And so, being naturally intrigued, I decided to Google ‘Romania’ and paid keen attention to the map. And in so doing I discovered where the Carpathian Mountains are, and that was a real thrill because I never knew before. They lie to the east and south of the region known as Transylvania, and therein resides the clue to their reputation.
The very name has a ring to it, don’t you think? ‘We travelled north through the Carpathian Mountains.’ Mmm… scrummy stuff. It evokes images of a cold and distant terrain where dark forests and jagged peaks stand stoically in frigid harmony with each other, but in silent and simmering opposition to your unwelcome intrusion. It is a land populated by howling wolves, prowling vampires, and brawny, moustachioed men with skin the colour of Turkish coffee who regard you suspiciously and then nod to each other when they hear your English voice. It is definitely one of the last places on earth in which to linger without a Magnum 45 and a crucifix.
Bram Stoker's Carpathians
The Cuddlier Version
But I expect Bram Stoker has a lot to answer for, because it’s probably all rubbish. The only Transylvanian I know is my dentist, and she is small, slightly built, fair skinned, kind, gentle, and sweet as grandma’s apple pie.
So the question I must consider is: can I now claim to know Romania just a little? No, of course I can't, but I can dream a little more vividly.