One of the stranger dreams I have is to write a book/do a travel vlog series documenting vampire-related cultural tourism around the world. Many of these sites relate to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (from Poenari Castle, home of Vlad the Impaler, to Whitby, where Dracula first landed on English soil), while others are tied to the folklore of the vampire and the history of superstition (see Sozopol, Bulgaria, where in recent years a number of graves containing “vampire” skeletons have been unearthed by archaeologists) – and that is just in Europe alone.
Sadly, right now I am stuck in New Zealand where the best I can do is watch What We Do In The Shadows and point out all the places I know. Or better yet, write about all the vampire tourism locations around the world.
If you’ve ever read Dracula (and I do hope you have), you will understand the importance of the English seaside town and port of Whitby to both modern vampire mythology and vampire tourism. Here Bram Stoker spent his summers, and here he chose for the place Dracula arrived in England.
There are several things you can do here related to Dracula: The Dracula Experience, for starters, is “a tour through the Dracula story and the connection to Whitby, using animated scenes, electronic special effects and live actors.” Alternatively, you can seek out the Whitby Dracula Society 1897 and take a guided tour – day or night – through Whitby and its gothic heritage.
Held twice-yearly, Whitby Goth Weekend is a festival that causes thousands of goths to descend upon the town for a weekend of music and fun.
And of course, you can use the book itself as your guide and follow in the steps of Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra: take a walk out along the coast, through the streets of Whitby and, of course, visit the Church of Saint Mary and its graveyard, where Mina discovers the sleep-walking Lucy and lays eyes on Dracula for the very first time.
For a moment or two I could see nothing, as the shadow of a cloud obscured St. Mary’s Church. Then as the cloud passed I could see the ruins of the Abbey coming into view; and as the edge of a narrow band of light as sharp as a sword-cut moved along, the church and churchyard became gradually visible… It seemed to me as though something dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell.
Oh, and looking for a place to stay? Why not a centuries old mansion next to the ruins of the abbey?