My nerd roots run deep. I was a video gaming, comic book reading, fantasy fan way before it was cool. Sometimes those proclivities collide with my love affair with travel.
Everything I know about the country, I know from Castlevania. It was one of my favorite video games growing up. Simon Belmont and his whip walked through Wallachia, cracking his way through all of our favorite childhood monsters on his way to a final showdown with Dracula himself.
By Castlevania III, I had visions of the Romanian countryside ingrained in my head for good. I never imagined I’d ever see it. While I didn’t quite make it to Castle Bram, I did get a chance to explore a bit, and the landscape was as eerily cool as I could ever have expected. Hundreds of miles of empty, rolling land, dotted by old farmhouses and crumbling buildings. Overcast skies, dark trees, and a sweeping murder of crows.
And in October, no less.
I gave into the vibe and let my imagination play. Shadows held secrets. Old women hawked holy water and garlic. The stained glass of church windows might protect me. It might not. The morning sun has vanquished the horrible night.
I don’t care how old I get, my head will always swim with the imagery of the fantastic. I’m already dreaming of the next trip back, and working out how I can get to the parts I meant to this time and couldn’t.
Put this one on your list.