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10/31/2004 Archived Entry: "Hallowe'en at the Castle of Count Dracula!"

Our itinerary for October 31st in Transylvania...

Leave Bistritz after lunch for the final 45 km. to the heights of the Borgo Pass where Bram Stoker placed Dracula’s Castle. You may turn the pages of the novel and see the very places mentioned within.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller writes, “Leaving Bistriza and heading towards the Borgo Pass, Jonathan Harker observes loping meadows, forested valleys, fruit orchards and mountains rising in the background. This is quite accurate, as are the descriptions of houses, peasants’ carts, and local attire. Stoker gleaned all of this information from the books that he consulted about the geography and customs of the region. As for the Borgo Pass itself, while the scenery is majestic, the region is not as rugged as Stoker describes it. He borrowed the deep gorges, rocky crags and chasms from one of his source, who was describing another part of the Carpathian range.”

By sunset, we should reach the majestic, wild and forested Pass. The farmhouses here are so rare that each has its own, private cemetery - living and dead within whispering distance. As you enter the gate of the castle ("freely, of your own will") remember what Jonathan Harker said: "The old centuries had, and have, powers of their own, that mere 'modernity' cannot kill."

There will be many surprises during the evening! The highlight of our stay will be the Halloween Party, which will be attended by the Count himself along with his new "bride" -- Miss Transylvania.

One of the most difficult problem posed by our trip was how to travel with two costumes for the Hallowe’en party without toting an extra and bulky suitcase around Europe. The solution evolved. First of all, I envisioned costumes that consisted largely of clothing we could use as everyday wear and, so, not ‘waste’ luggage space. This translated into black Reeboks, black slacks, black sweaters. (And, yes, we decided to more or less match.) With a black background to work with -- so to speak -- I wanted to find two masks to “carry” the costume so that all you really focused on were the masks themselves. If they were artistic enough, then they could also do double duty as artwork to hang as a constant reminder of a wonderful time. We found a craftswoman in Baltimore who sculpts leather masks of animals, and ordered a rush job on two of them. (Yes! Like everything else in life, I left ordering to the very last moment.) To view our choices, click here and scroll down to the Bobcat (mine) and the white and Brown Wolf (Brad’s). They arrived last week and they are beautiful; the photos do not render justice.

BUT…once I started envisioning the costumes, they seemed too plain. I wanted a bit of flash and flare. So my girlfriend Isabel and I scoured the county for the right material from which to make capes. We found the perfect cloth in a quilt shop, of all places, that was only two blocks from her house. The material is similar to Mylar; it is the sort of fabric from which less expensive lingerie is sometimes made. Slippery like satin, with almost no weight, impossible to wrinkle, and it billows out behind you as you walk. The cloth is black on one side and it has a rather nice pattern of silver spiders on the other. Izzie and I spent an afternoon making two capes that flow down to the calves, with the black side being “out” and the spiders being “in” to resemble a lining. When folded, the two capes fit into a large Ziplock bag. Costumes accomplished!

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