removed the bones, it decided that we will host it on a journey through its homeland.
They built a new walking bridge to Snagov Island. It appears as a tourist location as well as a religious site. A church, built in the early 1500s after the original burned down, contains the grave site.It also hosts this entity that wants us, or at least did so until today.They had lost Vlad’s grave for centuries because they moved the location of the cathedral to the left after a fire that burned the original to the ground; this shift planted Vlad under the new altar instead of to the left or right, as was custom.Through DNA research in the 1990s they confirmed that it was indeed Dracula’s remains buried there.The bones now rest in the Romanian Museum.So much for the legend of his being undead.Credit to Bram Stoker for the industry he created around his fictional story of Vlad, and the new capital he has infused into the Romanian economy because of it.
Still, dispelling the vampire legend does not take away the truth that other worldly entities inhabit this planet with us.Malevolent or friendly, they watch, listen, observe.
And something called this tour to it.Something wants to follow us and learn from us. It seems to seek a host.Has it enlisted Radu’s help in this endeavor?
Troubling, that no one else on the tour appears to know what I have learned and felt. It comes to me in dreams and flashes of thought.I don’t see it, yet know it exists.Even my partner seems oblivious.I won’t tell the others for fear that they’ll think I’m insane;the fanciful and demented mind of a horror writer, taking his summer vacation to Romania and the pretend vampires and legends therein too far.
But ask the Romanian people about their legends.Find out where the European concept of a dragon originated: in the mountains and hills of Transylvania with the symbol of a wolf’s head and snake’s body.So feared was it that even the Romans awed at its image when they came to conquer this region.
I am coming to wonder if I learned about this thing that stalks us from another force, not the entity itself.We learned that Vlad’s younger brother, Radu, was gay.Eventually shunned by Vlad for taking a Turkish prince as his lover, does he come to me, telling me of this force that follows us, as a warning to a kindred spirit centuries later?Or is he the entity?His ghost has appeared.Occasionally, I think that Radu, our guide, sees him, too, when he glances away from our faces pretending to seek the right English word.Is he instead asking Radu the Ghost for guidance?
I confirmed that two other worldly presences sit with us on this bus.I am as certain of it as I am that I live and breath. One has started to whisper to me, but apparently to no one else.I cannot understand it.The other, the force from Snagov and City Center, lurks among us.Sniffing and choosing.
But Castle Bran had none of this sinister undertone.Built and remodeled in the twentieth century as a castle for royalty, the closest it comes to Vlad Dracula is that he was imprisoned there for four months by a rival cousin, and that his grandfather owned it at one point.Still, it is a magnificent European castle set high upon a hill.The view is breathtaking.Radu showed us the small room in which they imprisoned Vlad, not more, really, than a closet or storage room.A Hollywood scene, with plenty of tourist shops with souvenirs – some made in China – for all to buy, sits at the base of this marvelous and historic location.
But the forces drifted away from us, unbidden and unworried about our sojourn at this place.
Still, I don’t think that anyone else from our tour group senses our enemy.Though from time to time you see someone’s eyes go vacant and they lose focus.They then come back to us, as is sidetracked by a passing thought and nothing more.Radu hurried us through the castle, always insisting that we stay on schedule and get back to the bus, but seemingly trying to out-run something.
We arrived in Brasov this evening, the Romanian version of Hollywood because of the movie industry that has taken root here, complete with a “Brasov “ sign high atop a mountain just like the “Hollywood” sign in America.We visited the “Black Church,” built by an order of knights in 1383, so called because it burned during a war and thus had blackened walls.What a magnificent cathedral!
Then to the town square, home of the famous town hall depicted in the wood cutting of Vlad done by someone to discredit him, in which he sits eating among the bodies impaled around him.We learned that this cutting did a disservice to history, because this scene did not happen at this location.The artist used that building so that people would recognize Brasov.And he wanted to emphasize the barbarity of it, thus the idea that Vlad ate while those around him slowly died.
Freed from the torment of demons for the day, I had pushed them from my mind until they swooped among us as Radu told us this tale about Vlad being wronged and demonized by others.Then, too quickly, Radu pushed us away to our hotel, and once again he fled from the group as night descended upon us.
The Summer Dracula Tour Part One can be read here: http://joltleft.com/horror-happenings-in-national/summer-dracula-tour-mystery-part-one-the-adventure-begins
Return to Horror Happenings tomorrow for Part Three