by Mikhail Tank
Dear Friends and Readers, I decided to experience Transylvania on my own and write in a diary, as did Jonathan Harker (the protagonist of the classic tale, Dracula by Abraham Stoker).
Excerpts of my notes and select photos are here, for your reading pleasure. In several months time, a book will be released, titled Tea With Dracula ... giving you a detailed account of the journey along with many color photographs and personal reflections.
(photo of the beautiful estate lake, with falling autumn leaves / above, the Transylvanian Coat of Arms, at Bran Castle)
I stayed at an exquisite 84 acre Count’s estate and castle guest house (with the living family on the premises), visited the Bran Castle, the Peles Palace, and the Rasnov Fortress. Ate delicious home made meals in hand-painted dinnerware, drank hot fresh cow’s milk and ate fresh baked potato bread. Took private tours to a 13th century fortified church, a graveyard on All Soul’s Day (November 1st) and a horse and carriage ride along the Carpathians. I walked with sheep, visited two wells, met two performing Roma (gypsies) and had an aristocratic going away dinner. All of this has fortified my Spirit and created new valves in my artistic Soul.
Travel always seems to update one’s life-pattern, allowing for fresh air to visit the mundane. It switches off the on-going work/search thinking and brings you into a place of surprise, appreciation and wonderment. It allows you to reflect and change gears.
On October 28th, I arrived to Brasov from Bucharest, by train. Saw a funny thing out the window, an elderly lady (wrapped in a shawl) walked a giant cow on a leash, like a pet. (Specific travel tips & details will be featured in the upcoming book).
My English-speaking driver, Levi took me to the village of Zabola, which had its first residents in the 10th century. There, at the 15th century, 84 acre Count Mikes (Mee-kesh) Estate and Castle, I stayed for five nights. A long time ago, Prince Karl Odescalchi wrote of his stay at the estate, in his own memoir.
(photo in front of the original guest house / and my room, in the new guest house)
There I had my 1st Hungarian-Romanian dinner (awesome, organic food) and went to sleep with a slight trepidation.
On October 29th, after a complete breakfast, Judith (the wonderful administrator) along with a horse-driver, took me on a horse-carriage ride along the village, the forest and the Carpathian mountains. Watch clip here: http://vimeo.com/31591891 We stopped by at a haunting well*. After lunch, took a hike to the forest and saw the out-skirts of town, were the Roma (gypsies) live.
On October 30th, Levi drove approx. 1.5 hours to the Peles Castle (below) (in actuality, a Palace) completed in 1883. King Carol the 1st originally chose the location of this exquisite mountain property. There I purchased a CD by a street musician, Romanian guitarist Catalin Comnoiu.
On October 31st, Saw the Bran Castle, followed by the Rasnov Fortress (both below). At Bran Castle (13th century), in the secret staircase, I announced my upcoming dollar baby film project (authorized & based on a short story by Stephen King) - watch it by clicking here. The famous Vlad III Tepes (the historical Dracula who impaled) was said to have stayed at Bran Castle for a total of 7 nights.
The Rasnov fortress (the largest in all of Europe) was approx. a 30 minute drive from Bran and is a 12th century historical landmark. Historically, it was a Saxon village with a democracy and a mayor. The well, shown below is 469 feet deep. I took a 360 video outlook atop the citadel, where the flag resides. Watch clip here: http://vimeo.com/31592041 Nearby, asked a talented gypsy to play a few pieces on the violin. Watch clip here: http://vimeo.com/31591734
November 1st, was a special day. In the early morning, I took a walk with the sheep, Judith then took me to a Transylvanian cemetery, to observe the day of the dead, upon request. Following, a private tour with the Pastor of the Zabola Fortified Church with 13th century walls, a 15th century church (the organ is 120 years old and the wooden ceiling is from 1772). Directly across from the alter, there are specifically designed seats for the Count Mikes family. Afterward, we stopped by the post office, where I sent 10 postcards to the US and in the evening enjoyed an aristocratic going-away dinner with the Count’s family and friends (including the authentic European dessert, Bird’s Milk).
The road from Brasov to Zabola was interesting and intense. One way lanes, meant cars swerving, corn and hay were on fire some of the time (normal farming routine/nothing out of the ordinary) and it looked as if one was driving through hell (with smog & flames rising from both sides of the road, following the grapefruit-like setting sun). Cows, at one point were walking home on the freeway and we drove between them, separating our way.
Some locals were surprised that I came alone, supposedly it is quite rare.
I had a cough and tried the 54 proof home-made Plum Polinka, which was awesome, like naturally flavored high quality Plum vodka.
The yummy breakfast, which included blood sausage.
The TRANSYLVANIAN energy was deep and inviting.
For additional sub-stories, tips on traveling to Transylvania, phone reception, my itinerary and recommendation for a personal driver ... the full-color travel journal book will be released on Amazon.com and will be titled, Tea With Dracula ... keep checking mikhailtank.com for details.
UPDATE: January 25th, 2012 - the write-up I did about Transylvania has been published in 'The Borgo Post' Vol. 17 Issue 1 (Winter 2012). 'The Borgo Post' is the official newsletter of the Canadian Chapter, Transylvanian Society of Dracula. .pdf 1 / .pdf 2
Copyright 2011, 2012 Mikhail Tank
All Rights Reserved