Package Peculiar

Arnie Somogyi, Transylvanian by ancestry, leading British jazz bassist by profession, takes a strange tour through eastern Europe with his old jazz partner in search of two new places to make music - the latest weird holiday sensations - the Dracula theme park and StalinWorld. Near the Romanian town of Segesvar in Transylvania, after many false dawns, a theme park called Draculaland is once again on the planning agenda. What is this strange fascination that the Romanians believe that Count Dracula holds for tourists? How do the tough commercial ambitions of the Romanian tourist supremos clash with the simple life of Transylvania where still little has changed in the last 100 years - where a rich tradition of music-making is still a strong part of village life. And will they get to play Draculas castle the gig of a lifetime? The pair then set out for the even more extraordinary holiday destination-of-your-dreams, StalinWorld. At Gruta in Lithuania, Vilniumas Malinauskas a mushroom mogul has already built a theme park that combines as he puts it "the charming thrills of Disneyland with the very worst of the Soviet Gulag prison camp": Communist-era sculptures stand under the gaze of mannequins manning watchtowers and gun turrets. For a real taste of Stalin-era nourishment, theres a caf退 that serves gruel and fishhead soup Arnie plans to arrive on the anniversary of Stalin's death, but history tells that his travel plans rarely work out as expected.