While most of us are busy visiting the usual suspects in Western Europe, intrepid traveler Omkar Pandharkame took the road less traveled to the land of Romania – home to medieval castles, beautiful countryside to camp in, wild partying and of course, Count Dracula.
In this terrific, well researched piece, Omkar gives you 12 awesome reasons to visit Romania, accompanied by some absolutely stunning photographs clicked by the talented Anastasia Mezhevich.
Here we go!
Romania has always been known as the land of Draculas and Vampires. It earns this quite quirky reference through a novel written a couple of centuries back – ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker. It is an intriguing novel about how a vampire (Count Dracula) moves from Romania to England in search of fresh blood! Although this is is a fictional masterpiece, it isn’t hard to guess that such a brilliant story can only be conceived whilst roaming around in beautiful Transylvania, Romania!
Insider Tip: We suggest you read the book before you visit Romania. It would add to your thrill of visiting the place.
Fun Fact: Dracula is in fact a second name for Romania’s most celebrated War Hero of the 15th Century, Vlad Tepes – also popularly known as Vlad the Impaler!
2. Transfagarasan : The most thrilling road in the world
When on the famous Automobile review magazine/ TV show editor Jeremy Clarkson was asked which road in the would was the most thrilling, it barely took him a second to answer “Transfagarasan.” truly, this is one road trip which you most certainly cannot miss out! (Read: 9 Insanely Thrilling Bucket List Experiences – Do You Dare?)
It takes a brief three hours to complete this thrill ride. Feel the adrenaline rush alongside one picturesque landscapes as you ride down your best trip of your lifetime. A highly recommended experience for any motorcycle or a car enthusiast! Also at the end of the road, treat yourself with images of the Balea Lake which can easily compete with the Pangong Tso of Ladakh.
Insider Tip: Well maintained motorcycles are available at a reasonable cost. You can also join up with any motorcycle club, as they frequently embark on such trips. It is the best way to make friends and experience the true mountains!
Fun Fact : Transfagarasan was in fact build by the Romanian army to prevent a probable invasion from the USSR. It is rumoured that more than 100 soldiers have died while building this mammoth highway.
3. Romanian Lei makes you go Yay!
Romania is considered one of the cheapest places to visit in the World. With their currency ( Romanian Lei), most things are quite cheap when compared to the rest of Europe.
Insider Tip: With One Lei is almost equivalent to 19 Rupees, one can eat drink and travel comfortably in 50 Lei a day budget! Not bad, eh?
Fun Fact: Romanian Lei is one of the rare currencies which use plastic instead of paper. So even if your notes get wrinkled, wet or crushed, no worries!
4. Castle away
Entering a Castle in Romania is like entering a time machine! You are taken back easily by five centuries or more. Built magnificently in the medieval ages, the castles have been restored and well maintained. Surround yourself with tall walls and pine top structures as every tower and gate has interesting stories to tell.
Insider Tip: Must visit castles are Peles, Bran Castle and Corvin Castle.
Fun Fact: Most of these castles are notorious for being torture chambers. If you are brave enough to visit the underground dungeons of the castles, you can witness various Romanian torture techniques being inflicted on dummies. Goosebumps guaranteed.
5. Romania makes not only its neighbouring country, But the whole world Hungary!
Romanian delicacies are to die for! With an array of dishes to offer, it pleases every taste buds of yours. From sour soups to lip smacking meatballs, One can be assured that his appetite is sure to increase within the first week he spends in Romania. Local favourites include Frigarui, Mitesti, Mamaliga. Something that should never be missed upon is Sangerete, a type of sausage. (Read: 6 Spectacular Restaurants Every Food Lover Must Visit)
Insider Tip: Although world cuisine is easily available across restaurants, true local Romanian food can only be found in a household kitchen. Befriend a local and invite yourself over for a meal!
6. Modern cities with a medieval touch (Or vice versa)
Don’t expect fancy skylines and glass buildings in Romanian cities. As a matter of fact, it makes a random stroll in any city lane very interesting and pleasing. One can see a lot of Communist and Gothic architecture in gateways and government buildings. The cities are well equipped with good infrastructure and an above average transport system. One is sure to enjoy a comfortable stay in almost any city of Romania.
Popular Cities : Cluj- Napoca, Timisoara, Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu.
Insider Tip: Trams are very much a part of public transport in majority of the cities. A tram ride is highly recommended if you wish to immerse you in local Romanian city life.
7. USA : Miami, Spain: Ibiza, India : Goa… Romania : Constanta
Constanta is the party capital of Romania! Nestled away on the coast of black sea, Constana offers great party options. From fancy cruises to beach parties, one can easily spend over an weekend and not even realise. Mamaia is the most famous beach in Constanta where it arguably hosts the best parties in Eastern Europe. (Read: A Dummy’s Guide to South East Asia’s Most Iconic Beaches)
We suggest the best way to spend a weekend partying in Romania – but of course at Constanta!
Insider Tip: There is an abandoned Humongous Casino dating back to 1905 right on the coast of the black sea. Rumours say that a fire was started by the people who lost their money while gambling in the Casino. It has not been developed but is a very important landmark in the city.
8. A backpacker’ delight!
Backpacking is one of the most thrilling ways to discover this beautiful country! One can venture into exciting backpacking trips near Danube Delta. Camping is a popular activity amongst the Romanians and they have know the best places to fish, have a fireplace and relax. (Read: A Trip to Germany’s Delicious Black Forest Region)
Popular places to camp are Balea Lake, Apuseni Mountains, Maramures and Bucegi Mountains.
Insider Tip: Romanians love music festival and its usually accompanied by camping scenes. Don’t lose the opportunity to visit a music and camping festival!
9. Music and Nightlife
Nightlife is vibrant and popular way of socialising across Romania. Nightclubs are open till wee hours in the morning and if you party long enough, you would probably get invited to an after party as well! Bar and pub culture is popular and easily accessible, whereas majority of restaurants too serve spirits. One can associate traditional Romanian music to that of the Gypsy people, which is essentially peppy and similar to the Flamenco music style.
Insider Tip: Popular Romanian Musicians include Edward Maya, Alexandra Stan, Inna and David Deejay. Expect the nightclub to erupt if any of these talented artists songs are played!
10. Get the Medieval feeling
A visit to Romania is incomplete without a visit to the offbeat Medieval town of Sighisoara. One can ask the locals how to reach and set to explore in this town where the way of life is simple and relaxed. The churches are plenty and sure to amaze you with their classic gothic architecture! One can indulge in great medieval food dishes and probably also use century old cutlery!
Insider Tip: Being a foreigner attracts a lot of eyeballs and also probably better hospitality. Enjoy the attention as you walk down cobbled roads and gateways!
Fun Fact: Sighisoara is revered to be the birthplace of the iconic Romanian King Vlad. One can still visit the room where he was born – that room has now been turned into a restaurant!
11. Year-long Happy Hours in Romania!
Romanians love their alcohol. And the bar prices don’t disagree. Romanian as mentioned earlier is one of the cheapest places to travel. One can expect 5 litres of beer at a throwaway price of 10-15 Lei at local supermarket or head straight to a local bar to have shots worth 5-8 Lei – Romania makes sure that your spirits are high all the time!
Insider Tip: We suggest Timisoraena Beer as it is a local favourite and also regarded as the city drink of Timisoara – How cool!
Fun Fact: Tuica and palinca are the most famous Romanian Spirits. Highly potent, they are made of fermented grapes or plums. The best Palinca is usually homemade!
12. Friendliest people
Romanians are among the friendliest people on Earth. Don’t be too surprised by their forthcoming and talkative nature! There is a large English speaking population and almost every young person can communicate well in English. The locals are inquisitive about foreigners and will probably end overhelping you – But well, that’s fun if you like attention! The police, locals and the people involved in the transport business are very helpful and crime rate is relatively low. (Read: 21 Common Mistakes Made By Travelers)
Omkar blogs at https://seekandindulge.wordpress.com/
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