She was right. We couldn't travel all the way to the land known for its human blood suckers without seeing the castle that started it all.
So into our suitcases went the essentials: crucifixes, wooden stakes, holy water, and wreaths of garlic. We had to be prepared, you know.
Bram Castle, as it is known, lies near the heart of Transylvania. The three hour drive from Bucharest to Bram transforms from a near barren wasteland dotted with Nuclear Power plants, communist buildings and giant, black, water-slide sized tubes stretching alongside the highway which occasionally dive into the ground only to break free on the other side, to a wonderland of green mountains jetting out of the earth, fresh water streams, and roadside gypsy fruit stands.
Once inside the village of Bram, the skies dramatically grew darker the closer we neared the castle. The entire local felt gloomy and foreboding. The only light came from torches which blazed alongside the pathway leading to the castle doors. Having already exited the car, we gripped our vampire protection kit a bit tighter in our hands and walked so close together that our shoulders touched. (Well, that's not entirely true... my mom is a few inches shorter than me so it was more like her shoulder touched my arm).
But wouldn't you know it! It wasn't until after murmuring chants in every room of the castle that we were told that Bram Stoker made the whole thing up!
Vlad the Impaler, known as Dracula since he was from the House of Draculesti, never lived in that castle. He only visited it once... in the dungeon... as a prisoner. On top of that, he never sucked human blood. He may have sucked the blood of the giant rats who roamed around the dungeon floors with him. But blood-sucking was not his specialty. No, no. His specialty was to shove a spear up his victim's rectum until it burst through the base of the neck. That caused the victim (or multitude of victims) to dance, as the body is inclined to slump over but can't due to the spear holding it up. (On that note: it was Vlad who really came up with the dance moves to Michael Jackson's Thriller, but I don't see his decedents getting any royalties). Plus, Dracula doesn't even mean vampire. It means devil.
Meaning: you can save room in your suitcase.