I enjoy travelling alone. You can go anywhere you like at your own pace, and if you want to stop and stare at some detail for ten minutes, nobody’s going to tug at your arm and try to drag you in the opposite direction. Interacting with the people you meet along the way is easier, too.
Last week I put on my boots and winter hat and headed to Bran Castle near Brasov. It was the Christmas gift I thought I should give myself – a solo trip to the castle that of all castles seems to have inspired Dracula’s myth the most.
Bran Castle is linked to Bram Stoker’s famous novel Dracula, though the author never visited it, nor did he specifically refer to it. The Castle’s strategic position between mountains, at the border of the old regions of Wallachia and Transylvania, made it a valuable customs point, and a solid defense against the Ottoman Turks.
Vlad the Impaler, who inspired the legend of Dracula, never actually lived in the castle, but he seems to have been locked in it for two months as a prisoner of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary.
Bran today feels more like Queen Maria’s Castle than Dracula’s Castle. The Queen settled in the castle in the early 20th century with her family.
The Queen suffered from arthritis and had the well equipped with an elevator, which could carry her from the inner courtyard straight to the gardens below, which she had arranged in the English-style, adding to them a Tea House.
Should you ever visit Romania, Bran is one of those places worth a day of your trip.