2011 Tour Report
Romania Travel Log - Dracula Tour, Summer 2011
Written By Damian Serbu

photos by Celeste Delgutis

14 July 2011. New York City
I decided to keep a travel log for this trip, as something strikes me as amiss with the plans and what may happen on our tour of Romania. More than that, I can feel something (ominous?) in the atmosphere whirling about this tour group as we prepare to fly to Romania. The company, "Tours of Terror,' bills it as a "Dracula Tour" -- fun for horror aficionados and history buffs alike.
So why my concern? Charles, the owner and operator of Tours of Terror, greeted as at JFK International Airport. And then proceeded to tell stories about why he cannot - will not - accompany this tour on this journey. He insists that family and work obligations keep him tied to the states. Yet the distant look in his eye and the way he cast his glance about as he talked told a different story.
We sit at the gate now, expectant and excited tourists. Radu awaits at the other end, expert in all things Romanian and vampiric. A perfect guide, we are told. My parents accompany me, as does my partner. Mom and Dad have been on the tour before and promise nothing to fear.
Yet a lingering sense of something ancient and frightening hangs in the air. Can Charles be trusted? Or is he now under the employ of forces only imagined in nightmares and Hollywood?
We set flight this evening for Europe. It seemed Charles was too happy to see us go.

photo credit: "Summer 2011 Vampire Vacation Tourgroup at Airport" by Celeste Degutis

15 July 2011. Bucharest
Our flights were uneventful and eventful at the same time. Strange feelings abound, albeit the flights from New York to London and then London to Bucharest went smoothly and on time.
I could not escape the feeling with each passing hour that something crept upon these fourteen travelers as we traveled ostensibly toward a common European Tour. The Dracula/Horror aspect is mere entertainment, right? Right??
Greeted at the airport by Radu, he took charge of our tour, taking us through Bucharest, the capital of Romania. The intuition of foreboding eased as we drove through this city and saw the combination of very old Europe, Communist efficiency and starkness, Nicolae Ceausescu's ostentatious and enormous Parliament Building, and finally the modern buildings made to look 19th Century.
We have a modern hotel and shopping nearby. Nothing out of the ordinary to report at this time.
But as evening arrived, so did the knowledge that not all was at it seems. Radu ever so casually recommended that he take as many as wanted to the "City Center." Two years ago through excavation they discovered the location of Vlad Dracula's original seat of power in Bucharest and began to uncover more secrets from the past. His original city was built as a fortress overlooking the Danube, protecting this land from attack. Yes, they had known of the church built in 1477 by his brother, beautiful and ancient, that Radu showed to us. Then the cathedral in the Turkish tradition, gorgeous and marvelous in its age. A once-blighted part of town because of squatters, the government is revitalizing it into a magnificent night area of bars and vibrant night life.
Yet what cold and somewhat unctuous wind leaked out of cracks in the ground? Why that nagging feeling that something watched us? The statue of Vlad the Impaler stared at us, as if spying. Radu explained that he never takes tours here, claiming that he cannot organize it for the typical tour of 40 or more people. He sold it as a perk for our smaller group. Why something special for just us 14? And why did he say it while looking over his shoulder? Why did he take us on a tour of this area and then flee before sundown, leaving us behind, insisting that we have a drink and enjoy ourselves?
Let's not be trite, I am not worried about Bela Lugosi-esque vampires coming out of the ground to bite us. Still, something targets perhaps one of us, maybe more. And I can't help but feel that Radu knows it. Wants it. Leads us there. And I felt all night after he left as if something watched us.

photo credit: "At the Snagov Island Monestary overlooking Vlad's burial place" by Celeste Degutis

16 July 2011. Snagov Island
And so it has come to be with us. I recognize now how it called to us in the City Center last night, determining whether or not to join our tour. I cannot confirm whether Radu or perhaps Charles knew that this may happen.
But inside the monastery on Snagov Island, the location of Vlad Dracula's grave, though they removed the bones, it decided that we will host it on a journey through its homeland.
They built a new walking bridge to Snagov Island. It appears as a tourist location as well as a religious site. A church, built in the early 1500s after the original burned down, contains the grave site. It also hosts this entity that wants us, or at least did so until today. They had lost Vlad's grave for centuries because they moved the location of the cathedral to the left after a fire that burned the original to the ground; this shift planted Vlad under the new altar instead of to the left or right, as was custom. Through DNA research in the 1990s they confirmed that it was indeed Dracula's remains buried there. The bones now rest in the Romanian Museum. So much for the legend of his being undead. Credit to Bram Stoker for the industry he created around his fictional story of Vlad, and the new capital he has infused into the Romanian economy because of it.
Still, dispelling the vampire legend does not take away the truth that other worldly entities inhabit this planet with us. Malevolent or friendly, they watch, listen, observe.
And something called this tour to it. Something wants to follow us and learn from us. It seems to seek a host. Has it enlisted Radu's help in this endeavor?
Troubling, that no one else on the tour appears to know what I have learned and felt. It comes to me in dreams and flashes of thought. I don't see it, yet know it exists. Even my partner seems oblivious. I won't tell the others for fear that they'll think I'm insane; the fanciful and demented mind of a horror writer, taking his summer vacation to Romania and the pretend vampires and legends therein too far.
But ask the Romanian people about their legends. Find out where the European concept of a dragon originated: in the mountains and hills of Transylvania with the symbol of a wolf's head and snake's body. So feared was it that even the Romans awed at its image when they came to conquer this region.
I am coming to wonder if I learned about this thing that stalks us from another force, not the entity itself. We learned that Vlad's younger brother, Radu, was gay. Eventually shunned by Vlad for taking a Turkish prince as his lover, does he come to me, telling me of this force that follows us, as a warning to a kindred spirit centuries later? Or is he the entity? His ghost has appeared. Occasionally, I think that Radu, our guide, sees him, too, when he glances away from our faces pretending to seek the right English word. Is he instead asking Radu the Ghost for guidance?

photo credit: "Ascending Bran Castle's steps" by Celeste Degutis

Castle Bran

I confirmed that two other worldly presences sit with us on this bus. I am as certain of it as I am that I live and breath. One has started to whisper to me, but apparently to no one else. I cannot understand it. The other, the force from Snagov and City Center, lurks among us. Sniffing and choosing.
But Castle Bran had none of this sinister undertone. Built and remodeled in the twentieth century as a castle for royalty, the closest it comes to Vlad Dracula is that he was imprisoned there for four months by a rival cousin, and that his grandfather owned it at one point. Still, it is a magnificent European castle set high upon a hill. The view is breathtaking. Radu showed us the small room in which they imprisoned Vlad, not more, really, than a closet or storage room. A Hollywood scene, with plenty of tourist shops with souvenirs - some made in China - for all to buy, sits at the base of this marvelous and historic location.
But the forces drifted away from us, unbidden and unworried about our sojourn at this place.
Still, I don't think that anyone else from our tour group senses our enemy. Though from time to time you see someone's eyes go vacant and they lose focus. They then come back to us, as is sidetracked by a passing thought and nothing more. Radu hurried us through the castle, always insisting that we stay on schedule and get back to the bus, but seemingly trying to out run something.

photo credit: "Bran Castle" by Deborah and Jesus Barragan
We arrived in Brasov this evening, the Romanian version of Hollywood because of the movie industry that has taken root here, complete with a "Brasov " sign high atop a mountain just like the "Hollywood" sign in America. We visited the "Black Church," built by an order of knights in 1383, so called because it burned during a war and thus had blackened walls. What a magnificent cathedral!
Then to the town square, home of the famous town hall depicted in the wood cutting of Vlad done by someone to discredit him, in which he sits eating among the bodies impaled around him. We learned that this cutting did a disservice to history, because this scene did not happen at this location. The artist used that building so that people would recognize Brasov. And he wanted to emphasize the barbarity of it, thus the idea that Vlad ate while those around him slowly died.
Freed from the torment of demons for the day, I had pushed them from my mind until they swooped among us as Radu told us this tale about Vlad being wronged and demonized by others. Then, too quickly, Radu pushed us away to our hotel, and once again he fled from the group as night descended upon us.

17 July 2011.En Route
I should mention at this point two things: about one of the entities that have joined us, and the other about our guide
First, I have learned about one of the forces because he introduced himself to me, and me alone. He pled with me to keep his secret from the other 13 but refuses to tell me why. Vlad Dracula's little brother, Radu, decided to become a member of our tour as a ghost. To keep things in order from this point forward, I will call him Radu, as he insists that his royal lineage and age give him the name over our guide. Henceforth I will call our tour guide "Radu the Guide." Radu our ghostly friend means us no harm, he insists. I asked if he knew anything about the other force. He disappeared without answering.
The next time that Radu came to me, he whispered that Radu the Guide impressed him and was worthy of his noble name. Specifically, Radu told me that he listened to Radu the Guide explain the history of Romania as we traveled through the countryside. You see, while billed as a 'Tour of Terror' and specifically about Dracula, Radu the Guide gives us much more. To be sure, we learn about Dracula's history. But Radu the Guide also offers a history of the gypsies from their arrival in Europe to their current manifestation, true stories about the knights that settled this area and fortified it against invasion, the history of Germanic occupations and rule, and detailed accounts about the fight against Mongrel invasions. For example, we stopped at a small town and saw a 13th century tower built to protect the village treasures against invasion and to serve as a fortification for the soldiers. A Viking way of combatting an invasion, this method failed against Turkish invaders, so the Romanians moved up the hill and built a citadel. Both the ancient tower and the ruins of a citadel atop the hill stood before our eyes, teaching us first hand about Romanian and European history. All stored meticulously in Radu the Guide's mind. Accurate and interesting. An education far beyond what they promised in the literature.
I don't know the value or necessity of this sanction, but Radu approves very much. He has decided to stay with our tour. I dared not ask again about what other force resides on the bus with us. I did attempt to find out from Radu if Radu the Guide knew about the spirit world. Again Radu vanished without answering.


photo credit: "Celeste gets hung by executioner for being a witch" by Gail Stambor

The air lay thick and heavy here. Perhaps it was the humidity on this hot Romanian day. Or maybe the touring of a medieval torture chamber to begin our exploration of this town set a tone of foreboding.
Too, I know that the mock witch trial affected the atmosphere. We tourists found entertainment in the re-enactment of a witch trail, complete with accusations, a trial, and finally the exoneration because the accused went off to have sex with a male virgin. Fun for everyone, especially families on vacation. Yet as they proceeded with this play on ground where actual innocent victims lost their lives to such fear and prejudice, the ghosts of these victims from long ago cried out so desperately that Radu fled the site of his birth.
Radu the Guide explained that Vlad's father, Vlad Dracul, came to this city after defeat in a civil war. Needing employment, he agreed to head the Sighisoara police force and particularly to oversee the Albanians who had gone out of control as the police officers. Thus the birth of Vlad the Impaler and his brother Radu in this city.

photo credit: "Bust of Vlad the Impaler" by Paul Wilson

The original tower gives a breathtaking view of the surrounding area, especially the authentic fortressed city, dating primarily to the 15th century. We saw the amazing church up on the hill, originally Catholic and converted to Lutheran. They have uncovered amazing frescoes that had been covered during the Reformation and expulsion of Catholic ideology from the church.
Historically amazing. A great stop on this Dracula tour.
Except that Radu could not bear to be there, though he again sits on the bus with us now as we depart Sighisoara. The other force, too, grew agitated at this site of Dracula's birth. I have no doubt that it does indeed travel with us, and is very real. What agitated it in Sighisoara? Witches? The birthplace of Vlad Dracula? Or from something more personal? As we watch a DVD history of Vlad on our coach and continue on the rest of our day's journey, something swoops upon the bus and then leaves. One of our members falls strangely silent, followed by another, and then another. Each comes back to their own after a few minutes. But why this strange behavior that they themselves do not seem to recognize? Why did Radu the Guide find the witch trail so amusing? Yet he warned not to enter the birthplace of Vlad to eat because the food was "awful." Was this really the reason, or was he worried about something far more dangerous that stalked inside?

18 July 2011. Borgo Pass and Castel Dracul
I had steeled myself in advance for the ride through the Borgo Pass in the Carpathian Mountains to the hotel Castel Dracul. According to Bram Stoker's fictional account, it raised the hair on poor Jonathan Harker. With Radu and this dark being on the bus with us, I expected the worst. So much for the truth of Stoker's legend.
Instead, a breathtaking ride through the Carpathians greeted us. Radu the Guide explained that we traveled a relatively new highway through the mountains. Gone was the old winding rode along the river, replaced by two to three lanes of fast moving vehicles. The scenery is beautiful, with lush greenery the entire way.
Too, Castel Dracula hardly warrants concern. Built in the 1970s as a tourist resort, it has nothing to do with Vlad Dracula except for using his name and the Stoker novel to make money. It plays more on the Stoker myths than any real history, complete with ghoulish souvenirs you may buy from the hotel. Everything is adorned with the Dracula seal, including towels, china, and the hallway carpet. So much of the enchantment comes from this hotel's symbol, based on the Dracul family crest. The hotel itself is built on a renovated castle from the 16th or 17th century.
A sense of peace overcame me when we visited the monastery atop the opposite hill. A friendly nun even offered two of our party an umbrella to borrow when it began to rain on our way there. She detected nothing sinister from my traveling companions. We visited a pleasant little chapel and then climbed the steps to the top of an enormous Orthodox cross atop a hill. They illuminate the cross at night, to gaze across these various hills and valleys.
Nothing here alarms me. Radu sat behind me in the bus, twirling a lock of his long blond hair around his finger. He laughed at Radu the Guide's joke about what to do if attacked by a bear: prepare for your destiny and don't bother crying, because there's no use.
I wish that I could therefore dismiss my earlier fears, relegate my concerns about some unknown entity to fatigue from jetlag and culture shock.
Yet the masquerade ball and a bonfire await us tonight. Perhaps the darkness will bring with it the chills down my spine once again.

photo credit: "Radu The Guide begins the bonfire ceremony outside Castle Dracula" by Gail Stambor

The Bonfire
Last night we disturbed the entity, though Radu had a marvelous time watching our masquerade party.
It started with costumes for everyone, followed by a bonfire and dinner at Castel Dracul. We dressed as a jester, numerous vampires and ghouls, Eddie Munster, and Nosferatu himself.

photo credit: "Russell as Nosferatu" by Gail Stambor

In the midst of this revelry, we went down deep into the castle, through a narrow passage and rickety stairs to a coffin in a small room. As we heard a story about the paintings on the walls, the lights went on and off and a being jumped out of the coffin and scared the crap out of many. A good joke on our horror tour! The rest of the night proved relaxing and fun. The dinner was good, and Radu the Guide had us do appetizers of meat that we cooked for ourselves over the fire. I had never experienced a ghost with such a sense of humor until observing Radu laugh at us and our transformations. He asked questions about whether or not Americans do such things commonly. I explained as best I could, without the others observing my secret conversation.

photo credit: "Halloween in July at The Masquerade Ball Mad Monster Bash in Dracula's Castle" by Gail Stambor

But night - the darkness of the Carpathians and a huge bonfire followed by people in dark costume - disturbed the elements. Unsettled spirits and probably demons hovered nearby. They waited for one of our people to call them forth to do more than observe. And the entity - I am certain that same force from Bucharest that had joined us at Snagov - moaned ever so lightly in the background. Not so that any human could hear, but the wolves gathered round from a distance to listen and see for themselves. Perhaps to do its bidding?

photo credit: "Halloween in July at outside Dracula's Castle" by Celeste Degutis

photo credit: "The graveyard behind a Cathedral" by Paul Wilson

19 July 2011. Biertan
The demon toys with this tour, as I think Radu does from time to time. After the terror of last night in the dark Carpathians, I expected the evil to escalate, perhaps with this force making its presence known to others. Radu the Guide does move away from the fourteen of us from time to time, ostensibly to speak on his phone - but always when I most strongly feel its presence nearby.
Instead of furious intervention or even an appearance, the angry demon left us alone thus far today. Radu, too, has gone missing, though I sense him on the bus. Perhaps the extreme heat chased even the ghosts away, as Radu the Guide explained that "the hair of Africa" has crept upon Transylvania. This means that a rare heat wave of the intensity of Africa has moved this far north, something that happens but one or two times a year.
We Americans had a chance to focus on very old European history at Biertan on this side trip that Radu the Guide felt we had time to do. We landed in Biertan, a citadel city with both typical and unique history. Typical in that they built the fortress and church upon a mountain beginning in 1285 as a defense against Turk invaders. The citadel defense allowed the surrounding village to fortify itself within its walls when under attack. They could remain inside for several days, waiting for the surrounding citadels to come in from behind the invaders and repel them in a two front battle. It was remarkably well-preserved, allowing us to see first hand a semblance of what such a fortress looked like years ago.
Yet Biertan contains unique aspects for a European citadel as well. First, the gates and paths wound around the hill, trapping any army that breeched it against dead ends and walls. This was not done in much of Europe, but was rather modeled off of Chinese and Japanese fortifications. Learned from Chinese engineers coming with the Turks, Romanians had to adapt to their enemy from the east. Further unique, Biertan and a handful of other citadels in this region saw Catholics and Protestants at peace and cooperative, unlike the rest of Europe where they battled constantly. Thus, the citadel contained the Evangelical Protestant cathedral and a smaller side chapel for the Catholic families. Finally, we saw what Radu the Guide described as one of the first designed "safe deposit boxes." All of the families had to lock their valuables into a single room in the church. Not trusting one another, they developed a locked door with two keys, one possessed by the bishop, the other in the hands of the mayor. Thus, all property was safe because it took at least two community leaders to open the door.
Fascinating history, especially for Americans unaccustomed to such old places in which to walk and feel the past surrounding them. But no spirits here, good or evil.

On a side and personal note, we passed through Medias afterward, on our way to Sibiu. My maternal great grandmother hailed from this city or a neighboring village, immigrating to the United States about 100 years ago. I felt a calming force surround me as we passed, protecting me from any harm. Would this familial protection last? Or was it fleeting and specific to this location?

Tonight we stay in another enchanting European city, Sibiu. Here we walked through the older fortified city. This included a trip over the "Liar's Bridge," so called because allegedly at one point in history soldiers could take women onto the bridge and tell them anything without repercussions from God. We visited the town square, where the Austrians built a Cathedral and government building to hide the German Gothic Cathedral that typically sat in the center of such squares.
Our tour focused on that very Cathedral. Buried within we saw a number of crypts. One included the family from whence Mary Shelley got the legend of Frankenstein. They had a disease that either dwarfed them or had them grow unusually large, the same disease as Abraham Lincoln. Embarrassed, they locked one extremely large young man away, until he escaped one morning during church. He came into the sanctuary, saying the family name, which came out as "Frankenstein." Shelley heard this story from a visiting Hungarian lover and eventually based her novel upon this fable.
As for Dracula, our Vlad Tepes's son is buried here. Radu the Guide told us that he was more nefarious than his father. He also explained the family crest upon his tomb. Not the familiar dragon, but rather the older one - designed before Vlad's father became a member of the Order of the Dragon. It is dominated by an Orthodox Cross, which at the bottom is crushing the crescent moon with a face on its underside. This, then, explains why the Turks at their height of power came so ruthlessly after Vlad's family: a legend that one of the Dracul family would return to Istanbul to retake it for Christendom and repress their Islamic foes. The family crest bore this out because the cross is crushing the symbol of the Turks, and the face is said to represent a Turkish ruler of old.
As for the demons that haunt us, their numbers increased this evening. I still feel the original one that has accompanied us all these days, yet it seems to wait for something more, even as it grows stronger. Its very presence has brought out more unrest from the ghostly realms. Again Radu abandoned us because the angry spirits upset him. Radu the Guide, too, took this opportunity to get to our hotel by daylight and release us to the night as he disappeared.
I attempted to ask Radu again if he knew anything about this other entity. He sadly shook his head, before telling me that it wasn't safe for him to say anything. Then he smiled. "I will protect you." I asked about my parents who also are on the trip, and my partner, or the other innocents with me. "That is not within my power."

20 July 2011.Cozia
I woke this morning from strange dreams, which my partner says that he, too, experienced. Radu followed our group closely as we gathered in the hotel lobby, not enjoying himself any longer but almost in a protective mode. The heat again weighs upon us. My nightmares portended danger ahead.
We stopped along our journey toward the ruins of Dracula's castle at the Cozia Monastery. Built in the 1380s by Dracula's grandfather, it still houses active monks. The painted walls that tell the story of Christianity are awe inspiring and beautiful to study. Outside the entrance, one side depicts heaven, the other warns of what you will suffer in hell. Radu the Guide laughed that he will burn there one day. Dracula's grandfather is buried herein. Inside on the painted walls, his grandfather is shown with his first son, Dracula's uncle. It demonstrates an interesting part of Romanian history that Radu the Guide has told us: the fluctuation in Romania of eastern and western ideologies. Our Vlad's grandfather wears western garb in the church painting. On the other side, we saw his descendants who ruled, wearing eastern garb. The Vlad of our study ruled between these western and eastern times.
Radu would not enter here. I wondered if some force repelled him, but when I asked he shook his head slightly and disappeared. Too, that more sinister presence floated around the church but stayed outside. Perhaps to honor the grandfather? Still, the darker realm has increased its activity even more than from last night. Angry. Watching. Choosing from our 14 people.

photo credit: "Atop the Peonari Castle: the ruins of Vlad's Fortress" by Celeste Degutis

Castle Ruins
I wish that I could concentrate on the spectacular scene that awaited our tour group atop the ruins of Poenari Castle. 1,480 steps up a steep mountain to a castle that Vlad the Impaler forced his rivals in other noble families to build after tricking them into coming to an Easter party. Only ruins now, the views from above are beyond what I could ever describe in writing. Remarkable to think of them hauling bricks and supplies up this mountain in 1456. Radu the Guide explained that they built it to house Vlad's treasure. He probably never slept in the castle for fear of being killed in his sleep. He instead chose to sleep in tents and atop a creaky floor that would alert him to any intruder. His children may have stayed here, however. You could have seen an enemy coming from miles and miles away from atop this mountain. Attacking it would have proved very difficult. Radu the Guide said that you can even see the Danube River in the distance on a clear day.
Radu, who laughed that we had to climb stairs as he floated along, especially liked the compliment paid him by Radu the Guide, who said that he was a better ruler than his brother because of his more worldly understanding of leadership, including economic concerns along with military. Alas, because Radu had been the lover of a Turk, Vlad suspected that he may have learned from them the power of killing off rival brothers, as did the sultans, and therefore Vlad never trusted his brother.
Yet all was not a happy tourist experience for me atop this mountain. Radu even tried to get me to stop my tour from reaching the top of the ruins. My partner, one other member of our group, and I reached the summit first. Radu stood in front of me and tried to warn us away. What could I say that would suddenly turn everyone back after traversing almost 1,500 steps? I asked him to help me, to manifest himself to everyone. He went into a fury, finally acknowledging that a dark force wants us, just one of us. Radu insisted that it would choose one, always doing it atop these ruins. Choose them for what, I asked? Too agitated and worried to answer, he drifted away.
I could sense the souls of the victims who died building this castle so high on a hill. They watched and lingered, and they especially welcomed our entity when it drifted up from the valley to join us. Chilling me even on this hot and humid day.
And so according to Radu it has chosen someone. Radu either does not know whom, or will not tell. But something atop this mountain, amidst the history of this castle and the stories it tells, set in motion the plan that it designed in Bucharest, decided upon at Snagov, and orchestrated as we traveled throughout Transylvania. It has firmly taken root. Still I fear saying anything to my companions. Radu the Guide would laugh, the others think I have gone crazy. Instead I watch and monitor, afraid and chilled, but impotent to stop this being from taking root in a 21st century that refuses to believe in its existence.

photo credit: "Impaled outside Peonari Castle: the ruins of Vlad's Fortress" by Gail Stambor

Never before had I experienced anything such as an omen. I relegated these events to flights of fancy and the movies, designed to scare people and heighten tension but certainly not to portend the truth of impending danger.
Until now.
Almost to Bucharest, our bus drove through a cataclysmic storm, the likes of which I have seldom witnessed. Road signs blown down. Debris from trees spread across the road. The wind blowing our bus to and fro. Lightening all about, followed by loud crashes of thunder. Many cars and trucks pulled to the side of the road to wait it out while we forged ahead.
Arriving safely in Bucharest thanks to our driver's skill, we wait now for what Radu the Guide called, "Our Last Supper." Everyone laughed, even me. Except Radu, sitting stoically in the seat behind me.
Our final dinner provided horror entertainment at a quaint little restaurant that combined good food with "Dracula" theatrics, complete with the owner in costume and "velcoming" all to his house. He turned the ladies into vampires and attacked the men after leading us down into his dungeon. All good theatre, an enchanting way to end our Tour of Terror through Romania. If only I had faith that all ended here, that nothing would come back with us to the United States.

21 July 2011
I write in haste to record my final memories, after our plane landed in New York City and brought back these now tired travelers from a vacation well spent. We saw the many sites of Romania and learned much from Radu the Guide about its history and culture. As promised, we followed a path that took us in many of the footsteps of Vlad Dracula, from whom so many of the vampire legends originate.
But for one unknown, well, I cannot describe what might await them. Because that black force came with us on the plane, weaving around its wing and causing turbulence from time to time, much to its delight. It meandered through Heathrow Airport and then led our plane back to the United States.
Radu sat beside me on the plane, despite one of our tour members also sitting there. He decided to experience and see America. He seems excited. I tried to ask if the entity that also followed us caused him any concern. "I don't wish to talk about it."
"Am I in danger?" I asked him. He shook his head, telling me that he had promised me as much. "But someone is?" Again a vacant and distant look. "There is nothing that we can do about it," he finally whispered in my ear. "It has chosen its host."
With that, Radu stayed silent until we got to New York City. Once we landed, he floated away, impatient with the customs lines, and out into this grand city for his first taste of America. And I will head back to Chicago, forever changed myself.
I hope that these ill feelings are nothing but a myth and the imaginings of a horror writer on a 'Tour of Terror' through Romania.

We shall see.
Damian Serbu is an author of LGBT horror.
The Vampire's Angel (Quest Books of Regal Crest Enterprises)
Secrets in the Attic (Quest Books of Regal Crest Enterprises)
Visit: www.DamianSerbu.com

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