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Rooms with a Boo! in Leery London and Bloody Bucharest

September 22, 2003 -- I've walked the plank to get into Dracula's Castle in Romania, and I lived in London for eight years, and I'm not sure which is scarier. We've dug up a couple of thriller tours dreamed in each place around Halloween, with prices that aren't horrifying at all.

The cheapest, and undoubtedly most civilized, is a Halloween Jaunt offered by Virgin Vacations, affiliated with Virgin Airlines. Starting at just $589, this packages takes you from New York to London (on Virgin Atlantic Airways), and gives you three nights there, with roundtrip rail between airport and city center, continental breakfast daily, off-site parking discount at US departure point (depending on city), and discount coupons for restaurant and wine tasting in London. In addition, you get a Jack the Ripper Tour one evening, and entrance to the "London Dungeon." (No additional discounts for those who believe author Patricia Cornwell's theory that the real Jack the Ripper was the American painter living, Walter Sickert, who was living in London at the time.)

Air add-ons available from seven other US gateways of Virgin Atlantic. The trip is for October 29, 2003, only, and must be booked by October 21. Contact Virgin Vacations at or phone 888/YES-VIRGIN during daytime hours.

Ostensibly more scary should be the "Follow the Blood" tour devised by Quest Tours to Romania, where you will visit Count Dracula's castle and his grave, Bucharest, Poienari Fortress, Sibiu, Sighisoara and Bistritza, as well as joining a costume party. Your advance reading should include Bram Stoker's book, Dracula, and perhaps something about hexes and warding off vampires.

The tour, starting at $875 (per person, double occupancy) is for land-only, but includes lodging in tourist class hotels, breakfast and dinner throughout the itinerary, "deluxe" transportation, entrance fees, festive dinners, and an English-speaking professional tour director's services. The dates are October 28, 2003 departure, returning on November 4.

You can get more information at, e-mail, or by phoning Quest Tours at 800/621-8687 during weekday daylight hours (when Dracula sleeps, of course). For airfares to Romania, your first stop should be the site for the Romanian Tourist Office at, which is featuring some roundtrip specials out of NYC and Washington, D.C. starting from under $500.