When we live in a place it is amazing with how many wonderful things we get used to and how easy it is to forget how lucky we are. I guess that’s why a holiday always helps 🙂
I left Romania many years ago and now, here I was, seeing Romania through the eyes of a tourist. It looked more beautiful than what I remembered of it.
This glimpse of Romania is dedicated to my dear friends Ralph and Debra from California. I hope one day we will see Romania together.
Romania is associated with Nadia Comaneci, Hagi or Ilie Nastase. Few people know that Angela Gheorghiu, the famous opera singer, Eugen Ionesco, Henry Coanda or Dr Popescu Iulian who discovered the limphocite T are also Romanian symbols.
Also, the largest flag ever made, three times the size of a football field is, according to Guinness World Record, the Romanian flag. Now this is what I call a proud nation.
But to me, first and foremost, Romania is a wonderland for all foodies.
Let’s dive into some of the most famous Romanian traditional dishes:
Drob: an Easter dish made out of lamb.
Mici: The Romanian meatballs just way better.
Cozonac: a sweet cake filled with walnuts. You will beg for more. Trust me on this.
Tuica: a very strong drink made with nothing but plums.
In terms of sightseeing, there are two major beautiful roads crossing the mountains: Transalpina and Transfagarasan. I love them both.
This time, I have visited Transalpina.
From Bucharest you will need a minimum of 3 days to see Transalpina.
1 st day: drive from Bucharest to Rinca
The drive passes Romanian villages and on the way we stopped to see Horezu Monastery, Pestera Muierilor and Pestera Polovragi.
Horezu Monastery was built in 1690 and has been inscribed by UNESCO on its list of World Heritage Sites. It is a beautiful and sacred place surrounded by mountains.
Pestera Muierilor and Pestera Polovragi are 4 million years old caves. In Pestera Muierilor, a 30000 years old woman’s skull was found, which made the researchers believe at that time that Romanians might be the first people in Europe.
During my visit I found out that the bats who live in the caves are very tiny and weight about 15 grams. One of the paintings on the wall depicts the Death itself and was meant to scare the intruders.
There are more than 12,000 caves all over Romania, most of them being open to the public.
2nd day: drive from Rinca – Obirsia Lotrului- Dobra- Voineasa
This is the most scenic part of Transalpina. The highest point on the road is 2,145m above sea level. The road is very good, however due to very bad weather it is closed during the winter.
3rd day: Voineasa-Bucharest
Voineasa is a resort between the mountains where you can find many bed and breakfast places and you can easily spend a couple of days if you just want to rest.
On the way to Bucharest you can stop to see Cozia Monastery build in 1400. It is one of my favourite places and you can read more about the history of the place here.
I have also found out that Saint Livia actually exists in the Orthodox calendar and is on the 25th of June, the same day when I have visited the place. However, I assume the only similarity between me and Saint Livia is the middle name and I doubt I will want anything more 🙂
The monastery is close to Caciulata, Calimanesti which are famous for their thermal waters good for stomach, nerves and all sorts of ailments.
Back to Bucharest I was ready to continue my trip, but not without a tear in my eyes and a promise that one day I will dedicate a month to see the Danube Delta, Transfagarasan, Transylvania, the Bran Castle also known as Dracula’s castle, the city of Piatra Neamt close to all Moldavian monasteries, which all make Romania a must visit place if you are thinking of Eastern Europe.
You can read more on my adventures in Romania in my book, When Dreams are Calling. The book has been featured in numerous travel magazines in Australia and around the world.