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In Search of the Real Count Dracula – A Tour of Romania with Dogs

In Search of the Real Count Dracula – A Tour of Romania with Dogs

A Halloween with Hounds!

A road trip through Romania with our four Cavapoos? It was certainly a tale of the unexpected. According to The Spectator, Romania is “Europe’s most overlooked holiday destination.”  According to everyone else, it was somewhere where we would be robbed, scammed, kidnapped by gypsies, eaten by bears or attacked by wild dogs and wolves - if we managed to avoid the floods and riots.

It was not without trepidation that we crossed the border into Transylvania, now part of modern Romania. Of course, Dracula connections abound. Bloodthirsty ruler, Vlad Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler) had castles all over Transylvania. His habit of driving stakes through enemies and drinking their blood inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I wonder if he inspired The Windsors too - since he’s a blood relative of the British Royal Family!

Everybody knows that vampires come from Transylvania, but what about the werewolves? At the Dacian capital of Sarmizegetusa Regia, we learned that the Dacian wolf cult sparked the legend of men turning into wolves. Ferocious warriors, the Dacians howled their way into battle wearing wolf skins and carrying the wolf-headed Draco standard. The Draco’s metal head emitted a piercing screech, while its cloth ‘tail’ writhed as though alive. Unfortunately, the Dacians believed themselves immortal, which fell apart in 106AD. Like the Bayeux Tapestry, Trajan’s column in Rome is the storyboard which depicts the Roman conquest of Dacia.

But the real tale of the unexpected regarding Romania? We encountered nothing but kindness and generosity, more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than you could shake a stick at and despite the extensive negative publicity, found Romania extremely dog friendly. There are stray dogs, but people leave out food and water for them. The result is that nobody is precious about dogs and we could take The Famous Five anywhere.

“What was that?” I hear you say. “You said you had four dogs!”

That was another tail. We adopted one of those ferocious strays and brought him home with us. In honour of his Transylvanian roots, we named him Blade the Vampire Slayer - and he lived happily ever after!


Jackie is an author and blogger. Find out more about this trip in ‘Dogs ‘n’ Dracula – A Road Trip Through Romania’. Her latest release in the ‘Adventure Caravanning with Dogs’ series, Dogs ‘n’ Dracula has received five-star reviews and is a finalist in The Romania Insider Awards. You can see all Jackie's books in the Driving with Dogs bookstore.

Jackie’s blog worldwidewalkies follows her travels in Europe with her husband Mark and Cavalier/Poodle crosses Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani. It's a great read for both armchair adventurers and modern nomads and will have caravanners and dog lovers hooked on the story of this intrepid family.

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