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"Ce faci, Romania?" Romania by midnight_mike

Romania Travel Guide: 7,117 reviews and 23,018 photos

Charming, romantic, mysterious

Whenever a traveler ventures off to a corner of the world they have never visited, there are usually a handful of preconceptions they carry with them that may or may not be accurate.

As I first entered Romania in October of 2002, I must admit I thought a lot about Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.” After all, this was the land the author had envisioned when he created the vampire.

It is true that there was an historical figure named Count Dracul, whose son Vlad (1431-1476) was called Tepes--Romanian for “The Impaler”--because of his tendency to mount enemy soldiers onto stakes. He even dined in front of his slow-dying victims, which inspired rumors he had an appetite for human flesh.

But anyone who comes to Romania looking for vampires will surely be disappointed. Most Romanians have never read “Dracula” and those who feed into a traveler’s curiosity are likely selling T-shirts or post cards. While “Dracula” does draw in the most tourists, the Carpathian mountain range, which cuts through the middle of the country, has become an attraction unto itself.

A slow road to recovery

Ever since the 1989 revolution that freed its citizens of communism, Romania has been slow to reform. The lack of an official bureau of tourism, for example, has kept the country a relatively unknown destination. This has been good news for the do-it-yourself traveler who purposely avoids crowded destinations. There are no tour buses or hordes of foreigners watering the local culture down.

In addition, Romania’s sluggish economy has made it a bargain for western travelers. Most meals at a quality restaurant cost between $2 and $5; a bottle of the local wine sells for around $2; and a pack of Marlboro cigarettes sells for under $1.

One of the things fellow travelers mention most about the country is the lifestyle of the rural villagers. Horse-drawn carts are still the most common form of transportation in many enclaves of Romania, where electricity is a luxury and indoor plumbing is an oddity. Regardless of its size or economic status, every town or village in Romania is likely to have at least one eye-catching Roman Orthodox church.

Popular sights

Brasov in southeastern Transylvania is one of the more popular and accessible destinations for tourists in Romania. The city, which still has several structures from medieval times, rests on a depression surrounded by the Carpathians.

There are dozens of restaurants, cafes and shops within blocks of Piata
Sfatului, Brasov’s center. It has many similarities with Old Town Square in Prague, but on a smaller scale.

From Brasov, it is easy to access other attractions such as Bran Castle, Sighisoara, Poiana Brasov and Sinaia.

Bran Castle (1378), which is about a 30-minute drive from Brasov, is one of the most recognized images in Romania, as it has been billed as “Dracula’s Castle.” There is no actual historical connection to Vlad Tepes, but it is worth visiting as it does have the appearance of the castle Stoker was describing in “Dracula.”

Visitors to Bran usually stop at Rasnov Castle afterward. Only minutes from Bran, this mountain-top fortress built in the 1300s is a medieval version of the Alamo in San Antonio, as it served as a last defense for generations of villagers.

FYI: Romanian is a language with a mixture of about 60-percent Latin and about 40-percent Slavic. Buna ziua (zee-wa) is good day. Multu mesc (malt-zu mesk) is thank you. La revedere (ree-va deer-ay) is good bye. Cu placere (coo pla-chair-ay) is with pleasure. Unde (oon-day) is where. Kit costa is how much. For a sample of the words, listen to two of the country's most famous pop exports, O-Zone and Animal X. Sure, they're boy bands, but they sound really good.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful mountains, friendly people and great castles
  • Cons:Corrupt cops and train conductors... what year do they think it is?
  • In a nutshell:Romania is a land filled with adventures
  • Last visit to Romania: Nov 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (18)

Comments (4)

  • Sep 13, 2007 at 9:18 AM

    I'll be traveling to Romania 2 weeks to travel & volunteer work. I figure since you travelled here in October as well you could share some more info on your travels at this time of year and any helpful info would be great! Thanks

  • sui123's Profile Photo
    Oct 10, 2006 at 7:13 AM

    Inseamna ca asa arata castelul. Cind plec data viitoare la Romania numaidecit o sal visitez.

  • JohnniOmani's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2006 at 7:45 AM

    i agree that romania rocks. cheers. jz

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Jun 11, 2006 at 5:40 PM

    We enjoyed your Romania page. It looks like a fascinating place to visit. Thanks for the info.

midnight_mike Used To Live Here!


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