UTracks: Explore Eastern Europe

I recently came across the company UTracks who offer active walking, trekking and cycling tours throughout Europe, including Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Romania and Transylvania.  There are tours suitable for all capabilities from those seeking something of an introductory level, all through to those seeking something a little more challenging; yet all offer unique opportunities to discover the untrodden Europe, spanning postcard landscapes, centuries-old culture, rural lifestyles and tempting culinary delights. In short, they’re flexible, unique adventures of undiscovered corners, offering you a great deal of independence yet providing support when you need it. Best of all, they start on virtually any day of the week, so you can combine any tour to create exactly the holiday you want.

The six-day Transylvania Castles and Mountains tour includes a trip to Bran Castle to learn about the legends of Dracula, time for discovering unique villages, a walk along limestone ridges to take in the stunning landscapes of Piatra Craiului and plenty of cultural exchanges with local people.

The tour itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrive Bucharest, train to Brasov and transfer to Zărneşti
Day 2 – Walk in Piatra Craiului (Royal Stone) through the Zărneşti Gorge (5hrs, 15km +800m, -600m)
Day 3 – Continue on foot through Piatra Craiului mountains and rural villages (4hrs, 13km +450m, -450m)
Day 4 – Walk to Bran Castle home to the origin of the character known as “Dracula” (4hrs, 12km, +350m, -600m)
Day 5 – Ascend the Bucegi Mountains with stunning views (6 hrs, 18km, +650m, – 900m)
Day 6 – Transfer from Bran to Brasov where you take the train to Bucharest. Trip concludes on arrival in Bucharest.

During the trip you will be accommodated in rural pensions which are rated as 3 stars in Romania. These are traditional guesthouses which while simple, provide a unique dimension to the cultural experience of travelling in the region.

This May UTRACKS are launching a new trip through Slovenia lasting 10 days.  Slovenia encompasses a wealth of stunning natural features: this self guided cycle journey takes in all of the highlights while allowing for time to appreciate the unique culture and culinary delights. From Lake Bohinj and the delightful lakeside town of Bled, the cycle continues around the Julian Alps, with a white water rafting experience on the vivid blue waters of the Soca River! In the wine growing region of Brda enjoy a special dinner and wine tasting before heading to the massive Skocjan Caves with its underground gorge. Ending in the capital city of Ljubljana, there is time to explore the old town and sample the local cuisine.   Departs: Every Monday from May to September 2010.  Price: £1,190 per person

To book a UTRACKS trip, complete the booking form which can be downloaded from their website www.utracks.com

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The Danube Express Transylvanian Journey

Danube-ExpressWith the new sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Dracula The Un-Dead) published in time for Halloween, fans of all things spooky may be inspired to visit Dracula’s homeland – Transylvania. Waiting to whisk passengers on a relaxed voyage of discovery of the region is the Danube Express’ brand new Transylvanian journey which includes a visit to Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s Castle.

Passengers will experience a Transylvanian journey very different to that of Jonathan Harker’s in Dracula, with deluxe twin compartments offering lower beds and en suite shower and WC facilities, breakfasts cooked to order and delicious dinners served each evening. Travelling in the comfort of a gleaming hotel-on-wheels, passengers encounter stunning scenery and ancient architecture as they embark on a journey from Budapest to Istanbul.

Bran Castle, Romania
Bran Castle, Romania

En route guests explore Sighişoara, a preserved medieval town and rumoured birthplace of Dracula, and Braşov, home to Bran Castle, one of many locations in Romania linked to the Dracula legend. Journeying through the Carpathian Mountains and through rural Bulgaria, further highlights ahead of arrival in Istanbul include the ancient capital city of Veliko Turnovo, and the capital of the Valley of Roses, Kazanlak.

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