Romania is a country filled with disclosed myths, yet still so mysterious.
Evening. Bucharest is brightly lit with neon signs. Surprisingly, the streets of the captial of Romania with 1.8 million inhabitants for some reason are not crowded on Friday evening. But the oldest and most attractive part of the city – Old Town – is full of cheerful students and tourists, munching some delicious doner while they walk.
A cozy hostel with forged stairs named “Little Bucharest” is located in the heart of Old Town. In the morning, a window opens to reveal the impressive array of columns of nearby buildings.
Romania is a very nicotine-addicted country. Almost everyone smokes. The restaurants and cafes usually haven’t got no-smoking areas, so you need to be ready to enjoy a delicious morning coffee and a croissant in small clouds of tobacco smoke.
The city is filled with parks. For example, in the north of Bucharest close to the Arc de Triomphe and Place Charles de Gaulle, on Lake Herastrau, residents of the city founded the eponymous park – a green island in the modern metropolis. You can get there by subway and get off at Aviatorilor line M2.
The impressive Parliament Palace, the largest building in the world with an administrative function, and the second largest government building after the Pentagon in the United States. It’s interesting; the design of the building was created by a 28-year-old female architect. The construction began in 1984 under the orders of Nicolae Ceausescu. Initially, the building was planned to be the headquarters of the main state institutions. During construction, there was such a demand for Romanian marble that even tombstones were made from other materials collected throughout the country. The construction required to destroy the historic city center, including the Orthodox Churches, caused numerous protests. Construction was almost completed by the time of the overthrow and execution of Ceausescu in 1989. The tour of the Palace is a “must-see,” in order to see the splendor of the powerful interior and countless chandeliers, the heaviest of which weighs seven tons.
The oldest and best-known restaurant in Bucharest, Caru’cu Bere, which opened in 1899, is also essential to visit. Outside, the building is completely unnoticeable, but inside, wooden arches, balconies, chandeliers, and stained glass will transfer the visitors immediately to the atmosphere of the old Romania. It is important to remember that the restaurant is very popular, and queues often happen.
The restaurant serves traditional Romanian cuisine, including polenta, a cool brewed porridge of cornmeal. It is served with stewed meat and cabbage or baked under a thick layer of cheese with sour cream.
From the North Station, “Gara de Nord,” you can find trains to the city of Brasov, which is only 30 kilometers from the capital. On the way, stunning views of the snow-capped mountains will appear. By the way, in Romania there are many ski resorts such as South Sinai in the Carpathians. These places were popular even in Medieval times: King Charles I of Romania built a castle near the modern Aki ski resort.
Brasov is a city in the South East of Transylvania, located in the heart of Romania. The Gothic Quarter of the old city is impressive. The Black Lutheran church takes a special place among the monuments of culture, which gained its name after a fire during the Great Turkish War. And yet, just 13 kilometers from Brasov is a ski area with luxury hotels and unforgettable views, called Poiana Brasov.
From Brasov, you can get a bus to the very entertaining Dracula’s castle in Bran. But all is not as mystical as it seems.
Bran Castle is very popular among tourists just because of the world’s most famous vampire – Dracula – who is described in the novel by Bram Stoker. In fact, the real prototype of Dracula – the notoriously cruel Vlad III the Impaler, who ruled the Principality of Wallachia in the 14th century – was not a vampire. He got the nickname “Dracula,” which means “son of the dragon,” from his father.
In fact, Dracula’s residence was the castle Proenari, and he only stayed for a few nights in Bran, as suggested by historians. In reality, this Bran’s Castle was the summer residence of the Romanian Queen Maria, granddaughter of the British Queen Victoria.
Even without the underlying legend, Bran Castle is a fine example of medieval architecture. The facility was built on a steep hill, the top of which is its foundation. There are a total of 57 rooms in the castle, with a maze-like layout. Now, inside there is the restored old interior and a museum of medieval torture. At the foot of the castle is a bazaar where you can find all kinds of souvenirs with the image of Dracula.
But the most surprising thing in this area is the landscape, if you leave the tourist area. Snow caps are visible on the mountain peaks, and small villages spread along the bottom.
Romania – a country which, unfortunately, is only associated with the myth of Dracula, is in fact full of enormous resources for travelers. There are the Carpathian Mountains with snowy slopes and many ski stations at them, as well as countless museums and castles in every city. Even just walking around Bucharest shows travelers awe-inspiring buildings in marble with a hint of abandonment, which give an incredible flavor of the city. In the south, the city of Constanta with the Black Sea coast and resorts expects visitors every summer. Romanians themselves are very hospitable people, who are ready to help strangers, show the way, or even invite them over for dinner.
How to go to Romania with a low budget?
- The currency is Romanian Lei. Check the rate you can here.
- From Otopeni Henri Coanda Airport it is possible to get social bus Line 783 to the city center, and pay only 8,6 lei for a round-trip ticket. Moreover, now the buses run 24 hrs.
- A hostel in Bucharest with a cozy interior and super friendly staff, Little Bucharest offers the night in dorm room for 9 euro, or double suite for 27 euro.
- In Bucharest there is a subway, which you can use for transportation across the country paying only 8 leis for a one-day ticket, more info here.
- From Bucharest to Brasov the ticket costs 50 leis (10 euro), and it takes 2,5 hrs to get there.
- In Centrum Hostel Brasov you can find a dorm for 11 euro. The location is excellent.
- To Bran you can take the bus from №2 Autogara Bartolomeu, and it takes 45 minutes by the road surrounded by mountains and fields.
- Entrance fee to Bran castle – 30 leis. (7 euro)
- For a three-course lunch, you may pay 20 leis, for a cappuccino – 6 leis, for a combo in Mc.Donalds – 18 leis, and for a bottle of water – 3 leis.
Moreover, Romania can be included in your European trip. From Bucharest there are trains to Budapest, Vienna, Sofia and Istanbul. Useful info here.
Text and photos by DoTravelMore.
Edit by Anna Moss
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