Honeymoon Travel: Romania

Outside Castle Bran (Dracula's Castle)
Outside Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

The underdog of our honeymoon was Romania.

I had been waiting forever to see Turkey and Greece, and I was excited about Croatia and the good things I’d heard about Dubrovnik; but I didn’t have much background or information or really any idea what we were getting ourselves into visiting Romania.

We actually threw it into our plans after we had booked our trip. We booked the flights and cruise, but before we started putting together the hotel stays we took a look at the map (literally) of the area and realized Romania was just a quick flight away. We thought–why not?–and added a couple of days in Bucharest to our trip.

I loved the book The Historian in college, which originally interested me in Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, where the characters traveled as they searched for the truth behind Vlad the Impaler and Dracula.

I had looked into a trip to those three countries once before, but I didn’t realize how big they were or how long it would take to ride the train from place to place–it simply wasn’t feasible to complete that type of trip in a couple of weeks, and the train systems sounded way out of date and unreliable as well.

My aunt’s sister-in-law works for a local university and helps set up their overseas programming.

She works extensively with international students, both those coming from abroad to her university and those from her university who wish to study abroad. She shared a DVD with us about Romania and mentioned a couple of the cities her Romania students recommended. I also emailed our realtor, who is from Romania, and who kindly emailed me a whole list of things to do in Bucharest!

We only had a couple of days and we were flying in and out of Bucharest, which had a great deal of history to uncover just within its limits.

But I was able to find and book a bus tour to Transylvania so we could see a more traditional Romania village, Brasov, the former Royal Residence, Peles Castle, and the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula castle, Castle Bran.

The only hiccup was the bus itself.

The pictures online made it look like a nice two-story bus with an English guide so we could hear about the history of Romania as we journeyed north and into the mountains. Instead, we were met with an nine-person van and a highly enthusiastic and young guide and driver, Andre.

There was a couple from Mexico who climbed in the back with my husband, a couple of guys from L.A. and myself climbed in the second row, and Andre and a woman from Australia sat in the front. Passenger nine didn’t show up, which was lucky because there wasn’t a lot of room!

Andre talked non-stop the two-hour drive to Peles Castle, and he was really funny. I learned so much about what the country has gone through politically, and it’s fascinating that despite all of the changes in leadership–for thousands of years, long before it became Romania–it still has so many traditions and ways of life that have stayed in tact.

It’s really entering a new era as a democratic state, and if Andre is any reflection of the rising youth, the country is going to thrive moving forward.

I would love to go back again before it gets too commercial, but I also look forward to some of the improvements in travel and tourism they have in mind to make Romania a destination for travelers.

I could take up weeks of time describing the castles (Peles Castle had each room themed around a country the king had visited!!), the weather (everything I read said upper 60s/low 70s, but for the first time in 70 years it snowed and we were FREEZING!) and our explorations in Bucharest. Instead, I’m posting a few pictures that capture the essence of what ended up being one of my very favorite stops on our trip.

Peles Castle, Romania
View of the mountains via mini-van!
View of the mountains via mini-van!
Our first stop was the beautiful and ornate Peles Castle, which was hidden up in the hills and gorgeous inside and out
Our first stop was the beautiful and ornate Peles Castle, which was hidden up in the hills and gorgeous inside and out
The nearby lodge where Peles Castle guests were sometimes asked to stay
The nearby lodge where Peles Castle guests were sometimes asked to stay
Our second stop was to see the Mount Sinai Monestary
Our second stop was to see the Mount Sinai Monastery
Castle Bran, Romania (Dracula’s Castle)
It was very cold and snowy when we arrived at Castle Bran
It was very cold and snowy when we arrived at Castle Bran
Unlike Peles Castle, which was a residence, Castle Bran was a military fortress so it was not decorated or very furnished
Unlike Peles Castle, which was a residence, Castle Bran was a military fortress so it was not decorated or very furnished
View from Castle Bran
View from Castle Bran
Brasov, Romania
I loved our time in Brasov and could have spent several days exploring the local shops
I loved our time in Brasov and could have spent several days exploring the local shops
Andre recommended a traditional restaurant as well as some traditional dishes--this was polenta filled with melted cheese and bacon and a fried egg on top!
Andre recommended a traditional restaurant as well as some traditional dishes–this was polenta filled with melted cheese and bacon and a fried egg on top!
My husband in front of the Black Church, which didn't allow photos inside
My husband in front of the Black Church, which didn’t allow photos inside
A local woman selling her needlepoint outside the church
A local woman selling her needlepoint outside the church
We almost crashed thanks to a flock of sheep. We also got to hear a lot of Romanian swearing from Andre and the herder!
We almost crashed thanks to a flock of sheep. We also got to hear a lot of Romanian swearing from Andre and the herder!
Bucharest, Romania
Our second day we explored Bucharest--this crazy statue towered outside our hotel
Our second day we explored Bucharest–this crazy statue towered outside our hotel
We walked around through the Old Town, which is just one bar, club or strip club after another. Quite the party scene and right next to the university
We walked around through the Old Town, which is just one bar, club or strip club after another. Quite the party scene and right next to the university
My husband, appreciating the signage at one of the establishments
My husband, appreciating the signage at one of the establishments
Along with the newer establishments, the Old Town featured some old and worn down establishments that are being revitalized now that enterprise is encouraged
Along with the newer establishments, the Old Town featured some old and worn down establishments that are being revitalized now that enterprise is encouraged
Remains they are still uncovering from the former Old Court, next to the Old Court Church, which was built in the mid 1500s
Remains they are still uncovering from the former Old Court, next to the Old Court Church, which was built in the mid 1500s
Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler, outside the ruins of his station in Bucharest, which we got to explore on three levels
Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler, outside the ruins of his station in Bucharest, which we got to explore on three levels
Palace of the Parliament, the second largest building in the world, which wiped out historic neighborhoods and churches in its highly controversial construction
Palace of the Parliament, the second largest building in the world, which wiped out historic neighborhoods and churches in its highly controversial construction
We ate lunch at Manuc's Inn, which was recommended for traditional Romanian cuisine and which is the oldest working inn and restaurant in the city
We ate lunch at Manuc’s Inn, which was recommended for traditional Romanian cuisine and which is the oldest working inn and restaurant in the city
My husband's favorite meal of the trip-- beer and cherry pie as we bid Romania 'la revedere'
My husband’s favorite meal of the trip– beer and cherry pie as we bid Romania ‘la revedere’

One thought on “Honeymoon Travel: Romania

  1. Pingback: Local Adventures: Worldy Fare | Heather's Compass

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