So, you want to experience an authentic Italian meal, gaze upon the glorious heroes of Greece, connect with the mysterious land of Great Britain, or visit the haunting castle of Vlad the Impaler? Europe is a continent of so much history. It encompasses the birth of civilization, cuisines, customs, fashions, and heritage which go back thousands of years. And you’ll find two very unique things to do in Eastern Europe to learn about this ancient culture.
Some say Europe is the most cultured part of the world and it may be overwhelming to soak it all in. But use your creative mindset to get a boost of knowledge about where modern day architecture, music, food, and languages come from.
In America especially, not many people know about their European heritage and thus, consider themselves as distant cousins rather than direct descents of the culture of European nation states.
But learning in your own time and opening the doors with your whim alone requires a certain kind of discipline. A practical solution which is purely in your control.
It can be frustrating to plan a trip, especially when you’re time constrained. But by stepping out of the ordinary you can achieve a wonderful itinerary. A trip to Eastern Europe shouldn’t feel overwhelming but rather exciting. And while there are many fascinating things to do there, two of them stand out. Check out these two fascinating ancient culture things to do in Eastern Europe:
1. The birth of the vampire – Visit Bran Castle in Transylvania
Far from your average tourist trap, the Bran Castle in Romania is where the controversial figure of Vlad the Impaler once resided. Bram Stoker took direct inspiration from this Lord’s life and created the now world famous character of Count Dracula.
The fortress-palace is situated between the borders of Transylvania and Wallachia because it holds strategic importance. When the Ottoman Empire was slaughtering its way through Europe, Eastern Europe was under direct rule of Rome as the Catholic Church still had remnants of the Holy Roman Empire.
Vlad was part of the Order of the Dragon; organizations of kingdoms ruled by Catholic Warlords. These knights fended off the further advancement of the Ottomans with gruesome intent. Hence Count Dracula the character upon a mountain top castle, with a thirst for blood, was born.
The summer months have tourists flocking to the medieval castle and bookings can be tight. The affluent can beat the rush via private jet rental. This way you can avoid the common traffic at Bucharest Airport. With over 9500 aircraft worldwide, it’s the perfect method of traveling in style, comfort, and convenience. Especially as Europe is a high air traffic zone, and delays on commercial flights are almost a certainty.
2. Explosive Excavation – Explore the Salt Mine in Poland
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a sight to behold. The mines date back to the middle ages and are a UNESCO Cultural and Natural Heritage Site.
Located around 16 kilometers from Krakow, the salt mines were Poland’s way of beating out the East India Trading Company who brought back sea salt from the Indian Ocean along with other spices from Asia.
The staggering chambers were chiseled by hand for the most part although gunpowder was used in the later stages of mining. The mines reach a depth of 135 meters and have almost 3 kilometers of corridors.
Truly a marvel of industry, you can almost hear the toil and tussle of the brave men who worked in these mines. These men had no oxygen support and inadequate protection from the acidic salt but still thundered along with their pickaxes.
Some of the timber constructions are still standing and are a testament to the intricate designs of the late 14th century.
It won’t come as a surprise that 40 million tourists from around the world choose the Wieliczka Salt Mine as part of their adventure. The tour lasts 3 hours because the narrow footpaths of the mine are navigated on foot. Maybe not a good idea for the claustrophobic.
What other unique things to do in Eastern Europe do you recommend?