Sunway’s Halloween in Transylvania with Travelbiz
Travelbiz’s Marian Benton reports from Sunway’s “Halloween in Transylvania & Dracula Castle” Escorted Tour. Forget all those pre-conceived notions of a dour and dank post-Communist country, Romania has proved to be a real eye-opener. We arrived in Bucharest on the direct Ryanair red eye departing Dublin at the crack of dawn (giving Dracula time to return to his coffin). A leisurely drive from the airport took us to Sinaia. We drove through the Danube Plain and forests resplendent with glorious autumnal colours to reach our hotel at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. All Sunway Tours are personally escorted, on this occasion, we have Eileen Penrose, she of the boundless energy and enthusiasm, to take care of our every need.
Sinaia takes its name from the local, and still active, monastery named after Mount Sinai. The centrally located Palace Hotel, our base for the next five nights, is an absolute gem – opened in 1911 it is full of charm.
Sinaia, known as the Pearl of the Carpathians, is a charming alpine town of 10,000 inhabitants. Our hotel overlooks the mountains and talk about a room with a view! We look directly over the park and mountains and the colours of the trees are just stunning. An evening spent exploring the town and checking out the local restaurants sets us up for tomorrow’s adventures.
We awake to glorious sunshine and that stunning view. After breakfast we depart by coach to the Castles of Peles and Pelisor. Built by Queen Mary of Romania the castles are beside each other and surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. The main castle of Peles is well preserved and our excellent guide, Anna, took us through the Castle and enthralled us with tales of its history and its various inhabitants though the centuries. Afterwards we strolled through the beautiful grounds before returning to Sinaia to further explore the town and check out the street Happy Market with its great selection of artisan foods and local hand crafts. On one stand the local Elf was translating greetings into Elvish. He declined payment from me for a small translation declaring that ‘not everything is about money’. Humbling. Some brave souls took the cable car to the top of the mountain (Sinaia is also a ski resort) and enjoyed the view from there. Our group sampled a variety of restaurants in the town (there were lots to choose from) with all experiences being shared over breakfast the following morning. A first for all the group was getting a WhatsApp alert to a bear sighting in the town!