Bran Castle, located in Transylvania, matches Americans' Hollywood idea of where Dracula lived. The architecture screams gothic, but where is the foreboding cloud action?
Built as a fortress in 1212 when Rome and Luxemburg argued over the area, Queen Marie of Romania enjoyed summers here until they booted her out in 1948. The castle has been given back to the Hapsburgs, they've graciously spent quite a lot of money de-decaying it and scattering bear rugs and crowns about. In 2009, the castle opened as a museum and a place to rent for private parties, for the red-lined-dress-capes-for-men crowd, presumeably.
Wandering through the dining room, I thought of my favorite part in the book, where Dracula pretends to have servants and sneaks around fixing dinner and preparing rooms, scrubbing pots and making beds behind his guest's back.
The foundation that runs the castle does a good job explaining who Vlad the Impaler was, one of his many middle names was Dracula, and local beliefs about undead ghosts. People really do hang garlic over their doors in this area, but signing the guest book on the way out, Peter and I were embassassed by the Americans disappointed with the castle who found it "uninteresting." They weren't actually attacked by a vampire, so they want their $2 admission fee back?
We wandered past carved doors, ate blood-orange flavored black gumdrops, admired the sword collection and enjoyed the hospitality of the imaginary Count Dracula. We didn't see any sharp teeth climbing up the creepy secret staricase in the house, but saw plenty them for sale in the stalls at the base of the castle.