This week my guest is Razvan from the London office of the Romanian Tourist Board.

Razvan explains why people should visit Romania, including what to see, do and eat. He also mentions that Transylvania has embraced the Dracula legend, and also reminds me that Prince Charles is a regular visitor to Romania.

If you haven’t visited a country it is very easy to have a blinkered view on the destination. For example, when it comes to Romania perhaps, like me, you can only think about Transylvania and your mind will be full of scenes from old black and white Dracula movies, all dark and dangerous. Why would anyone want to visit there?

It didn’t take long for Razvan (from the Romanian Tourist Office) to put me in my place when I suggested to him that the Dracula story may have given the largest region in Romania a bad press (note to self – do more research before asking a question). It turns out that for tourism purposes the legend of a blood sucking vampire is a good thing.

So from the undead to the dead. Cimitirul Vesel, or to you and me, the Merry Cemetery, is an unusal tourist attraction. This surprisingly colourful graveyard is in the village of Săpânța, in Maramureş. Here the graves are marked by colourful tombstones.

If you were to look closely you would find the colour is due to paintings that describe the life of the deceased. As well as the paintings the tombstone may also have a poem telling us more about their life.

I can imagine the picture on my tombstone. It’ll show me on a sofa watching the telly. I have looked at finding some of these poems. My favourite was about a mother in law. It basically said that if she was just sleeping, please don’t wake her up. I can’t face anymore nagging.

 

Listen to the John Guinn Travel Show (Romania) – 9th June 2014