"Absolutely not!" shrieked the concierge at the Kempinski, where we'd decamped for a long weekend visit from New York. "It is not possible." (We were to hear "It is not possible" many times on that trip.)
"Why not?" we inquired. "Can't we just rent a car and drive? "Absolutely not, it is not safe. You will be robbed." "Ah, OK, could we hire a driver to take us?" "It is not a good idea. He will be robbed and then you will be robbed. The roads may be blocked. You might not get back."
And so we left Budapest without paying homage to our gothic roots. But times have changed. Dracula hasn't lost his appeal and if anything, has spawned hundreds of new vampire children. Hotel Transylvania is in theatres now. Bram Stoker's Dracula is still on the summer reading list. Scores of kids will be dressing up as vampires at the end of this month. Surely an actual visit to Transylvania is making it onto a few people's agendas.
Before you roll your eyes, even Prince Charles has a house in Transylvania, although we're pretty sure you can't stay there. However, Homeaway.com has 19 properties for rent in the area.
If you're quick about it, you can go to a Halloween party in Transylvania. You can also buy someone a gift of a visit to Dracula's Castle. If nothing else, you can visit a website dedicated to the pursuit.
Transylvania, a historic region of Romania, translates to 'the land beyond the forest'. (Even that sounds marginally creepy, no?) Unfortunately, our super limited research reveals that Dracula (or Vlad the Impaler) only spent a few nights in the castle now billed as Dracula's Castle (Bran Castle). And the countryside is incredibly charming and not that dark at all (uh, except at night).
But I'm still intrigued. And I'll bet that now it would be safe enough to drive from Budapest...