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LAST UPDATED
28 / 12 / 2014



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Bistrita-Nasaud "Dracula Country"
Now for Somewhere Completely Different - when Stoker set "Dracula" in the "Borgo" Pass
he had never set a foot in Transylvania - however, he had done his homework ... !



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Village of Sant, in the Somes Valley


Dracula Country

Bistrita-Nasaud
county, nestled between the peaks of the Rodnei, Caliman and Suhard Mountains in northern Romania, represents the archetypal 'Transylvania' of beetling crags, and dark forests described in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. In the novel, Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to finalise a property deal with Count Dracula at his castle in the "Borgo Pass". His journey takes him by train to the post-town of Bistritz (Bistrita) where he dines on 'robber steak' and drinks 'Golden Mediasch' wine at the Golden Krone Inn, before journeying onwards to the castle despite the warnings he receives from the locals. Most of the movies open at this point! You can stay at the inn, rather the 'Coroana de Aur' hotel, enjoy the same supper and even continue to the 'Borgo Pass'. The journey was described well, from the fruit orchards to the dark forests cloaking the mountain sides, until the silhouette of a castle appears standing boldly against the pass. But, there was no castle until the 1980s when the enterprising local tourist office erected Hotel Castle Dracula. The hotel was almost immediately renamed by order of Ceausescu, incensed at comparisons made of him with Dracula by the press in the West!

Masked balls, and candlelit banquets can be organised at this bizarre, somewhat kitsch, hotel which boasts its own crypt and cemetery. The wonderfully remote location is encircled by mountains, while sunsets viewed from the Moon Tower are memorable, as are the night-time howls of wolves which occasionally echo round the pass. Bistrita and Hotel Castle Dracula feature in most of the bespoke Dracula Tours we recommend, and also include the unique,journey by horse-drawn cart following remote forest and cart tracks to the Borgo Pass.

However, there are far more reasons to visit Bistrita-Nasaud. It encompasses some of the most beautiful, unspoilt mountain scenery in the Carpathians with picturesque, traditional villages located in the valleys and basins, ideal bases for hiking, riding or discovering their vivid tapestry of old customs, handicrafts and folklore. Myths and superstitions abound, passed on from generation to generation - listen to tales of ghosts, apparitions, witches and werewolves, or the mysterious ‘Forest Maiden’, a beautiful apparition who lures young shepherds from their flocks. Orchards cloak the lower slopes around the historic Bistrita - here you will find the finest "Tuica" (plum brandy)!





BISTRITA-NASAUD


Holidays in Transylvaniacan
support local communities and
crafts through local
tourism initiatives


HOLIDAYS



Bistrita-Nasaud is the
backdrop for the fictional
Dracula anda wide range of
Dracula-themed holidays
including the unique
horse & cart trip following
forest & mountain tracks
to the remote Borgo Pass

Easy access to Cluj
makes Bistrita-Nasaud
ideal as a rural holiday
destination or a stop-off on
itineraries to Maramures,
Bucovina or Sighisoara



HIGHLIGHTS



Bistrita (Bistritz)
Saxon Church
Sugalete
Historical Museum
'Golden Krone'

Bârgau Pass
Bârgau Mountains
Hotel Castel Dracula
Colibita Lake
Beclean Lipizzaner Stud
Lechinta Winery
Herina (Mönchsdorf)
Târpiu (Treppen)
Dumitra (Mettersdorf)
Liviu Rebreanu Museum
Cosbuc Museum

Somes Valley
Folklore Groups
Maieru Folklore Museum
Embroidered Costumes
Sângeorz-Bai
Sant
Parva Cave System

Rodnei Mountains
Lunca Ilvei
Dracula trail to Borgo Pass



TRAVEL


S
WIZZ AIR fly daily to Cluj
(2 hours by road/ 3 by train)
and also to Targu Mures
(3 hours by road)
direct from Luton

Connections from UK to Cluj
with Tarom, Lufthansa.
Austrian & Malev

Regular trains or transfers from
Cluj to Bistrita; Overnight
trains Bucharest - Bistrita,
Bucharest - Vatra Dornei,
Bucharest - Cluj

Other useful trains:
Reghin - Deda - Brasov
Timisoara - Cluj
- Salva - Nasaud -
Ilva Mica - Lunca Ilvei -
Suceava:
Bistrita-Deda
Ilva Mica - Rodna:

Cluj
- Salva - Viseu de Jos - Sighet;
Bistrita - Bistrita Bârgaului

Frequent buses Bistrita - Nasaud;
Nasaud - Somes Valley - Rodna

Road transfers & day trips by car
available from Bistrita
Excursions be horse & cart
from Lunca Ilvei

Personal guided tours of the
Painted Monasteries from Bistrita
or Hotel Castel Dracula



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Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds


Our personal recommendations for the best accommodation in Bistrita-Nasaud
Luxury 5-star hotels to family run guesthouses



















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Bistrita Historic Bistritz

Bistrita is one of the original 'Siebenburgen' with a fine Saxon church boasting the highest spire in Romania. Despite a serious fire a couple of years ago work is going ahead to renovate this hstoric monument. Bistrita is a friendly place, a pleasant, relatively prosperous, town and a local transport hub with frequent buses to Nasaud and the Somes Valley, trains to Cluj and an overnight sleeper train to Bucharest. It is probably best known as the location chosen by Bram Stoker' for his opening scenes in Dracula. The 'Golden Krone' is reputedly the old building annexed to the modern hotel of the same name - 'Coroana de Aur' in Romania. Bistrita lies in a cradle surrounded by orchards and the foothills of the Carpahians. It suffered badly during successive Tatar raids and many of its wooden houses were destroyed by fire over the centuries. However, there are still some historic buildings around the main square, including the attractive Sugalete arcade, and a couple of fine avenues radiate out from the centre. There are also fortifications from the old citadel located near the park, by the river and a folklore museum with excellent exhibits of the rich regional folk art, and a reconstructed wooden church and villahe dwelling. Much of the remainder of the town, including the area near the station and the industrial estates was built during the Communist-era, as were the extensive residential zones of concrete apartment blocks which stretch out east and west of the centre. That said, it is a pleasant enough town for a night or two, with nice accommodation and good restaurants, and makes a very useful stopover en route to the Borgo Pass and Bucovina, the Rodnei Mountains or even Targu Mures, Sighisoara and Saxon Transylvania.

In the surrounding region, you will find the charming Saxon villages of Dumitra (Mettersdorf) and, well off the beaten track, Târpiu (Treppen), both with typical churches and brightly painted houses. Further afield are Lechinta (Lechnitz) and Herina (Mönchsdorf), the latter with an unusual Saxon church, recently renovated. Lechinta is also well known as a wine region, and wine-tasting can be organised in the town cellars.


Somes Valley: Folklore and Culture

The Somes is known throughout Romania for its wealth of folklore - traditional costumes, dance and music have been preserved and may be seen at weddings, inpromptu celebrations or folk festivals. One of the best examples is the large, rambling village of Sant, an ideal starting point for trekking in the Rodnei Mountains: Mt. Ineu and Lala Lake. It's name, which means "trench" refers to trenches dug as a defence against Tatar incursions. It is especially known for its weddings, and the traditional costumes worn with pride for celebrations and dances. Almost every home is decorated with weavings, embroidered towels and hand-painted ceramics, the fruit of many winters of work on the loom, and part of the dowry for the daughters of the family, togther with quilt covers, pillow cases and intricate costumes. Other communities in this lengthy valley are also known for the wealth of folklore, the costumes differing from village to village, and also their dance troupes and traditional folk songs. There is a folklore museum at Maieru (see below), a village museum in Bistrita while the homes of the poet Cosbuc and writer Rebreanu are open to the public.

The forested slopes around the Rotunda Pass are rich in wildlife and offer endless opportunities for rambling or simply relaxing with a picnic in a flower-filled meadow beside a stream, or one of many mineral water springs("borcut") in the valley. There is also the spa of Sangeorz-Bai with a wide range of natural mineral waters and you will find Romania's deepest cave system near the remote village of Parva.


Maieru Folklore Museum The Folklore museum was set up in 1959 by a group of school children inspired and lead by Sever Ursa, a teacher of Romanian, whose lifelong preoccupation with Rebreanu's work determined him to organize a small exhibition displaying some of Rebreanu's personal objects in the school; the museum has significantly grown as a result of the dedication of its initiator (who had also been in charge of setting up Rebreanu's memorial house in Prislop) combined with the contribution of the local schoolchildren and teachers. Nowadays, it has over 3000 pieces on display and has gained a well-deserved prestige as a touristic attraction as well as a place where the cultural heritage is preserved - the museum's name, "Cuibul Visurilor" or Dreams' Nest, relates back to the metaphorical name Rebreanu used to refer to Maieru, the village where he "spent the happiest moments of his life"; There are no fixed opening times. The museum is open on request but it is preferable to announce the director by telephone about your planned visit (Mr. Sever Ursa, tel. 0263-372031).



Lunca Ilvei Ilva Valley and Bargau Mountains

Lunca Ilvei is a traditional village rambling between woods and meadows in the Ilva valley - it offers peace and tranquility as there is no through road - however, it may be reached by regular express rail services travelling along the route Timisoara - Cluj - Ilva Mica - Vatra Dornei - Suceava - Iasi.

A wide range of homestay accommodation is available in addition to endless opportunities for trekking through the mountains on foot or horse back. There are various trails leading into the Bârgau Mountains and up to the Bârgau Pass, or towards the Rodnei Mountains and Rotunda Pass via an old Roman Road which leads to Sant in the Somes Valley. A good circular route follows the "Muncii Insirati" ridge. There are fine views from here over a high, secluded region of alpine pastures called "obcinas" (meaning bare crests of mountains) where shepherds spend six months of each year without machines or electricity. Of special interest is a naturally regenerating pine forest, described by a visiting naturalist as "the finest natural European forest after the great Bialowieski reservation in Poland". One section was, until 1920, the eastern border of Austro-Hungary and the setting for the great Romanian novel "The Hanging Forest" by Liviu Rebreanu - "the Romanian Kafka". The ancient beech forest is home to wolves, lynx, foxes,deer and other animals. Lunca is the start point for a Jonathan Harker trail, modelled on that in "Dracula", following forest trails and cart tracks to arrive at the Borgo Pass and Hotel Castle Dracula in about 4 hours.



Small

Love at First Bite: Brief Encounters with Count Dracula 2011
Short break Dracula tours to squeeze into your itinerary

BeyondtheForest has been researching, designing and even organising Dracula themed holidays for groups and individuals for more than twelve years. The following short breaks have been designed to be incorporated into your Romania holiday or can be taken as stand alone holidays. Prices are quoted without flights for flexibility. They can be organised as links in longer itineraries or as stand alone holidays, for example in conjunction with WIZZ flights to Cluj or Targu Mures. A typical trail visiting Bistrita, the Borgo Pass and Sighisoara would work very well with a flight to Cluj, returning from Targu Mures. Please note these are examples - they can be extended or moodified as required. They can also be tailored as group tours or even incentives or treasure trails for clubs or businesses.

All holidays shown are suggestions and prices are estimated and will vary according to actual accommodation and numbers. Please contact our recommended travel agents for your own tailor-made itinerary, quotations and to book all services You can find additional information about itineraries and background on both the real abd fictional Dracula on our dedicated 'Dracula' pages (link above)




SAMPLE 1: Dracula: Beauty & the Beast
(Painted Monasteries + Jonathan Harker Trail)
6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS - Daily Departures from Bucharest (excludes flights)


“Then amongst a chorus of screams from the peasants and universal crossing of themselves, a caleche, with four horses, drove up behind us, overtook us, and drew up beside the coach. I could see from the flash of our lamps, as the rays fell on them, that the horses were coal-black and splendid animals. They were driven by a tall man, with a long brown beard and a tall hat, which seemed to hide his face from us. I could only see the gleam of a pair of very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to us.” 'Dracula' Bram Stoker

DAY 1: Meet & Greet service from either Bucharest airport or a hotel, transfer to Bucharest Nord station; Intercity train to Suceava (1st Class) – Arrives late evening
Hotel in Suceava - bed & breakfast for 1 night
DAY 2: Breakfast then personal tour of the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina
(info) with a car and professional guide (full day)
Flexible itinerary - excludes entrance fees so you can choose between the Painted Monasteries - Sucevita, Moldovita, Voronet, Arbore or Humor,
or even other monasteries such as Dragomârna, Putna, Agapia or Varatec. Overnight at a private guesthouse or family-run hotel in Gura Humorului or Voronet area.
DAY 3: Jonathan Harker Trail - Transfer to station; Scenic train ride to the pretty village of Lunca Ilvei in the Bargau Mountains - the journey takes you over the Mestecanis Pass to the spa of Vatra Dornei then through the Suhard Mountains into Transylvania. On arrival at the station climb into your waiting cart for the unique journey up the Borgo Pass. The horses wear red tassles to ward off the Evil Eye while the driver will have garlic or a crucifix! The journey takes about 4 hours,as you slowly ascend the Borgo Pass by tracks winding through the wolf-infested forests to reach the plateau ringed by the rugged peaks of the Suhard, Caliman, Bargau and Rodnei Mountains. Picnic provided or lunch at a local guesthouse in Lunca Ilvei. Overnight at Hotel Castle Dracula - bed & breakfast for 1 night
DAY 4: Guided tour/ transfer by car via Bistrita (Bistritz) to Sighisoara Overnight: - bed & breakfast for 1 night
Your journey can include a stop at the Golden Krone Hotel in Bistrita for lunch.
We recommend one of the historic hotels situated in the romatic, mediaeval citadel of Sighisoara - birthplace of the real Dracula - Vlad the Impaler
DAY 5: Explore Sighisoara in the morning; train to Brasov in the afternoon
We can mane several recommendations for accommodation in Brasov; prices are based on one of the historic boutique hotels in teh old city centre. - bed & breakfast for 2 nights;
DAY 6: Free time to explore mediaeval Brasov; optional: taxi or bus to Bran Castle (45 minutes)
DAY 7: Morning Inter-city train to Bucharest; Transfer to Airport if required. Departure.


ESTIMATED COSTS:
£ 700.00- £ 850.00
per person based on 2 sharing twin/ double rooms
Reductions available for larger groups
Price excludes flights (WIZZ from £ 75.00 return)




Sample 2: Dracula: Jonathan Harker Trail (ex Bucharest)
(ex Bucharest)
5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS - Daily Departures from Bucharest (excludes flights)


DAY 1: Meet & Greet; transfer from airport or Bucharest hotel
Overnight Sleeper train to Vatra Dornei or Cluj Napoca (1st Class Sleeper Berths - 2 per compartment)
DAY 2: Breakfast then rail connection over the Carpathians into Transylvania. Overnight at a local guesthouse (fullboard - 1 night)
DAY 3: Jonathan Harker Trail - follow in his footsteps by Horse drawn caleche - fours hours through wolf infested forests following remote tracks to reach the Borgo Pass surrounded by the peaks of the northern Carpathians. Overnight at Hotel Castel Dracula.
DAY 4: Personal tour with car and driver, first to Bistrita (Bistritz) where you can enjoy Jonathan Harker's meal at the 'Golden Krone' (optional) then onwards through the Mittel Land of the Carpathians to Targu Mures and the mediaeval walled town of Sighisoara - birthplace of Vlad the Impaler - Prince Dracula. 5 hours. Overnight in a delightful historic hotel in the heart of the old citadel.
DAY 5: Explore old Sighisoara in the morning before boarding your afternoon inter city train back to Bucharest (1st Class)
Meet & Greet Service; transfer to airport ot Bucharest hotel


ESTIMATED COSTS:
£ 295.00- 370.00
per person based on 4 sharing twin/ double rooms
£ 395.00- £ 470.00 per person based on 2 sharing twin/ double rooms
Reductions available for larger groups

Price excludes flights (WIZZ from £ 75.00 return)




Images of Dracula Country: Local train to the Bargau Mountains; Bistrita (Bistritz) with Saxon church; Jonathan Harker Trail - Borgo Pass; Caliman Mountains at the Borgo Pass




Sample 3: Brief Encounter Weekend Dracula
(start and finish: Cluj-Napoca)
4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS - Daily Departures from Cluj (excludes flights)
This tour has been designed to fit in with the dauly WIZZ flights from Luton to Cluj

"My FRIEND, - Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well to night. At three tomorrow the diligence will start for the Bucovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land. – Your friend, DRACULA”. 'Dracula' Bram Stoker

DAY 1: Transfer from Cluj city of airport to old Bistritz (Bistrita), arriving mid afternoon. Overnight in the Hotel Coroana de Aur (Golden Krone) where you could even dine on Jonathan Harker's meal (optional):
WIZZ from Luton arrives in Cluj at 12:35

"'robber steak' - bits of bacon, onion and beef, seasoned with red pepper and strung on sticks and roasted over the fire in the simple style of the London cat's-meat! 
The wine was Golden Mediasch, which produces a queer sting on the tongue...”

DAY 2: Follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Harker with a morning drive to the Ilva Valley. First you pass through the orchards and then the Mittel land so well described in the novel by car arriving in time for lunch at a local guesthouse. Onwards by Horse drawn caleche - 3-4 hours through wolf infested forests following remote tracks to reach the Borgo Pass surrounded by the peaks of the northern Carpathians. Overnight at Hotel Castel Dracula.

DAY 3: Personal transfer by car to Bistrita by car (1 hour); then by train to Cluj; afternoon and evening to explore the old Imperial capital of Cluj (info); overnight in a comfortable, centrally located hotel
DAY 4: Transfer to Cluj airport if required (WIZZ for London depart ver early at 06:00)

ESTIMATED COSTS:
£ 295.00-345.00
per person based on 4 sharing twin/ double rooms
£ 345.00-395.00 per person based on 2 sharing twin/ double rooms
Reductions available for larger groups
Price excludes flights (WIZZ from £ 75.00 return)





Sample 4: Brief Encounter Pint-size Dracula
(start Cluj-Napoca; end Târgu Mures; or Cluj-Napoca)
FROM £ 295.00 per person
4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS (plus extra night if flying from Cluj)

Daily departures; works well with WIZZ flights from Luton; or a part of an extended itinerary; Daily flights from Luton to and from Cluj;
Return flights from Târgu Mures to Luton on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday)t)


DAY 1: Collection from Cluj city or airport; ; drive along the Somes valley to Bistrita (Bistritz). Explore old Bistrita and enjoy Jonathan Harker's supper
("Robber Steak washed down with Golden Mediasch wine) at the 'Golden Krone' - the Hotel Coroana de Aur where you spend the night
WIZZ from Luton arrives in Cluj at 12:35

DAY 2: Continue through the orchards of the Carpathian 'Mittel Land' ever deeper into the mountains to Lunca Ilvei for lunch at a local guesthouse where your horse-drawn carriage awaits.
Jonathan Harker Trail - follow in his footsteps by Horse drawn cart - fous hours through wolf infested forests following remote tracks to reach the Borgo Pass surrounded by the peaks of the northern Carpathians. Overnight at Hotel Castel Dracula.

DAY 3: Drive down the Borgo Pass via Bistrita and Târgu Mures to the mediaeval walled-town of Sighisoara, birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.
You cross the remote Transylvania Highlands, passing numerous crucifixes along the raod, placed there to protect travellers in times of old.
Overnight in one of the romantic, historic hotels in the citadel.
DAY 4: Explore historic Sighisoara and enjoy lunch in the house where the real Dracula - Vlad the Impaler - was allegedly born in the 15th century.

OPTION 1: Drive to Târgu Mures for your late afternoon flight home (WIZZ departs for Luton on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday at 19:25
OPTION 2: Afternoon train to Cluj for overnight; transfer for WIZZ flight from Cluj at 06:00 on DAY 5
OPTION 3: Tour ends in Sighisoara; onward trains to Sibiu. Brasov and Bucharest, or night sleepers to Vienna and Budapest
Wfy not add to your holiday with one our recommended Another Europe holidays near Sibiu, or Touch of Class with Count Kalnoky near Brasov?


The estimated prices for this holiday include transport by car or minibus, and driver/ guide, Jonathan Harker Trail by horse and cart,
bed and breakfast accommodation plus dinner in Lunca Ilvei on the second day and local taxes.

ESTIMATED COSTS based on OPTION 1 (Cluj to Targu Mures):
£ 364.00 per person based on 8 sharing twin/ double rooms; based on 2 carts for the Trail
£ 249.00 per person based on 6 sharing twin/ double rooms; based on 2 carts for the Trail
£ 294.00 per person based on 4 sharing twin/ double rooms
£ 364.00 per person based on 2 sharing twin/ double rooms
Reductions available for larger groups
Price excludes flights
Reduction id ending the tour in Sighisoara;
Allow approx. £ 50.00 per person if taking the train and extra overnight in Cluj




Please refer to our Dracula pages for further details adnd suggestions, including longer itineraries comboined with other holidays.
We also promote scheduled group departures or club and society tours from tine to time
Also refer to our
TOUCH OF CLASS and ANOTHER EUROPE holidays for themed Halloween breaks





CLICK HERE for our NEW 'Another Europe' HALLOWEEN adventure and 'Jonathan Harker' Trail: experience Halloween as a short break in Cisnadioara or start out with the trail to seek outthe mythical Count Dracula in mysterious northern Transylvania. A horse and cart takes you up forest and cart tracks, climbing deeper and deeper into the Carpathians, to arrive at Hotel Castel Dracula on the Borgo Pass. Risk a night in this remote place before continuing through the Transylvanian Highlands to Sighisoara, birthplace of Vald the Impaler - the real Dracula. Overnight in one of the historic hotels in the romantic walled, citadel then join our special 'Another Europe' break for a Halloween party starting with a lantern lit trail to the historic citadel then a bonfire in the orchards. Additional activities include a full day excursion to the spectacular Corvinesti fortress at Hunedoara, and a ghost walk through mediaeval Sibiu. Book now as places are limited.






Folk Costumes & Festivals

Romanian folk costumes are characterised by different regional styles
and patterns. The principal colours of the costume are black and white.
The men’s shirts are generally white, whilst women wear blouses
embroidered with a profusion of fascinating motifs, abstract figures
which usually represent either flowers or animals. These motifs are
painstakingly stitched in bright colours: red, blue, yellow, orange,
silver and gold.In Maramures the red and black bands of the aprons
are very distinctive.The main materials used are of animal (wool) or
vegetal origin (flax, hemp).

Demonstrations of costumes, embroidery and even folk dance
and festivals can be inorpoarted in bespoke itineraries.

Some of the the best opportunities to observe costumes, customs
and dance are at various traditional festivals which occur throughout
Romania as the year progresses. Some relate to Christian holidays,
particularly Easter and Christmas, others to the rural calendar such as
the beginning of the agricultural year, the crop harvest, or the vintage.
The best known are 'Sâmbra Oilor' (Measurement of the Milk),
celebrating the departure of the flocks to their mountain pastures in
May or June; 'Tinjaua' (Ploughmans Festival) in May; 'Cocosul de Horezu',
one of the most important ceramics fairs (June); 'Targul de Fete', the
famous 'Maiden Fair' on Mount Gaina in the Apuseni region (June);
'Prislop Hora' – a great gathering of people and folk groups from
the counties Suceava, Bistrita-Nasaud and Maramures in August,
and the Masked Winter Carnival at Sighet.

Hotel Castel Dracula, Borgo Pass / Beekeeper, Bârgau Mtns / Lake Colibita

Old Bistrita / Sant in the Somes Valley / Red Tassles ward off the Evil Eye!

Winter, Sant village / Somes Valley costumes / Orthodox church, Bistrita

Threshing near Nasaud / Caliman Mountains / Horse plough, Somes Valley







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