TG Tips- Romania

Romania, Romanians and Romanian tourism often don’t exactly conjure up images associated with the very best in tourism, let’s be honest.

There is no doubt that in travelling around Europe as a Tour Guide the groups I lead do in fact often meet Romanians. These encounters are not always of the positive nature and sometimes lead to my tourists having their pockets lightened by a few dollars. The bridges of the Seine, the surroundings of the Florence Baptistery and other such iconic tourist destinations are all too often scarred by their doubling up as the hunting ground for pickpockets, some – not all – of whom trace their origins back to this little understood country.

Mc Horse and Cart - Romania at Its Best

Mc Horse and Cart – Romania at Its Best

Having now visited Romania twice, I am convinced that Romania exports the worst pickpockets and silly American vampire series and saves the best; friendly people, stunning countries, amazing vampire-free castles, wine and certainly interesting food. The changes since 1989 and, perhaps even more markedly so, since 2007 have been incredible. I advise to go not soon, but now. It will not be long before this relatively tourist free country, still clad in an innocence when it comes to the potential of the tourist dollar, realises the power of tack.

I would sum of this very much off-the-beaten track by this example; I had 38 American tourists on my last trip almost literally aching to part with some of their greenbacks for a day and a half in Bucharest, yet many, having found NO souvenir shops, returned to the States without presents. To me it says it all…

Here are some tips for when you do visit (they are a mixed bag from Transylvania and Bucharest)…

Tour Agency

World Synergy Travel – Bucharest. Without doubt one of the best local agencies I have ever worked with. They are a young and dynamic team, keen to shed the negative image of Romania and my goodness do they achieve it.

Romanian Tourism

Spot The Tourist – Entering Dracula’s Castle

They can handle weddings, private tours, hotel bookings, bus tours, find you where to eat bear, garlic to avoid getting bitten in Bran Castle and even stage fake bus breakdowns in the middle of nowhere (the rescue is by horse and cart). Contact them for anything to do with your Romanian tourism needs and ask for Răzvan or Johanna – you will not be disappointed. They have quite a nice multi-lingual website.

Restaurants

Caru Cu Bere – Stavropoleos St. 5 Bucharest. I have been to Bucharest on three occasions and on each one a local has said; ‘you simply have to try this place’. It seems ‘The Beer Cart’ is THE place to eat and can be very tricky to get reservations for. It hails from 1879, from a time when Bucharest lay claim to the tile ‘Paris of the East’. Decked out in Bavarian style, it comes complete with its own home brewed beer served in proper ‘steins’. Food is hearty, very meaty and still reasonably priced (especially considering is function as the restaurant for Romanian tourism). Might be wise to try to book here.

Sura Dacilor – Poiana Brasov. Nestled beautifully up in Romania’s best ski resort, Poiana Brasov, this restaurant is fun. Fancy a plate of bear, boar and deer? Then this is the place. The restaurant is inside a traditional Romanian-German Saxon barn style building.

Sliced Bear Anyone? Traditional Romanian Food In Plenty...

Sliced Bear Anyone? Traditional Romanian Food In Plenty…

Decorated with all things harvested, it is like eating in a larder of abundance. Folk music accompanies dinner. The beer is good and it’s a great place to try a full-bodied Romanian red wine, to wash down you bear. A virtual tour is available on their website.

Accommodation

Novotel – Calea Victoriei – Bucharest. It’s not exactly the type of hotel I normally recommend on 2nd Cup of Tea, but it deserves a listing for two a few reasons; the location could not be much more central, the staff are super friendly, the prices are very reasonable compared to Novotels elsewhere in Europe and in case you want a touch of something just a little more ‘Western European’ shall we say, then this could be a good option. Soon, when Romanian tourism ‘catches up’ there will be a series of great boutique hotels no doubt, but for now, you could do worse than the Novotel.

Count Kálnoky’s Estate – Viscri and Miklosvar – Transylvania. It doesn’t get much more cool than to stay in the castle of a real-life Transylvanian Count. This is Romanian tourism at it’s very best.

Count To Duck... I Mean DRAcula!

Count To Duck… I Mean DRAcula!

Prince Charles feel in love with the traditional way of life here and together with Count Kálnoky, has invested in its maintenance. If you stay in Miklosvar you will be given your every own private Saxon cottage (part of his estate). Breakfast and dinner are then taking together with whomever happens to be staying that day in the cellar of the main building. Each day tours are organised; Bran Csatle, Sigishoara, Bear spotting, etc. One of the best places I have ever stayed; great value for money and such fun. So many options so read their website first.

Visit

Peles Castle, Sinaia – Transylvania. I am a huge fan of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. In Peles Castle I might just have found something to rival it. Wow – what a place. The BEST venue ever for hide and seek (sadly not available as an option). Built between the end of the 19th and start of the 20th Century by King Charles I of Romania, this place is incredible.

Romanian Tourism - Peles Castle

The Romanian Neuschwanstein? Peles Castle

I only had time for the shorter tour that takes in about 50%, but next time I will book myself on the longer that visits 90% of the many rooms, including the servants quarters. Have a look at their website for details, but I recommend not seeing too many images – save the surprise for when you are there.

Music

Cvartetul Corona – Brasov. On my last visit to Romania I needed a string quartet (who doesn’t?). The Cvartetul Corona, supposedly from the Brasov Symphony Orchestra more than fitted the bill. They played at a cocktail and buffet reception for our guests, several of whom commented on how fantastic they were. I don’t think they have a website, but you can contact them through ccvartetulcorona@yahoo.com (I think that first ‘c’ is meant to be there).

 


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