Seeing as we are celebrating Bram Stoker’s 165th birthday today, I thought I’d pull out a few photos from my visit to Bran Castle, otherwise known as Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania.
This was always going to be an inevitable trip given the scope of my imagination and my name, Mina: Mina Harker being the love interest in Dracula. When I was at school, I remember sitting on Whitby Bay and one of my teachers asking me why this place was so special. I remember him telling me that Dracula had arrived into England via Whitby (in the form of a dog) and that Mina was an important character in his story.
To this day, I still can’t remember why we were in Whitby or what we had done there as a class. But I do remember that conversation. So when I decided to travel around Eastern Europe during an Easter break whilst studying in France for my 3rd year at university, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Dracula’s Castle. I even signed the visitor’s book and wrote something like, ‘Mina has finally arrived. HA HA HA!’
The journey to Romania was beautiful. I had taken the train from Budapest to Bucharest and whilst the journey was a long one, I just loved gazing out of the window, at the Carpathian mountains, and finally settling down to reading Dracula.
From Bucharest, I had to take a train to Brasov – one of the most picturesque towns I’ve ever visited. Think the pastel colours of Notting Hill’s houses and place them somewhere surrounded by gorgeous mountains and trees. So beautiful!
The castle itself was a long walk up a snowy hill, lined with forests. And although it was Easter, the snow was just starting to melt. It was stunning and I finally made it to discover something that seemed like it was out of a fairytale.
The funny thing is that having grown up in Chelsea and having lived here for most of my life, I learned only recently that Bram Stoker had actually lived in this area too. He lived on Cheyne Walk and on St. Leonard Terrace, where there is a blue plaque in his honour. Apparently, he had also started jotting down the notes to Dracula whilst living in Chelsea whilst working at a West End theatre.
So I raise a glass to Bram Stoker, a writer who has fed my imagination in so many ways. It seems that he is also a Chelsea legend!