Romania: Travel Broadens The Mind
A blog post by Greg
I didn’t realise how little I knew about Romania until one morning, early in 2020 (before we knew what chaos the pandemic would cause to the year), when, in the shower (source of many of my greatest ideas, for reasons unknown), I suddenly came up with the idea that we could choose Romania as the destination for our next travel adventure.
I know that Felicity has already written about some of the story of our decision to go from her point of view, but I wanted to share a little of my ignorance at the time when I suggested it.
We had been hoping that we would be headed somewhere else for our first travel adventure video of the year, and had started putting plans in place for that trip until we found a company who suggested that they may be interested in sponsoring our video there another year. So we put a hold on that, and began looking for somewhere else to visit.
The idea that we could travel Romania to search for ‘Dracula’s Castle’ came to me as I knew that one of Felicity’s favourite book series by Karen Chance featured the historical figures of Vlad Dracula III and his family as major characters. I suggested it, and within hours we had our flights booked and were busily investigating places to visit and film.
This is where my ‘confession of ignorance’ has to come in. Before we decided to travel around Romania for our video, I knew next to nothing about the country. I vaguely remembered that Michael Palin had been there on his travel series ‘Europe’, but the closest I could get to an image of Romania in my mind was probably a very stereotypical ’Hammer Horror’ image of Victorian carriages pulled along mountain roads in the middle of the night! I didn’t really know much of the history of Romania, and I knew nothing of the beauty and majesty that awaited us there.
That is one of the reasons I like to travel. There are places (Mexico springs to mind, especially La Paz) where I could easily see Felicity and I returning to year after year as a ‘holiday’, but we choose not to. We usually look at the time we have available and choose to travel somewhere new, to learn about a new place, to have a new adventure! This doesn’t mean we won’t return to Mexico or Italy, for example, just that when it comes down to it I think we would both choose a new travel destination over a regular ‘holiday’ destination. This is at its very best at times like our Romania travel adventure, where we started our planning with very few preconceptions, and everything that we found in our research filled us with excitement and wonder until I couldn’t believe we had not heard of most of the places we visited before we began our research.
The first thing I learned, given that we were going to be ‘Seeking Dracula’s Castle’ in the video, was that there really is no shortage of stunning castles and fortresses in Romania. It seemed we kept finding them – even after we thought we had finished planning, and even had to reject a few beautiful castles and palaces as we couldn’t make them fit (even very loosely) the definition of ‘Dracula’s Castle’, I stumbled across an image of Corvin Castle.
This ‘fairytale’ castle is one of the most visually stunning I have seen, so when we discovered that Vlad Dracula was likely held in dungeons beneath the castle we immediately added it to our list, and we are so glad now that we did.
When we visited Corvin Castle, having gained permission to use our drone there, we got some stunning shots for the video. We discovered a ‘Hogwarts’ style magical castle, complete with the sound of a lute being played by a musician which filled the air and added to the magic – almost as much as the snowfall which filled the air next.
Eight months ago I had never heard of Corvin Castle, yet now that castle holds a very special place in my memories. I know some of its history, I know the stories of the well inside and some of the people who lived (or were imprisoned) within its walls. As we were leaving the owner of one of the souvenir shops around the site told us about the coins and some of the symbols of Vlad Dracul (Dracula’s father), and we learned even more history of the country beyond the castle.
This was true for nearly every part of our time in Romania. I had not expected the large bustling city of Bucharest with its Natural Geology Museum filled with fossils and all laid out in quite a Victorian/Edwardian style which suited us perfectly and we both really enjoyed, despite not being ‘city’ people. Nor had I expected the roads to be as good as they were, and so scenic. From driving up towards Bran, to a perilous feeling mountain road through the snow near Bucegi, to passing castles on hilltops as we made our way towards Poenari, the entire journey was filled with incredible views.
In January 2020, had you mentioned Romania to me, I would only really have been able to tell you that Vlad Dracula lived there, and pointed to ideas of Romania gleaned from the pages of Bram Stoker’s book (written by a man who had never visited the country!). Now despite making Vlad the focus of ‘Seeking Dracula’s Castle’, our Romania Travel Adventure has left me with a much better feel for the country and its people, and we have come away having learned enough about the country to fill our travel adventure documentary and a number of blog posts!
Travel certainly does broaden the mind and that is why we will continue to find new places to travel to and new things to see!
Thank you for reading, and please take unbelievably good care of yourselves, and of each other!
PP.S. You can see our short follow up to our Romania video, ‘Seeking Dracula in Whitby’, here: