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Halloween in Transylvania

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Even without its bloodcurdling myths of Dracula, werewolves, haunted castles and gypsy curses, Romania is an atmospheric destination. And no more so on the spooky holiday of Halloween. Let us introduce you to the beauty of ancient Bucharest, the fortified town of Sibiu, the old-world charm of Biertan, the blood, err… wine of Medias, the haunting beauty and mythology of Sighisoara, a local family in Viscri and Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s castle) in Brasov. For a spine-tingling adventure this Halloween, don’t look past this adventure in Transylvania. Mwahahaha.

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Day 1: Bucharest

Servus! Welcome to Bucharest. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Often called the 'Little Paris of the Balkans', Romania's capital is known for its Belle Epoch architecture, thumping nightlife and communist sites. After the welcome meeting this evening, you might like to get a head start and explore the city by night.

Day 2: Sibiu

This morning take a guided tour of Bucharest. Bucharest likes big things. The tour will stop by the huge Piata Unirii, one of Europe's largest squares, and continue on to the 'Ceausima', Bucharest's 12-storey Palace of Parliament. The palace is the second largest building in the world (after the Pentagon). Later, take a train to the town of Sibiu, arriving in the evening. Sibiu is one of seven Saxon fortified towns established in Transylvania to defend the Habsburg empire from the threat of Ottoman invasion.You'll be spending the next two nights here.

Day 3: Sibiu

After an orientation walk this morning, enjoy a free day to explore Sibiu. Formerly the wealthiest and largest of the Saxon strongholds, Sibiu retains a Germanic feel. Perhaps head to Grand Square for a coffee and some people watching, or stroll along the medieval walls on the town's perimeter. While most of the historic sights are in the Upper Town, make sure you take a wander through the Lower Town, a tangle of streets lined with colourful houses. The best way to get there is down the 13th-century Passage of Steps, which takes you past the city's oldest building, the Tower of Stairs.

Day 4: Biertan

Today leave Sibiu and drive north to the town of Biertan. On the way, make a stopover in the village of Birghis to see your lunch being made in a traditional ceaun, a large cast-iron pot laid over an open fire. 13th-century Biertan was once a large city, but has declined in population dramatically over the centuries, and is now a mere village. Once arrived, the group will catch a horse-drawn carriage to see the nearby charcoal burners in action and learn about their trade. You will then visit Biertan's World Heritage-listed fortified church. Inside the church is a room where troubled couples would be banished to work through their differences in medieval times. The room contained only one bed and one set of cutlery. Cosy.

Day 5: Sighişoara

Today the group will visit the ancient town of Medias, whose winding lanes, churches and colourful houses evoke a medieval feel. Continue on to the Jidvei-Tarnave Winery, the biggest winery in Transylvania, where you'll enjoy a tour and tasting. Afterwards, travel through pastoral fields to the 12th-century town of Sighisoara. The town is home to the childhood house of Vlad the Impaler, the ruler of Walachia province from 1456 to 1462 and the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Count Dracula. Brace yourself for some haunting myths and enchanting tales: tonight is Halloween.

Day 6: Sighişoara

World Heritage-listed Sighisoara is one of the most beautifully-preserved medieval towns in Europe, and often a favourite among tourists. The town was first settled by the Romans but flourished under the Saxons from the 12th century. Today is free to explore the town (that is, if you managed to survive Halloween night). Stroll the cobbled streets past churches and burgher houses. Perhaps check out the 13th-century Venetian House, the Church of the Dominican Monastery or the 500-year-old frescoes in the Church on the Hill. A must-see is the 64 metre-high clock tower that dominates the citadel.

Day 7: Viscri

While your next stop is less than an hour away, you'll feel like you've entered a different world. The small Transylvanian village of Viscri was originally inhabited by Saxons from the Luxemburg area. Visit the town's heavily fortified church and museum, and learn about the Sock Project which supports the local Roma community. Tonight, experience a special village homestay in Viscri. The rooms are in different houses and you'll be sharing facilities with your host family. Eat dinner with them, sampling fresh produce, homemade wines and schnapps. This is a unique opportunity for local interaction and indulgence.

Day 8: Brasov

No trip to Romania would be complete without a visit to the famous Bran Castle, more commonly known as Dracula's Castle. The castle was built by the Saxons in 1382 to defend the Bran pass against the invading Turks. With its fairytale turrets and whitewashed walls, it's far from menacing. After touring the castle, continue on to the 13th-century Saxon city of Brasov, once a major medieval trading centre. Enjoy a guided walk around town, checking out the ornate churches, townhouses and old city walls. Visit Brasov's main attraction, the gothic Black Church, which took its name from its blackened appearance after a fire in 1689. For those looking for a little nightlife action, there are plenty of funky bars and restaurants to enjoy once darkness falls.

Day 9: Bucharest

This morning spend some more free time in Brasov. Perhaps climb nearby Mt Tampa for views over the city, or take the cable car up for a more leisurely experience. In the afternoon, take the train back to Bucharest, where you might like to head out for one last group dinner to reminisce on your spooky Romanian adventure.

Day 10: Bucharest

Today your adventure comes to an end. As no activities are planned, you are free to depart your accommodation at any time.

Highlights

Transylvania conjures up images of haunted castles, gothic churches and vampires. Where better to spend Halloween than in the 12th-century town of Sighisoara, the birthplace of Count Dracula? Things are about to get medi-evil

Visit Biertan’s 15th-century fortified church, equipped to withstand long sieges and shelter the whole village in times of war. There’s even a ‘matrimonial prison’ where couples wanting to divorce were subjected to the Middle Ages’ idea of marriage counselling

A homestay with in the traditional Saxon village of Viscri exposes you to Romanian hospitality and some finger-licking home-cooked food

Delve into the communist past and the thriving, artistic present-day vibe of Bucharest, a city often underrated by travellers. The grand architecture of the 1980’s Palace of the Parliament is particularly awe-inspiring

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