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Backpacking with Dracula: On the Trail of Vlad “the Impaler” Dracula and the Vampire He Inspired Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The author -- who wrote pretty much all the Lonely Planet guidebooks for this part of the world -- did his homework. Many of the gems come from his research trips, such as: "Yet there I was, utterly alone, trudging up a snowy mountainside to investigate the ruined home of one of history's cruelest and most violent individuals in a country where even now you can find people who are certain that vampires are real. And then it hit me: this is exactly how idiots die in horror movies."
The anti-hero of the book, Vlad "the Impaler" Dracula, has a backstory that will scare the crap out of you, but the author manages to deliver it with disarming humor. In one episode, Vlad allegedly ate a meal while prisoners writhed on stakes in front of him: "It's highly likely this actually happened, since impaling people, especially in such heavy numbers, is remarkably intensive in terms of labor and time. Like anyone at any job, Vlad naturally needed to grab lunch at his "desk" as work continued around him."
Finally, there are countless funny observations about what it's like to travel in modern day Romania, a place with a Soviet hangover if there ever was one: "Historically, these tours have been led by an all-star team of Romania's most charm-deficient, least gifted English speakers, which is hard to do considering how widely English is spoken in the country."
Only demoting this a star because this isn't exactly the travel narrative I was expecting--I really wanted to hear more about Romanians themselves. This is much more a history, entertainingly told. The background and tips about Romania in general are kind of practical gravy (including warnings about bears, and an amazing-sounding "Museum of the Romanian Peasant"). Basically, imagine the dream guidebook to a weird corner of Romania you *really* want--candid, funny, and deeeeeeep into the history and odd cultural details. The kind of guidebook that gives guidebooks a great name, but never gets published anymore thanks to budgets and word counts and other fussy things--this is it, and it is great for that, and now I am quite curious to visit the country.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am a lover of history and love to learn about a region before I travel...Read more