A Visit to Dracula’s Tomb – Snagov, Romania
Romania is a beautiful country. I had plenty of time
to admire it since it takes forever to get anywhere in
that country. In the land of Dracula it’s not vampires
that one should dread but the slow transportation
system. Communism’s lazy hand still lingers when it comes to public transportation. In much
poorer countries like Egypt you can always get
something from bus, minivan, camel, to someone’s wife
to get you just about anywhere. Sure, they’ll try to
rip you off but at least you can get somewhere.
I wanted to go just a lousy 38 kilometers from
Bucharest to see the tomb of Dracula (Vlad Tepes –
fifteenth ruler of Romania [Prince of Wallachia to be
exact], impaled a lot people, played by Gary Oldman in
Bram Stoker’s Dracula wearing ridiculous red armor;
yeah, that guy). Only buses go there and only every two
or three hours. When we finally got out there it was late
afternoon. Our guidebook neglected to mention that the
tomb and bus stop are a few kilometers apart. We had
to walk two kilometers with our heavy backpacks to get to the
lake on which the monastery where Vlad is buried is
located. I was in my usual spirits at times like this
(i.e. bitching up a storm about lousy Romanian public
transportation and the laziness of travel book writers
who probably never go anywhere that they write about
but just read encyclopedias and make up the rest of
The monastery is on an island in the middle of the
lake. I had to rent a boat to get there. Because it
was a Monday, the boat rental place was closed and I had
to pay inflated prices (about $15 as opposed to the
usual $3) to rent one. What I got was a disgrace to
nautical engineering. Our boat was more of a plastic
bathtub than boat. At least we had oars and not planks
of wood as they originally planned to give us.
I let my long-term travel companion, Dee, handle the
oars of our little rowboat bathtub first as she has
stronger arms than me (a fact she rarely ever brings
up). I took over after we were out of sight of shore
and the possible ridicule that might have followed.
After going around in three circles, we got back on track
to the island.
On the island we met what we thought was a priest. He
greeted us warmly with the grace of God then asked us
for $6 for a photo charge. Since we had already taken
pictures of the outside before he arrived we politely
Our religious faith was further stretched when the
priest then asked for 10 Euros to enter the monastery.
After making sure he meant 10 European dollars and not
10 European people, I took a good look at the
monastery to see if it were worth such a price. Only
slightly larger than a breadbox with an inside covered
in scaffolding, I decided that was a wee bit too high
The priest understood our spiritual plight and told us
in the most polite way to get off the island. He had
some flunky who spoke a little english but all he did
was just laugh at us like one of those villain
sidekicks that aren’t too bright and just laugh at
what their bosses say even if it isn’t funny.
Taking our bathtub back into the water turned into a
comedy of errors. I was so angry at the priest and the
cackling village idiot, I couldn’t control that stupid
bathtub of a boat we were in. We went around and
around in circles a few times as Dee traded insults
with the flunky and the priest. I got so pissed off
that I stood up in the boat and told them to engage in
Biblical relations with themselves. A wicked enraged
thought passed quickly through my mind to moon the
pair but I realized such an action probably would have
swamped the boat and I’d have rather drown than be
rescued by those jerks.
I eventually got us away. Overall the experience was a
Pyrrhic Victory. The bastards didn’t get any money
from us and we got our pictures but we didn’t see the
tomb (which is just a slab of rock anyhow). They, in
turn, got to laugh at something other than their sad
existence. So we were both winners and losers in this
sad affair (I still relish the idea of slipping back
to that island one day and burning down their houses).
The irony of the situation is that they tried to rip
us off in seeing the tomb of a man who was known for
his fierce belief in honesty. With long pointy sticks,
Vlad Tepes used to treat the prostrate glands of
unfair merchants that cheated and overcharged their
customers. Had Vlad been around today, that so-called
priest and his flunky would be getting acquainted to
splinters in the most embarrassing of places.
Impalement was an awful way to die in a time when
there were many awful ways to die but dammit I can’t
think of nicer bunch of bastards who deserve it more.
The rest of my time in Romania wasn’t as bad. Mainly
Romanians are quite friendly, honest, and helpful, but
it seems that Vlad didn’t impale all the bad apples
when he had the chance.
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