Romania

It's always the same thing when I talk about a travel to Romania, I get a "but there's nothing to see there!" . (sighs) Well, yes there is!

Romania, pfff. To say that we’re going to visit Romania is sometimes almost indecent. It’s not uncommon to hear sighs full of “I expected better from you“. However, Romania is really nice country to travel. It is high time to visit this country and crush down its sad reputation and give it the honours it deserves.
Anyway, I am sometimes tempted to leave gullible people to their preconceived ideas: when they arrive in Romania with a head full of bias, prepared for the dreariness, the surprise is all the more beautiful.

Salut Romania! Numele meu este Christine, sunt franceză, drăguță să vă cunosc! Hi Romania! 

 

Let’s be very clear about: 1- In Romania there are no vampires, 2- Romanians are not beggars, 3- Romania is beautiful. That’s it. 

This will probably disappoint Twilight fans but no, in Romania there is no chance to meet the Robert Pattinson doppelganger. Maybe it’s a pity but that’s the way it is. Bram Stoker has never set foot in Transylvania.
The novel and the intersidereal success of this elegant and murderous creature should be the last thing you’ll ever go to Romania for. Since Dracula-sexy-guy never existed, going to visit Bran Castle is as ridiculous as going to 6 Privet Drive to meet Harry Potter. But then again, if it will contribute to save the heritage of Romania, that’s good.
Romania doesn’t really complain about these tourists attracted by the noble vampire, but it is beginning to saturate. Because this country really has a lot to offer: solid, real, authentic.
 

Meet the Romanians 

The Romanians, Ô surprise, are not all massed at traffic lights to wash windshields and beg.
They’re perfectly normal. After Dracula, who is just a myth, the disappointment must be great: no, all Romanians are not miserable. Business leaders, graphic designers, civil engineers, chefs, professors of ancient letters, Romanians are like the French, minus the béret-baguette. 
 

Seeing Romania scrolling through the window is not a black and white film from the 1920s.

This country is surprisingly colorful. From the incredible Art Nouveau buildings of Oradea to the villages of Transylvania, the color is surprising. It is not in France that you could see 1940’s low country houses in green, blue or pink. They are not repainted cause of fashion, these colours are really traditional.
The cemetery and the church of Săpânța show it brilliantly: Romania is not an all-grey country.
 

Romania is not a picture of Dresden in 1944 either

Yes, there are abandoned buildings in Bucharest, but it’s not the impression that dominates. In Romania, there are also Cluj Napoca, Brasov, Oradéa, Sibiu, Targu Mures… These cities are splendid and are not in ruins, what the hell!

Romania is a journey to the heart of nature

 
The country has magnificent forests (which must be urgently saved), hills, natural parks of wild beauty and clear waters. This same Romania is crossed by extraordinary roads such as the Transalpina, or the mythical Transfăgărașan that some do not hesitate to describe as the most beautiful in the world, just that.
 

The Romanian countryside is a real time machine

 
Populated by traditional peasants, there are still donkeys, horses harnessed to carts, men in velvet corduroy pant wielding forks and haystacks, real ones. There is nothing mocking about these visions, these men of the earth still have their common sense and perpetuate enlightened and relevant traditions. 
 

Romania has an unsuspected architectural heritage

 

Cluj Napoca is impressive in its delicacy and finesse. There are countless metal roofs chiselled like jewels, glittering in the sun. The architecture is a great cocktail: baroque, renaissance, gothic, classical and modern compete for the price of beauty. Let’s discover the imposing churches, the lantern-lit cobbled streets, the cheerful terraces, the fountains. Sounds really sad, doesn’t it?

The city is alive like a beehive, bright and cheerful. Trendy bars, typical or modern restaurants with a view from the roof terrace are numerous. This student and tourist city is deeply endearing.
The same goes for Brasov or Sibiù and many others. Moreover these cities have another asset: they are all close to mountains, valleys or countryside where hikers, skiers or cyclists will go to get some fresh air on weekends.
 

Is Romanian gastronomy as bad as the country’s reputation?

 
Absolutely not! Romanian cuisine is simple, rustic and tasty. One finds here as in Moldova the Mămăliga (kind of polenta), the sarmale, these cabbage or vine leaves filled with meat, rice or vegetables. 
The soups are traditionally on the menu and are called Ciorba, which will surprise the linguist who finds there the Arab Chorba. They come in all shapes and colours: sour, sweet, hearty, with meat, offal, vegetables, etc.
Mititei or Mici are enthroned on the grills. These are sausages that look very much like the Turkish koftas but with a different composition. They are also called “skinless sausages”. Romanians love them, they can be found in all markets. 
 

Zakus-what ? Zacuska !

At the end of August at the beginning of September, Romanian families meets in front of self-service barbecues in parks, in the countryside … Everyone is getting started: it’s time to prepare the Zacuskas for winter.

These are eggplant caviar, pepper puree, various vegetables. The work is perfectly organized: the dads armed with protective gloves are on the embers and grill the vegetables. They are then brought to the tables (also available) or the chain is activated: placing in a pan, seasoning or re-cooking and hop in the pots! All specialties do not necessarily need a barbecue, but the crowds on these barbecue areas are really surprising and very friendly. You can choose from all these good things: garlic, spicy, flavored, brine, salted, oiled and put in jars for the winter.

What about the Romanians? Are they nice?

 
Yes, yes and yes! The young Romanian generation speaks good English and it is easy to communicate. The dialogue may be a little more difficult with the older generation, but all is not lost. Let’s not forget that Romanian (the language) has Latin roots, it is very close to Italian. If you listen carefully, you can recognise certain words. Anyway, the exchanges are friendly, Romanians are happy to welcome visitors. They are generally partygoers, smiling and very lovable. Romanian hospitality is an important value in the culture of this country.
 

Is Romania dangerous?

 
The country has a crime index of 27.86 and a safety index of 72.14. By way of comparison, in France the crime index is 46.38 and the safety index is 53.62. It is not in Romania that we see men with weapons parading around to ensure the safety of citizens, that’s for sure.
It must be acknowledged, however, that the country suffers from a serious problem of corruption, which hinders a most promising development. But no, Romania is not populated by thieves, swindlers and murderers.
 

Romania is a Latin country with roots in ancient Rome, among other places

 
Romanians are of Christian (Orthodox) tradition largely inherited from the Eastern Roman Empire. European (German, Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian…) and Byzantine influences are spread throughout the country. The Romanian history is similar to all the countries of the world. It is punctuated by invasions, liberations and revolutions. It is a rich culture to discover, far from the reductive clichés delivered by the media.
 

Mulțumesc România, la revedere, ne vedem curând!

Roumanie

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Next trip: How about the neighbours country, Moldavia?

It is not very well known, one can even say that few visitors rush there. Unless they are lovers of pure Soviet architecture and wines worthy of all great vintages!