The exceptional team at Beyond Dracula designed a memorable, and impeccably executed 8-day journey for four of us, from Bucharest through the glorious countryside of Transylvania, to towns and villages that felt as if they were storybook illustrations. I had visited other regions of Romania on my own before, in search of family roots, but my companions were making their first trip.
We visited ancient citadels, walled towns, tiny villages, and medieval castles, (including Bran, the “Dracula castle,” of course). The team had arranged a gentle horseback ride so that we could experience the beauty of the Carpathian mountains, and timed a few of our village visits so that we could leisurely wander through local markets—where we were the only tourists. We never felt as though we were “on tour,” because we had the chance to spontaneously meet the local people (thanks to our great, bi-lingual guide who seemed to know everyone). One day I expressed an interest in local honey, and less than an hour later we were knocking on the door of a master beekeeper’s house and invited to his back terrace to sample an incredible array of his honeys!
Our accommodations were an amazing showcase of Romania’s trend to transform traditional village houses into ultimately comfortable, luxurious, B & Bs, while proudly preserving the regional artisanal heritage. These fantastic little “museums” are furnished with handcrafted beds and dressers, all painted with regional motifs, and lovingly decorated with family heirlooms, such as weavings and pottery. All of them have gardens, and much of the food on our dining tables came straight from that morning’s harvest. As a finale, we were guests at a 19 th century hunting estate, high elegance in the midst of a thick forest. We even had the chance to visit a mountain bear hide our last evening; after driving back down the mountainside, we were welcomed to dinner in a lavish, candlelit room.
And then there was the food… our meals were just delicious, all homemade, traditional, refined, and prepared with fresh, local ingredients, from beautiful produce and cured meats to the local cheeses.
Our trip was a beautiful combination of seamlessly planned details and spontaneous moments—and we’re all pretty sure there was magic involved to make it happen. If you’re looking for an unforgettable—and new—travel experience in Europe, go to Romania. And go with Beyond Dracula!