Sunday, May 14, 2006

No escape from the Count in Transylvania

The golden rule of writing a travel article about Transylvania seems to be: refer to Dracula in your headline, in your introduction, and at regular intervals within the article. All the better if you can find a real live Count around which to to construct the piece. That's the approach taken in yesterday's Times article "On the trail of Dracula". At the very end of the piece there is an acknowledgement that "the people of Transylvania had never heard of Dracula before 1990, when Bram Stoker’s work was first translated into Romanian".

A while ago I mentioned the Independent's efficient recycling of an article about Dubrovnik; the Times adopts a more subtle approach, recycling items from its competitors. The very same Count Kalnoky featured in both the Telegraph and the Guardian in 2005.

Also in the travel pages recently, the Times includes Dubrovnik and Athens in a piece about summer city breaks, while The Guardian briefly mentions Timisoara. To be exact, it mentions somewhere called "Little Vienna". At least in the online edition, the reader is left to figure out the identity of this city.

A non-Balkan article that caught my eye was the Independent's Complete Guide to Travel Guides. Judging by posts to online travel forums, many guidebook users have unrealistic expectations of how up to date a printed guide is likely to be. The Independent attempts to quantify the typical lag between research and publication, saying that "many guidebook publishers would prefer to update personally their Siberia publication in the middle of winter than answer this question with complete transparency".

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