A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
UPDATED JANUARY 2021
I bet you weren’t expecting this!
So, what happened?
As you know, I’m a great advocate for Europe, and even more so for Eastern Europe. I mean you only have to scroll through this link to experience my love for the continent.
But if you’re as lazy as I am (whaaaat!), I’ll give you a helping hand!
THE CZECH REPUBLIC:
p.s If you’re booking hotels, houses and apartments, use this link to save 20% or more, between 5th January and 31st March 2021!
Now to be clear, I’m not saying that I don’t like Romania. I’m not a hater you know.
I’m just saying that it didn’t tickle my fancy!
And even though that’s a rare thing, here’s somewhere else that I won’t be rushing to anytime soon.
The Dominican Republic.
Not Sloveeeeeenia that I absolutely adore.
I mean, once upon a time, I even spent a considerable amount of time living there.
Not one bit.
And not for the better either!
Now before you all get your pitchforks out and proceed to burn me at the stake.
When writing about Romania, I’m refering to the nation and state of Romania, not the people.
And certainly, I’m not in any way making reference to the Roma minority!
I’m not cruel!
If anything, I very much enjoyed learning about the history and culture of the indigenous people, and only wish that I could have learnt more!
So what’s this post all about then?
Well, Romania was my 65th country, and in truth I was excited, and waiting to be dazzled.
Not by flashy buildings or histories of yore, but just by that feeling of joy.
Being in another place.
I mean, I was in a new country n’ everything.
And some things were quite interesting (I’ll tell you all about them next week)!
I wasn’t overwhelmed.
I wasn’t fascinated.
And sad to say.
I wasn’t even impressed.
I’m well-travelled and know perfectly well that each country has a different charm to it.
And you don’t have to be a wealthy nation, have historical claim, or filled with a huge amount of resources, to get it right.
You don’t even have to have a name that anyone can pronounce.
You can be as tiny as you like and still be totally compelling!
I’m the last person on earth to ram my opinion down anyone’s throat.
Let’s get a little bit of background shall we?
Romania is a country in a region that is considered to be Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and South-East Europe, and surrounded by Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, Moldova, the Ukraine, as well as the Black Sea!
It has a population of almost 20 million people, is considered one of the poorest members of the EU.
That notwithstanding, Romania has the second-longest river in Europe flowing through it – the River Danube – the second-longest mountain range in Europe – the Carpathian Mountains – and has been around as far back as 40,000 years ago!
Most people don’t know an awful lot about Romania, but it’s rise to fame came about in modern times due to the Communist rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the intrigue of Bran Castle, otherwise known as Count Dracula’s Castle.
More about this next week!
Bucharest, otherwise known as București, is the capital of Romania.
It has a population of roughly 1.8 million people, is very near the Bulgarian border, and was first mentioned in 1459!
The architecture of Bucharest is an interesting mix of neo-classical, art-deco, French and communist-era design.
In fact, pre-WWI and WWII, Bucharest was sometimes referred to as Little Paris, but was utterly destroyed by earthquakes or the rampant desires of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who preferred Bucharest to look like the country of his dreams, and bull-dozed most of the city to the ground!
In truth, Nicolae Ceaușescu did this to make way for his Palace of the Parliament, which outside of the Pentagon, is the largest administrative building in the world!
So there’s that!
To visit Count Dracula’s Castle!
Don’t be ridiculous!
That’s really why I went to Romania!!
To visit the castles!
Not just Bran Castle, but Pele Castle too!
I’m a tourist. What of it?
TAKE ME THERE?
We flew with Ryanair.
And it was pretty alright.
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
Bucharest is beginning to attract attention, and certainly, in the peak months, you’ll get a summer rush, but it’s hardly Dubrovnik.
Romania isn’t on the radar of most people and so the capital city – Bucharest – is almost always mixed up with – Budapest – the capital city of Hungary!
They’re nowhere near the same!
Budapest is far nicer!
WHAT IS ROMANIA LIKE?
Well, it isn’t Switzerland, that’s for sure.
It’s not anything like other East European cities either!
It’s a bit gritty, but not like Berlin.
It’s got that old ex-Soviet Union look, but not like Riga, or Warsaw.
It’s a bit rough-looking, and not very well looked after, as there were loads of really beautiful buildings that were either abandoned, or falling apart!
I wanted to get a feel of Romania, so we were there for a week.
It didn’t wow me!
I DON’T SPEAK ROMANIAN!
Not a problem.
If you can speak German, Russian or a little English, you’ll be fine!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
Thanks to the fact that Romania isn’t on the beaten path, accommodation ranges from quite simple, to 5-star establishments.
It won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!
Prices are excellent, so we decided to use booking.com to book a large two-bedroom, two-bathroom, two balcony apartment for just €54.00 a night.
Our Green Apartment was big enough for four (4) people sharing, making it a ridiculous price of €13.50 per person.
I really don’t think you can do any better!
Having said that, in the summer months, book ahead.
BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO ROMANIA?
Romania isn’t boring.
There is plenty to do.
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Romania isn’t the safest of countries, but public transport is cheap and available.
We chose a better option.
Uber was so cheap that our rides across town cost as little as €2.60 in some places.
Two (2) Euros and sixty cents!!!
Isn’t that marvellous!
If you’re in Germany, here’s my link!
Prices are extremely cheap, but do double-check your bill.
Don’t bother to use public transport as Uber is cheap as chips.
The city centre seems to be alright at night, but most of the side roads had no street lamps, so was pretty dark.
There also seems to be a lot of construction going on as the pavements had lots of huge manholes that were fenced off with plastic tape, and couldn’t be seen at night, so that you did, in actual fact, fall in!
Don’t expect service at restaurant and bars.
I live in Berlin, where service isn’t that fantastic, but Romania totally beats nonchalant attitude, hands-down!
The amount of time that I had to ask staff at “nice” restaurants to clear and clean tables before we sat there, was rather too much for my liking.
And apparently, it’s quite the norm!
Romania is a European historical country, mixed with distinct reminders of a socialist past.
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
It didn’t wow me!
I wouldn’t go all out to visit Romania, but if you’re in the region, take a day or two and visit.
Or go to the countryside, which is quite nice!
But as always, don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.
Europe is wonderful!
This article is not sponsored, and all opinions are really, my very own!
Next week, the Romanian places that I did like!
And in a few weeks, I’ll be revealing my next summer trip!
That’s it for now.
See you next week!
Watch this space!
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I loved Romania!
I arrived there after backpacking all the way from Poland (Warsaw to Krakow), then Ukraine (Lviv to Kiev to Odessa) to Chisinau in Moldova then Romania (Bucharest and Brasov).
I loved the greenery in the city..the huge park, and I loved the fact that English was spoken there..(it was a relief after the other countries I mentioned above where English was hardly spoken.)
I hope to go back soon too..the other cities are worth visiting as I’ve been told..and Romania is a pretty huge country with a stunning landscape!
Would love to visit Cluj and Sighisoara. Brasov I found to be so charming and beautiful. I referred it over Krakow in Poland, which hardly wowed me.
Thanks so much Caroline! 😀
I remember reading about your time in Eastern Europe and how much you loved it too. You’re right, Romania is a huge country and even though I went to other locations too…
Nevetheless, as a country, it really didn’t wow me!
p.s. I really like Poland, but many people have mixed feelings. It’s the way of the world. 😉
It’s so interesting to read about your experience, Victoria. We all experience a certain country differently and I am glad to read your feel of Romania. I haven’t been there yet but I’d love to explore the country and see if I’m on the same page as you. It’s great when we share both our positive and negative thoughts from our travels!
Thanks so much Lydia!
I think so too! I don’t like Singapore, South Africa, Slovakia, and the Domnican Republic either, and nobody is up in arms about it! 😀
I’ve had a few nasty comments on Facebook by people who have never ever read my blog, and describe me as a “tourist who has never travelled, hates ex-Soviet countries, and knows zilch about Eastern Europe!” She fell short of calling me outright xenophobic!!!! I corrected the nonsense she was spewing, and then ignored her!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Romania, and as you know. I think. 😉 I’m a strong supporter of making ones own choices, so do visit, and make up your own mind. I love Eastern Europe on the whole, but Romania just didn’t wow ME!
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OK, so I’ve been to Romania twice. The first time was in the dead of winter on my first Christmas with SVV (2005). We rented a car in Budapest and drove all through Romania snow for 10 days. It was magical!
The second time I went, we went back to the tourist areas in the height of summer. What a different experience that was! I didn’t like it nearly as much. I found Brasov way too touristy for my liking, and Castle Bran was slammed. When we went to Peles in December, we were literally the only people there—the castle attendants even let us go and sit at the furniture, I kid you not! This last time in Peles in August, we had to wait hours to get on a tour.
So, girl, I’m with you. And funny enough, South Africa aside, I am so on the same page with those other countries—the DR, Singapore and Slovakia just didn’t really wow me at all. Add China and Guatemala to that list of places I don’t feel the need to return to.
Thanks so much Kristin!
I really appreciate your comment as a person who knows where I’m coming from! 😀
I absolutely adored Peles Castle, and when I finally get to writing about the rest of Romania (Oh yes. There’s more!), I’ll tell you all about it!
p.s. I remember telling you about my experience in the Dominican Republic. In fact, it was my first and only time that I had ever been to the Caribbean, or indeed, an all-inclusive holiday. My verdict. Exotic beaches are a bore, and in places where all the food and entertainment is at the hotel, the local economy suffers, Indeed, I was shocked to find a local boy hawking cans of Cola & Fanta for $5.00 – 5 US dollars, when in Germany, it was 1 Deutsche Marke (Ahem!)! Not only that, but in Germany, beer was actually cheaper!!! They changed the law on that though, so that it was, at least, the same price! Eek!! 😉
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Interesting story, thank you for sharing.
Obviously, people are wowed by different … ‘factors’.
We are getting lots of positive feedback on Romania and – of course – we respect ~ and have learned a lot from ~ your opinions.
Hope you will find time to re-visit Romania, in the near future, and discover other areas of the country. Enjoy your travels!
Thanks very much Simion!
I really appreciate your comments! It’s sad that I didn’t get the wow factor, but I really enjoyed the castles, and the rustic food was pretty interesting. A second visit to Romania isn’t on the books at the moment, but you know, “never say never!” 😀
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This is a balanced and detailed post. I do understand your sentiments. I can see you appreciate the country and its people though it lacked that hard to explain element to have it wow you. I want to explore different Baltic countries bit by bit, this post is cause me to long for that.
Thanks very much Kim!
Indeed, I appreciate Romania. It’s a fine country by any amount. It’s just not “fine” enough for me!
Having said that, the Baltic countries are lovely to visit. Go for it, and make your own mind up! 😀
Enjoying all the insights and knowledge. We just came back from Slovenia and planning to relocate our family there from South Africa. Please tell me what you didn’t like about South Africa, not a big fan of my own country SA, anyway.😘
Thanks very much for reading. ‘Very glad you enjoy my articles.
Isn’t Slovenia a lovely country? Did you enjoy it?
Ah! South Africa. I went to Cape Town. And Cape Town is quite lovely.
I went to visit a girlfriend who has a house on the cliff facing the sea. She spends 6 months there and 6 months in Germany, and she invited me to come visit. So I did.
I did all the touristy stuff, penguins, safari, markets, Township, Nelson Mandela prison, etc. I even did a cookery course, and had High Tea in many hotels / restaurants.
All very nice, but that was what it was.
I’ve been to West Africa and North Africa many times, so I know Africa a little. 😉 But I wasn’t expecting all the nice stuff so that I pretty much did the type of thing that I would do at home. In Germany!
It sounds awful and probably a little petty, but it didn’t feel African at all!
I had the same type of thought in Singapore!
It was so clean and orderly, I might as well have been in Switzerland!
Perhaps, I’ll write about it all one day! 😀
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