Backpacking with Dracula – and visiting Transylvania

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Backpacking with Dracula - 270A former Lonely Planet author Leif Pettersen worked on the Lonely Planet Romania guidebook and it’s pretty clear Count Dracula got his fangs in to Leif at some point. Backpacking with Dracula, available on Amazon as an ebook, supplies way more information on Transylvania and Vlad Tepes (that’s Count Dracula’s real name) than you’ll ever want to know. The count, a Romanian hero for his resistance to Turkish invaders, was also known as ‘Vlad the Impaler’ from his favourite method of disposing of unwanted enemies.

I’ve developed my own love affair with Transylvania after a visit there with Global Heritage Fund in 2014. My role as a Global Heritage Fund director has also recently taken me to Guatemala and Cuba. My 2014 visit to Romania was so enjoyable Maureen and I returned in 2015.

P1050565 - Apafi Manor, Mâlâncrav - 540▲ This time we brought a group of friends from England, the poor Romanians have such a bad reputation in England we thought it was our duty to correct things. On the earlier trip we’d had dinner one night at the Apafi Manor, an old Hungarian mansion house in a village near Vlad Tepes’ birthplace Sighișoara, this time we took over the mansion for our stay. So how do you get from London to a village in Transylvania? Well the Hungarian low cost airline Wizz Air has a daily flight straight from London Luton to Târgu-Mureș in Transylvania. And isn’t midnight the totally appropriate time to be arriving in Transylvania? By the time we got to our manor house in the pretty little village of Mâlâncrav it was past 1am and the ancient retainer let us in and then … disappeared.

IMG_3350 - cycling from Mâlâncrav to Stejarisu - 270Well this was getting better and better, we’re in darkest Transylvania, it’s after midnight and we’re alone in the mansion wondering what to do? Find some bedrooms of course and next morning, while we were still wondering what to do next, a woman from the village arrived and proceeded to fix us breakfast with eggs straight from village chickens, milk straight from a village cow, bread baked in the village and jam made from fruit grown in the village as well. What’s not to like?

◄ Over the next few days we explored Transylvanian fortified churches, admired the beautiful Saxon villages, ate rather too much, drank pretty good Transylvanian wine and even took a cross country bicycle ride. I’ve got a bit of a love affair with Transyslvania.