This year I decided to visit more cities. I’ve travelled quite a bit already in my life, especially due to the fact that my mother is a travel agent. However as I live in London and I don’t have the luxury of my parents paying for my trips anymore I’ve had to become more inventive…city weekend breaks!
For half the time and half the price, a city weekend break is the perfect way to visit a new location and learn so much about a culture, people and society that you hadn’t known before. Therefore with this knowledge, I decided to embark on Romania. Romania is known primarily for Dracula and Transylvania but I knew there was more to this foreign land so I decided to go visit.
Therefore here are my top reasons why you should visit Romania:
Now I don’t mean predominantly the sausage, but the food in general. It’s not quite the grey slop you’d imagine. I admit that the Romanian standard is meat, potatoes and cheese but that sounds great to me, and to be honest, it’s pretty much the same for half the world. Hanu Berarilor is an astonishing example of the wonderful cuisine of this exotic land (take a look at the menu). As I said earlier it’s a lot of meat and cheese, and in one dish, they’re combined. Yet if you are to visit this amazing restaurant in Bucharest, you should definitely go for Cârnaţi vienezi cu cașcaval and Mititei speciali alongside a nice cold glass of beer and then finish the meal of with Papanaşii Coanei Mari cu smântână şi dulceaţă – so delicious!
If you decide to venture away from Bucharest and you find yourself in Braşov, you must visit Sergiana – even more delicious meat!
If all that meat, cheese and potato has got you stuffed then you need to get outside and luckily, Romania has so much to offer when you want to work off those bangers, with anything and everything you can imagine in the Carpathian mountains. The flora and fauna are abundant. The area is the heart of the bear realm and boasts one of the greatest expanses of unbroken forest in Europe. It is teeming with wildlife: not just bears, but wolves, lynx, wild boar, pine martens and many other species. However if you want to stay away from the furry animals, you can go hiking & trekking, cycling or for those more dangerous among us bungee jumping and paragliding.
If you’re into your alcohol, Romania is one of the best places in Europe. It has a wide colllection of wines, brandies, and all types of spirits. Romania is one of the world’s largest wine producers and sixth largest among European countries. In Romania, there are many cultivated grape varieties for white wines with the most widespread being Fetească Albă, Fetească Regală, Riesling, Aligoté, Sauvignon, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Tămâioasă Românească, Grasă de Cotnari, Galbenă de Odobești. For lovers of red wine, the main grape varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Băbească Neagră, Fetească Neagră, Pinot Noir, Busuioacă de Bohotin.
But if wine isn’t your thing, then try Tuică, a traditional Romanian spirit that contains 28–60% alcohol by volume (usually 40–45%), prepared only from plums or if you like your alcohol stronger, try out Pălincă, a double-distilled plum brandy. There is also Vișinată which is a Romanian alcoholic beverage produced from sour cherries (vișine in Romanian), sugar and alcohol.
Romania is a country full of history. Modern Romania emerged within the territories of the ancient Roman province of Dacia, and was formed in 1859 through a personal union of the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. The new state, officially named Romania since 1866, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. At the end of World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia united with the sovereign Kingdom of Romania. During World War II, Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, fighting side by side with the Wehrmacht until 1944, then it joined the Allied powers after being occupied by the Red Army forces. During the war, Romania lost several territories, of which Northern Transylvania was regained after the war. Following the war, Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the 1989 Revolution, Romania began a transition back towards democracy and a capitalist market economy.
Amongst the countless historical sites, you can visit Coctroceni National Museum, The Palace of Culture Iasi, Rasnov fortress, The Iulia Hasdeu Castle, The Hunyad Castle, The Poenari fortress, Calnic castle, Alba Carolina fortress, The Fagaras fortress, Peles Castle and Palace of the Parliament as well as many museums including the Nicolae Popa Museum and The Village Museum, Bucharest. There are many religious sites such as the Curtea de Arges Monastery, The Voronet Monastery and the wooden church of Pious Parascheva in Poienile Izei. The country even features UNESCO sites including Prejmer Fortress and Viscri village. Finally there are many unique sites such as the Turda Salt Mine, Red Lake and the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta.
If you’re a languages geek like me, the Romanian language is very interesting. It is an Eastern Romance language similar to Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and Istro-Romanian, but sharing many features with other Romance languages such as Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. (The Romanian alphabet contains the same 26 letters of the English, plus 5 others, totaling 31.) Romanian is spoken as a first language by 85% of the population, while Hungarian and Vlax Romani are spoken by 6.2% and 1.2% of the population, respectively. There are 25,000 native German speakers, and 32,000 Turkish speakers in Romania, as well as almost 50,000 speakers of Ukrainian, concentrated in some compact regions, near the border, where they form a majority. According to the Constitution, local councils ensure linguistic rights to all minorities, with localities with ethnic minorities of over 20%, that minority’s language can be used in the public administration, justice system, and education. Foreign citizens and stateless persons that live in Romania have access to justice and education in their own language. English and French are the main foreign languages taught in schools.
Now I can’t mention Romania without it’s association to Dracula. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was apparently inspired by Bran Castle found within Transylvania and although Stoker never visited Transylvania, the Irish author relied on research and his vivid imagination to create the dark and intimidating stomping ground of Count Dracula, leading to persistent myths that it was once the home of Vlad Tepes, ruler of Walachia. While the association with Dracula is sketchy at best, the castle continues to hold a strong attraction for all fans of the Count.
Interested in travelling to Romania?
Romania is easy to get to. You can fly from Luton and Heathrow and it’s only a 3 hour flight. Buy your tickets here from Tarom airlines. If you want to get in that Romanian mood, don’t forget to watch Hotel Transylvania 2 which is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.
For more information about Romania, visit the tourist board here or click the image below: