Back when Becky lived in Chicago, she could’ve started at the beginning of Route 66 and driven it all the way to Diana’s neighborhood in Tulsa. But if she kept driving, where would she have ended up? It turns out that Route 66 ends right at the Santa Monica Pier. But several lives have ended here as well, resulting in a host of hauntings. What happens when you crowd 500 years worth of ghosts onto one wooden pier?

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Episode Summary: the Ghosts of Santa Monica and Real Vampires of Romania

During our recent trip to California, Amber and Diana took the Santa Monica Pier ghost tour. And the tour guide was none other than today’s guest, Mihaela! She shares with us a little of the history of the city and where you can get the best view of its otherworldly residents. She also gives us some insight into the real vampires from her hometown in Romania. Settle in for some sunny and sinister ghost stories.

Haunted History of Santa Monica

City by the Sea. Pearl of the Pacific. Jewel of Sunset Bay. And home to many, many ghosts. Groups of crows gather around the cannons in Palisades Park to carry supernatural messages to the spirits of the soldiers that haunt there.

Groups of ground squirrels gather around the melaleuca trees in the park to beg for breadcrumbs.
And groups of ground squirrels gather around the melaleuca trees in the park to beg for breadcrumbs.
Dinosaur fountain topiary on beautiful third street promenade in Santa Monica, CA.
Just another terrifying topiary…uh, I mean, beautiful city promenade.
Front cover of the August second 2023 issue of the Santa Monica Daily Press, showing the location of a stabbing that happened just hours after Diana
Happy birthday to me!
This is Diana on the left, host of the homespun haints podcast, and the haunted Arizona Avenue Pedestrian Bridge in Santa Monica is on the right, the background is the sunset over the Pacific ocean and the mountains.

Spirits from a car crash haunt boldly in broad daylight under the Arizona Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, seen here in the background on the right.

About the Guest: Mihaela Roe

Mihaela Roe is a ghost tour guide in the blissful oceanside city of Santa Monica, California. If you’d like to take the tour that Diana and Amber took with Mmihaela, it’s the US Ghost Adventures Santa Monica Pier Ghost Tour. She’s also a retired professor. But as she says, one never truly retires from being a professor. Romanian and Latin language instructor through Strommen. You can sign up for a Latin or Romanian language class with Mihaela here.

Saint Monica

The patron saint of widows, alcoholics, victims of abuse and adultery, and mothers facing family difficulties is also the patron saint of this city by the sea. Before Saint Monica was a saint, she was a real woman, born in 333 AD North Africa. In this episode, Mihaela shares a little bit of Santa Monica’s inspiring story, but she reviews even more details during the live ghost tour of the pier.

The 18 foot-high statue of Saint Monica in Palisades Park was erected in 1943. She faces the city at the foot of Wilshire Boulevard, her back to the sea.
The statue of Saint Monica was erected in 1943. She faces the city at the foot of Wilshire Boulevard, her back to the sea. Mihaela’s entire tour group managed to completely miss the 18 foot-high statue twice, walking right by it.

And if you want to be a patron as well, why, we make it much easier than it was in the 4th century! Nowadays, all you have to do is head over to Even the lowest tier membership comes with free admission to our big basement secret passage reveal livestream on September 24th, 2023.

Premonitions in Dreams

Mihaela had a vivid dream about her long lost colleague losing a pregnancy at the exact time that was really happening in a distant land. Then, her own dead relatives kept telling her what to do in her dreams. In one recurring dream, her father’s spirit wouldn’t leave her alone about moving to America. When she realized that her dream about her colleague’s pregnancy was a real-time premonition of an actual event, that lent weight to her deceased father’s argument.

Mihaela speculates that her paranormal sensory experiences, including these premonitions of death, might be due to her Romanian DNA.

Are There Real Vampires in Romania?

Mihaela says that the spirits haunting the Santa Monica Pier are nonconfrontational (as long as you don’t take their jewelry). But some of the spirits in her hometown in Romania might not be so friendly. She explains that the line between the living world and the “other world” is traditionally very thin in Romania. And that many people there have had actual experiences with real Romanian vampires.

Far from the sexy, immortal monsters we associate with the word, real, traditional Romanian vampires are the restless spirits of real people who, during life, engaged in evil deeds and dark sorcery. These vampiric spirits, still in league with dark forces of the underworld, maintain the habit of doing harm to other people, even after death.

Many Eastern European vampire stories we’ve heard have more in common with ghost stories than the story of Dracula. At the northern reaches of Eastern Europe, vampires are way worse than their fictional American counterparts. The Polish strzyga is a particularly terrifying monster. But on the east coast of the region, vampires are less monstrous, and more just…well, annoying and sad.

Do Real Vampires Drink Blood?

In Romanian tradition, vampires don’t necessarily drink blood. Nor can they create other vampires this way. In Romanian folklore, someone can become a vampire if that person did something despicable in life, and died never having had the chance or the inspiration to atone and confess. In other words, Romanian vampires are similar to your classic restless haints. A vampire demonstrates it’s presence via sudden spikes in misfortune or illness after the death of a local wicked person.

If you get the chance to visit Romania, you can leave your wooden stakes and garlic at home. Sure, small remote areas across the globe all have their quirky traditions and superstitions, some of which likely inspired Stoker to pen the rules which would become canon to the Western concept of vampire-vanquishing. But modern Romanian rituals to help real vampires rest in peace more commonly involve an exorcism by a priest, and basically nothing else from the Hollywood vampire-fighting repertoire. Except maybe a cross. Nowadays, Romanian vampire rituals focus instead on helping the tormented spirit to break the cycle of harm and attain God’s forgiveness.

I’ll Eat Your Skin to Gain Your Beauty

Did glue used to be made out of bulls or horses? What about gelatin? What about fancy tea? There are likely several benefits to consuming collagen (or gelatin, but definitely not glue). But they probably aren’t the benefits that you’d intuit.

It is sadly not true that eating collagen will result in that collagen becoming big pouty duck lips. It is true that dietary and supplemental collagen contains the 4 amino acids that your body needs to produce collagen: glycine, proline, lysine and hydroxyproline. But so do most animal products (and some vegetarian foods, too). The consumed collagen is digested down into its parts; amino acids. Your body then uses dietary vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese to reassemble these 4 amino acids BACK into collagen within the body, if your body deems it appropriate to do so in the moment.

A tall, refreshing glass of iced meat

Some “collagen” supplements contain all 8 of these building blocks, and thus might result in more collagen production in the body…maybe, if the diet is otherwise deficient in these building blocks. And that might have an effect on how you look, if you are young and healthy enough to do this whole process efficiently. Collagen supplements without these additional nutrients and trace minerals, well, you might as well slap a “supports healthy, beautiful skin, hair, nails, and joints” label on every single package of meat at the grocery store.

That’s right; hydrolyzed collagen protein is basically pure liquid meat. Oh, don’t go making that face. You eat broth, don’t you?

A puzzle Diana spotted in Santa Monica depicting a purple-haired Lady Liberty stroking her face with a rainbow fish
Fish is also a good source of gelatin.

Romanian Vampire Folklore and The Haunted Santa Monica Pier

What a twofer! This really was only a very small part of the history of Santa Monica that we heard on the ghost tour we took with Mihaela. If you take a ghost tour of the Santa Monica Pier, let us know what you think. If you think you witnessed a haunting, submit your ghost story to be invited as a guest on a future episode of Homespun Haints. And if you find Arcadia’s ghostly jewelry on the ground by the cannons in Palisades Park, don’t take it! Or you’ll risk having a spooky day!