Writers of any genre of fiction and nonfiction: You are invited to leave your safety nets at home and join us for a rollicking week of writing across Yorkshire, where you’ll be encouraged—and enabled!—to go beyond the bounds of decency. You’ll acquire techniques and exercises used by actors on the stage and apply them to the page. With your pen or keyboard, you’ll improvise, method act and perform dangerous feats. Inspiration will be gleaned from the activities we’ve planned and places we’ll stay. We’ll brave a ghost walk in Europe’s most haunted city, devour an orgasm of chocolates, and hunker down in the very hotel where Agatha Christie hid during the national manhunt for her. We’ll plot mayhem at the Guy Fawkes Inn, sample beer made by sixth generation brewers, and feast on the exploits of the Vikings and Romans—of course, all the while, delighting in English countryside, seaside villages, and stately homes.
Writer’s block be damned! Decency be damned! This workshop is a daring adventure of storytelling and writing!
(Scroll down for itinerary, bios of hosts, and prices. This workshop takes a maximum of 10 participants and 4 have already booked.)
Monday, May 21st, 2018
2:00 pm: check-in at the Monkbar Hotel (newly owned by Hilton), overlooking York’s medieval city walls.
Afternoon: meet & greet at our warm-up writing workshop, in the hotel bar, before we indulge in York’s Chocolate Story. Chocolate has resulted in renown and fortune for York for near 300 years, and this afternoon we’ll learn the artform of the chocolatier and how to eat chocolate too – yes, we’ll receive a chocolate eating lesson.
Free time to write, nap, or visit the pub before our nighttime adventure.
8:00 pm - Ghost Tour: York is home to some of the world’s most notorious ghosts. It was named the most haunted city in Europe, and tonight our guide promises to give us the creeps as he reveals York’s spooky secrets around each dark corner of the cobbled streets.
Overnight at Monkbar Hotel, in York
Tuesday, May 22nd
Morning: after enjoying an English breakfast (or something lighter if you prefer) and a writing workshop, we’ll meander the streets and alleyways of the walled city with our guide. Roman York became the birthplace of Western Christianity, but the Romans’ achievements were brutally exsanguinated when the Vikings transformed Jorvik into an international trading hub centuries ahead of its time, making Medieval York the capital of the North.
Afternoon: guided tour of York Minster, the world’s third largest medieval gothic cathedral and York’s most acclaimed historical site.
Evening: dinner and writing workshop at the Guy Fawkes Inn. This medieval inn is the birthplace of the notorious plotter, Guido Fawkes.
Breakfast (B), Dinner (D), overnight at Monkbar Hotel, in York
Wednesday, May 23rd
Morning: after breakfast we’ll set out on the York City Treasure Hunt – our quest will take us puzzling along the quirky-named streets around the city’s fascinating landmarks.
Afternoon at Castle Howard: this Yorkshire stately home is one of Britain’s finest. It’s resplendent in world famous art and opulent architecture.
Writing workshop at Castle Howard.
Free time for dinner at your leisure back in York. Our guide will happily make recommendations.
B, overnight at Monkbar Hotel
Thursday, May 24th (we change hotels today)
Morning: breakfast – and then we’ll take the steam train along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Pickering to Goathland (film location for the Hogwarts Express), and of course we’ll discuss the success of J.K. Rowling – the whys and hows – and how this relates to stories going viral on the Internet.
Afternoon: we’ll visit the coastal town of Whitby, the birthplace of Captain Cook. Also, it was while visiting Whitby, after an exhausting theatrical tour, that Bram Stoker got inspiration for Dracula. Then it’s up the 199 steps to Whitby’s gothic abbey, culminating in the reward of award winning fish and chips.
Evening: check-in at the Old Swan Harrogate which is surrounded by idyllic English gardens and is just a three minute walk from the spa town’s centre. Our hotel “combines Victorian splendour with contemporary luxury.” It was here where Agatha Christie hid in 1926, resulting in an 11-day national manhunt for her.
Dinner: in the glass-ceilinged Wedgwood Restaurant, at the Old Swan – followed by writing workshop
B,L,D – overnight Old Swan
Friday, May 25th
Morning: after enjoying another English breakfast (or something a little less hearty and meaty if you prefer), we’ll explore Fountains Abbey, situated in a secluded valley. Fountains Abbey is one of the biggest and best preserved ruined (which sounds like an oxymoron) Cistercian monasteries in England.
Afternoon: bottoms up at the Black Sheep Brewery in the quaint market town of Masham. Black Sheep has been at this for six generations. They brew cask, keg and bottled beers and have a great reputation for their experimental brews.
Our brewery tour and tasting is followed by going to a pub for lunch, where we’ll have a writing workshop.
Free time for dinner in Harrogate.
B, and beer tasting – overnight Old Swan
Saturday, May 26th
Yorkshire Dales National Park: we’ll spend the day exploring the limestone scenery and the unique valleys known as dales. You’ll see stone-built villages, field barns, drystone walls, and flower-laden meadows, plus the Aysgarth Falls, Swaledale sheep, and the perfect picture postcard village of Grassington—the location for the film Calendar Girls.
Our daytime workshop will be in a secluded spot in the Yorkshire Dales.
Dinner: Wedgwood Restaurant – Old Swan Hotel – and after dinner writing workshop
B, D – Overnight Old Swan
Sunday, May 27th
Morning: after breakfast we’ll have our farewell writing workshop and check-out. (B)
BIOS OF HOSTS – FOLLOWED BY PRICES
Kirsten Koza (writing workshop host): is the author of Lost in Moscow published by Turnstone and dubbed by CBC radio Canada “the ultimate what-I-did-last-summer essay ever.” Kirsten edited the Travelers’ Tales (USA) humour anthology, Wake Up and Smell the Shit, and read thousands of stories for that book before narrowing it down to the 31 writers she selected for the volume. She’s had over 75 stories published in books, magazines and newspapers around the world and has repeatedly been invited to speak at the American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference in New York, on the power of social media for writers and making stories go viral.
Kirsten has taught both postgraduate and 3rd year acting at the University of East London and East 15 Acting School (famous for method acting), in England. She did her BA in theatre at Dalhousie University, in Canada, and her postgrad in the UK at E-15. The final production of her postgrad was staged in Yorkshire. Prior to becoming a professional writer, she worked in theatres across Canada and was the Artistic Director of Canada’s oldest professional summer theatre. Her theatre background has had a massive impact on how she writes, and she looks forward to sharing these methods and other tips with you on the Decency be Damned writing workshop, in Yorkshire.
You can read a few of her adventures (published in books and magazines) by following these links, and you’ll probably surmise why the management at Travelers’ Tales publishing house affectionately call Kirsten “the Canadian lunatic”: “Chasing Tornadoes” published in the ninth volume of The Best Women’s Travel Writing books, “The Mountain Men Who Don’t Exist in Kyrgyzstan” and “Hiding the Cannoli in Sicily” both published by Perceptive Travel magazine.
Matthew Greenwood (your local guide & expert): created his tour company, Exploring York, in 2004, out of a love for his native county of Yorkshire and his lifelong passion for travel. He has guided a wide variety of groups ranging from policemen from Sudan to venture capitalists from New Mexico and adores showing visitors from around the globe his home city and county.
When Matthew was a child he wanted to be a hotel manager and had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of international hotel chains. His interest in all things travel continued through life. He says the reason we embark on journeys is for the unknown, to make discoveries outside our realm of imagination. His own travels have circled the planet. A chance-meeting with a charity worker led to a lifetime dream-trip to Rwanda where he walked among the mountain gorillas, something he couldn’t have imagined coming true when watching Gorillas in the Mist as a child. That trip also fed Matthew’s appetite for learning about war and atrocities and how humanity can endure and overcome. This passion has led to him taking self-study trips (what he calls holidays) to Bosnia, Serbia, Cambodia and Vietnam, where he and Kirsten met in Hanoi outside Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum.
Matthew has a keen interest and knowledge in all aspects of history, British and American politics and world affairs.
PRICES AND INCLUSIONS:
Prices include hotel accommodations – full breakfasts daily – 3 dinners – 1 lunch – daily tours and transportation while on tours – private guide – tastings – and writing workshops.
The price per person based upon a twin shared room is £1500. If you prefer a single room – there is a £150 single supplement for the entire trip duration.
A deposit of £460 reserves your place. Canadians and Americans can pay the deposit in dollars (CAD and US) – the currency conversion will be calculated on the day you make the payment.
The group size for this trip is just 6-10 participants! Please email Kirsten at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or message her from the Writers’ Expeditions Facebook Page with any questions you might have.
International flights and transportation to and from the first and last hotels
(Can’t wait for May 2018 to do something unusual – Writers’ Expeditions is hosting the ultimate seven-day Halloween party in Romania again – Click the link to see full details for: The Dracula Expedition 2017)
The day this story came out, a doctor in the USA messaged me to say that it was hilarious and he had tears in his eyes. That sort of bravo makes a writer’s day, week, year. You can read the full story on the magazine’s website – click here.
(itinerary, prices, and inclusions below – please note we’re almost sold out for this year and can accommodate just two more participants – we are now taking reservations for 2018 as well – reserve your spot now and get 2018 at 2017 prices. Please note that the order of the itinerary will be slightly different for 2018 as Halloween falls on a Wednesday night in 2018)
We’ve made the reservations–you just need to pack a costume and your inner child (or demon) for this howling Halloween party across Romania. Our seven-day (small group) expedition includes dining on October 31st in the chambers where real-life Dracula, Vlad Drăculea (known as Vlad the Impaler), was born in 1431. We’ll be sleeping that night, across the street, in an inn of similar vintage, inside the (UNESCO) medieval walled city of Sighisoara. We were the first to ever host a dinner party in the room where Dracula was born, last Halloween, and our group didn’t even make it through cocktails before we were regaling each other with spine tingling experiences from our lives. We’ll also be special guests at the ultimate costume party at Bran Castle (known as Dracula’s castle, built circa 1377) which was owned by Vlad’s grandfather (Mircea the Old) and was attacked by Vlad in 1460.
Our Transylvanian guide (with whom I explored Romania with extensively) and I have designed a journey that will take us to the best local haunts: medieval castles with gruesome history, torture chambers, moody cemeteries, all contrasted with one of the most beautiful times of year to visit Romania which will be glowing in autumn colours. And Christopher Campbell, professional photographer (Chatelaine, Food Network, Harper Collins), will be guiding you during our escapades to capture photos of a lifetime, whether you’re using a mobile device, point & shoot, or a DSLR with multiple lenses. Plus he’ll be providing you (throughout the expedition and when you get back home) with digital images of your adventures.
Included in the 1490 Euro price for this seven-day cultural adventure: all meals which you order from the full restaurant menus (you can go on a diet when you get home), 4 star accommodation, licensed Transylvanian (tour operator) guide and translator, activities/entrance fees, some booze, pro photos, and our private vehicle and driver while on this phenomenal tour.
Adventure Travel Writer
Writers’ Expeditions Host: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (we respond quickly, so if you don’t hear back, please try the other email address or message us on Facebook)
Day 1 – Thursday, October 26th (This is the order of events for 2017. Halloween is on a Wednesday in 2018 – the trip will start on Friday, October 26th, and will end on November 1st, but it will run in a slightly different order.)
- Pickup at Bucharest airport. -Next door to our hotel are the ruins of the Princely Palace, the castle that Dracula built in celebration of his own greatness or evilness. In the evening we’ll explore the historic pedways of the old town of Bucharest which was first settled in 70 BC and by the 1400’s was the wealthiest city in Eastern Europe. Then we’ll dine at The Beer Chariot, a spectacular 19th century restaurant which is always packed with locals and boasts an extensive menu of tasty Romanian dishes. – Dinner. Palinca shots. Overnight at Europa Royale Bucharest Hotel ****
Day 2, Friday, October 27th
After a hot buffet breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit the Palace of Parliament, the second largest building in the world (after the Pentagon), and a legacy of a more recent “Dracula,” the communist dictator Ceausescu (executed in 1989). Then we’ll break out the Romanian treat bags for our hour and twenty minute drive to Targoviste, the capital city of Wallachia until 1459. The townsfolk of Targoviste were blamed by Vlad for their involvement in the assassination of his brother by the Turks. Vlad moved the capital to Bucharest, killed nobles, and enslaved the townsfolk to build Poenari. - Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Overnight Curtea de Arges ****
Day 3, Saturday, October 28th – Dracula’s Fortress during the day and then a party at Dracula’s Castle at night (Drinks are on Vlad)
The ruins of Poenari Castle (Dracula’s Fortress) are perched high on a rugged crag above the Arges river gorge. There are 1,480 stairs to Dracula’s “vulture nest.” One of our previous participants worked it out to being 100 storeys. Now, if you really think you can’t make the climb–there’s a lovely lodge and restaurant down the road from the first step.
We then cross the Carpathian mountains on the mind-blowing Transfagarasan Highway to get to our mountain lodgings.
After a home cooked dinner at our guide’s mountain lodge and farm, we’ll change into our costumes (as simple or elaborate as they may be) and will head to the festival in Bran and the party at Dracula’s Castle. – Breakfast, lunch, dinner – tonight and tomorrow night are at the new mountain lodge. The setting is rustic; the chalet is new (private ensuite bathrooms, wifi).
Day 4, Sunday, October 29th - After a hearty breakfast at the farm we’ll drive to Brasov where we’ll conquer the medieval ramparts, watchtowers, and Saxon churches (if they don’t conquer us). But best of all, this walled city boasts one of the narrowest streets in Europe. From Brasov it’s to Rasnov: where we’ll explore the 13th century, mountaintop fortress built by Teutonic Knights, and then we’ll return to Moeciu for another Romanian farm feast. – Breakfast, lunch, dinner - overnight at mountain lodge
Day 5, Monday, October 30th – We continue on our Vlad Dracula quest, stopping in Sibiu, a town steeped in legend and named by Forbes magazine as one of the 10 most idyllic places to live in Europe. It was here that Mihnea the Evil, Dracula’s son, was murdered in front of the cathedral. We then plunge further west into Transylvania to Corvin Castle where Vlad Dracula was fugitive, or some argue prisoner. This is one of the largest castles in Europe and has been host to many paranormal investigative television shows from around the world. You’ll see why, or maybe some of you will feel it. – Breakfast, lunch, dinner – Overnight in Hunedoara ****
Day 6, Tuesday, October 31st – Tonight we dine in the very room where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431
We take a scenic drive to Sighisoara, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We’ll be spending the night inside this preserved walled town, in a medieval hotel, across the street from the house where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431, which is where we’ll be dining this Hallows’ Eve. – Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Palinca tasting. Overnight in hotel which is over 500 years old!
Day 7, Wednesday, November 1st – Dracula’s grave
Our driver will take us across the Carpathian mountains to Snagov Monastery. In 1476 Prince Vlad Dracula was assassinated, and the monks of Snagov recovered his headless body and buried it inside their church, on an island. Breakfast, lunch. Tour ends around 4:00 PM. Return to Bucharest. Airport/hotel/train station drop-off.
PRICES AND INCLUSIONS AND HOST BIOS:
The price is 1490 Euros per person for a double (the single room supplement is 190 Euros for the entire trip). A deposit of 250 Euros reserves your spot (Canadians and Americans can make the first two payments in dollars CAD and USD at the equivalent value). Please contact us first at: email@example.com (we respond quickly, so if you don’t hear back in 24 hours, please try firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also message us at our Writers’ Expeditions Facebook Page.
- All accommodation (the delightful inns are small and unique – four star, with private bath, and wifi)
- All meals (don’t blame us if you gain weight – the food in Romania is fabulous, and you’re the one ordering what you want from the menus)
- Some alcohol (see itinerary)
- Photography sessions for those who wish
- Professional photographs of your journey
- Writing tips for any who wish
- All transfers and transportation on tours
- English speaking, Transylvanian guide
- Our own driver and private vehicle
- All entrance fees to castles and museums
- Alcohol (unless listed on the itinerary)
- Visa (not something for North Americans or Europeans to worry about)
Christopher Campbell: once again I’ve invited one of my favourite photographers (and one of the best travel companions you’ll ever meet) to lead our photographic adventures and share a lifetime of tips, tricks & technique. You have probably seen his images displayed on TV’s Food Network cooking shows or in publications as varied as Chatelaine, Spa Magazine, or Harper Collins cookbooks–and most definitely in ads–he’s the one you can blame for making you crave Absolut Vodka, Kahlua, that dew dripping glass of Gordon’s gin, Florida oranges, late night fast food at Wendy’s or McDonald’s (blame him for that), or test driving a Mercedes—that’s Christopher Campbell’s fault too. This is Chris’s third year hosting our Dracula Expedition. He’s also been our photography host in Jordan and Vietnam.
Kirsten Koza: I don’t always look this good. I’m your host and expedition designer and am a professional adventure travel writer, author, humourist and journalist. I ruthlessly pretest the Writers’ Expeditions trips to find the best local guides, tour operators, and unique adventures, so you can have a great experience.
I’ve had more than seventy stories published in books, magazines, and newspapers around the world, on topics as varied as going inside the largest Syrian refugee camp, bullfighting, cannibalism, tornado chasing, mountain biking, dildos, dictators, Putin, gluten, mutants, and politics. I’ve even made the front page of Kyrgyzstan’s national newspaper. I’m the author of Lost in Moscow: A Brat in the USSR and edited the Traveler’s Tales anthology Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets, and a Demon Dildo.
And we leave you with some photos of Halloween costumes, food and fun from past expeditions and a three-minute documentary from our last year’s expedition. Turn up your speakers for it! The Dracula Expedition Video!
You can expand the thumbnails by clicking and scroll over for caption.
(Did you know that Bram Stoker got inspiration for writing Dracula while staying in Whitby, Yorkshire, England? Follow the link to see the details for Decency be Damned, our seven day rollicking writing workshop across Yorkshire, in May 2018.)