August 31, 2013

Transylvania and Dracula Tours

Hey everyone. Hope you are all having a good long weekend. For those of you who are not sure what to do I may have a suggestion for you. A Dracula Tour. Something fun and/or informative to do during the long weekend. Granted this means that you will be travelling to Transylvania. Unless you are already there. I have found two good tours online for people to consider. There is one that is more about the information and learning about the man behind the legend. The other tour is more of a scary adventure for those who enjoy those. This tour is during Halloween, so not something to do this weekend, but you could start planning now.

            The first tour is the informative tour. It is called the Dracula Tour in Transylvania. This is a true tourist tour package. It involves a six day trip. Two of the days are set aside for travelling there and home, but four days are part of the tour. There is much that you will see on this tour. You will be visiting monasteries and fortresses connected with Vlad Dracula. There is even a dinner hosted by Transylvanian gypsies as a part of the tour. This tour is all about learning more about Vlad Dracula the man and the culture he came from. I would recommend this tour to any who are really interested in the history of Transylvania, Romania. The website (which will be included at the end of the post) includes a summarized itinerary as well as a detailed itinerary. There is also a place to get a quote as to how much it will cost. There is the bonus of seeing the Romania country while travelling from each destination throughout the tour.

            The second tour I am going to talk about is the one meant more so to scare you. It is a Halloween tour after all. This is an eight day tour, again with two days set aside for travelling. There is a detailed itinerary. I really enjoyed how it was written. It is written in a way to make you laugh. It tells of departing the way of life you know and journeying to something new. Since it is a Halloween tour it is meant to be a spooky tour. There is some information given about Vlad Dracula, but the tour is more based around Bram Stoker’s character of Dracula, the vampire. Most of the locations for the tour have connections to both the man and the legend. The people who run this tour are understanding and know that not everyone can get Halloween off and are unable to travel. In response to this they have also set up a tour in July for those who find this topic interesting. In either the summer or the fall, the Romania countryside is gorgeous, so either time is a good time to go.
            Both of these tours have the benefits and interesting points. I would say to check out both websites and see which one you like.

August 28, 2013

My experience with writing and publishing a book

This post is going to be a little different from the usual posts. This time I thought I would talk about my experience writing about Transylvania. It really does seem like such a long time ago that I wrote my first post on Hotel Transylvania. I thought it was such a weird movie. The thing is, that post was only published last February. That is less than a year ago. Actually, it was only about 6 or 7 months ago. I have learned so much during these past months.
            Speaking honestly, I admit that I did not always know anything about what I was writing about until I did some research. There were quite a few nights where I was up late researching a topic and posting about it that night. I must say that I really appreciate when readers help me out and share topic ideas. There have also been some nights where I had no idea what I should write about and then I would remember that someone had made a topic request. Those were usually the nights that I stayed up late and got lost in my research.

I have learned so much since starting to post on here.  When I first started writing here I had no idea that most of Romania had no connection to vampires — that was only in Transylvania. The rest of Romania has connections to werewolves, especially Bucharest. I learned exactly how long Countess Elizabeth Bathory got away with killing young women, and the number of young women who were killed. I learned that Vlad Dracula had brothers, one older and one younger. I learned that Vlad Dracul and his eldest son were assassinated. I learned about the Order of the Dragon and that was how the names Dracul and Dracula came into being. I learned that the current royal family of Britain have family connections to Vlad Dracula. I learned about both Bran Castle and Cachtice Castle. I really have learned so much in the past few months. It’s not going to stop here either. I will continue to learn more and more as I continue to post.

Another thing that will help me to learn more about Transylvania is that the other woman who posts on here and I will be writing and publishing a book. Each of us will be writing half of the book. It will be about Transylvania and Romania and how it relates to our lives. The best way I can describe it would be to take some of our posts and make them more formal and string them together so that they make sense together. We will be working on the book all through the fall. It should be available in approximately December, 2013 on Amazon. When I was first told about the book I was so surprised and so happy. The attention that the blog is getting now is what is allowing us to write this book, so I would like to thank you all for reading this. If this is the first time you are reading the blog, please feel free to scroll through previous posts and maybe you will learn something new just like I did. 

August 18, 2013

Who Was The Countess of The Blood

Hey, everyone. I am a movie lover, and I have talked about a few movies in previous posts. 

What I noticed is that majority of those movies are about Dracula or are linked to Dracula in some way, and I have not talked about any movies about Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Well, I have found one now. It is called The Countess. It is a very simple title for a biographical movie about a very complex woman.
            Elizabeth Bathory was born into a very prominent noble family and was raised in a life of privilege. The movie chronicals Elizabeth’s life, beginning when she was a child. The first scene that shows the audience about her developing character depicts when she learned about life and death. She was learning to plant trees and decided to remove a plant from a pot and bury a bird. She was surprised when she went back later and found the bird was now dead. When she talked to the priest the next day, he explained to her that the body is vulnerable, but the soul is immortal. When young Elizabeth heard that, she decided that it was a good thing at the soul was immortal because otherwise she would have to raise an army against death. 

This tells me that even from a young age Elizabeth Bathory did not like the concept of death. Still, during the scenes where Elizabeth is young, we see her mother force her to watch some peasants being beaten as punishment.

            After that there is a quick succession of scenes where Elizabeth ages. We see that she is violent towards maids and servants beginning very early on. It is also established that she prefers her men to be younger than her — much younger. The scene describing this is when she is approximately 13-15 years old and is watching the baptism of a young lord. She tell her mother that she wants to marry the infant being baptized. Her mother tells Elizabeth that by the time he would be old enough to marry, she will be old and ugly. The actress playing Elizabeth does a fantastic job portraying the disgust and disappointment that Elizabeth would have felt at hearing those words. During the next quick succession of scenes we also learn that Elizabeth had a child, a son, out of wedlock. After giving birth, her child was taken away from her. She only had daughters with her husband.

            As the movie progresses we learn how strong willed Elizabeth really is. Her husband was a very strong warrior. When he died, the king still owed him money, and Elizabeth went to the king to get payment for what her husband was owed. She was a strong woman who ran her household, even after her husband died despite the fact that it was not normal for a woman to run a household without a husband. Now, Elizabeth did take lovers, who were always younger than she was. When she was stood up by one of her lovers she became very hurt. She started to lash out at her maids and servants, becoming more and more violent. She did find another lover though. This new lover encouraged her to punish those who were rude to her. Her violent tendencies grew and grew as the movie went on until it reached the final conclusion.

            I won’t give away how the rest of the movie goes; that is something that you will have to see for yourself. I will say that based on what I have seen, Elizabeth Bathory’s violent behaviour was something she learned from a young age. Violence was encouraged towards those Elizabeth believed were beneath her, which was pretty much anyone.

August 14, 2013

Where can You Find Dracula, and Transylvania in Books

This post will be talking about 5 books that are either set in Transylvania or are about Transylvania. I have chosen to look at Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Countess: A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory by Rebecca Johns, Elizabeth Bathory by Pascal Croci, Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and Times by Radu R Florescu and Raymond T McNally, and finally Transylvania by Bronwen Riley. Each of these books portrays its own interpretation of Transylvania.
            Bram Stoker’s Dracula was one of the main books that brought attention to Transylvania. It may not have always been positive attention, but it got Transylvania noticed. It was one of the first novels set in Transylvania to be made into a movie (Nosferatu). When looking at Dracula as a novel, it is a well written book. The fact that it is still popular to this day says much. I work at a book store and people still ask me where they can find Dracula. It does not really give Transylvania the best of reputations; then again it did not have the best reputation to begin with. Transylvania is located in Romania which is known for the werewolves from Bucharest. The only issue I had with the story is that there are some inconsistencies between the book and actual history. The character of Dracula was described as an original vampire because he came from Transylvania, from where the vampire apparently originated. Vlad Dracula was the man on whom Bram Stoker based the character of Dracula. In truth, Vlad Dracula lived in Wallachia, which bordered Transylvania. Other than this small factual error, I found the book amazing.

The Countess: A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory by Rebecca Johns is about the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Yes, I know what you are thinking, and I can understand why you might think this way. Why am I talking about a Hungarian countess when I am suppose to be talking about Transylvania, with a focus on books about Transylvania? Elizabeth Bathory has always had ties to Romania and Transylvania- she lived in what was part of Hungary, but was in Transylvania. 

She is also known as The Blood Countess. She was known to kill young women and bathe in their blood because she thought it would help her remain looking young. This novel is written from Elizabeth Bathory's point of view and is directed at her only son. It was a known fact that Elizabeth Bathory had a son out of wedlock and he was the only son she had. The novel is her explanation to her son for why she did what she did. It is interesting to look at her life from her own perspective.

            The third book I'd like to look at is another one about Elizabeth Bathory. Elizabeth Bathory by Pascal Croci may be another book about the Hungarian countess, but it has its own appeal. It is actually a graphic novel, and that allows the story to seem brand new. Being presented as a graphic novel also allows her story to reach a larger audience. The story of Elizabeth Bathory was one of the inspirations for vampires drinking blood, and this is one of the connections Elizabeth Bathory has with Transylvania. The story about Elizabeth Bathory is also a very gory story and has appeal as a regular novel for those who like to be able to imagine on their own. Graphic novels appeal to a different audience and dynamic, though. This format allows the novel's author and graphic artist the opportunity to share their own imaginings with the reader. This means that, from the writer's and artist's perspectives, the wording matches the images that the reader is seeing.

            The fourth book, Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times by Radu R Florescu and Raymond T McNally, looks more deeply into the historical man on whom the character of Dracula is based- not about Bram Stoker's version. Vlad Dracula was seen in many different lights. By some he was seen as the enemy, a horrific man prone to unnecessary violence. He was known to stab his enemies with a wooden stake. There were also those who considered Vlad Dracula to be a hero — these would have been the people under his rule while he was the Prince of Wallachia. Knowing the actual historical context behind the Dracula character is a good thing. Then again, in my opinion, just knowing the history for the sake of knowing the history is an awesome thing. As I have said in previous posts, I am a huge history fan.

            The final book I'd like to look at is Transylvania by Bronwen Riley. This book is more about the actual landscape of Transylvania. One of the opening lines mentions how most people only know Transylvania as the home of Dracula and where dragons come from in Harry Potter. This book discusses the land and country itself. There are some amazing pictures in this book that show the reader the gorgeous landscapes of Transylvania. The book described some of the history of Transylvania, but I enjoyed the images. When it comes to books like this I do tend to pay more attention to the pictures, and I've found that if the pictures don't catch my attention, then I won’t read the text that goes along with the pictures. This book has amazing pictures, and it can be difficult to get good lighting with landscape pictures.

            All of these books are amazing for their own reasons. Four of the books can be found on Amazon, and the fifth book can be found at the Chapters website. This definitely isn't an exhaustive list of all of the good books about Transylvania; they are just the ones that I can recommend. 

August 4, 2013

Which King of Romania Was the First To Have Transylvania as a Part of His Kingdom?

Transylvania has been a part of the cultural identity of two countries for centuries.  Both Hungary and Romania identify with Transylvania, and in the last century, Transylvania was, at different times, a part of both countries.  At the end of the 1800s, there were many new Eastern European countries created.  Most, if not all had been a part of the Ottoman Empire, and one of them was the country of Romania.  At first this was not a Kingdom, but rather a Princedom, and the first to men to hold the throne of Romania, were named at such.  Before this time Transylvania was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary.

When Transylvania became a part of the Kingdom of Romania in 1919, who was the king at the time?  The Kings' name was King Ferdinand, and his wife was to become the more famous of the two.

Here is a bit of trivia: This monarch was not as beloved by the population as his wife, and he was not Romanian by birth — his eldest son was, however, born in Romania in 1893.  

The Romanian royal house was of Germanic origin.  The first king was King Carol I, and he reigned until 1914.  He and his wife Queen Elizabeth only had one child a daughter, who did not survive childhood, and because the throne of Romania needed an heir, Carol made one of his nephews Crown Prince of Romania.   In 1922, his nephew Ferdinand was crowned in Transylvania, in the city of Alba Iulia.

King Ferdinand, the second King of Romania, and his wife, Queen Marie, became the first of the three kings to claim Transylvania as a part of Romania.  One of the many castles and cities that became a part of Romania was Bran Castle.  The castle and Transylvania have been a part of the country of Romania since 1919.

Queen Marie of Romania