Perception Busting Through Photos: Romania

Travel in Romania

I write fairly often on here about how even seasoned travelers sometimes have very warped perceptions of potential travel destinations. The other day I saw someone spewing out all kinds of vile, derogatory comments on Romania on someone’s travel story, which I’m sure the person writing had never visited. It was one of those “I’ll never set foot in that sh&thole” rants from an ignoramus.

Living in a foreign country that has its share of bashers, I hear this from my own seldom-traveled friends and relatives in the states sometimes. I’m always surprised though when it comes from people who should know better. So let me go on record to say Romania can be a really lovely place.

Brasov Romania

That shot at the very top is from the countryside, which is quite beautiful, with high mountains and a lot of historic towns. The second one is from Brasov, which I wouldn’t mind living in for at least a few months. There’s good skiing nearby too. Yes, you can ski in Romania, and for about 1/3 of what you would spend a country or two over.

Romanian wineYou can also drink good wine here. This was an Iron Curtain country for a few decades, so as in Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, great wine makers were forced to go into quantity over quality mode for a depressing period. Freed from the shackles of communism, they now have an incentive to return to quality again and have come roaring back. This Rhein Cellars winery I visited in Azuga, Romania makes sparkling wine with the labor intensive Champagne method. Since labor is pretty cheap here though, a really good bottle will set you back $15 or so.

Borders in this part of the world have been very fluid over the past couple centuries, so people are often surprised that Romania contains a lot of gorgeous medieval towns like they would expect to see in Germany. This one below is Sighisoara, which has changed hands multiple times after various wars. It’s a great place to feel like you’ve stepped back in time, especially if you can hang out a couple days and take a stroll after all the tour buses are gone. You can get here on an overnight train from Budapest, so it’s a good place to start your Romanian journey.

Sighisoara Transylvania

The shot below is from Sibiu, which would be a relaxing place to hang out for a few days, doing nothing but strolling the plazas, dining on hearty food at outdoor cafes, and drinking good wine for cheap at night.

Sibiu Transylvania

And this photo below, is it from one of those super-popular European capitals that are mobbed with hundreds of thousands of tourists in the summer? No, it’s much-maligned Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Yes, the famous last dictator ripped down much of the historic center to build his giant ugly “Palace of the People,” but there are still some nice neighborhoods with some interesting walks and good cafes.

bucharest-romania

If you like intricately carved wooden doors that are a few hundred years old, here are some great photos of interesting doors I saw in Romania. Next time I go back, I want to check out some of these cool castles in the countryside.

 

Comments
  1. Tom H.

    A few years ago, we visited all of the spots you mentioned in this post. I would definitely go back to every one of them. Bucharest was interesting, in a post-communist kind of way, but we found the people depressed (not depressing, mind you) and the traffic was horrible. Otherwise, I’d recommend visiting Romania in a heartbeat.

  2. John Dwyer

    I agree. Romania is a delightful place. The painted monasteries of Bucovina, the castles, the Black Sea beaches. Lively Bucharest. I saw Joshua Bell in concert at the George Enescu Festival. Stayed overnight at a beautiful and restful monastery. Friendly people, good food, great prices. One of my favorite places!

  3. Steven Garrett

    No place is a s*** hole until you have actually been and experienced it yourself, and even then it may not be. It could be that you just had a crappy holiday, planning, mood, you name it. Nobody should generalize about anything they know little or nothing about. In fact nobody should generalize, period. These pics show a stunning country. Romania looks inviting.

  4. Dan

    Wow. I am well traveled, but have never made it to Romania. The photos and description have certainly made me put it on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sussan Morris

    I’m not a photographer myself. But am fascinated by ways in which faces are captured. But somehow I just love the way you have framed the almost empty road here..:)

  6. Linda

    Now I really, really want to go to Bulgaria. Thanks for sharing how wonderful the country is. Now to talk my husband into going.

    • Linda

      I was thinking Romania and wrote Bulgaria. What an airhead! I want to visit both of them!

  7. Hannah

    Love the section with the wine we are taking notes on food and hopefully when we get to romania we can use some of our notes thanks to you!

  8. Cristina

    Nice photos! Glad you enjoyed my country, it has a lot to offer.
    If you want to find out more interesting things about Romania you can always visit http://www.rolandia.eu/blog/

  9. Carrie

    We are starting to plan our summer travels are really hoping to make our way into Romania. We have done lots of western Europe, and super excited to see what the west has to offer. Thanks.

  10. TONY NIEVES

    I have been in Romania now a little bit over three weeks and must admit I’m impressed. I’m presently staying in Cluj-Napoca but have traveled to Satu mare and Bucharest. Went by sleeper train to Bucharest which in itself was an experience. Being from NYC I described to one of stateside friends that Bucharest was like Old World met Manhattan! I found it charming and full of points of interest. Plan soon to visit Timisoara & Sighisosra as well as Brasov. So far the cost of eating out and housing has been significantly less than expected and quality in food to be excellent (which due to being a vegetarian in a meat eating environment is not always easy).

    For the most part the people have behaved indifferent to my presence and only when they hear me speak English do they appear to take notice. Otherwise they just go on with their business. Now true as a previous entry stated I do find the people to be sad looking almost depressed. An observation I made on the subway while in Bucharest. Despite my effort not one person smiled back at me. I was told that was due to the after effects of the previous regime which caused hardship in daily life. Also due to the low wages and lack of advancement opportunities many are just plainly in a bad mood!

  11. palomnik

    Can anybody provide me with some details on what getting residency in Romania would be like for a US citizen? I’ve been living the expat life for seven years in SE Asia, and I’m ready to take myself and my business to Europe, as long as the cost of living isn’t too exorbitant. Portugal looked good (and I’d still love to visit it), but the complicated process for residency unless you’re an EC citizen pulls the rug out on it for me as a long-term option.

  12. Sky

    Wow, it’s so nice to read so many positive impressions about Romania. It’s good to visit any country or city with an open mind, as traveling is all about both positive and negative experiences. Other than that, Bucharest is a really ecclectic city with modern buildings and old town houses, as well as street art and charming cafes. The Romanian countryside is simply wonderful, especially in Transylvania with all the fortified churches and Bucovina. It’s definitely an interesting travel destination, regardless of the season.

  13. Mike

    I lived in Romania from 1994 until 2002 , I married a local girl who apart from being beautiful, intelligent and the best cook , she also is a fantastic parent to our daughter who is now studying pharmaceutical science in Dublin … Anyway apart from my good fortune of going to Romania at the right time after the fall of communism er I also left at the best moment as now all the beautiful women want is money without love , ha I was lucky in 1994 with a tenner in my pocket, right now marrying a east European is a business so if you go to visit Romania please be careful not to get caught ! Ha generally though the county is a stunning experience of mountains , beaches and great food .

  14. Dorina

    Nice pictures. Glad you liked my country. You should come back one day and visit another beautiful places :).

  15. Moise

    Glad you like my country,it’s a beautiful place,Romania wait you for the next trip!

  16. Lee Knox

    I lived in Romania from 2003 to 2005 as a Peace Corps volunteer. I found the younger people to be full of life and hope but the older ones to be very fatalistic. Their most common reply to everything translates as “Well, what can you do?” and is always delivered with a shrug of the shoulders. Bucharest reminded me of Mexico City with modern elements right next to rustic ones. I lived on the southern edge of the Carpathian mountains just south of Brasov in the town of Bran. Romanian is a romance language and is easy to master if you know Italian or Spanish.

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