Instead of an
actual day-to-day tour report, which readers can find every previous year, for 2010 we assembled comments from several
travelers to compile an abbreviated report. Note that the photos are from a prior Summer Vampire Vacation (2008).
From Peggy Helminiak
I really needed time to process all the information that we got on the tour. Our guide, Radu, was incredible -- a great knowledge of his country's history and willing to share with all of us (unlike some Americans, who can't even tell who we got our independence from!). The tour was not at all what I expected, it was MUCH better. I was a little concerned about going on a "cheesy" vampire vacation, but Radu made it an interesting and informative trip. Going in the summer with a smaller group was a blessing in disguise. Our little bus was able to go places that a big bus couldn't, and our smaller group size meant that we got to add some things into the tour that would not have been possible with a huge group.
I would definitely go back to Romania. I've already told a number of people about the tour and recommended that they go in the summer, with the smaller group. I really felt we got a better trip that way. I loved the historical aspects of the trip and I like that this tour also focuses on the history of the place and the real Vlad. On our first day, we were walking around and I commented on "that lovely old church." Radu looked at me, puzzled, and said "That's not old, its only 17th century." What a reminder about the extremely rich history of the region!
I tried the local foods (the raw, smoked bacon was not a favorite but I loved the local cheese!) and tried to soak in as much of the history as possible. I especially loved Castle Poenari (Vlad's fortress ruins) and made it all the way up to the top (some of the whiners didn't). Just to let you know -- when I went, I was afraid of heights and had vertigo. After that climb, both were gone!
From Rich Moldovan
Radu and Victor quite simply MADE THIS TRIP FANTASTIC! Without their total commitment to pacing and tailoring the trip to meet the abilities and interests of the group, the trip would have only been half as awesome as it was. Pricing of the package was a very good value for the accommodations we had. I definitely appreciated the nicer hotels in the larger cities and enjoyed the smaller hotels where appropriate. And, of course, the actual sites visited were excellent and as interesting as I had read.
Neither my daughter or I have really come up with any aspect of the tour that "wasn't so great."
From Pat Seiger
I really enjoyed the tour to Romania. The country is rich in history and culture and visually compelling, with layers of color and texture. The people I encountered were warm, welcoming and friendly. I was a little afraid that the language difference would be a problem but it wasn't. We were rather indulged as tourists rather than endured. I would love to go back and see more or perhaps return in October to experience it in another season. Radu is an exceptional guide. He is not only knowledgeable about places and events but genuinely seems to enjoy our company and enjoy sharing the information with us. He is responsible, caring and efficient. If you continue using Radu as your tour guide, I don't think anyone could return home not having had a good time.
Our hotels were nice. The meals provided were very good. I was a little apprehensive about the pace of the trip, with a lot of walking and packing every night to change hotels the next, but it seemed to work out fine and was not overly difficult. I don't think that I would change the itinerary at all. Each stop had it's own flavor and personality. We had a wonderful adventure without going too far off the beaten path. We saw huge stork nests with large baby storks in them on top of buildings and utility poles. We encountered half of a village escorting a bride in all their finery down the potholed road near Snagov Monastry. We were served by
waitresses in capes and little devil horns at the Jonathan Harker restaurant, etc., etc. There were a lot of unique experiences and memorable ones.
All in all I would recommend the Romania tour to anyone interested in the Dracula legend and history, to those looking for an adventure off the beaten path, to those looking for beautiful landscapes and cultural
richness, and those open to an enjoyable trip with interesting and like-minded individuals.
From Joe Helminiak
The tour was awesome. At first, my wife and I were a little disappointed that the group was much smaller than anticipated, but we agreed that this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Radu was incredible, and with the smaller size, "tailored" the tour for us, asking for things we were interested in and working them in whenever possible. For instance, the day we arrived, as we drove into town, we saw an ad for the art gallery in Bucharest having an exhibit on Vlad Tepes, including the only-known painting actually made of him. We made time, and got to go through the museum and see that, as well as some books from hundreds of years ago, including some supernatural themes.
The hotels were great. My wife and I both enjoyed staying in places that were different from the typical "Holiday Inn" found in America. It is always interesting to see how other cultures approach life differently from what we are used to. I would like to mention that I re-read the "Dracula" novel during the trip, and it is truly amazing how accurate Bram Stoker's depictions of rural Romania/Transilvania actually were, with his never having actually been there. Radu's knowledge of the area is remarkable. I had a Romanian tour guide with me, and whenever I used it to read up on where we were, I found Radu's comments and explanations to be accurate, with plenty of local color thrown in. He is excellent at his job; we would take another tour with him
Thanks for the terrific time, we are definitely considering taking another tour with your company
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