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HOME > Romania


7 days,  June 09




Kind of travel:
me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel

30th May- 5th Jun 09

Do 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

How I moved:
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

Freezing or baking?
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

Where I slept:
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

What I liked:
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 disappointing

How much daily:
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)

Dangers/ hassles:
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


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 wandering around.
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 (Zepes).
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 by minibus.
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


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