If you're into the occult or Eastern European countries with beautiful countryside and dark terrain, then Romania might be the adventure trip you're looking for. Several tour agencies offer treks and package deals to Dracula's lair with guided tours through the Romanian mountains. The small country famous for bringing the world tennis great as Ilea Nastase, hard line dictator Nicholas Ceausescu, and child gold medal-winning gymnast Nadia Comenici, is an easy getaway thanks to travel agencies catering to hikers who believe that Count Dracula is more than a mythological figure.
Pure Adventures (tel. 800/960-2221; www.pure-adventures.com) offers a "Carpathian Dracula Trek" that brings you through a countryside of wide rivers, churches with minarets and a history rich in folklore. An eight-day/seven-night trek starts from $850 with a group of ten to twelve travelers. Advertised by the folks at Pure Adventures as "something truly different," the trek through Romania starts in Bucharest before heading out into the countryside as you make your way to Transylvania. Walking through such towns as Azuga and Moeciu, such sites as the Baiului Mountains and Bran Castle, where the myth of Dracula got its start. Accommodations are in three- and four-star Romanian hotels, small country inns and guesthouses. The trip includes all lodging, lunches, two dinners, guide fees and transfers. Pure Adventure prides itself on having cool, well-connected local guides, who can direct you to local restaurants, pubs and shopping deals. Although it's unlikely you'll run into them, bears and wolves still inhabit the Romanian countryside. What better place to hunt for Count Dracula? The departure dates for 2005 are May 28, June 4, June 11, June 25, and then every Saturday in July, August, September, and October except October 29, 2005. This tour is labeled as "moderate" hiking with walks lasting three to six hours a day with a maximum altitude of 6000 feet.
For an less strenuous tour to Romania labeled as "easy" hiking, Pure Adventures offers an eight-day/seven-night trip that takes you for leisurely strolls through medieval villages as you bypass the mountain ranges for valleys and small towns. Priced the same at $850, this tour gives you great insight into the daily village life of contemporary Romania. Shocking to some for its charm, in some villages the still popular mode of transportation is horse-drawn carriage. If you're a Dracula fan, this trip also visits the birthplace of the Count.
Getting to Bucharest is easier than you think. Malev Airlines (tel. 800/223-6884, www.malev.com), Hungary's national carrier, offers round-trip fare to Bucharest from New York City for approximately $555. Check the website often for last-minute discount fares such as New York to Budapest and back for $380. Hurry though, the $380 round-trip must be booked by March 9, 2005 with travel good through April 30, 2005. Departure and security fees are not included. From Hungary's picaresque capital, Budapest, you can always hop a train or an inexpensive bus to hook up in Bucharest with your Pure Adventure tour.
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