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My story about that time my husband invited a total stranger (at the luggage carousel in Sicily) to join us on our honeymoon, was published by Perceptive Travel Magazine – “the best stories from authors on the move.” You can read the full story on the magzine’s website by clicking here: Hiding the Cannoli in Sicily.

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The Dracula Expedition - Writers' Expeditions

The Dracula Expedition 2017 (October 26 – November 1st): a seven-day dinner party through Romania

(itinerary, prices, and inclusions below – please note we’re almost sold out for this year and can accommodate just two more participants)

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.

We'll dine in the room where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431 (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
On Halloween night we’ll dine in the room where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431 (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

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.

When we entered the cemetery in Sighisoara (the birthplace of Vlad Dracula) we were greeted by an Alfred Hitchcock sky. (Photo by Writers' Expeditions's photography host Christopher Campbell).
When we entered the cemetery in Sighisoara (the birthplace of Vlad Dracula) we were greeted by a screaming Alfred Hitchcock sky. (Photo by Writers’ Expeditions’s photography host Christopher Campbell, 2016).
Vlad Dracula’s wife jumped to her death from the 100 storey high cliffs at Poenari to avoid capture by invading Turks. (Photo Writers’ Expeditions)

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.

Kirsten Koza
Adventure Travel Writer
Writers’ Expeditions Host: info@kirstenkoza.com and kirstenkoza@gmail.com

Day 1 – Thursday, October 26th

- 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 ****

The Beer Chariot, palinca (overproof plum brandy), and night photography on the historic pedways of Bucharest. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
The Beer Chariot, palinca (overproof plum brandy), and night photography on the historic pedways of Bucharest. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
Papanasi, a traditional Romanian dessert, at the Beer Chariot (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
Papanasi, a traditional Romanian dessert, at the Beer Chariot (Photo by Kirsten Koza)

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 ****

The Ottoman army returned to Constantinople when they encountered 20,000 impaled corpses outside Vlad's home, Targoviste.
The Ottoman army returned to Constantinople when they encountered 20,000 impaled corpses outside Vlad’s home, Targoviste.
A beautiful cathedral with a dark secret, at the monastery of Curtea de Arges. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
A beautiful cathedral with a dark secret, at the monastery of Curtea de Arges. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)

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.

Stairs to Poenari Castle, Romania (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

Dracula's "vulture nest" (Photo by Kirsten Koza)

Transylvania, Romania (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

We then cross the Carpathian mountains on the mind-blowing Transfagarasan Highway to get to our mountain lodgings.

Crossing the Carpathians on the Transfagarasan Highway. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
Crossing the Carpathians on the Transfagarasan Highway. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

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).

Bran Castle, "Dracula's Castle" (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
Bran Castle, “Dracula’s Castle” (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

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

We'll be staying at our guide's family's lodge in Moecui, just 15 minutes from Dracula's castle.
We’ll be staying at our guide’s family’s mountain lodge and farm, in Moecui, just 15 minutes from Dracula’s castle. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

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 ****

Corvin Castle (photo provided to Writers' Expeditions by our guide)
Corvin Castle (photo provided to Writers’ Expeditions by our guide)

Day 6, Tuesday, October 31st – Tonight we dine in the very room where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431

We'll be spending the night inside the medieval walled city of Sighisoara, across the street from where Vlad Dracula was born. (Photo by Christopher Campbell for Writers' Expeditions)
We’ll be spending the night inside the medieval walled city of Sighisoara, across the street from where Vlad Dracula was born. (Photo by Christopher Campbell for Writers’ Expeditions)

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. 

Autumn colours and snow capped Carpathians. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
Autumn colours and snow capped Carpathians. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)

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:  info@kirstenkoza.com (we respond quickly, so if you don’t hear back in 24 hours, please try kirstenkoza@gmail.com). You can also message us at our Writers’ Expeditions Facebook Page.

Inclusions:

  • 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

Exclusions:

  • Airfare
  • Alcohol (unless listed on the itinerary)
  • Visa (not something for North Americans or Europeans to worry about)

Christopher Campbell (Writers' Expeditions - photography host)Kirsten describes the hosts:

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 ChatelaineSpa 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 halloweenKirsten 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!

Halloween party goers at Bran Castle (Dracula's castle), Transylvania, Romania. (Photo by Christopher Campbell for Writers' Expeditions)
Halloween party goers at Bran Castle (Dracula’s castle), Transylvania, Romania. (Photo by Christopher Campbell for Writers’ Expeditions)

You can expand the thumbnails by clicking and scroll over for caption.

A nice light meal - Romanian style. (Photo by Horia Matei)The menu called the dish fourskins. You can imagine the jokes. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)Salad in Romania The castle courtyard during the Halloween party (Photo by Christopher Campbell)Out group from 2015 getting ready for the Halloween party at Horia's lodge.Our photography host photobombs strangers at Dracula's castle. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)

We met people at the costume party who looked like Hollywood special effects artists had worked on them. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)Some people go all out and some buy their costumes at dollar stores. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)Bran Castle Halloween (Photo by Kirsten Koza)Nobody knew we were travelling with the Grim Reaper until Halloween night at the castle. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)In the town square of Sighisoara (Photo by Christopher Campbell, 2016)Some of our 2016 group in Sibiu (Photo by Christopher Campbell)Halloween group shot 2016 (Photo by Christopher Campbell)Night falls at the cemetery in Sighisoara, Romania (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

Climbing the stairs to Dracula's Fortress in 2016 (Photo by Christopher Campbell)Horse wagons are a common in Romania (Photo by Kirsten Koza)Medieval covered staircase in Sighisoara. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)A Roma tinsmith, Romania (Photo by Christopher Campbell)Transylvania, Romania, Heroes' Cross, Caraiman Peak (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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helicopter spraying agent orange (public domain)

Water buffalo, Vietnam (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)My second story for Perceptive Travel magazine was just published.

The Guilt Café in Vietnam: “Holy horrors, what is this place?” Was that my outside voice? Because I’d meant it to be my inside voice. Hung, my Vietnamese guide for the Red Delta region, led me from the entranceway of the gift shop and café to an informative gold framed plaque that he indicated I should read. But I was still gawking at a dozen deformed kids in the middle of the shop…(read the rest of this crazy adventure at Perceptive Travel magazine)

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Perceptive Travel Magazine's most popular stories of the decade

My crazy Kyrgyzstan story, which was published a few months ago in Perceptive Travel magazine, made their top ten list for most popular stories. Here’s the link to all the stories: http://www.perceptivetravel.com/issues/0117/best-travel-stories-decade.html, and here’s the direct link to my story The Mountain Men Who Don’t Exist in Kyrgyzstan. That’s my bike in the image. My KHS has since died, but it conquered first ascents and has been to Romania, Easter Island, Peru, Jordan, and Kyrgyzstan. My new Ghost is eagerly awaiting taking over the cycling adventures.

Perceptive Travel Magazine's most popular stories of the decade

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