In the month since returning from our summer vacation abroad, I’ve been approached by several friends requesting information about our Romanian vacation.
In fact, it seems that people are finally starting to take notice of a beautiful Baltic country that has been off the holiday destination radar for years.
I’m convinced that in the not too distant future, there will be a mad rush to the freshly discovered Romania, so here are my five recommendations as to why you should take your family, and soon!
Romanian cuisine is an excellent blend of borrowed techniques and flavors from its neighbors: Turkey, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Russian.
From the tempting street grub, the savory fish salad (Icre) and unique Zacusca (eggplant mixed with peppers), sour Ciorba soups, meat stews and kebabs to the scrumptious desserts like the Gioffre and Savarina, your family will have plenty to sample and discover.
Our kids still dream of the Papanasi (fried dumplings) topped with berry jam and crème Fraiche they enjoyed.
We all know Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula may have been pure fiction, but that didn’t stop us fantasizing about meeting the bloodsucking vampire in secret passages or at the top of the wooden staircases of Bran Castle.
In fact, most visitors to Romania enjoy tracing the footsteps of the fictional character through the medieval town of Sighisoara to the castle where he allegedly lived, to his secret tomb in Snagov.
In the process, they learn about the person who supposedly inspired the stories – the ruthless Romanian ruler, Vlad III the Impaler.
Many travelers don’t realize just how large and geographically diverse Romania is.
As you drive outside the capital, in places like Maramures and Suceava, there are vast areas of unspoiled wilderness waiting to be experienced. With beaches, mountains, valleys, forests, hot springs and even a river delta, there is a beauty as far as the eye can see.
Even more fascinating is that the country has kept its authentic, centuries-old farming traditions and slow-paced village living.
Our fondest memory is listening to the cow bells crossing the meadows in Zarnesti on our way to the Libear-ty Brown Bear Sanctuary.
The people are open, warm and very friendly especially with tourists; as they feel a sense of obligation to portray their country in the best light possible.
Surprisingly, many people we met, especially the younger generation, spoke English quite well, so communication was no problem. Furthermore, throughout our trip, our son with autism was treated kindly and made to feel welcome and comfortable by everyone we met even in the most remote locations.
Compared to other countries in Europe, and globally for that matter, Romania continues to be an excellent choice for budget-oriented travelers.
A family of four can stay in a large, three-star hotel room in the capital for less than 100 dollars a night and enjoy a three-course meal at a sit-down restaurant for under fifty dollars.
Prices for public transportation, including cabs, are small, and entrance fees to museums, churches or other attractions are much more reasonably than in any of its counterpart European destinations.
The bonus for souvenir lovers is that one can haggle with different street vendors and come away with a bagful of trinkets for less than ten bucks, just like our son did!