HOME > Romania
Kind of travel:
me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel
30th May- 5th Jun 09
I need a visa?:
since 2007 Romania is in the EU, hence for Italians ID is enough:
I'd bring the passport anyway to avoid any problem
trains work quote well, otherwise maxitaxis (minibuses) or buses
reach almost every place. In some rural areas we had to hitch
hiked, with great success, though
The first days we were freezing (13C) and soaked due
to the rain, then the sun came arising the temp to 25C. Hence
in this period consider the weather changeable
guesthouses and hostels are quite widespread ranging 14€
to 25€ for a double. We have even slept in some private
houses charging 20€ each for a full board with several
Romanian toasts included
the easy hitch hiking let you to meet people, we found Sighisoara
the cutest of the towns we visited, the road to the lake Vidraru
with its dam it's scenic and taking snaps to the people in the
villages as Apold it's a lot of fun
What I disliked:
river are amazingly polluted (but few rubbish in the streets),
the huge amount of stray dogs are an issue, and
surprisingly we found Brasov and the Bran castle a kinda of
to be in Europe, Romania is relatively cheap: a low budget for
a couple should be around 35€ each (12€ accommodation+
11€ food+ 7€ transport+ 5€ extras)
we hadn't any trouble both hitch hiking between the villages
and walking around in Bucurest, nevertheless it happened we
got a stick to keep the stray dogs away: be careful
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT ROMANIA
The touristy highlights as Brasov, Sibiu and all the castles
give to Romania a good façade, then the country is relatively
cheap, generally clean, food enjoyable and the landscapes scenery.
Hence this could sound enough for enjoying the trip: however
it hasn't been just this that made our travel interesting, but
the deeper glimpse we had, showing a more complex situation.
To experience it you won't need to travel in the remote Maramures,
in fact just taking the train from Brasov to Sibiu will let
you to meet poor peasants with their kids, all far from enjoying
the post-communist wealth. They get on the train where there
isn't even a platform to the main town to sell their few products
at the markets, I'm wondering if they mind or even know that
Romania joined EU, while it seems they are the real victims
of the inheritances of the communist regime as the super polluted
rivers, the un-breathable air in Copsa Mica and the stray dogs
On the other hand, several of the other inhabitants seem to
live thanks to an income coming from abroad, when, at the same
time, many of the few industries are delocalizing eastwards.
I found it a little worrying for Romania
We landed in Bucuresti at midday and immediately we left the
capital by train, heading to Bra?ov (almost one train every
hour). The Bucuresti- Bra?ov 4h train trip is amazing: the railway
crosses the Transylvanian Alps characterised by narrow valleys
spotted with small villages. Besides, since it was raining like
hell, everything was plunged in a misty atmosphere. On the way
to the Bra?ov centre from the station, we met the first of the
several Italian-speaker Romanians we'd have met in the travel.
He insisted to help us finding the way to the guesthouse under
a heavy rain and a cold wind: at the beginning we were a little
sceptic then we got convinced it was just helpfulness.
The guesthouse was simply a private house renting a room: nothing
else, but cosy.
The day after by minibus we visited the Castle of Bran and the
one of Rasnov, well known among the Transylvanian Dracula highlights,
although they have nothing to do with the myth of Vlad ?epes
Honestly we didn't get so excited, in particular by the super
touristy Bran castle more similar to a
souvenir shop than to a castle. Not that enthusiastic we were
for Bra?ov as well: a nice perfectly rebuilt Saxon town, but
not as Romanian as I was expecting.
On the contrary I got positively impressed by the town of Sighi?oara,
we reached in 2h by train. It's a small town built on a hill,
characterized by narrow streets, high walls and a scaring cemetery
located on a side of the hill: for sure among all, it's the
town with the most Dracula atmosphere. Here again we found a
clean and cheap guesthouse for 25€ a double room.
Definitely the most interesting experience we had in the travel
was the day trip to the village of Apold, settled 12km from
Sighi?oara, and reachable by bus (5 buses per day). There we
walked around taking pictures of the smiling kids and the elderly
enjoying the first warm sun of the spring.
People were eager to have a picture and it happened we found
ourselves surrounded by at least 20 asking for: so we did, and,
as promised, once in Italy we have sent them.
From Apold we walked towards Sighi?oara thinking to stop a bus
on the way, but after 6 km on the road among the green hills
we hitch-hiked: it took 5min and we were already on a car.
The following day still in 2h by train we reached the town of
Cop?a Mica: why did we want to get there? Simply because it's
a monument of the absurdity of the communist era. Cop?a Mica
has been one of the main industrial pole in Romania where both
human beings and environment have been destroyed. Till few years
ago the snow was used to be black and 2/3 of the kids had respiratory
problems. Even if most of the plants are shut down and the houses
pink and green repainted, now it's still considered the most
polluted town in Europe. While we were there we could taste
the sweet smell of the pollution and in some moments, depending
by the wind, it was hard to breath.
At the end we fled when approaching the plants for some snaps,
the guards come out yelling to us.
The same day we were in Sibiu, that, even if smaller, is definitely
aligned to the Saxon style of Bra?ov: it's a tidy place where
you cannot miss the climb to the tower of the Evangelic church.
We didn't enjoy that much since it was pouring and we were soaked
like sponges, so all we wanted was a warm restaurant to dry
up sipping a hot soup!
The following morning we were on the last train trip towards
Ramnicu Valcea to reach then by bus Pite?ti. I recommend this
train leg as much the Bucuresti- Bra?ov one: it crosses again
the green Transylvanian Alps running along the river (not so
crystalline honestly) leaving the Transylvania region and entering
the Walachia one. Trying at any cost to reach Curtea De Arge?
by train, we went to the north station, where we were told the
train was supposed to leave from the south one 4km southwards.
Thus we walked crossing the centre of Pite?ti, that I enjoyed
considering by the way it was the first Romanian not-Saxon-style
town we visited. Finally we got at the station and, obviously,
there was no such train: disappointed we ended up reaching Curtea
Here we took another maxitaxis (minibus) to Arefu, a rural smaaaaall
village perched in the green hills of the Transylvanian Alps.
Besides the tranquillity and the locals greeting you, all you
can find here is just a shop. Here we asked about the Tomescu
house and the driver took us to the family that according to
the Lonely Planet was available to host people. Full board is
supposed to be 25€/ each but obviously it's foolish, in
fact we negotiated to 30€ for both. Anyway staying in the
village it's so relaxant and the house keeper extremely kind:
the dinner has been outdoor with a stereo playing Romanian folk
music while toasting with alcohol since the beginning.
The day after we reached the lake Vidraru, at first taking the
minibus to Capataneni (3km), then walking to Poienari (2km)
and finally hitch hiking (on an ambulance full of militaries!)
to lake Vidraru (5km). The road snakes uphill in a steep and
scenery valley till reaching the jaw dropping dam forming the
lake characterised by its light blue.
On the way back we were supposed to climb the Poienari castle
(the real castel of the draculian Vlad Tepes) but we were too
lazy and we walked back to Capataneni where we took a minibus
to Curtea Da Argea to visit the nice white orthodox monastery.
In the late afternoon by bus we were in Bucuresti.
Frankly we didn't fall in love with the capital, but the former
Ceausescu Palace, the world second biggest building in the world,
with its 3.000 rooms, shouldn't be missed.
Finally, thanks to the wrong buses info of the dumb girl of
the guesthouse, we'd have missed the flight if it wasn't for
its 2h delay; thus, once again, we managed coming back