If you love the vampire mythos, this is an essential exploration into the genesis of the lore. Beginning at the massive fortress in Belgrade, we will set the historical stage upon which the undead were first documented. Traveling down the legendary Danube River, you'll visit the village of the earliest known vampire attack. The adventure continues into Romania as we cross the Iron Gates and travel to the land of Dracula. There will be plenty of cemeteries, underground passages, and castles. We will eat, drink, and dance. You will tread the same earth as the legends of the night, and, in a secret ceremony, attempt to channel their spirits.
Belgrade - City of Secrets
We begin in the capital of Serbia, a town known for its nightlife, history of conflict, and mysteries that have never been resolved. Here we will explore my favorite fortress in Europe. Over the millennia it has been modified by the Celts, Romans, Ottomans, Austrians, and the Kingdom of Serbia. Attila the Hun ransacked the stronghold and is rumored to be buried somewhere in its labyrinth of catacombs. His tomb has never been found. Deep underground we will discover a chamber of macabre that whispers a story of the vampire. On the castles ramparts we will eat, drink, and be merry.
Kisiljevo - The First Vampire?
In this tiny village on the bank of the Danube river, horror came to visit in the summer of 1725. In just over a week, nine people dropped dead. In the same time frame, a previously deceased man named Petar Blagojević was seen by multiple witnesses in supernatural circumstances. His body was exhumed by the villagers and staked through the heart. We will listen to the tales of this frightening time, and walk through the village's secluded graveyard as the sun sets. Could we connect to the spirit of Petar?
The Danube - Battle Lines
We'll begin the day exploring Golubach Fortress, a visual stunner, clinging to the cliffs above the river. From there boat journey begins down the most important river in Europe. This river divided the civilized (Roman) world from that of the (Germanic) Barbarians. It was over this river countless invaders crossed, and down this river, thousands of immigrants arrived at new homes. Little know ruins from all this monumental history abound.
Dobreta to Peonari Citadel - Dracula's Castle
There is the commercialized Dracula's castle in Bran, where Vlad Tepes never set foot, and there are these massive ruins, where he did abide. To say you have stood there, one must brave the 1,500 steps, and take in the sweeping views of the Southern Carpathian Mountains. Nearby, the village of Arefu is entirely populated by the descendants of Vlad Tepes's servants. They are full of stories passed down over the generations, some quite bizarre.
Sighisoara - Birthplace of a Legend
Vlad Tepes was born in this colorful, fortified town. Here we will be in the heart of a region occupied by the Saxons who left many fortified churches behind. We'll explore some of the lesser-known ones and contemplate the connection between this stronghold of Christianity and the vampire.
Târgoviște to Snagov - Courage and Risk
We chase the story of the historic Dracula back south, passing through the beautiful city of Brasov, and arriving In the town of Târgoviște, where Vlad conducted the famous night attack against Sultan Mehmed (who later discovered 20,000 impaled Turks surrounding the city). Here we will contemplate the theme of bravery. Vlad took significant risks in this town for something he deeply believed in. What could possibly be your Târgoviște moment?
Bucharest - Communism and Comrades
We arrive at Snagov Monastery, isolated on a small river island, as the monks are finishing their morning prayers. Inside the crypt, the body of Dracula has turned to dust. Or is it even there?
Bucharest was the headquarters of one of history's most repressive communist strongmen, Nicolae Ceaușescu. You could say old Nicolae sucked the blood out of the nation until the infamous people's revolt. We'll explore the palace where the dictator ruled for over 24 years and poke around ruins from this unique past. Finally, We celebrate our completed journey with a culinary tour of the country's best food and drink, and cap off the night with one epic dance.