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Vodka steamed shrimp prepared on Halong Bay cruise. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)

SOLD OUT – tour finished - March 7-17, 2017: We can bring 8-12 adventurous foodies with us on an 11-day eat your way across Vietnam expedition—a gastronomy and photography escapade by speedboat, motorbikes (pillion or driving), cyclos/rickshaws, sampan boats, vintage Vespas, overnight cruise boat (Chinese junk), basket boats, airplanes, etc. Yes, “etc.” because we’re hoping someone will ride a water buffalo at some point.

This tour will take you to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Mekong Delta, Hue (Forbidden City), Red Beach, Hoi An (for full moon festival), Danang, Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay. We’ll be staying at boutique and spa hotels and in UNESCO world heritage sites, while on this food adventure that screams “Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver, and Top Gear dudes, eat your freaking hearts out!”

(Eleven participants have booked already!)

Scroll Down for Itinerary, Prices and Info about Your Expedition Hosts and Guides

Vietnam, cyclo. (photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Vietnam, cyclo. (photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

DAY 1, March 7th (2017): Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
- Street food tour traveling between venues on the back of vintage Vespas!

You will arrive at Tan Son Nhat International airport (HCMC, Saigon) and will be met with a warm welcome. Some of you may arrive on flights the night before – we can arrange for an extra hotel night and for you to be greeted then, as well.

Full moon festival sweets, Vietnam (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Full moon festival sweets, Vietnam (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

Late afternoon (after check-in and after you’ve rested) we’ll all go for a traditional Vietnamese coffee at a local café to get fueled up for our evening adventure—a four-hour sampling of the best street food in the city plus a taste of cultural nightlife while traveling between venues on the back of vintage Vespas. You’ll be riding pillion with an experienced local driving the motorcycle because the alcoholic beverages are free flowing on this all you can eat extravaganza, that will also take us to see live music (cabaret style) and a final stop at a bar with Vietnamese performers who will knock your socks off (well, hopefully you won’t be wearing socks since you’ll probably be wearing sandals.)

Meals: afternoon coffee, dinner (food tour, 6:00-10:00 p.m.) and drinks
Overnight: Deluxe room in Paradise Saigon Boutique Hotel

Crab, Ho Chi Minh City (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Crab, Ho Chi Minh City (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

DAY 2, March 8th: Ho Chi Minh to Can Tho (in the heart of the Mekong Delta in south western Vietnam)
- Private speed boat from Ho Chi Minh to Mekong Delta with food and locally made booze tastings on route

Floating market, Mekong Delta (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Floating market, Mekong Delta – that’s not our boat. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

Our guide will meet us at 8:00 a.m. to take us to the Ho Chi Minh city pier where we’ll board our private speedboat to take us through a region of the Mekong Delta that few tourists get to experience. The area was once part of the Khmer empire and we’ll be making cultural stops to visit pagodas and Buddhist and Cao Dai Temples (Cao Dai is the religion that worships Victor Hugo, yes, the author of Les Miserables), plus we’ll be stopping at riverside markets, workshops, historical sites, then for lunch at a local’s house, and to take spectacular photos as we travel the expanses of the Delta of Nine Dragons.

The Mekong Delta, a 39,000 square  kilometre labyrinth of waterways. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
The Mekong Delta, a 39,000 square kilometre labyrinth of waterways. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

Late in the afternoon we’ll meet our private minibus and will drive the rest of the way to Can Tho to our hotel to freshen up before our evening (walking) street food tour of delectables. On this night, the more daring might like to sample some snake wine.

Meals: Breakfast (twice if you’d like, as you can have a 2nd breakfast on the boat), lunch, dinner (street food tour)
Overnight: Superior rooms at The Fortune Land Hotel

Mekong Delta, banana blossom and hot & sweet chili sauce (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
Fried banana blossom with hot & sweet chili sauce, Mekong Delta. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

 DAY 3, March 9th: Can Tho – Binh Thuy – and back to Saigon
- Today might be the day you have your first ever exotic fruit orgasm, plus more beauty boat rides, some crazy tastings, and back to Saigon for a family style dinner in a local restaurant

Binh Thuy, Mekong Delta. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Binh Thuy, Mekong Delta. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

We’ll explore more of the Mekong Delta (a massive labyrinth of  distributaries which covers around 39,000 square kilometres) by boat, including the Cai Rang floating market, and will take narrow canals to a village to sample dishes special to the region. Then we’ll disembark at Ninh Kieu quay and will head back to Saigon along a highway through rice paddies, in our private vehicle, via Binh Thuy (stopping for banh bao, cakes, and ice coffee). Then after a break at our hotel, we’ll have dinner (Vietnamese family style) at a local restaurant downtown and perhaps crash a few birthday parties while there.

Meals: Breakfast, Tastings, Lunch, Dinner
Overnight: back at the Paradise

Eat Your Way Across Vietnam (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Eat Your Way Across Vietnam (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

 DAY 4, March 10th: Fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue
- Market, monks, and rickshaw food tour along Perfume River

Vietnamese coffee often comes with a complimentary cup of tea. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Vietnamese coffee often comes with a complimentary cup of tea. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

This morning we fly north to Hue in central Vietnam, once home to the Nguyen dynasty of emperors. Upon arrival in Hue we’ll go for a Vietnamese coffee and then to Dong Ba market for a bowl of pho and to capture fabulous photos of daily life, or to buy some coffee beans to bring home, before visiting with a monk at Thien Mu Pagoda overlooking the Perfume river. If you have seen the unforgettable image taken by Malcolm Browne, of the monk who in protest set himself ablaze, in 1963 (the image that John F. Kennedy said this about: “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.”), then you’ll remember the car behind the burning monk. That car is enshrined here.

Monk at side entrance, at Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue. (Photo by Kirsten Koza,  Writers' Expeditions)
Monk at side entrance, at Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

In the evening we’ll enjoy a food tour of the specialties of Hue by cyclos (rickshaws).

Meals: Breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner (food tour)
Overnight: Deluxe rooms at the Asia Hue Hotel

When I was researching hotels in Vietnam, I laughed at all the promo photos with flowers strewn around the rooms and thought "Ya, right - maybe the honeymoon suite." But I was wrong. Many of the hotels I stayed in had artfully arranged flower petals or fruit plates or both. Asia Hue, hotel room. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
When I was researching hotels in Vietnam, I laughed at all the promo photos with flower petals strewn around the rooms and thought “Ya, right – maybe the honeymoon suite.” But I was wrong. Many of the hotels I stayed in had artfully arranged flower petals or complimentary tropical fruit plates or both. Asia Hue, hotel room. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

DAY 5, March 11th: Hue – Red Beach – Danang – Hoi An
Purple Forbidden City, Khai Dinh’s Tomb, Hai Van Pass

Red Beach, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Red Beach, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

This morning we’ll cross the moat into the vast walled fortress of the Imperial Citadel which contains the Purple Forbidden City. This UNESCO world heritage site has visible battle scars from the Vietnam, or as the Vietnamese call it, the American War, yet is astoundingly exquisite. Then we’ll drive a short distance to Chau Chu mountain where we’ll explore Khai Dinh’s tomb before the breathtaking drive on the winding road over Hai Van Pass (Ocean Cloud Pass), a road that the Top Gear dudes drooled over, in fact Jeremy Clarkson described this route as “a deserted ribbon of perfection—one of the best coast roads in the world.” We’ll have a break at pristine Red Beach before heading to Hoi An to check into our hotel. We thought you might like the freedom to dine tonight on your own in this lantern lit ancient town, but you also have the option of accompanying our local guide for the best sandwiches in all of Vietnam.

Battle scarred but beautiful, a glimpse through one of many arches at the Imperial City, in Hue. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch
Overnight: Deluxe rooms at the Library Hotel in Hoi An

DAY 6: March 12th Hoi An (Full Moon Festival)
- Ancient town, a rural motorbike ride, egg coffee and street food

Hoi An, basket boats. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Hoi An, basket boats. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

Hoi An is an exceptionally well preserved trading port and UNESCO world heritage site. During the first century it was the largest harbour in South-East Asia and by the seventh to tenth centuries it dominated the spice trade. During the Full Moon Festival the streets of the old town are closed to motor traffic and colourful lanterns are lit making this delightful for night photography. During the day you’ll get to navigate the historic alleys and shops, try Vietnam’s famous egg coffee (so good), sample street food, and sniff your way through clouds of incense. In the afternoon we’ll take motorbikes (you can drive or be a passenger) along rural lanes through rice paddies and along rivers. Then in the late afternoon we’ll head to another beach to swim and have dinner where you choose (this allows you to select the beachside bar or bistro you’d like). After dinner we’ll head back to the old town for the Full Moon Festival.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch (food tour)
Overnight: Deluxe rooms at the Little Hoi An Central Boutique & Spa Hotel

Local lady smoking something she rolled herself, Hoi An, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Local lady smoking something she rolled herself, Hoi An, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

DAY 7 March 13th: Hoi An – fly to Hanoi
- Spice, Vietnamese traditional medicine, cyclos, dumplings and spring rolls, and Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. You’ll have seen the communist government signs throughout the country before this, but the pomp and circumstance is in Hanoi, yet, like Blade Runner, is intertwined with old world street life. After a quick visit to the iconic sites we’ll spend more time in the old quarter with the spice merchants and and practitioners of ancient medicine.

Street food in Hanoi. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
A tiny sample of the first taste of many on our street food tour in Hanoi. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

Meals: Breakfast, early dinner (street food tour) – since we’ll be flying during lunch we thought we’d have an early dinner today.
Overnight: Luxury rooms at MK Premier Boutique Hotel

DAY 8, March 14th: Hanoi – Tam Coc – Hanoi
- Limestone mountains, sampan boats through stalactite caves, motorbike tour, (“temple of doom” – today is the Indiana Jones-esque day of our adventure)

Tam Coc, Vietnam (photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Tam Coc, Vietnam (photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

After yet another fabulous buffet breakfast we drive through the fertile Red River Delta to get to Ninh Binh where we’ll be taking a two-hour sampan boat trip through the Three Caves (Tam Coc). The area is dotted with vertical limestone mountains jutting out of rice paddies. After we dock we’ll have a multi-course Vietnamese lunch (last time I was at this restaurant a large group of Vietnamese war vets were having a government paid for luncheon). Once feasted we’ll swing our legs over motorbikes (the water buffalo I mentioned at the start of this comes soon) and will travel by back roads through villages to the temple of Hoa Lu, which was dedicated to a Heroic 10th century King. Overlooking the temple is Yen Ma mountain – and we’ll climb it for the panoramic views and because we’ve been eating a lot. Back in Hanoi, you’ll be given free time this evening to either rest or negotiate the night market. Our Vietnamese guide will recommend great nearby dining, or you might decide that tonight is the night you want room service. It’s up to you.

Tam Coc, camera woman in sampan boat (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)Water buffalo, Vietnam (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)Temple of Hoa Lu, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)

 

 

 

 

Meals: Breakfast, lunch
Overnight: Luxury rooms MK Boutique Hotel 

DAY 9, March 15: Hanoi to Halong Bay (also spelled Ha Long Bay)
Overnight cruise

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

We’ll arrive at Tuan Chau marina before lunch and will board our cruise boat (a Chinese style junk) for our overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site featuring thousands of karst mountains and islands rising from the bay and intricate systems of caves. After meeting the captain and crew, checking into your cabins, and enjoying a welcome drink, we’ll have lunch on board as we set sail. We’ll make stops so you get to explore a gigantic cave, take a panoramic photo from a mountain top, go for a swim, or maybe do some squid fishing, or just embrace the sunset with a cocktail in hand.

Ha Long Bay, sunset on cruise. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Ha Long Bay, sunset on cruise. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Overnight: Cruise

DAY 10, Ha Long Bay – Hanoi
Cruise

Vodka steamed shrimp, Halong Bay cruise, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)
Vodka steamed shrimp, Halong Bay cruise, Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers’ Expeditions)

There are before breakfast activities aboard the cruise such as Tai Chi. After breakfast you’ll have the option of either kayaking or taking a bamboo boat paddled by a local fisherman around the floating villages. Those who choose can take a quick cooking course and learn to make Vietnamese spring rolls (you’ll be rolling our lunch appetizer). A multi course lunch will be served before we dock and return to Hanoi. Tonight we’ll have a farewell dinner at a popular local spot in Hanoi, including rice wine (which has a kick) and locally made beer.

Overnight: luxury rooms at MK Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

DAY 11: Hanoi 

After breakfast we can take you to the airport for your flight home or help you arrange your onward plans. By ending in Hanoi, you are much closer to possible connecting flights from Hong Kong or Tokyo. Our Vietnamese experts can also assist you with plans to stay longer in Vietnam.

EXPEDITION HOSTS (keep scrolling for prices and inclusions): 

Christopher Campbell (professional photographer)Christopher Campbell is your photography host and will be guiding you to take fantastic images throughout the trip (if you’d like to learn), no matter the devices you bring. He will also provide you with digital images he takes of your adventures. Chris hosted our photography and eating expedition across Jordan in 2014 and our Dracula Expedition in Transylvania, Romania, Halloween in 2015 and again in 2016. Chris is a renowned food photographer. His work can be seen on TV’s Food Network cooking shows and 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, Gordon’s gin, Florida oranges, or even test driving a Mercedes.

Kirsten Koza (travel author, adventurer, Writers' Expeditions)Kirsten Koza is the leader and organizer of Writers’ Expeditions. She designs the adventures with her expert hosts, international tour operators, and local guides and ruthlessly test drives each expedition. She is an author, humorist, journalist, editor, and adventurer. Her articles and photos have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world. She’s a contributor to the “travel publishing giant” Travelers’ Tales (USA): The Best Women’s Travel Writing, and humor anthologies, and is the editor of their recent travel humor book Wake Up and Smell the Shit.  Kirsten is a journalist and writes on topics as varied as cannibalism, tornadoes, disease, politics, bullfighting, dildos, Putin, and gluten, and covered Syrian refugees, when she went to Zaatari, in a three-part series. CBC Radio Canada International declares Kirsten’s book, Lost in Moscow, “the ultimate what-I-did-last-summer essay ever.”

Minh Ninh, Vietnam tour operator

I am Minh Ninh, a local tour operator in Vietnam. I have over nine years experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. I like travelling and that’s why I chose this work. Travelling means discovering new lands, meeting new friends, listening to new stories and having new experiences. I love my beautiful country, Vietnam, and I am lucky to have many chances to visit the most famous and beautiful places in Vietnam as well as in Indochina, and I enjoy sharing my part of the world with you.

My team and I specialize in high quality, memorable private custom tours in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. We organize unique trips and take travellers to both the most famous places and the less-visited destinations, to uncover the authentic cultures and beautiful landscapes.”

PRICES FOR EAT YOUR WAY ACROSS VIETNAM: $2645.00 USD per person (double room), $350.00 single supplement (additional rate to have single room for trip)

To Reserve your spot a 20% deposit is required. Please contact us first: info@kirstenkoza.com

INCLUSIONS:  

  • Two internal airfare (flights) from Ho Chi Minh to Hue, and Danang to Hanoi
  •  Professional photographer: Photography host (who will guide you to take fantastic photos and will also provide you with images of his throughout the journey and when you get home for your personal use)
  • Travel Writer/ Author: Host and tour organizer (who will also provide writing and publishing tips for all who are interested)
  •  English speaking Vietnamese tour guides
  • Accommodation in hotels
  • Overnight cruise in Halong Bay
  • Most meals (as indicated in the itinerary – and by the way – the breakfasts are great – with big selections)
  • Tastings (as per itinerary)
  • Private air conditioned vehicles with professional drivers
  • Vietnamese coffee as per program
  • Sightseeing and cycle fees and permits during guided time
  • Private speedboat to visit Mekong
  • Motorbike in Hoi An and Ninh Binh
  • Boat trip in Ninh Binh
  • Cyclo in Hanoi and Hue
  • Night food and culture tour in Saigon, and Street food tour in Can Tho, Hue, Hoi An and Hanoi
  • Water puppet show
  • Water bottles in car
  •  Visa approval letter to enter Vietnam (this is not your Visa but is helpful when you apply)
  • All service charges and taxes included

EXCLUSIONS: 

  • International flight tickets to and from Vietnam
  • Visas and airport departure tax
  • Health and travel insurance (you need to get this)
  • Tips / gratuities
  • Drinks (when not listed on itinerary) and other meals

This expedition is operated in conjunction with a licensed tour operator in Vietnam.

CONTACT KIRSTEN KOZA IN CANADA: info@kirstenkoza.com
(she can arrange to phone you as well, or SKYPE, if you’d like to chat)

Now more food from Vietnam!

Street food Vietnam. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)Frog is popular in Vietnam (Writers' Expeditions)Eat Your Way Across Vietnam in 2017 (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)

Street food noodles, Saigon (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)Vietnamese egg coffee. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)Colourful rice based sweets, Mekong Delta. (Photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions)

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“Two women using a dildo” – lithograph from De Figuris Veneris (1906) by Édouard-Henri Avril (public domain)

DILDOS OR ROSES?

Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your favorite lover or the old ball and chain, or possibly better than either — your imagination — you could sit there on the holiday and look at a dozen long-stemmed roses, or you could have an orgasm, or a dozen, with the Wilde one, a dildo named for Oscar Wilde, who said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Dildos have been around since the Stone Age, but have come a long way. (read more…)

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Dracula's Castle, Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania (Photo by Horia Matei and Christopher Campbell)


FINISHED – see 2017 – The Dracula Expedition: Transylvania, Romania – Oct. 28 to Nov. 2, 2016. We have Dracula’s birth chamber reserved for our dinner party for 2017. Stay tuned for prices, dates, and itinerary for 2017 – we’re just waiting for Bran Castle to set their date for the party so we can set ours.

This tour is the most fantastic Halloween invitation I’ve sent out yet, and I hope you can join us. Our six-day (small group) Romanian adventure includes dining on Halloween night in the house where the real-life Dracula, Vlad Drăculea (known as Vlad the Impaler), was born in 1431. And we’ll also be guests at a party inside Dracula’s castle (built circa 1377) which was owned by Vlad’s grandfather (Mircea the Old) and was attacked by Vlad in 1460.

Night falls at the cemetery in Sighisoara, Romania (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
We’ll spend Halloween night in the medieval town Sighisoara (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and will dine in the house where real-life Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, was born. (Photo: at Sighisoara cemetery – by Christopher Campbell)

Our Transylvanian guide and expert (with whom I explored Romania with extensively), has designed a journey that will take us to his favourite 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.

Our guide will take us to his favourite local haunts and moody cemeteries (Writers' Expeditions)
Our guide will take us to his favourite local haunts and moody cemeteries (Writers’ Expeditions)
Vlad Dracula’s wife jumped to her death from the 100 storey high cliffs at Poenari to avoid capture by invading Turks. (Photo by Horia Matei)

Oh, and BYOC (“C” stands for costume) – the rest is included: all meals (you can go on a diet when you get home), accommodation, and transportation while on this phenomenal tour.

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

 (2016 itinerary, prices and early bird specials below. Save $400 US for a single or $800 US on a double when you sign-up now. Our expedition of eight participants sold out last year. We respond quickly to emails, and you should hear back within 24 hours –  you can also contact us on Facebook at the Writers’ Expeditions page or message Kirsten at: kirstenkoza@gmail.com)

DRACULA EXPEDITION 2016 ITINERARY AND PRICES:

Day 1, Friday, October 28th: 

- 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. – 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. (Photos by Kirsten Koza)

Day 2, Saturday, October 29th (drinks are on Dracula tonight):

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 leave Bucharest for Snagov Monastery. In 1476 Prince Vlad Dracula was assassinated, and the monks of Snagov recovered his headless body and buried it on an island inside their church. Our driver will then take us across the Carpathian mountains to our lodge at Horia’s family farm where we can change into our costumes for the party at Dracula’s castle. You’ll soon see why Bram Stoker was inspired to create Dracula. This special event is the only time the castle doors open at night.

We'll be staying at our guide's family's lodge in Moeciu, just 15 minutes from Dracula's castle.
We’ll be staying at our guide’s family’s lodge in Moeciu, just 15 minutes from Dracula’s castle.
Bran Castle, "Dracula's Castle," (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
We’ll be going to a Halloween Party at Dracula’s Castle. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

Day 3, Sunday, October 30th: 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 feast, a bonfire, hot wine and ghost stories, before heading to the cemetery for a ghoulish nighttime photography session.

We'll be eating a harvest of Romanian food. (Photos of savories by Kirsten Koza and dessert by Horia Matei)
We’ll be eating a harvest of Romanian food. (Writers’ Expeditions)
Brasov, Romania (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
Brasov, Romania (Photo by Kirsten Koza)

Day 4, Monday, October 31st, Halloween (tonight we dine in the house where Prince Dracula was born):

Today we drive a couple of scenic hours 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.

Medieval covered staircase in Sighisoara. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
Medieval covered staircase in Sighisoara. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)

Day 5, Tuesday, November 1st:

Before crossing the mountains from Transylvania into Wallachia, we’ll stop in Sibiu, a town steeped in legend and named by Forbes magazine as one of the 10 most idyllic places to live in Europe. Then we’ll head further south through the scenic Olt valley and will spend the night in the little town of Curtea de Arges, a few miles from the spectacular ruins of Dracula’s fortress-castle Poenari.
Crossing the Carpathians on the Transfagarasan Highway. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
Crossing the Carpathians on the Transfagarasan Highway. (Photo by Christopher Campbell)
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 6, Wednesday, November 2nd (Dracula’s fortress):

The ruins of Poenari Castle are perched high on a rugged crag above the Arges river gorge. There are 1,480 stairs to Dracula’s “vulture nest.” One of last year’s 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.

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.

In 1462 Prince Vlad Dracula was sieged at Poenari by the Turks. He sent a message to the village of Arefu for help but his wife, terrified of capture, threw herself into the river far below before the rescuers arrived. The villagers came at night and smuggled the Prince across the mountains to safety and in return he gave them 16 mountains of pastureland, a reward the inhabitants of Arefu still celebrate more than 500 years later.

Our next stop is Targoviste which was 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 town to build Poenari.

- Drive back to Bucharest.

This amuses us. Police patrolling on Segways. Bucharest, Romania. (Photo by Christopher Campbell).
This amuses us. Police patrolling on Segways. Bucharest, Romania. (Photo by Christopher Campbell).

The tour ends in Bucharest at about 6 PM.

PRICES AND INCLUSIONS AND HOST BIOS:

If you book now the price is $1490 USD per person for a double (the single room supplement is just $165 USD for the entire trip). Regular tour price is $1890 USD. We can get some good deals if we book your trip now and are passing the savings directlly to you. Rates go up closer to peak season. Normally I encourage solo travelers to have their own snore and burp space, but on this tour, if you think your imagination might play games at night, you may want a roommate. – A $250.00 deposit reserves your spot. Please contact us first at: info@kirstenkoza.com

Inclusions:

  • All accommodation (the delightful inns are small and unique – three star)
  • 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 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.

Kirsten Koza (Writers' Expeditions)Kirsten Koza: I’m your host and expedition designer and am a professional adventure travel writer, author, humourist and journalist. I’m currently on the book tour for the Travelers’ Tales (USA) anthology I edited: Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets, and a Demon Dildo. I ruthlessly pretest Writers’ Expeditions trips and find the best local guides, tour operators, and unique adventures, so you can have a great experience. 

I write on topics as varied as going inside the largest Syrian refugee camp, bullfighting, cannibalism, tornado chasing, mountain biking, dildos, dictators, Putin, gluten, and politics. My stories and photographs have been published in books, newspapers and magazines around the world, and 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.

 

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.We met people at the costume party who looked like Hollywood special effects artists had worked on them. (Photo by Kirsten Koza)Our photography host photobombs strangers at Dracula's castle. (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)

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Wake Up book on bench

New York book launch

The New York launch for Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters,  Monstrous Toilets and a Demon Dildo is on Saturday November 21, 2015, at 6:00 PM at People Kitchen and Lounge (163 Allen St., 2nd floor). The event is free but there are cocktails and food for sale from an exciting menu and of course autographed books (cash sales for books only), so you can put some signed shit in a loved one’s Christmas stocking. (I’ve been just itching for a chance to say “put some shit in a loved one’s stocking.”)

The editor and contributors will be entertaining you with their shockers and sexy times abroad: (read more…)

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Wake Up book on bench

The Toronto Book Launch for Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets and a Demon Dildo is on Sat., Oct. 24th, at 3:00 PM. Jorge Miguel, one of Canada’s best Flamenco guitar players will be performing at 3:00 during the book signing, and contributor readings will start at 3:30. At Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St.
Toronto book launch evite

Stand back! The 31 tales in this raunchy round-the-world romp might get you dirty. (read more…)

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