Page 376. " I shall get a steam launch "

Steam-powered riverboats at Memphis, c.1906
Public DomainSteam-powered riverboats at Memphis, c.1906 - Credit: Library of Congress, USA, via wikimedia commons

A steam launch (or steamboat) is a steam-powered boat, usually one that travels on lakes or rivers. The word ‘launch’ refers to a motorised boat or barge. An ocean-going steam-powered boat is called a steamship and its name will usually be prefixed with S.S. A paddle-steamer is indicated by the prefix P.S. and those powered with a steam turbine with T.S. Steam-powered boats were invented in the 18th century and were used until the second half of the 20th century, when diesel-power took over.

Page 380. " we got a Roumanian flag "
by hector

Moldavia and Wallachia, 1859
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMoldavia and Wallachia, 1859 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Kingdom of Romania was a short-lived monarchy.  Formed from the union of the Danubian prinicipalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, previously the front line of the Russian-Ottoman struggle for dominance, the nation of Romania came into being in 1862.  A Hohenzollern prince, Charles, was appointed Prince of Romania in 1866, changing his name to Carol.  The nation remained under the nominal control of the Ottoman Empire until the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.  Three years later, the Romanian Parliament declared a kingdom, and Carol I was crowned.

Stuck between three bellicose empires, Romania struggled somewhat until the end of WWI, when it managed to double in size through union with regions such as Transylvania.  This land grab set Greater Romania on a collision course with neighbouring Hungary, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union, and it lost most of the new territory to these states during WW2.  The Kingdom staggered on until 1947, when the king was forced to abdicate to make way for a Soviet-controlled communist republic.


Tobacco advert showing Carol I between Romanian flag and coat of arms, 1888
Public DomainTobacco advert showing Carol I between Romanian flag and coat of arms, 1888 - Credit: W. Duke Sons & Co.

Page 382. " Arrived at Veresti at noon "
by hector
Mina and Van Helsing's journey from Galati to Veresti to the Borgo Pass
Public DomainMina and Van Helsing's journey from Galati to Veresti to the Borgo Pass - Credit: Google Maps

Vereşti lies in the north of Romania, to the east of the Carpathian mountains.  The Siret (Sereth) river runs a few miles to the east of Vereşti.


Google Map
Page 385. " the great spurs of the Carpathians "
by hector
Carpathians, Romania
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCarpathians, Romania - Credit: Sem Vandekerckhove


Carpathian spurs
Creative Commons AttributionCarpathian spurs - Credit: Cristian Bortes

A spur is a lower summit on a hill or mountain, often connected to the main summit by a ridgeline.


The Carpathian Mountains stretch nearly 1000 miles across central and eastern Europe, from the Czech Republic to Romania and then down to Serbia.  The Tatra Mountains, the border between Poland and Slovakia, form part of the Carpathians.


Google Map
Page 386. " We got to the Borgo Pass just after sunrise "
by hector


Sunrise 4


 The Tihuța Pass (Borgo in Hungarian) is located in the Bârgău Mountains, part of the Carpathians.

Stoker, who had not visited, may have imagined it to be rather more mountainous and imposing than it actually is.  But visitors need not be disappointed; they can soak up the atmosphere at the Hotel Castle Dracula instead!


The Borgo Pass
Creative Commons AttributionThe Borgo Pass - Credit: Cristian Bortes


Page 399. " sat his horse like a centaur "
A centaur carrying off a nymph, 1850–1920 French marble
Public DomainA centaur carrying off a nymph, 1850–1920 French marble - Credit: Jastrow on Wikimedia Commons

A centaur is a creature from Greek mythology with a horse’s body and legs, and a human’s torso, head and arms. According to different stories they are the children of Nephele (a cloud nymph) and Ixion (the king of the Lapiths), or of Centaurus (Ixion’s son) and the Magnesian mares. According to legend the centaurs lived in Thessaly in Greece. They are most famous for their battle with the Lapiths, sparked by their attempt to carry off the Lapith women on the wedding day of Pirithous and Hippodamia. The battle is represented on the south metopes of the Parthenon in Athens. Due to their half-animal form, they are usually portrayed as wild, aggressive, animalistic and troublesome. A notable exception is Chiron, a centaur with a different ancestry and more civilised, gentle behaviour. Chiron is famous for tutoring many of the great Greek heroes.



Centaur fighting Lapith, one of the south metopes of the Parthenon
GNU Free Documentation LicenseCentaur fighting Lapith, one of the south metopes of the Parthenon - Credit: Dschwen on Wikimedia Commons