A journey into the Realm of Count Dracula

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It’s that time of the year — golden leaves are on the trees, a chill is in the air and Halloween has us excited for all spooky things. Time to get your spook on. Trick or treat ?

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is celebrated on October 31 each year, primarily in regions of the Western world; the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly between geographical areas.

It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which comes from the Old Irish for “summer’s end”, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.

Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Straddling the line between fall and winter, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition.

In Romania, the Halloween is celebrated around the myth of “Dracula”.

With its dreadful reputation, Romania ranks as one of Europe’s most charming and untouched regions, charming its visitors with a stunning Gothic architecture, wild forests and friendly people.

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The most successful Halloween Party in Transylvania takes place in SIGHISOARA, the citadel where Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula) was born. Now imagine being there, when the clock ticks midnight… on Halloween!

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BRAN CASTLE, built around year 1377 as part of the Transylvanian defense ring, belonged to Dracula’s grand father – Mircea the Old – and was constantly disputed by Vlad Dracula. The castle is a real “must see” !
Don’t miss the best of all Halloween parties at the Mystery Night at Bran Castle. With witches, dancing, music, darkness, crimson wine from the castle and ,of course … the one and only Count Dracula.

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HUNYAD CASTLE, also known as Corvin Castle is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara, in the region of Transylvania, Romania. Built by King Charles I of Hungary, the castle was finished sometime around the year 1315. During the mid-14th century, it became the residence of Transylvania’s ruler, Iancu de Hunedoara.

The two main legends of HUNYAD CASTLE are both related to prisoners that may have been located there. The first was Vlad Tepes, better known internationally as Vlad the Impaler and the supposed inspiration for the Count Dracula myth. It is not completely confirmed that Tepes was imprisoned in the castle, but the timing does fit with periods where Tepes was known to be captured, so this story could be quite true. The other legend is of a group of Turkish prisoners that were executed. According to the story, these prisoners were forced to dig a well in the castle to a depth of 30 meters, with the promise of their release once the task was finished. However, the wife of Prince Iancu of Hunedoara changed her mind and executed the men once the well had been dug. In response, an inscription was written on the walls of the well that translates roughly to “you may now have water, but you don’t have a soul.” Other castle attractions, such as a bear pit where prisoners were said to be thrown only add to the mystery of the building.
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POIENARI Fortress, is a ruined castle in Romania, notable for its connection to Vlad the Impaler. The castle is located on a cliff, near a canyon formed on the Argeş River valley, close to the Făgăraş Mountains.

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The legend says that, realizing the potential given by its position on top of a steep cliff, Vlad the Impaler decided to rehabilitate POIENARI fortress. Vlad knew that not all the people in the nearby town of Targoviste were on his side. So he decided to use them in reinforcing the old Castle of Poenari. In the first day of Easter, as the legend says, Vlad and his men attcked the boyars who were celebrating. He impaled the old ones and started to walk with them, in their holiday clothes, on spikes. Frightened, the other boyars swore to obey him. He gathered all the people and commanded that they would start the reinforcement of the Poenari Fortress. The chronicles of that time note that those people worked so hard at the castle that their clothes got torn to pieces. Many of them died of exhaustion.
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Tales about ghosts and supernatural events had been circulating in Romanian folklore for centuries when Irish writer Bram Stoker picked up the thread and spun it into a golden tale that has never been out of print since its first publication in 1897. To research his immortal tale, Stoker immersed himself in the history and legends of Transylvania, which he called a “whirlpool for the imagination.” Count Dracula, a fictional character in the Dracula novel, was inspired by one of the best-known figures of Romanian history, Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad the Impaler, who was the ruler of Walachia at various times from 1456-1462.
The real Vlad wasn’t a vampire, of course (oppss, do you still believe in Santa and fairies?!), but he did enjoy impaling enemies on stakes.
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A sky full of promises

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“Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth: ‘You owe me.’
Look what happens with a love like that… It lights the whole sky!

Watch nature’s own theater unfold above you as the most spectacular light show takes center stage: The northern lights with you in the front row!

I’d like to send a special thank you to our great photographer (Cristina Ene) who captured the amazing Northern Lights, seen here from Keflavik, Iceland. Cris, you’re fabulous! 😀 I’m looking now at these incredible pictures of yours and I can feel the chills down my spine only remembering how it felt watching the whole show live! It really was stunning, jaw dropping… definitely one of a kind !…
And last but not least, I want to thank the whole team! Thank you Andrada, Mihai, Diana and Cris for being there with me and sharing the same dream! I had such a blast!

Useful information  
“Always travel in hope, rather than expectation, of seeing the Northern Lights. Base your holiday around daytime activities so the Aurora itself comes as a bonus.

For the best chances of seeing the lights, head north – but not too far. They are most frequently visible between about 66°N and 69°N.

Also avoid heavy light pollution from towns and large ski resorts.”                    Alistair McLean, Founder of The Aurora Zone (theaurorazone.com)

The science behind the magic
The Aurora Borealis has been fascinating travelers for generations, but what is the science behind the Northern Lights? It is the sun that lies behind the formation of the Auroras.
During large solar explosions and flares, huge quantities of particles are thrown out of the sun and into deep space. When the particles meet the Earth’s magnetic shield, they are led towards the magnetic North Pole, where they interact with the upper layers of the atmosphere.The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The energy which is then released forms the northern lights. All this happens approximately 100 kilometers above our heads.
Each appearance of the northern lights is unique. Auroral displays appear in many colors although pale green often with a hint of pink along the edge, and occasionally with a deep violet center are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported.
The lights appear in many forms from flickering curtains or rolling smoke, to scattered clouds of light or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

A living legend
As you might expect, the northern lights’ spectacle has given rise to as many legends as there have been people watching. The northern lights were traditionally associated with sound by the Sami, the indigenous people of Norway. Linked to the Sami shamanistic drum ritual, the phenomenon is known as Guovssahas, which means “the light which can be heard”.
Likewise, during the Viking Age, the northern lights were said to be the armour of the Valkyrie warrior virgins, shedding a strange flickering light.
In Roman myths, Aurora was the goddess of the dawn.
In medieval times, the occurrences of auroral displays were seen as signals for war or poverty.
The Maori of New Zealand shared a belief with many northern people of Europe and North America that the lights were reflections from torches or campfires.
The Menominee Indians of Wisconsin believed that the lights indicated the location of manabai’wok (giants) who were the spirits of great hunters and fishermen.
The Inuit of Alaska believed that the lights were the spirits of the animals they hunted: the seals, salmon, deer and beluga whales.
Other aboriginal peoples believed that the lights were the spirits of their people.

One of a kind experience
When dreaming about seeing the northern lights, you must remember that you are at the complete mercy of nature. The northern lights love to play hide and seek. Be patient, stay in the northern lights area, preferably far from cities or crowded resorts, pray for good weather and a clear sky and you will be rewarded with an unforgettable dancing colors show.

See a world in a grain of sand.Hold infinity in the palm of your hand & eternity in an hour.

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“More than anything, this place feels familiar. I bury my hands in the sand and think about the embodiment of memory or, more specifically, our natural ability to carry the past in our bodies and minds. Individually, every grain of sand brushing against my hands represents a story, an experience, and a block for me to build upon for the next generation. I quietly thank this ancestor of mine for surviving the trip so that I could one day return.”

When the urge to travel feels magnetic…

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“There’s a level of travel that you can achieve wherein you almost cease to exist as you have been known to yourself. I don’t mean it as in a feeling of meaningless, or emptiness, but a sort of new kind of existence takes place. You become just particles in motion, closer in frequency to a ghost or something. You might think that what I’m writing is crazy, and if you do, I suggest you grab a backpack and hit the road for a while. And when your body says it’s time to go home, don’t. Just keep going. I promise you there’s a high on the other side more memorable and beautiful that you can imagine.”

All great stories start from that one adventure. That one dream. That one idea. That one step

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“That we leave our homes, that we step through our doors to the world, that we travel our whole lives not because we want to collect exotic T-shirts, not because we want to consume foreign adventure the same Western way we consume plastic and LCD TVs and iPads, but because it has the power to renew us—not the guarantee, not the promise, just the possibility. Because there are places our imaginations can never construct for us, and there are people who we will never meet but we could and we might. It reminds us that there is always reason to begin again.”