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10/30/2004 Archived Entry: "On to Bistritz..."

October 30th in Transylvania...

We leave Sighisoara and Prince Vlad fades into history as we approach the domains of Count Dracula, the vampire of nightmares and fright. Like Jonathan Harker in Stoker's novel, we arrive in the town of Bistritz on our way to the mountains of the Eastern Carpathians.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller writes, "Bistritz is a town of about 50,000 in northern-central Transylvania, established in the 12th century. It was on the main rail line from Vienna and Budapest, the route that Jonathan Harker takes in Chapter 1 of the novel. In Stoker's novel. Jonathan Harker stays at the Golden Crown Hotel before traveling eastward to meet Count Dracula. While there was no hotel by that name in Bistritz when Stoker wrote the novel, one has been built to accommodate the interests of visitors who come to the area having read the novel. As a matter of fact, it is possible to drop in at the restaurant and have the very meal that Harker has in the novel."

Like Jonathan, we stop for a meal at the Golden Krone hotel and share his meal: "I dined on what they call 'robbers steak' - bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper and strung on sticks, and roasted over the fire. The wine was Golden 'Mediasch.'" Tonight (optional), join in the election of Miss Transylvania who shall become into Countess Dracula during the Halloween night celebrations. You may even take part in the contest!.

Uh...I think not. We'll opt out.

Overnight at the Golden Krone.

As an aside: undoubtedly because I have been thinking about our upcoming trip, I had a dream last night that reminded me of why I feel connected to the Dracula legend.

When I was about five years old, every Saturday my parents used to drop my older brother and me off at a movie house in town (Ottawa) which showed cartoons and, then, two double kiddie features. (In retrospect, I think my parents made love every Saturday while we gorged on popcorn.) As often as not, my brother Larry would trot me down to another movie house about 4 blocks away, which showed films that interested him far more than the standard kiddie fare of talking cars and cute animals. Often, the alternate movie house showed horror or science fiction. I vividly remember my first vampire movie: the Hammer production "Horror of Dracula" with Christopher Lee. I vividly remember hiding under the bubble-gum laden flip-up theatre seat for about half of the movie because my brother tricked me early on and told me it was safe to take my hands from my eyes - and it wasn't!

As always, Larry was careful to get back to the "correct" movie house for us to be picked up on time. That night, I woke up screaming from a nightmare. For months, I had bad dreams. I used to wrap two Popsicle sticks in tin foil and tape them together in the form of a cross that I would place on my chest at night to scare away vampires. I would wrap my neck in a scarf, even tho' it was summer, so that vampires couldn't bite through to the skin. I was really frightened.

Years later, when I went into psychotherapy in order to make sense of the period of time I lived on the street and of the conflicts that led to my running away from home, I started to have nightmares about vampires again. The therapist had an interesting explanation: for me, a vampire represents my worst fear. A "person" who attracts my interest and trust but who is deadly underneath. In short, betrayal. That combined with the promise of some rather nice options, like immortality, make for a heady mix. Whatever...the therapist made a good suggestion. Given that the Popsicle sticks worked in my childhood, why not start wearing a crucifix for "the duration' in order to reduce the impact of the nightmares? I did. And it did. But there was an unintended consequence.

At that point, I was dating an Objectivist - a follower of Ayn Rand's philosophy that celebrates rationality above all other human characteristics. Objectivists are atheists and, being a staunch Randian myself, I rejected "belief" as anti-reason. And, yet, the crucifix allowed me to sleep at night. So there I was in a Mexican restaurant called El Coyote, talking about the rationality of man over a plate of enchiladas when my date fell into silence and stared at my chest for all the wrong reasons. My crucifix had come out from under my clothing and was on display.

He finally asked me if I believed in God. I told him "no. The cross just keeps the vampires away." Somehow, he didn't think the second explanation was an improvement. He never asked me out again.


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