Monday, September 11, 2017

Exploring Romania

Romania is one of those countries we always think of traveling back to. It seems like there's so much to explore. It is a big and versatile country, probably best for those who seek for something that you really can't find in central or western Europe anymore. The nature is beyond beautiful but you also have lots of history to explore and fantastic food and wines to enjoy.

Palace of the Parliament
Bucharest, Romania

Our trip started off from Bucharest where we spent one full day. I'm sure we could have spent a little longer there, but not necessarily more than a couple of days maximum. It's a huge city with a beautiful, yet small old town, which was our favorite. We loved the little shops, cafes and restaurants. The city does need a bit of renovation but nothing out of the ordinary.

The shopping possibilities seemed quite decent as there are a couple of huge malls in Bucharest. They have a good selection of western brands but what's way more interesting is actually the selection of eastern European (and beyond) brands that's still as modern and fashionable but you probably can't get the items in your country. 

Bucharest Old Town

Holocaust memorial, Bucharest

After strolling through the capital, we drove off to Brasov, a famous small town about a three hour drive from Bucharest that served as a base when exploring the Transylvania region. It's a very lovely, charming little city near the mountains. The drive itself is magnificent as the scenery is breathtaking. It could also be a great country for hiking.

On the road to Brasov

On the misty road..

While driving in Romania is definitely recommended for the views, it definitely requires some good driving skills. Even though there wasn't that much traffic, it was one of the worst places to be on the road because of the local driving culture. I can't even count how many times we had to beware of a crazy driver on the road either overtaking other cars in a total blind spot or just stopping on the road without any prior warning.

..still driving..

This aside, the drive to Brasov was so great, it took us about two hours extra time as we were constantly stopping to admire the Carpathian mountains. 

A sight you don't see too other anymore

Brasov, Romania

Brasov is a delightful small town, even when the weather is not on your side as there's plenty of museums, cafe's, bar's, restaurant's and shop's to escape the rain. It's also a beautiful place to spend a couple of days when in the region. While it might not be big enough to really offer you new corners to explore, you can easily pass a couple of days in there. Also, like mentioned before, it's a great base to explore the nearby regions.

One of the main streets of Brasov, Romania

Our intention wasn't to drive the Transfagarasan (which we didn't) but we did drive nearby trying to find the beginning of this famous, scenic route. And still we didn't find it but instead we did get to see some beautiful small villages and amazing scenery. We have a habit of driving around almost aimlessly exploring every little corner we find and Romania was another great country to do this. The food was very delicious no matter where we went and it's easy to find nice restaurants serving traditional, local food.

Sadly, Romanian wines are surprisingly underrated as they would definitely deserve more acknowledgement than what they currently get. Try and taste as many as you can. They totally blew us away.

Driving aimlessly

Stunning Romanian countryside

Bran Castle, Bran, Romania

Bran castle is, of course, a sight not to be missed. It's pretty interesting to take a step in. Again, the scenery around it is stunning.


Brasov, Romania

Next time we will definitely pack along our hiking gear and explore the nature a little closer. We can only imagine what amazing trails this country has to offer. Also, we'll definitely drive the Transfagarasan. The food in Romania is simply great so make sure to try mămăligă (polenta with cheese and sour cream), cârnați (pork sausages) and, well, just try everything you can get your hands on. It's delicious! Save time for shopping, if that's your thing, and keep your eyes on the road when driving.

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