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Spending This Year’s Halloween at Dracula’s Castle

Oct, 26 || No Comments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
staying-at-dracula-hotel-hunt4hotel

Halloween was going to be extra special this year. Remember all those vampire stories you read growing up? We were about to live one of them for a night – the Dracula Castle.

The Bran Castle or the Dracula Castle lies in a picturesque location among the Carpathians on the Eastern part of Transylvania. It is a lovely specimen of a castle with a not-so-lovely history. Built in the 14th Century as a defense against the Ottomans.

dracula-castle-hunt4hotel

 

It was briefly the home of the infamous Vlad the Impaler – called so for his penchant for impaling people alive on iron rods and leaving gravity to do the rest. Legend also has it that he boiled his victims alive in cauldrons, liked dining next to his victims’ corpses with their throats slit open and also drank their blood. Not a  man you’d like to hang out with!

vlad-the-impaler

The stay was to be a reenactment of Bram stoker’s novel Dracula. We knew some parts of it – like the protagonist was taken to the castle in a carriage. Sure enough, on arriving, we found a horse-driven carriage waiting for us. There was one other woman in our carriage –a local who, on hearing where we were off to, kept crossing herself mumbling all the time. She kept throwing furtive glances our way and before leaving, turned, crossed herself again and said, “For the dead travel fast.” We were completely nonplussed. Was this all a part of the stay?

It was a long journey but the view was breathtaking – forests, woods, streams zig-zagging, wild blossoms and fruits. With the sun falling on the Carpathians, we saw an endless kaleidoscope of colors – from the reds of the fruits and flowers to the purplish blues and greens of the forest. After what seemed like hours, the slope became steeper and we started ascending steadily. Finally, we turned around a bend and there stood the Castle. We had arrived.

Staying at Dracula Hotel

The driver left us off at the entrance and sped off. While we were contemplating whether banging on the door would seem too rude, we heard somebody behind it. Slowly, with a lot of creaking and groaning, the huge door swung back. “Welcome! Enter of your own free will and leave some of the happiness you bring!” said a tall man in a deep baritone. He said he was Jonathan Harker, (the protagonist, held prisoner by the Count). He told us we were free to roam the length of the castle but also cautioned us to get to the library on the first floor by sunset. “This castle has terrible memories. It would be unwise to loiter around when it comes alive”.

dracula-castle-interior

Saying this, he abruptly left. It was a huge castle and we barely had 2 hours and so we began. Some doors were locked but most open. Most of them had ancient Victorian Age furniture and the curtains and upholstery were done with rich fabric which still shone. The décor was in varying shades of black and blood red. The entire castle was lit with nothing but candles. An occasional draft would make them flicker and the shadows would dance crazily. It all felt surreal. Like being stuck in a different time and era. This place had a history and it was imprinted on everything within it.

My first real scare came while we were going up one of the towers. I opened a door leading to the staircase when suddenly I heard a rushing sound. And then I was engulfed in a tornado of bats. The bloodcurdling scream I gave was enough to scare off any immortal creature let alone the mortals. However, the view from the tower made up for it. All around us all we could see was lush green mountains.

Some of them high enough to flirt with the clouds. We could see at some distance a village and tiny moving figures. Moving on, we came across a graveyard like place which had probably been a shrine earlier and was very windy. There were no candles here and we had to use the one we were allowed. Here we found a lot of freshly dug out earth and tombs, some of them open and filled with dirt. This was supposed to be where he ‘slept’.

We were silently taking in the entire scene when there was a sudden gust of wind and the candle in our hands blew out. At about the same time from somewhere outside, wolves started howling. We dashed from there as quickly as our legs would carry us. There was another room worth mentioning. It had the usual – Beds, closet, table, chairs, sofa etc. Except for one small thing. It was entirely upside down. Yep, everything was sticking out from the ceiling.

For some reason, this disturbed me the most. We also went down to the dungeons where there were skeletons hanging and piles of bones everywhere. Incidentally, this was where Vlad was held a prisoner for some time by a Hungarian King. All this while, there was a lot of door-banging by themselves, a sudden gust of wind, weird creaky noises, windows clattering, whimpering (the last bit was us by the way). But we understood what our host meant. The castle was alive. It breathed and groaned and everything.

We found the library and there was ‘Harker’ already waiting for us. He then started reminiscing about his own journey at the castle. How he had arrived and was made a prisoner. How he had been forced to write, sitting in the very library, letters to his boss and fiancé about his trip being extended. How he had realized one fine morning, looking through his shaving glass that the count had no reflection. How he had noticed a few other odd things like, the Count’s habit of crawling over the castle walls like a lizard. And how he had nearly been killed by the three vampire sisters. How the Count liked to snatch little babies from their mothers and drink their blood for it rejuvenated his life force.

Dracula coffins

Finally, he took us to a room, well lit and considerably warmer with a roaring fireplace and a table spread out for dinner. This room had a huge painting of Vlad (the irony). So with Vlad watching us with those blood-thirsty eyes, we had our meal which was yeah you guessed it- chicken paprika, just like the novel. Although there was also a pitcher full of some liquid that looked horribly like blood but tasted good.

After the meal, we were shown our rooms to spend the night. The last shock of the evening waited there for we saw coffins instead of the beds we were expecting. Coffins encased in blood red velvet. Smiling rather evilly at the shock on our faces he turned to leave. Just as he reached the door, the wolves began to howl again. He turned to face us, and softly said “Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”

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