Romania - What a wonderful surprise!

Just returned from Romania. What a beautiful country! My memory will always be of the green forests and high mountains and the many castles. I do not know quite what we were expecting...maybe lots of leftover communist housing and bad roads and crumbling cities and sour people but we saw none of that. We started in Bucharest with its tree lined boulevards, clean parks, beautiful buildings and a lively old town full of colorful restaurants with good food and excellent Romanian wines. The Bucharest Symphony was playing in one of the city squares. We stayed at the Europa Royale which was an excellent hotel with friendly helpful staff very near the old town just minutes from pedestrian streets filed with restaurants and shops.
Our most important decision was to hire a guide with a car to drive us from Bucharest to Transylvania and on to Maramures. From our research and blogs, we discovered that a guide and driver in Romania is very inexpensive. Our guide took out all the guess work out of our trip. No wrong turns, no bad hotels or restaurants, no tourist traps and no wasted time. Our guide knew the best places to see and took us to small unique villages. Our route was from Bucharest to Brasov to Sighisoara to Sibiu to Cluj Napoca then crossing the Gutai Mountains to Vlad Izei - a village in Maramures. Then onto Sighetu Marmatiei stopping to see the oldest tallest wooden churches in the world and the Merry Cemetery. Our final stop in Romania was Satu Mare before our guide drove us into Hungary to Eger. . Our guide was Daniel Gheorghita who spoke excellent English and gave us an excellent history of Romania.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Daryl, I'm glad you enjoyed Romania. We did too although we saw different places and did some family history around Constanza. Let's hope too many people don't ruin the place before we get back again.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I had a great time in Romania, but have to wonder where you went in Bucharest that you were able to not see "lots of leftover communist housing and bad raods and crumbling cities and sour people" - because with the exception of the touristy old city, that was our Bucharest experience. But we were staying with a local couple, taking public transit, etc. I wouldn't call a guide and a driver inexpensive in Romania either. It's cheaper than in Western European countries, but having a guide/driver turns Romania from a budget destination into costs comparable with going anywhere in the West. Which is fine if you can afford it. In my experience most travelers go to Romania specifically because it IS a budget destination, however, and a private guide/driver isn't in the budget. Glad you enjoyed your trip! I'd like to return someday and see the Maramures region.

Posted by Kim
Paris
544 posts

I was wondering the same thing as Sarah. There are some beautiful sites to see in Romania, but there is definitely some of all of the above in Bucharest. This write-up seems less than spontaneous to me, although if Daniel is a good guide (and Jim says he is), then no harm done. But the description of Bucharest does stretch credulity a bit.

Posted by Daryl
Coeur d'Alene, iDAHO
8 posts

Actually, my review was spontaneous. I do try to write well and I did go over it before posting. I really liked Bucharest. Perhaps, the nice weather, the lively old town, the beautiful historic buildings, the green boulevards and the helpful people on the street made a difference. Certainly, I was in tourist areas but as I mentioned, I expected an ugly city. It was not. I would like to say that my friend and I did travel on a budget and the car and driver costs did not come anywhere close to what I would even have to pay in Mexico. .....or what we would have ended up paying in Romania. We are not back packers but we do stay in B&Bs and take trains. We normally travel on our own but we researched lodging, rental cars, trains, etc and found it was far easier to have a guide. His costs included not only all the lodging and the transportation for 6 days through the villages and towns of Transylvania and Maramures but also his insights and his knowledge of the Romanian history. Also, We did not want to go back to Bucharest to take a train or flight so with the guide we were able to travel all the way into Hungary.
The airfare from Bucharest to Budapest was going to cost 2 of us $500. Our guide drove us all the way to Budapest for less than 1/3 that amount. I agree we all that Romania is a great place to visit. I would like to go back to take in the Black Sea and the Painted Monastaries.

Posted by Linda
Los Angeles, USA
2 posts

Hi there Daryl have to congratulate you guys for being able to put up with Daniel Gheorghita "the tour guide".

Posted by David
El Dorado Hills, CA, USA
6 posts

Hi Daryl, Wow, that sounds very very similar to a trip I took back in 2007! But I headed back to Bucharest after Cluj. I went there to visit a good friend who had returned for medical school and ended up spending a week and a half hopping trains through Transylvania! It's a beautiful country. I have to express some surprise as well that you didn't see any of the communist buildings and such. Thanks for sharing! -Dave

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
805 posts

I think there's a difference between not seeing something and not noticing it. If I am going through a stretch of drab 20th century buildings and come across a beautiful historic building or two, those are what I remember most about a place.