Romania Travel Guides for Backpackers

How to enjoy your trip to Vama Veche

Next to the border with Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast, you’ll find in Romania, a small village called “Vama Veche”. Before telling you why you should come to this place, you should know a little bit about its origins and how it all started. A short view of the past By the ’70s, this little populated place at that time was discovered by some artists and students who loved the peace and the bohemian life. It was a fishing village where “vamaio?ii”, the people who were coming there, were staying with their tents on the beach or in people’s yards by the summer. It was just those young people, the beach, the sea, the sun, the quiet, some locals and the dust. It was also known as a place which was bringing together the rockers, the punkers and the folk people who were valuing their friendships, the freedom. Life was simple and except for the few houses of people living in that village, there was nothing built. Back to nowadays The bohemian spirit is a thing that certainly didn’t change, but the times did and that can be seen because this little place has developed a lot. Now, “Principala”, the main road of this place is full of restaurants, places to stay or even places where you can buy colored clothes or things for the beach. Here you will find a lot of interesting people. For example, if you are curious about what the future might prepare for you and this kind of spiritual things appeal to you, you will find on this main road a girl who reads in the Tarot. Also, if you are willing to add some color in your hair too, there are always going to be people who will make you some colored hair threads. On this road, down to the beach, you’ve got all the chances to meet “Jaguarul”(the Jaguar), an old “vamaiot”. How to recognize him? Long hair, all black clothes, often with the guitar or with the microphone exhaling the rock vibe. What to do? Chill and read at Plaja de Carte As you go down on the main road, you get closer to the sea. There are many beaches where you can relax and lay down under the sun’s rays. Don’t worry if your luggage was full and you couldn’t take your book, because there is a place called “Plaja de Carte” (The Book Beach) which has a library where you can borrow a book for 3 days and then you can extend it for another 3 days. The place comes with the whole atmosphere because in the morning there is classical music and then jazz. In the evening there are movie screenings, and on weekends there might be book launches, documentary film screenings.  And remember that this is not the only place from here intended for reading enthusiasts. For example, last weekend, there’s been an event called “#CartiCuSPF” (#SPFBooks) which encouraged reading by offering a book as a gift to any tourist reading on the beach. Then, they […]

Bucharest – Starting your trip to the Carpathian Garden

The place of my childhood,  Bucharest has always been the base for me in all of my travels. Recently I have truly found the pleasure of visiting this adventurous city because I have moved out and I am now living in Barcelona. So every time I go back there, I start to understand why so many people from across the world are considering to move there. Getting there is relatively easy (and inexpensive), no matter where you come from and the airport is well linked to the city (although the train can be rather slow so I recommend the bus). There are three main things that I suggest you follow when making a plan on how to visit Bucharest and what you can do there. Visit the museums of Bucharest Museums in Bucharest are pretty cheap and they offer a very good price/quality ratio. A very good example would be the Peasant Museum. You can even visit it on your way from the airport to the city center and it offers a very well documented history of the Romanian traditions and culture throughout the centuries in recent and not so recent history. Romania was under many foreign powers so there are many influences that make Bucharest taste different than its Eastern counterparts. I would also definitely recommend the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History and while you’re there you can ask for directions for the other nearby museums that usually have some visiting promotion during the summer or the weekends. Romanian culture and arhitecture If you want to see the second biggest and the first heaviest building in the world, I recommend you go and visit the insides and outsides of the Palace of Parliament, or how most of the locals call it, “The People’s House”, or “Casa Poporului” The building’s architecture is both totalitarian and neoclassical so it will easily get your attention. It’s also located close to a few parks that I recommend visiting, especially the Cismigiu Park. There are many multilingual organized tours for the inside of this big palace. Usually, you can find at least a couple on weekdays and you get discounts for larger groups. Bucharest in Europe Bucharest used to be called the ”Little Paris of the East” and it is well remembered that around 100 years ago it would be common for the high class, but not only to greet each other in French and have at least medium studies in French and the French literature. Today, famous Bucharestian buildings such as Spitalul Clinic Col?ea, Arcul de Triumf or the Continental Grand Hotel are proof that the Belle Époque architecture is part of the laying foundation of this urban museum. The lesser known history of Bucharest But the Romanian capital wasn’t always as organized as you can see it today. A century and a half before, as the city was expanding its boundaries, more administrative measures had to be taken, in order to deal with the unavoidable obstacles that every big city faces. One […]

Summer in Romania – Bucharest Travel Guide

Romania, that country that looks like a fish when you glimpse at the map, on the Eastern European side, is a good destination for summer. Bucharest is the capital of this EU country (you can check if you need a visa here), different than Budapest – which is another capital of a nearby country. If you ever wondered what to do when in Bucharest, here is a guide to help, suitable for traveling with kids too. The weather can be hot as a pan during the summer months, luckily, Bucharest has a lot of public gardens and refreshing places where the temperature is pleasant. It is also packed with cultural events and summer sports venues to keep you entertained. Parks in Bucharest In Romania the heat can easily go above 30-35? C starting with May-June and the public gardens in and around Bucharest are not just an oasis of refreshing microclimate, but also places to learn more about the architecture and culture of the country, places that become the scene for contemporary art display, music concerts and other cultural manifestations. There are over 45 parks in Bucharest and if you want to lay in the grass taking in the scenery, eating an ice cream, reading a few pages by the lake or further planning your trip, you should look for King Mihai 1 Park (called Her?str?u until recently), Ci?migiu Park – the oldest public garden in town, Tineretului – the biggest park of the capital. You might also like to consider Carol I Park, not far from Tineretului park and the State Circus Park with its pink and blue lotus flowers.   Historical Estates Mogo?oaia Palace, with its surrounding domain, is a good place to spend an entire day (15 km away from the center of the town). You can find out more about one of the most significant national architectural styles, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries that the palace is built in. You can visit the exhibitions in and around the palace, you can roam the wide, green, picturesque spaces and eat something tasty when you get tired and hungry. You can also rent a canoe or kayak to have a different perspective of the palace from the lake. Mogo?oaia Gardens ?tirbey Domain is another historically significant place that is open to the public and where you can spend a pleasant afternoon or entire day. There’s an entrance fee but you can use it as a voucher for the restaurant on the property. If you go there in August, you can enjoy a tune or two at the Summer Well music festival. Snagov Palace is the royal estate built in the ’30s and located 40 km north of Bucharest, along the banks of Sagov Lake, which is still partially surrounded by old oak forest. Together with the protected Snagov Natural Complex Reserve and the Snagov Monastery, the area is worth exploring. You can book a night or two at a local resort to have a fresh start […]

A weekend escape in Pitesti – The city of tulips

Pitesti is only 100 km away from Bucharest, one hour and a half by train and it’s one of the hidden jams of Romania. If you want to get away from the crowds of tourists, this is exactly where you should go. Pitesti has a chilled and relaxed vibe, people are taking things easy and the pace of life seems less fast than what you should expect when going to the capital. The best thing here is that the city is relatively small, having a population of only 164.000 people, so you won’t waste too much time going from one place to another. Everything is close to everything. Good to know   Transportation Public transportation is accessible and easy. Public buses come regularly (at intervals of 10 minutes). You can buy tickets from most of the stops. Make sure you have change with you, as in some of them you can only find ticket machines and they do not give change. Taxis are also an affordable option, you’ll pay between 2 and 5 Euros for a fare, depending on the final destination. It’s advisable to leave a small tip (1-2 lei) to the taxi driver. To find one, unless you’re close to a taxi station, you can simply stop them in the street. Both buses and taxis are safe. You can also rent a bike and that would be actually the most convenient option if you want to see more of what the city has to offer. Prices Prices are very cheap in Pitesti, so that’s also another good reason to consider visiting Pitesti. You can buy a beer in a pub for 1.2 Euros, a pizza for 4 Euros and a dessert for 3 Euros. A bus ticket would cost 0.5 Euros for a one-way ride. If you want to buy food from the grocery store, you’ll find tomatoes priced at 0.3 Euros/kilo, cheese at 4 Euros/kilo, chicken (uncooked) at 2 Euros/kilo, etc. Food Pitesti has a few food markets and several hypermarkets to choose from. The most popular food market is Piata Ceair, which opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm, excepting on the weekend days, when they keep it open only until the afternoon. What I absolutely recommend is the corner pastry shops that are located in the city center. They sell fresh Romanian pies (try Branzoaica or Merdenea) and also the dessert shops (named Cofetarie) where you can find delicious desserts at very reasonable prices (1-2 Euros/each). Otherwise, you have plenty of restaurants and pubs to choose from, depending on your preferences, from pizza bars to traditional Romanian restaurants which serve authentic food. Fun If you like history, you might want to check the Pitesti Prison Museum and the Museum Judetean Arges. You can find here interesting facts and the good part is that they are usually not crowded at all. For sunny days, I’d recommend the Zoo, it’s a good place to visit and also a great spot for taking pictures. For a […]

What can you do in Romania

I would really love to present you my gorgeous country. Why doing this and not talking about international travelling? Because before starting to travel abroad and see the world, we all belong to a specific country, the one we grew up in. Maybe for you is just a foreign country, maybe just a name on the list or not even, maybe you have some plans to visit it, or none at all. Even if you belong to the first or the second group, I would love to show you some places that will hopefully help you write its name on your list. If you wonder what exactly can you do while visiting this country, my answer is: nothing more than anything, and trust me, it is not a joke. It has the mountains, the sea, the cities and the old castles, it has hiking places and sand beaches. You can go on a city break or enjoy the nature. If you love any extreme sport, once again, you are in the right place. Whatever you choose for your holiday, there must be something there that can suit you. Now, let me present you my top places in my country, having to add that I am a nature lover and I added such places on the list, but I will come back with some cities too. 1. Transfagarasan Road When I first saw it, I was a small girl and I was amazed, when I saw it again, I had the same reaction, and guess what happened the following times…And I understand my reaction because it is the most beautiful road in Romania, and maybe not only. It is a road of 90 km, passing from north to south the “Fagaras” Mountains, that you can spend admiring spectacular views. Of you get here, there is a must for you to stop by the Lake “Balea”, a glacier lake situated at 2034 m. You can get there mostly during warm seasons, by car and enjoy the whole view or even get out and take pictures. Once I even took a picture with a donkey and the view, but with the cameras in my childhood, it got lost somewhere.   2. The rock statue of Decebal The king’s face is 55 m high and is located in the south of the country, on a rocky shove of the Danube, near Orsova, being the highest of this kind in Europe. It was built between 1994 and 2004 and it represents the face of the last king of the Dacian Nation. Why is it worth seeing? Not only for the rock itself, but also for the fact that it stands right near the Danube River and the view is extraordinary. You can hire a boat and paddle under it. If you go back a little, you will get right inside the Danube Canyon, a beautiful and relaxing place, perfect for those who love spending time in the nature, enjoying the silence, watching how the Danube […]

Top 6 must see places in Old Town Constanta, Romania

If you are a traveler who likes to visit cities which are less known internationally, then, Constanta, historically known as Tomis, is for sure one of those cities. A must, to your bucket list. Situated in the Dobrogea region, on the Black Sea’s coast in Romania, Constanta is the oldest inhabited city in Romania and one of the most populated cities in the country. A place where locals enjoy sunbathing in the summer and stay indoors in the winter. We are terrified with the wind during winters, it can be quite harsh. That is why I believe visiting Constanta during Spring or Autumn is ideal because summers can get quite crowded. If you are keen on discovering local culture, history, religion, and architecture, here is a list of places to visit. This can be easily covered in one day. Luckily, they are in a cluster in the Old Town area, also known as the Peninsula district. I have ordered them geographically, starting from the farthest point to the closest to town, so my advice is to visit them in the order that follows so that at the end you can just sit down and grab something to eat on your way out of the Old Town. 1. The Old Casino Built three times, the Old Casino’s first wood structure was opened in 1880 and was called the Cazin Kursaal. The Cazin Kursaal was the first Romanian building on the shore of the Black Sea when Dobruja region (Dobrogea today) became part of the Romanian administration at the end of the Romanian War of Independence, also known as the Russo-Turkish War. The second version of The Cazin opened its doors in 1893 and was also a wood structure. The third version, which is also the one that can be seen today, was designed and built by Daniel Renard as an Art Nouveau structure piece, it was meant to be a space for the upper-class community. Today the Casino is the most emblematic building of the city, but it has also been abandoned. Despite the locals’ efforts to make it a functional space once again, the political confusion of the town and country has influence over the rehabilitation process. Because of the risk it imposes, the building cannot be visited on the inside, but photographers will be happy with the outside images of this amazing building, whether it is dusk, dawn or the middle of the day. If you would like to see the inside of the Casino, check Romain Veillon‘s series about the degradation of the building. 2. The Genoese Lighthouse Adjacent to the Old Casino there is a tiny, yet also a historically emblematic lighthouse, the Genoese Lighthouse. Approximately 16 meters tall today, it was originally built in 1300 it served the purpose of guiding ships into the, back then, tiny port of Constanta. The original foundation later served the engineer Artin Aslan who rebuilt it in honor of the merchants of Genoa who first built it to open a […]

Bucharest- a vibrant and dynamic place to visit

In recent years, the capital of Romania has become one of the most popular places to visit in Europe. Bucharest, a vibrant, dynamic and highly entertaining place to visit, is a city of contrasts which makes it all the more interesting. Communistic, grey buildings clash with modern offices. Opulence is in contradiction with extreme poverty. Busy boulevards with heavy traffic run alongside quiet and airy streets where you can find cozy cafes and sophisticated restaurants. Without a doubt, Bucharest has so much history to offer and so many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. To me, Bucharest has been my home for 32 years, so if you decide to visit it (which I strongly recommend you do), I’ve compiled a list of places that are, in my opinion, a must-see for anyone, tourist or not. • Best places to eat 1. Restaurant Hanu’ Lui Manuc Str. Franceza, nr. 62-64, Bucharest, Romania It is one of the best traditional restaurants in Bucharest. The fact that it has been around for over 210 years says a lot. It is located in the heart of the city, near the entrance to the Old Town. You will be able to enjoy Romanian authentic ambient completed by traditional songs and dances. The menu is rich and I guarantee that all the dishes are tasty, however, I would recommend the famous “sarmalute in foi de varza” (minced meat rolled in sour cabbage leaves). 2. La Cocosatu Str. Neagoe Voda, nr. 52A, Bucharest, Romania One of the hidden gems of traditional restaurants, it is said that La Cocosatu has the best “mici” (a sort of grilled minced meat rolls) in the country. So, if you visit make sure you order mici with loads of mustard and fresh bread. It’s to die for. Also, their other grilled dishes are great. 3. Caru’ cu Bere Strada Stavropoleos 5, Bucharest 030081, Romania Translated as “the beer wagon”, it is located in a building with stunning architecture that will make you feel like royalty. It has a history of more than 130 years and has been visited by some famous names like Edward Kennedy, The Rolling Stones or Naruhito, the Prince of Japan. As for the food, I’ve eaten here numerous times and have never been disappointed. Whatever you choose from the menu, rest assured it will be delicious. • Best places to stay in 1. Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Strada Episcopiei 1 – 3 | District 1, Bucharest 010292, Romania Conveniently located in the heart of the city, it offers easy access to many of the local attractions, cafes, restaurants, shops, theatres, museums, all within walking distance. The rooms are spacious, with comfortable beds and generally everything you need for a great stay. On top of that, the service is beyond reproach. 2. Novotel Bucharest City Centre Calea Victoriei 37B | Sector 1, Bucharest 010061, Romania One of the preferred places to stay for tourists, this 4-star hotel is right on Victoriei Street close to all the main attractions, […]

7 must-see places in Cluj-Napoca (Transylvania)

Cluj-Napoca is one of Romania’s oldest cities, its name dating back to the Roman period. Known as the capital of Transylvania region and, also, for its many prestigious academies and fruitful cultural life, Cluj-Napoca or simply, Cluj, is a multiethnic city that primarily impresses with its urban imperial architecture, an important reminder to the Romanian people, that the county of Transylvania once belonged to the great Austro-Hungarian Empire. Cluj-Napoca enchanted me from the very first day I moved here. At that time, I had immediately felt the powerful energy emanating from the old, beautiful buildings and ancient trees above which the autumn twilight sky stretched like a mantle. Set in a valley, the city itself is surrounded by green hills which provide plenty of oxygen and shield it from powerful winds as well. It is also crossed by the river Some? and it is said that underneath the city there are many secret tunnels. If you ever find yourself traveling along the land of Dracula, you should not skip this marvelous city. Whether it’s a business or pleasure trip, here are 7 important attractions that would make your journey a memorable one. You can get to Cluj-Napoca by car, train or plane, as it also has an international airport. * Important notice: if you’re a music lover, then you should definitely buy a ticket to one or both opera houses in this city. There’s the National Romanian Opera House as well as Kolosvary Magyar Opera. You won’t regret it! 1. Unirii Square Unirii Square or Pia?a Unirii is located right in the center of Cluj-Napoca and it’s also the largest square in the city. Open air concerts, festivals, and fairs are often organized here, near the majestic statue of Matthias Corvinus, the King of Hungary and Croatia during Middle-Ages. Here you can also visit  St. Michael’s Church for free, a Gothic-style Roman-Catholic cathedral with the highest tower in Transylvania (80 m). I often like to go in there to meditate and contemplate the beautiful stained-glass vaulted windows. Spend some time here feeding the chubby pigeons or simply admire the magnificent imperial architecture of the city center while enjoying a cup of coffee or have lunch at one of the sidewalks restaurants terraces. 2. The Museum Square Walk on the left hand, past St. Michael’s Church, cross the street and you will enter a paved footway that leads to the Museum Square (Pia?a Muzeului), a cozy place situated in the oldest quarter of Cluj-Napoca. If you have time you can also visit the National Museum of Transylvanian History, or just have a beer with sausages at Bistro Vienna, in a friendly rustic vintage environment. Make sure to take a look at the local little shops and buy a unique souvenir. This quarter is a kind of labyrinth so make sure to explore it. You will discover little hidden pubs and also underground night clubs. 3. Central Park Have a walk, jog or rent a Cluj Bike and explore the Central Park of Cluj-Napoca with its large […]

What you can do/see in Csíkszereda, a small Romanian city?

  This is the city where Hungarian and Romanian people live together, that’s why you find out when you arrive here find out that, this small town has two names. The Romanian name of the town  is Miercurea- Ciuc ,  this is how you find it on Google Maps,   people and tourist usually know it on this name, but Hungarian people use the name: Csíkszereda. You can find this duality everywhere,  if you go around and  you will recognize that, every name and information  is written both Romanian and Hungarian. There is no need to worry about – there are some common and popular places, and English instruction too. If you are wondering if they speak English?Most of the young people speak English, if you need information or you are lost, you can ask them, but the elder ones rarely speak this language. What you can visit in Csíkszereda?  Mikó Fortress A historical place, which also functional  as a museum. It’s easy to reach from any  part of the town. In this place, you can find out more about the town and the fortress. The museum has exhibitions about the history of the fortress and the people's life all around here.  Summer time mostly they have other exhibitions and different events, you can check out on their website in English too. The museum is closed on Monday. In June you visit the  museum for free, during the Museum’s Nights. They organize many programs and you have a chance to join free trips with the museums see outside, check it out  the archaeologist work and their new projects. You can find out more about the people's life and the past of the region.  Church of Csíksomlyó The church is very important to Hungarian people. It’s a historical church related to Hungarian history. The church is beautiful outside and inside too. Inside you can find a statue of Virgin Mary with  the little Jesus. People believe the statue has healing power, so  many of them often visit the place. Especially, at the event of pilgrimage of Csíksomlyó organized on Pentecost. Many Hungarians come from Hungary and other countries. This is a big event in the town’s life and for the Hungarians. Many Hungarian dreams who live all around the worlds to come attend the pilgrimage .This event has historical and also religious background, but most people know just the religious one and they don’t know much about the historical background. If you visit the church, you can go and climb up to the hill of Csíksomlyó, where the event organized every year. On the way, you can find two chapels. Saint Antal Chapel and the Salvador Chapel. The Saint Antal chapel  is only open during the event of pilgrimage, but you can see the chapel inside through the  lattice door. The Salvador chapel also opens on pilgrimage or special occasions or for tourist groups, but you can go and visit around. Csíksomlyó have a different name, but it’s part of the town. You can […]

Brasov – Probably the best city in the world!

Probably you are wondering why I called Brasov the best city in the world. Because, in my opinion, it might actually be the best city in the whole world. I am delighted to be born and have the opportunity to grow up in such a nice city from Romania. Brasov is one of the most popular cities in Romania. It is mostly famous for one of the attractions nearby, The Dracula’s Castle, but this isn’t by far the best Brasov can offer to its tourists. Brasov is a medieval city and dates back from the 13th century.  It’s one of the oldest city in Romania, and it is located in the middle of the country. What to visit in Brasov The Black Church The most famous attraction in Brasov is the Black Church. It’s a gothic-style church, the most representative one for Romania, and it is very impressive because of its appearance and also of its story. The Black church was built in the 14th century and it’s the largest one from the South-Eastern Europe. It was used to be described as the biggest church from Constantinople (currently Istanbul) to Vienna. In 1689 a big fire affected the church. As a result, the stone walls became darker. The walls of the church were covered in smoke and the stone became darker, that’s why its current name is ‘The Black Church’. Besides being famous for the story, the church also is famous for its pipe organ. It hosts one of the biggest pipe organs in Europe. Also, it has the largest collection of oriental carpets, besides the Topkapî museum from Istanbul. Rope Street The Rope Street is one of the narrowest streets in Europe. It is said that there are only two streets narrower: Spreuerhofstraße, in Germany, and Parliament Street, in England. The street is located in the central part of Brasov, near Ecaterina Gate. The street is about 80 meters long and its width varies between 1.11m and 1.35m. The street was originally built to allow firemen easy access to the two streets which are linked by the corridor: Cerbului Street and Poarta Scheii Street. The Rope Street is one of the most visited attractions in Brasov, as walking on the street is quite impressive. The Black and White Towers The two towers are located on a hill, in the northern part of the old city. The towers were built in the 15th century, and they were used as observation towers and they were also part of the old city fortifications. Besides the historical importance the towers have, they also offer stunning views of Brasov. From the White Tower, the Black Church can be seen, and the Black Tower offers a beautiful landscape of the Sfatului Square, the main square in Brasov. The citadel hill The citadel hill houses a small citadel of old Brasov. It dates back from the 14th century and it was one of the fortification points from the citadel. Even if it is located outside of the […]

5 things you must do in Cluj-Napoca

Cluj-Napoca, the city with three different names, Hungarian: Kolozsvár and German: Klausenburg. I like to say that Cluj-Napoca is more like a state of mind than a city. I am living here for almost 3 years now and I love its cultural versatility. During the last years, Cluj-Napoca went through a social and cultural metamorphosis that makes it the new youth capital of Romania. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Transilvania and also Romania, the right place to be if you want to get the real Romanian experience. Here are the top five things I love the most about this city and you don’t wanna miss if you get to Cluj-Napoca. Enjoy and hope to see you soon! 1. Explore the gates, doors, and streets of Cluj-Napoca. One of the main attractions for me when I first got to this amazing city, were the gates and doors of the buildings. Buildings from the historical center are representative for Baroque Age of Cluj-Napoca. The jewel of the Baroque architecture is the Art Museum, the Banffy Castle surrounded by the buildings from streets like Eroilor, I.C. Bratianu, Avram Iancu, Potaissa, Iuliu Maniu, Museum and Unirii Square. I was so impressed by all this history spoken through the old city buildings, that I started a Ph.D. program in Art History. So, If you want a guided tour of the most significant gates, please feel free to contact me. 2. Visit the churches of Cluj-Napoca Cluj-Napoca is a city known for its religious diversity and the architecture of the churches. If you choose to look at the city on the top of Citadel, you enjoy an overview of all the towers of the oldest churches in Cluj. The most impressive churches are located in the center of the city, especially in the old center. The first church built in the Baroque style is the Church of the Piarists, located on University Street, very close to St. Michael’s Gothic Cathedral that dominates Unirii Square. One of my favorite churches is the Franciscan Church, located in Museum Square. It was built in 1260, on the site of the first Roman-Catholic church in Cluj, completely destroyed in 1240 during the great invasion of the Tatars. Also in the Museum Square, you will find the Obelisk Carolina, built in honor of Empress Carolina Augusta and her husband, Emperor Francis I.     3. Body and Spirit Experience Achieve your daily steps target with a nice walk at the sunset in Central Park, feed the ducks on the lake and then climb the stairs to the Cetatuie. Enjoy a full wide view over Cluj-Napoca. Since you are now close to one of my favorite places in Cluj, I recommend you to walk to Samsara Tea House. I won’t share any pictures of this tea house because I would like you to discover it as I did and not ruin the surprise – believe me it will worth it.  4. Eat local food People that know me and my […]

Bucharest: A Winter Weekend

If you’re looking for a city break that will have you yearning for more, Bucharest needs to be on your bucket list. A vibrant university city with plenty of atmosphere, but still holds close their history and culture. I was amazed at how much I actually crammed in and saw during my winter weekend. Whether it’s your first time or a returning visitor, there is always something new to be discovered in this city. This post particularly focuses on the top places to visit, eat and things to do during the WINTER. Where to Visit Parliament Palace One can’t simply go to Bucharest and not go on a guided tour around the Parliament Palace, It’s literally a MUST. It is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon but yet it still looks as extravagant as a palace. The tour takes around an hour to complete and the guides are really informative about the history of Romania. Due to the fact that it is still a functioning government building, visiting hours can vary depending on the day and you have to book your tour in advance. When you are booking, please do not follow Michael Jackson’s mistake of thinking it’s Budapest as that is a completely different city and they will not let you enter. Make sure you have your passport on you on arrival and who knows, you might even see the Romanian president! Bulevardul Unirii This is something to write home about. Bucharest is very much influenced by other cities, with architecture inspired by Germany, France, Greece and China. This is what sets Bucharest apart from other cities in Eastern Europe. The former Romanian leader had an obsession to be the better version of Paris, and this in essence produced what is known as Union Avenue. It looks exactly like the Champs Elysees in Paris, except it is exactly 1 metre wider! So it’s actually bigger than the original! To top it all of they have their very own Arc de Triomf. Fine Arts Museum The Romanians are very proud to be owners of some of the richest pieces of artwork, which are found in this museum. If you are an art lover, then make it a priority to visit. You can choose on arrival whether to go to the European exhibition or the Romanian exhibition but if time permits I definitely recommend doing both! Village Museum Take a step back in time by going to the Village Museum. Take a relaxing walk around the Her?str?u park and visit little houses that showcase the old Romanian lifestyle in the countryside. From here you can also see the outside of Elisabeta Palace, which is the current residence of the Romanian royal family. What to Do Hard Rock Cafe If you still insist in keeping it American, then the Hard Rock Cafe is a good option for you. It is the largest Hard Rock in Europe and it hold many cool pieces such as Shakira’s trousers and […]

Turda Salt Mine and tips for spending a dog day on the Salt Flats

The small industrial town of Turda suddenly became a well know tourist destination after its salt mine was transformed into an amazing underground theme park. It is a must see site if you visit Romania, it is unique and spectacular, and also a fun and healthy way to spend here a few hours. Business Insider recommended the mine as one of the oldest and most beautiful salt mines in the world. If you are visiting during the summer you can spend the rest of the day bathing in the two salt lakes nearby, or if you fancy some wild swimming in places only locals know about it is well worth exploring the nearby Salt Flats. Turda Salt Mine I was born and raised in Turda, so for me the Turda Salt mine was always a mysterious, almost magical place, first of all because I could not see it as it was closed to the public until 1992. I knew it only from the stories of my grandmother who together with the whole family spent many days underground taking shelter during World War II. They were in the salt mine when the Russian troops arrived and dragged three male members of the family into the forced labor camps of Siberia. Nowadays the salt mine has been converted into a magical underground amusement park. An elevator takes visitors down into the 120 meter deep Rudolph mine, where there is a ferries wheel taking visitors close to the salt stalactites hanging from the ceiling, ping pong tables, mini golf course and an amphitheater. From here one can descend deeper. On the bottom of Theresa mine there is an underground lake which looks almost surreal and where visitors can rent paddle boats. Tunnel leading into the mine. © Melinda Nagy Rudolph mine. © Melinda Nagy Underground lake at the bottom of Theresa mine. © Melinda Nagy The mine is a museum of salt mining. There is evidence of surface salt exploitation in the area since Roman times. The salt mine in its actual form dates back to the 17th century when underground exploitation began. Descending the stairs one can observe numbers carved into the walls representing the year in which the digging reached that level. The mine also operates as a health resort the salty air being effective in various respiratory problems and rehabilitation therapies in internal diseases. Practical tips for visiting Turda Salt Mine How to get there: Turda is a 30 minutes’ drive from Cluj-Napca or you can take a bus to reach the town center. From here bus number 17 takes you to Salina Turda. However you can use the old entrance on Salinelor Street nr. 54 B (currently under repair) which is in the town, exit on the main entrance in Durgau and take the double decker back to town. When to go: Turda Salt mine is open all year round from 9 am to 5 pm, last entry at 4 pm. During the summer season it can get very […]

Top 10 Things to do in Bucharest in Spring/Summer

Bucharest (Bucure?ti) is a busy and vibrant city with so many things to do. Its history offers all the highlights of a great European tale, but even more so with its recent history. If it hasn’t been on your travel bucket list I urge you to add it and prioritize it now! You will not be disappointed. Bucharest offers unique experiences an events year-round. Here is a list of must-do activities you should add to your itinerary for Spring/Summer. 1. Bike King Mihal I park (previously Her?str?u Park) One of the best places is to bike in Bucharest is through the 187 hectares of King Mihai I Park Renamed in 2017 to honor the death of King Mihai, Her?str?u is a getaway in the center of the city. And lucky for you, I’Velo Relex bike sharing make it easy and convenient with a rental at the Charles de Gaulle/Aviatorilor entrance of the park. Starting at 6 lei an hour, bikes can be easily rented with our ID during working hours. The park offers many unique gardens within it, and if you get hungry a number of top restaurants line the lake including the Hard Rock Café, Pescarus, and Biutiful by the Lake to name a few. 2. Travel back in time across Romania at the Village Museum The Dimitre Gusti National Village Museum (Muzeul Na?ional al Satului “Dimitrie Gusti”) often referred to just as Muzeul Satului is located within King MIhal I park (Herastrau Park) and accessible from a few entrances from the park, but the main being off of Kiseleff Av.. It offers a unique view of the diverse regional cultures of Romania through an outdoor museum enabling to walk from house to house, region to region, across Romania. 3. Take an iconic picture Arcul de Triumf Your trip would not be complete without visiting Romania’s iconic homage of the Arc de Triumph: Arcul de Triumf. Romania also offers its own version of the Champs- Elysées, Bulevadul Unirii leading up to the Parliament Palace build 32 feet wider and about 300 feet longer than its Parisian counterpart to please at the direction of Ceausescu himself. 4. Check out the architecture and enjoy a beer on the terrace Old Town Bucharest’s Old Town, also referred to as Lipscani is a pedestrian area accessible from many main streets such as Calea Victoriei and the Unirii metro. Take a wander through the intersecting paths and don’t forget to look up and check out some of the different architectural elements. Offering a bustling nightlife, the old town (or Centrul Vechi) is also a great spot for a meal or just a casual coffee or beer on the patio, at street level or a rooftop. Let the people watching begin! 5. Row a boat in Cismisgu Park Cismigiu park offers a fantastic break from the hot summer sun with its greenery and a small lake. A nice breeze always seems to sweep through at the right times. There are lots of different paths and areas […]

Peleș Castle: A Day Trip from Bucharest

You are probably thinking of Dracula, Transylvania and/or Communist-era architecture right now. You’re not entirely wrong, but there is a lot more to Romania than just vampire lore and cheap alcohol! This not-so-small country is actually home to many beautiful landscapes and buildings that don’t get the attention they deserve. That is quickly changing, so book a ticket and head to Romania’s capital Bucharest (Bucharest, not Budapest! As the Romanian government so kindly reminds us). And while you’re at it why not take an easy day trip to one of the most beautiful castles in the world: Pele? Castle. Bran Castle or Pele? Castle? Bran Castle (or Dracula’s Castle) is situated farther up north from Pele? Castle. Whilst you can visit both castles in a day by yourself, I would suggest otherwise. A tour will set you back at least 80 euros just on transportation, and taking into consideration how cheap Romania is I was surprised we could not find a better deal. You can, of course, plan on going to both castles by yourself. But, unless you want to be worrying about train schedules, language barrier and hurrying from one place to another then I would also advise against this method. We chose to go to Pele? instead of Bran since we’d read much of it being quite touristy and hyped up. Besides, while Bran looked quite nice and modest, Pele? simply looked a bit more majestic. Next time, Bran Castle! Getting to Pele? Castle from Bucharest Easiest way: train to Sinaia Remember the beautiful castle the Prince lived in A Christmas Prince? Hey, no shame I loved that movie, too. I remember being awed at the gorgeous castle with its twinkling lights and fairy-tale demure. Unlike the movie tells us, this castle is actually situated in Sinaia, just a few hours away from Bucharest by train. First things first: Make sure to check the Castle’s website for opening times since they close on certain days depending on the season! It is really not necessary to leave at the break of dawn. We left by 11 am and still got to enjoy and make the most of our day. Arrive at Gara de Nord in the morning (easily reached by metro) and buy a one-way ticket to Sinaia. Do not buy your return ticket yet since you might not want to catch the last train to Bucarest.  There are around 15 trains departing every day to Sinaia, take about 1 and a half hour and cost around 10 Euro one way. Have a coffee and breakfast in one of the many coffee shops of the departure/arrival hall while you wait for the train. Make sure you don’t lose your ticket! Or you’ll have to run back to the ticket booth 3 minutes before the train leaves and purchase another full ticket. Like it happened to us. Getting to Pele? Castle from the train station Now sit back and enjoy the scenery from your window. Pele? (pronounced Peh-lesh) Castle is nested up in Sinaia which […]

Great locations to visit near Cluj-Napoca, Romania

If you are visiting Cluj-Napoca or you are here on a business trip for more than a few days, you are probably getting tired of the fuss and rush of the city and in the mood for a quiet walk thru nature, exploring, hiking or a quick road trip that will fill your social media accounts with fabulous pictures. I live in Cluj-Napoca and I often find myself wanting to get away from the city even if is just for a few hours, so I put together a list of my favorite locations that are just an hour or under an hour away from the city. You can get there easily with a bus or you can rent a car for a day and not depend on a bus schedule. The get pony cars are a great option or any other car renting companies will do just fine.     The Turda Salt Mine (Salina Turda) Even though this is a well-known visiting location with a great historical and touristic value, it is worth mentioning here also. The salt mine is offering a great way to relax and enjoy your time in Romania, at just under 45 minutes drive from Cluj-Napoca. The access to the mine is really easy because of the excellent conditions of the mining compartments.  Inside you will find various galleries and rooms with different stories and equipment, also a staircase and an elevator which will take you to the best view in the mine.  The main attraction seems to be the small island surrounded by boats that can be rented and the Ferris wheel/ Big wheel. The Turda salt mine has a microclimate and various factors that provide optimal conditions for rehabilitation therapies of many internal diseases, respiratory diseases or chronic evolving infections or allergies, so a trip there goes a long way for your health as well. And if you are wondering, yes, you can totally lick the walls! The salt mine program entry is from 9:00 to 16:00, and the tickets are 15 lei for children/ students and retirees and 30 lei for adults. For more information, you can access their website.       The Turda Gorge ( Cheile Turzii) Without getting too far from the salt mine, you will find a natural reserve formed through the erosion of limestone by the H??date river. The narrow path is 1650 m long and the walls have heights reaching 300 m. The Unesco natural reserve presents a wide variety of karst reliefs and various caves. It is also renowned for its wildlife, the protected area has over 60 species of birds and various wild medicinal plants. You can easily walk the entire length of the gorge in 2 to 2 and a half hours, just make sure you have your running shoes or hiking boots and plenty of water. The Turda Gorge accommodate over 350 climbing routes, from initiation routes to high difficulty ones. You also have the possibility of practicing paragliding and mountain biking. The gorge is located in Cheia, […]

TOP 10 secret places in Bucharest that nobody knew of

Sometimes even the places you think you know the best, can have hidden gems that can amaze you and pick up your interest. It is hard to know everything about a place. Everyone knows about the popular landmarks as Palace of Parliament or Arc de Triomphe but I have to confess to you, the secret is in details. I want to share with you 10 places (most of them are free) that I find amazing in the city that continues to fascinate me: Bucharest.  1. Melik House Melik House or Teodor Pallady Museum is the oldest house in Bucharest. This house was built in 1750 by Hagi Kevork Nazaretoglu. It is one of the most beautiful houses from that period and it’s the only one that is open to visiting. At this moment, you can find there over 800 paintings of Theodor Pallady. Along with those you can find 1270 rare collectible items that belonged to Serafina and Gheorge Raut’s family. If you want to find out more about this house you can contact them by email [email protected] If you want to get there by bus : 311,66,69,70,85,90,92 and 21. Website: http://www.mnar.arts.ro/muzeul-theodor-pallady Visitation Schedule: Wednesday – Sunday 11.00 – 19.00 (May – September) 10.00 – 18.00 (October – April)     2. Xenofon Street Xenofon Street is the only road in Bucharest that has stairs. It has 70 stairs along 100 m between Constantin Istrati Street and Suter Alley right near Carol Park. The street riches the highest natural point in Bucharest, Filaret Hill where you can find Suter Palace (Carol Hotel today)   3. Suter Palace Suter Palace was built between 1902-1906 by Adolf Suter, a close friend of King Carol I of Romania. In 1904 the place was bought by a banker and offered as a gift to his mistress. After a short time, the palace was nationalized by the communists and turned into a party headquarter. Only in 2001 it was offered back to the original owners and turned into a hotel. Ever since the grand opening in 2007, it runs as a 5-star hotel, considered the only small luxury hotel in Romania. For more details : http://carol-parc-boutique-hotel.bucharest-hotel.com/en/  4. ?epe? Castle The castle was built as a small replica of the Poenari Fortress. It is one of the newest attractions, having barely passed the 100-year milestone. It was built by Carol I, a big fan of Vlad Tepes. The castle was opened in 1906 during the General Exposition of Romania, organized in Carol Park. The exposition was organized because of the 40th reign anniversary. The main purpose of the exposition was to show the visitors, especially foreigners the way that Romania grew between the years 1866 to 1906. Unfortunately, it is open only 2 times a year so if you want to see it, you should check the dates.I promise you, it will be totally worth it. Open dates: 16th May and 25th October.      5. Witches Pond (Balta Vrajitoarelor) If you go outside of Bucharest […]

Brasov, the heart of Romania

Brasov is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived in, due to its mountain view, 4 seasons that never stop to amaze you, its culture and traditions. Situated in the center of Romania, Brasov's people have their own habits. I would like to write about a few of the things I had noticed and think you should know if you're planning on coming to visit, about people, and a brief update on the things that are happening in Brasov right now, in the form of a travel guide. You should always have an umbrella with you One of the things you should know is that sometimes Brasov feels like London. You never know when the rain will start, especially in the Spring and Autumn: the weather changes from warm, sunny weather, second into the pouring rain, in just a second. Having 4 seasons, you get to experiment a fairytale winter and a warm summer, and you can get engaged in the specific activities that you can do during those seasons, like going to ski in Poiana Brasov or climbing the nearby mountains, during summer. People Most of the people living in Brasov are open minded. English speakers, always willing to help you, as a tourist, to find your destination, hotel, or the place you would like to visit. Brasov isn't a big city, finding your attractions will be a piece of cake for you. But there is a downside regarding people. If you plan to move here, you will see that most of them don't really go out or do sports and another kind of activities. They get stuck in their routine sometimes, being too lazy to socialize or do activities of any kind. Transport Regarding this essential aspect, Brasov has some ways you can choose from, to go from a place to another with: Buses: There are different lines for the public transport. You can get a bus ticket from the main bus stations, which usually costs 4 RON (around 1 EURO) or you can get a transport card, which costs more, depending on the option you choose to get. If you stay for a short period of time, I recommend you buying the simple ticket, due to the fact that it's available on any line, for 50 minutes from the moment you scan it. Also, there are days when the bus is overcrowded with people and you can't breathe, and due to this conditions, the people get angry, but usually it is a good way to travel with. Also, the buses come quite often. Taxi: In Brasov, the taxi is cheap compared to other places in Romania. I have noticed some things about the taxis while living here: they usually don't give you change. For example, if the ride costs 14.15 RON they expect you to give them 15 RON. One tip would be to call a cab using Clever Taxi. It is a simple to use app. You just need to set your location and […]

Bran Castle: The Dracula connection

Bran Castle If you think of Romania, you can't help but think of Bran Castle or, as it is often called, Dracula's Castle. This 13th-century fortification is positioned between the Romanian regions of Transylvania and Wallachia and looks across wild mountains forested with tall pine trees, and the plains below that run towards Brasov. More easily accessible by road than rail, it is the number one tourist destination for visitors to Romania, and one of the top destinations for anyone wanting to see the castle that Bram Stoker allegedly wrote about in his classic 1897 novel. Except, of course, he didn't. In recent history, the castle was home to Queen Marie of Romania before the Communist Government confiscated it. Some time after Ceau?escu met his messy end, it was returned to the Queen's surviving Habsburg family and has been open to the public since 2009. If there were auditions for 'castle most suited to a Victorian, Gothic novel', then Bran would clearly get the part. It looks right. It is imposing, creepy, and surrounded by mountains. It has hidden tunnels, arches, old stonework and everything you expect a good Hollywood 'vampire castle' to have. Everything, that it, except any association with the most famous vampire of them all, Dracula. Still, the desire to see the place lives as long in the hearts of all Dracula fans as a driven stake in the heart of a dead vampire. The Dracula Connection For me, Bran Castle was the number one destination for my 50th birthday trip to Romania. Since first reading Dracula at the age of eleven, I had wanted to see the wild and mysterious Carpathian Mountains. I carried that ambition with me all the way to fifty when, with my husband, I finally had the chance to visit the castle from my favourite novel of all time. By then, I knew that there was nothing that associated Bran Castle with Dracula, and very little connected it to Vlad Tepes. Vlad 'The Impaler' was the son of a noble, Vlad II, Dracul, and ruled Wallachia off and on in the 15th century. Dracula was and is fiction. The old Romanian word for 'Dragon', Dracul has now come to mean 'evil', and its diminutive, Dracula, is what Vlad II's might have called his son. That, you may think, is a good enough reason to suppose that Stoker named his character after 'Vlad the Impaler.' It's true, he did read many books from the creaking comfort of dusty old libraries in England, and he did find inspiration in the ruined Slains Caste near Cruden Bay in Scotland, but Stoker never actually visited Romania, and certainly never came as close to Bran Castle as I did. The original name for his character was Count Wampyr. Imagine telling your friends you were going to visit Wampyr Castle; they'd probably laugh at you. Vlad earned his rather messy nickname, 'The Impaler' from a habit he had of slowly impaling his victims (domestic and foreign) on wooden […]

What can you visit in Targu Jiu, the city of Brancusi

I was born in a beautiful city, near the mountains, in Targu Jiu, or The city of Brancusi, in Romania. Targu Jiu is a small city. A very small one actually. It only has 80.000 residents and 161 km². But, even if it`s a small city, you can visit a lot of beautiful things and I want to share with you the most beautiful ones. The ones that I think every tourist will love it and will make a good impression of this beautiful country and city. Why The City of Brancusi Constantin Brancusi is one of the most famous European sculptors, who was born near the Targu Jiu city, in 1876, in a village called Hobita and who left in Targu Jiu four beautiful sculptures that are the main attractions in this town: The Endless Column, The Gate of the Kiss, The Chairs Alley and The Table of Silence. So, because Targu Jiu city is recognized by Constantin Brancusi sculptures, the city is also known as The city of Brancusi. The sculptures of Brancusi The four sculptures of Brancusi are a tribute to the fallen heroes of World War I. These sculptures are arranged on the same line, oriented from the west (sunrise) to east (sunset) and it has a length of 1753 m. This axis is representing the funeral ritual. But I will explain this when I will present the sculptures. 1. The Table of Silence The Table of Silence represents the last meal of the soldiers before war. The Table of Silence has 12 chairs (the 12 apostles) around it in shape of an hourglass which represents the passing of time. What it`s awesome here is that this table with the chairs is in shape of a perfect circle (equal distances between chairs and between every chair and the table). 2. The Chairs Alley The Chairs Alley (total of 30) is between The Table of Silence and The gate of Kiss and it represents the actual road of war to death. It is very touching every time you walk in the park, between the table and the gate, on the chairs alley. And it is a good time to take this walk whatever the season. These chairs have the same shape like those from the table: an hourglass. Personally, I love to walk on this alley. It has something that I can not describe in words. 3. The Gate of Kiss The Gate of Kiss represents the gate between life and death and your road after life it continues until The Endless Column.  But it has a beautiful tradition for couples The Gate of Kiss. If you guys are a couple and you walk under the gate, you have to kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend if you don`t want to turn into a stone. So, if your mad at each other, you must make peace. And I like this tradition. It is a very beautiful one. 4. The Endless Column The Endless Column represents the eternity – everything that is […]

10 tips for ultimate city break in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

There are plenty of fancy and popular destinations for a city break in Europe but if you want to explore some exciting, hidden beauties, then your place is the ‘Wild Wild East’ where you can find these on a low budget. Let’s be more accurate: Romania is the ultimate choice for a city break if you are looking for some great experiences. The center region of the country (called Transylvania) has amazing landscape with huge mountains and forests which are perfect for hiking or for winter sports. Besides that, you will find here charming villages and of course big, vibrating cities. The coolest among them is the 700 years old city, Cluj-Napoca, the informal center of the region which is great for a city break. So let’s jump in, I will give you my tips for a great city break in Cluj-Napoca, Romania! 1. Get a taxi! I’m sure most of you will come with airplane so once you landed, change your money into Romanian currency, lei. This won’t be a big challenge because the airport of Cluj-Napoca is not big but very modern and super easy to find what you need. When you have money, get a taxi. Traveling by taxi is fast and cheap: 2.25lei/km which is around 0.5 euro so you will get fast and very cheap wherever you want. Keep in mind that most of the taxi drivers don’t speak English but this won’t be a problem: write the address where you want to go in your mobile and show it to the driver and you will arrive exactly where you wanted. 2. Find a good accommodation Well, this depends on your budget…In Cluj-Napoca, you can find plenty of luxury hotels, very good quality guesthouses, hostels and so on. In the city center, you can find hostels (e. g. Retro Hostel, Transylvania Hostel) on cheap price if you want to stay close to bars and party places to feel the pulse of the city. Besides these opportunities, I highly recommend choosing a guesthouse what is more affordable but also comfortable. The prices begin from 90 lei/night for a double room, it’s around 20-25 euro. When you search on the internet after guesthouse, use the Romanian translation of the word, ‘pensiune’ and you will get tons of offers. Tips to explore the medieval city center – places you MUST visit 3. Pia?a Unirii – the main square This place is THE center of the city, the most important meeting point for everyone. Just get a ‘coffee to go’ and sit down on a bench and enjoy the view of the meeting, hurrying and smiling people. You will see here the amazing statue of King Matthias Corvinus who was born in Cluj. The statue was made by the famous Hungarian sculptor, Janos Fadrusz in 1902 but in 1900 at the World Exposition in Paris, the mock-up of the statue won the Grand Prix Prize. Nowadays the square gives home for many festivals like the Christmas Fairy, the Transylvanian […]

Things to do if you visit Romania during the summer!

If you plan to visit Romania next summer this are few things you should know! Well if you are young, at school, Universty or just young, irresponsible and crazy, Romania is the place to be during the summer. You will ask me “why you say that?” Let me tell you a few things about Romania. First of all, the weather is amazing all summer and the people are really friendly. It is impossible not to make new friends here, well possibly if you are a grumpy person, but that is not the definition of young and irresponsible.Trust me if you love people and you like to be surrounded by them, they will love you too. Second of all, Romanian people know how to party, they get those insane events where you just need to be. Imagine Festival-2016         So if you want a party in the woods, with cool underground music, nice beer and lots of people dancing, Imagine Festival is the place to be. They will promise you a nice weekend in the Snagov Forest (that's 40 minutes away from Bucharest), where you can camp, listen to good music and learn new things like archery, spray painting or even yoga and meditation classes. Okay, so you want to get of Bucharest. Yes, it is crowded, agitated and sometimes too hot for your taste. So this is a  good opportunity for you to discover what the  Carpathian Mountains hide and you can go to Waha Festival. Just take your tent, sleeping bag, and few warm clothes and join the Waha world. A few days up on the mountain in Covasna will be all you need to connect with nature, intense music and fun people. Six stages with live music are waiting for you to enjoy them. You will find a great family there, a family that doesn't need words to communicate that will understand everything you want to say just by looking at you. The whole experience is very intense you will rediscover yourself and find out who you are afraid to be. Waha world-2016        A beautiful forest awaits you there. Fresh air and smooth grass; it is there for you every summer so don't miss it! Just be sure you do not get caught in that world too much and you will have a ride home. We got lost in the experience and before we knew it, we woke up after a few days with no money to get back to Bucharest and lots of luggage to carry down of the mountain. It took us 15 hours to get back to Bucharest, 15 hours in which we walked 6km, we hitchhiked, changed 2 trains and slept in a train station for three hours. Yes, all that was super fun and like I said Romanian people are really friendly but make sure you are safe before you hit the road. Imagine Festival and Waha Festival are not the only places where you can have fun during your summer […]

Picking Cherries and Baking Pies in Rural Romania

Picking cherries and baking pies in rural Romania. Doesn’t it sound idyllic? Oh, no? Then you probably haven’t picked cherries before. Or apples. Or olives. Or fallen leaves. Or maybe you just can’t find that space in your head that goes “Oh yeah, cherry picking, bring it!”. Or, you know, you never set your mind on traveling to Romania. Maybe you’ve never even seen it on the map. No worries. I hadn’t heard of Kehena Black Sand beach on Big Island Hawaii, then one day someone posted a photo on Facebook. And that was it. Instant love forever. And probably some traveling to the Big Island in the near future. Romania. Southeastern Europe, Carpathians, DADAist Tristan Tzara, Sculptor Constantin Brancusi, Monarchy of Queen Mary, Monarchy of King Michael I, the land of vineyards and orchards and grains, heavy winters in the mountains, mild summers by the Black Sea, unimaginable stories of cultural bereavement and hardship followed by blatant resiliency, creativity and innovation that outsmarts more than half of the west. There's a certain ruggedness to the way these people talk, something in their voice that shuts your mouth and puts tears in your eyes, while you're just standing there, listening. It's like their long history of upheaval and limbo turns into one drop of sacred oil, which drips and drips, into every cup of coffee, every piece of pie, every “Good morning!” and every “Good night baby”. A real-time Cornucopia, of relief, joy, greetings, and of course local foods and drinks and sweets that can put your mouth to silence. Again. 5 reasons why rural Romania is the go-to place for picking cherries 1. Because, for one thing, this is what Romanian cherry trees look like when they start to bloom. 2. Because cherry blossoms in Romania are nothing like cherry blossoms in Japan. I mean literally. Sure, because well Romania is Europe and Japan is Asia, but truly because you don’t expect to witness such explosion of beautiful imagery and the smell, oh my, the smell..in a country that is in fact not renowned at all for its cherry experience. I for one, have never had a magazine calling me up for a “Cherry Blossom in Romania” feature, neither has any of my friends surprised me with an invitation to check out Romanian cherry season. You see what I mean? Do you see the magic? Do you feel the thrill? 3. Because rural Romania is your real dream world, a world that shows you effortlessly what it feels like to live for today. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge respect for the legacy of ancestors, and you can feel this admiration permeating the space within each home, but somehow these people work their lands and harvest their fruit and vegetables like there’s no tomorrow. It’s like “whatever I can do today to help this seed grow within its own timeline, I will do it. Whatever I can do to help this cherry tree blossom richly, I will do […]

The heart of east Romania – Timişoara

The heart of east Romania Timi?oara is the third most populous city in Romania and lies in the middle east of the country. Considering historical regions, the city is informal capital of Banat – the region covering Timi? County, Cara?-Severin and part of Serbia. This region is well-known for its beautiful nature, but also for its multicultural and multinational composition. By this, I mean for example town N?dlac with Slovak community, the Czech village Eibenthal, or many Hungarian and Serbian towns and villages near the borders. Synagogue So, let’s go back to Timi?oara, the pride of east Romania. I spent there only one day, but it was very intensive sightseeing, and I think I saw there the most interesting places. How would I describe this city in one sentence, or what was the main characteristic? In my opinion, this city is gallery of churches and cathedrals of various religions and various architectural styles. You will find there synagogue, mosque (as in many Romanian cities due to their history connected with Ottoman Empire) and of course number of Christian churches and their various religious versions. In two words: admirable and beautiful. Timi?oara offers you both: green and stone. By green I mean natural objects like Begej river and a lot of parks along this river, or botanical garden (but don't lose time there and definitely go to parks!). Meaning of stone is in this case various architecture and various types of churches already mentioned above. In Timi?oara and generally in the vast majority of Romania you can notice the impact of orthodox church and remains of communism. It's been twenty seven years from their revolution, and Romania woke up only few years ago, but the country is rapidly changing and experiences high raise in tourism. Orthodox influence in Timi?oara is visible but not as much as in other cities. That's why I was impressed so much by its manifoldness. What is the city exactly like? Fancy Victoriei Square If you will follow boulevard from train station to city center, you will get to Romanian National Opera House. Don't look at the building it's not worth it, just turn back to it and then you will see the pride of the city. Long square lined with the bushes, with fountain and wolf Rea and her sons Romulus and Remus in the middle, and colorful flowers everywhere, ending with orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. Cathedral looking like castle of princess. If you want to come in, you should not wear shorts and tank top, but I was lucky and nobody spotted me. I think I came in the middle of church mass, because it was full of people standing in front of altar. Please do not treat me like disrespectful person, I didn't know that time I cannot wear shorts, so it wasn't on purpose. In my country it is acceptable. If you are fan of coffee, or you just like sitting on the summer terraces, this Victoriei square is perfect for […]
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