Terrific travels this Halloween
Halloween is a very old tradition with roots closely linking it to the Celtic festival of Samhain, meaning summer’s end. The Celts considered it as the time the "veil" between the human world and spiritual world became thin – allowing ancestors to be honoured and invited home whilst costumes and masks were worn to ward off harmful spirits.
This appears to be the basis for the festivities we know today, where children dress up in costumes and set out in search of a sugar fix – a dentist’s worst nightmare!
The Flexicover Team takes a look at some spooky destinations for your Halloween trip this year.
Sedlec Ossuary, Central Bohemia, Czech Republic
This surreal chapel, located beneath a church in the Sedlec suburb of Kutná Hora, is decorated with morbidly fascinating sculptures and artwork of skeletons. Even more macabre, the central chandelier is composed of at least one of every bone from the human body! In 1278 the abbot of the monastery returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a jar of earth from Golgotha which he spread over the cemetery, thus turning it into a piece of land considered sacred. So many people wanted their loved ones buried there that bodies were literally being piled up outside. In 1870, the Schwarzenberg family hired František Rint, a woodcarver, to put the bone heaps in order, giving rise to this sculptured work. He even created the family’s coat-of-arms and his own signature out of the bones! If the idea of standing in a room with 40,000 skulls doesn’t give you the creeps, leave the usual sights of Prague for a day and take a train journey to Kutná Hora. (Note: It’s safe to purchase a return ticket!)
Aokigahara Forest, Honshu, Japan
Located at the base of Mount Fuji, Aokigahara has a dark reputation. Since the 1950s there have been over 500 suicides in the forest earning it the name ‘suicide forest’ and second in reputation only to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Exactly why so many choose to end their lives in the forest remains something of a mystery, though it has been suggested that the first among them were inspired by Seicho Matsumoto's novel Kuroi Kaiju (“Black Sea of Trees”). Even if you take a day trip – this 3,500 hectare area is almost devoid of animal life making it eerily quiet with the foliage so dense in places that on the brightest day it’s still possible to find spots shrouded in complete darkness.
Bran Castle, Wallachia, Romania
We are all familiar with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And this fortress, situated near the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, is commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” and is perfect for a Halloween jaunt. It is said that Vlad Tepes, aka Vlad the Impaler (the real life inspiration behind Stoker’s 1897 novel), used Bran Castle as his headquarters for incursions into Transylvania. The towering castle is built into and atop a huge 200ft rocky cliff and once you explore the maze of rooms and hidden passages, the outside areas offer great views and are an excellent opportunity to suck in some fresh Carpathian mountain air. Count yourself lucky if you manage to get there… and back!
Salem, Massachusetts, United States
Just 16 miles northeast of Boston is Salem, best known for the Witch Trials of 1692 in which over 150 people were imprisoned, and twenty killed, in a few short months of hysteria. Halloween is always a good time of the year to visit; throughout October the witch hunt sets the backdrop as Salem hosts over 140 events known as “Haunted Happenings” featuring guided tours of historical sites in the town, haunted harbour cruises, a psychic fair and witchcraft expo, ghost tours, art exhibits, festivals and concerts. For good measure, if you like a tipple there are some great local ales and brews on offer. People travel from all over to be there on All Hallows Eve, so you’d best get there early and if you do, it can be scary fun for the whole family!
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
Père Lachaise is probably one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. This huge resting place spans 44 hectares and is home to some 70,000 dead, including some of the most famous artists, writers and musicians the world has known. Notable residents include Irish writer and poet, Oscar Wilde, Polish composer/pianist Frédéric Chopin and legendry Doors frontman Jim Morrison to name but a few. Initially, you’ll probably admire the beautiful tree-lined avenues; that is, until you come to the realisation that they are bordered by tombs not houses! It’s definitely worth buying a map at the entrance to help you locate each famous memorial and it will probably take you the best part of the day to visit them all.
Wherever you decide to travel for some spooky fun, Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialists, are committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.
If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!