joi, 30 august 2012

Tips and tricks for travelling to Romania

Romania is neither a tropical, nor a dangerous country, but has some insider tips, which I am glad sharing with you.
The prices for a good meal in Romania are very different. You shall ever prefer the small restaurants and pensions, as having better prices and better food

First of all, don't worry about tropical diseases, you don't need any vaccine. AIDS is up to you, and your level of personal protection, other diseases totally unknown. Many visitors are unpleasant impressed about the level of corruption in Romania, and many comments concerning the big political crisis between president Traian Basescu and the Prime Minister Victor Ponta are pointing to corruption as a main reason. I would say no to it, there is rather a personal matter, or a power fight, in my opinion. Certain is that many Romanians are deeply disappointed about their rulers and the political class entirely. About the obvious corruption, I also don't agree, as little presents seem to me really o.k. After all, the corruption is not a Romanian invention or discovery, we are in the Balkans!
Policemen on duty. No policeman is entitled to ask you  your papers without a strong reason., and even less to controll your money or valuables (they are sure faked policemen if doing that)

Much worse than this little corruption are the faked policemen e.g. Please note that no policeman is entitled to legitimate you without a strong reason; even less is entitled to ask about money or other valuables. When entering Romania through Bucharest Airport avoid the taxis and the luggage porters, is simply too expensive and even dangerous to your life, as a recent incident proves it.
When entering Romania through Bucharest International Airport avoid the taxis and the luggage porters. They are unshamed expansive and even dangerous to your life

Many Romanians drink the wine with water in the same glass (sprit). You can make a try of this method, but you are not supposed to do the same, no one will be hurt if you drink the wine separately. As you know, being a somelier, this method decreases the qualities of wine. The locals use it just to drink more liquids during the hot days.
Meiul Zilei is an incredible local offer: 3 courses meal with 3 Euros only.

A matter who could hurt any local is on the contrary shaking hands. It is normal to do it when meeting someone, not only for the first time. The shake must be strong enough, lasting for 5 seconds at least, while you look deeply in the eyes of the counterpart. If you are a man meeting a lady in a sophisticated environment, it is bon ton to kiss her right hand, while you look in her eyes.

Eating in Romania is very cheap, if you are tight on your budget. Everywhere on your ways there are incredible offers as MENIUL ZILEI, meaning a three course menu at 15 RON (3 EUROS). You can also have your meals in a sophisticated restaurants, but the hi end prices you can find there don't reflect a much superior quality of the meals. On the contrary, the same meals are to be found in a pension at the country side much cheaper and tasting better ( nearly bio for sure)!
A good hotel in a big city vs a little pension to the countryside  is  a matter of time,  budget and taste

The same thing about accommodation. You can barely find a hotel room in Bucharest or other touristic cities (Sibiu, Brasov, Cluj Napoca) under 60 Euros, but you can find some excellent accommodation in a pension at the half of this price. So it is easy to make the choice, according to your budget.

Tips is also not entirely a Romanian invention, and if you are very happy with a certain service no one will be ofenced for receiving tips (no more than 10 %).

luni, 27 august 2012

The Big Romania Tour

What I am going to propose now is an Essential Tour of Romania, much more comprehensive than all my former Romanian Tours. You must do for that noble purpose 2100 km, but it worth the pain: you will know a lot about Romania and the related matters ( history, geography, people, wine tastings etc). Thus Romania will appear to you no more as an unknown exotic country, but as a familiar one, and that's why I deeply recommend you this fantastic Tour.

I estimated for this Essential Romania Tour 17 days (with an average of 120 km daily), but you can also make it on your own (contact me for reservations) and stay longer in your favorite places. It is the best when you allow an extra week comparing with my proposition, you'll get even more.

Day 1. Bucharest with a walking Tour in the Downtown, among its seducing mix of Architecture Styles. Also in Downtown visit the Art Museum and feel the agitated Night Life.

Day 2. From Bucharest to Brasov, whether on the Prahova Valley (sometimes too busy, but you have some compensations: wonderful mountains, The Peles Castle), or through Cheia (again mountains, but the street is not overcrowded; plus, you have to visit the interesting salt career from Slanic). Visit Brasov and stay there over night.

Day 3.After admiring the wide panorama from Rasnov, and the Bran Castle ( with its Dracula sensations), go on DN 73 through the Rucar-Bran gorges , with its extraordinary mountain sights. Afterwards in the hills, between orchards, Curtea de Arges and his fantastic churches.
Ramnicu Valcea is a nice small city on the River Olt

Day 4. From Curtea de Arges you can reach Sibiu whether on the spectacular Transfagarasan Road (which is open only shortly in summer), or along the Olt from Ramnicu Valcea for the culture and monasteries freaks. The day ends in the charming city of Sibiu, the former European Capital.
Sighisoara  looks like a German fortress from the Medium Age

Day 5. Go to Sighisoara on DN 14 and navigate through the many Saxon fortresses. Once arrived in Sighisoara, admire its medieval spell !

Day 6. You need only 1 hour for reaching Targu Mures, an interesting cultural city, where you can hear many people speaking Hungarian. Visit the Cultural palace, and afterwards go to Cluj Napoca, a dynamic collegiate  and culturally city. A well known local specialty is the cabbage a la Cluj, matching fantastic with a glass of old wine.

Day 7. Say Good-bye to Cluj Napoca, moving North to Baia Mare. Notice on the way Gherla with its pregnant Armenian legacy . Go back and forth between the nice villages from the valleys of the river Mara and Cosau.

Day 8 and 9. It is not too much to appreciate Maramures. E.g. Sighetul Marmatiei has an interesting jail and a visible Jewish inheritance; the merry Cemetery from Sapanta, where every cross has a poetry on it, refering to the dead; the high wood churches simply scrap the shy; the villages are simple genuin and charming, and the people very generous. Further through Pasul Prislop (DN 18) to reach Campulung Moldovenesc.  But stay to the countryside, in a small pension.

Day 10 and 11. Take your time to admire the many painted Churches from Bucovina and the interesting churches from this part of Romania.

Day 12. On the roads DN 2 or DN 2 E lead in the district Neamt. Around the town of Targu Neamt the monasteries from Agapia, Secu, Varatec are full of life and match wonderful with the superb landscapes.
The City of Iasi and its massive Culture palace

Day 13. Cross the Romanian Moldavia from West to the East reaching its local Capital of Iasi.. This city is full of life and has some secret trumps: student life, important churches and a fantastic Museum of Culture.

Day 14. Start the long downhill to the South. You won't get the time to bore, as the landscapes are very different: hills with forest, vineyards or orchards; empty plains; aquatic or arid areas. Short before Barlad, you cross the River Prut, which will be your escort until Braila and Galati.

Day 15 and 16. Cross the Danube in order to reach Tulcea, the turning plate of the Danube Delta. A good ship travel will offer a detailed picture of this natural paradise.
Constanta is a very nice touristic city

Day 17. From Tulcea to Constanta on DN 87. visiting on the way the Muslim fortress of Babadag, the Lipovan villages of Jurilovca and Sarichioi, as the antic Greek fortress of Histria.

Wine tasting possible every day, if you want it!

vineri, 24 august 2012

The Romanian Mountains

The Romanian Carpathians are young and strong, but nor very high comparing to the Alps. The highest Romanian Peak, accessible from the Transfagarasan Road, is Moldoveanu and proudly measures 2521 meters. Climbing it you can feel literally with the head in the clouds, as the Romanian say for pie-eyed people. The ascension is not very difficult, you don't need an oxygen mask, but need nevertheless to take some precautions.
The Peak Moldoveanu  is the highest in Romania and the most spectacular. Not very difficult to climb, but you need nevertheless some precautions. Most important: don't drink wine while climbing!

Maybe Moldoveanu is the most spectacular Romanian peak, but the Romanian mountains, whether lived or savage, are a must for the people who appreciate that and look for adventures. They are usually full with forests, despite the massive cuts from the last years, and you can find many labelled paths, for your delights. There are also many cabins, some of them neglected and very primitive, while others are unexpected luxurious and expensive, judging the environment. In the Fagaras mountains, near the Transfagarasan Road, you can find in winter even an ice hotel. Staying there is a matter of taste indeed.
If we shall speak about the Romanian Carpathians, I won't forget to mention the terrific Transalpina Road

You can also observe the charming Romanian Carpathians from the car, or the bus, during a trip on the fantastic Transalpina Road, Bicaz Gorges, Suceava-Bistrita, or Rucar-Bran. Amazing in some areas, you will be able to observe the Millenial unchanged way of life of the shepherds, who climb the mountains in Spring with their flocks looking for good grass, and return only in autumn. They are stone strong, don't suffer on stress or depressions.
Lepsa in Vrancea County

Some mountains areas have developed themselves through building many pensions for the touristic crowds, and I must name a few: Bocovina, Rucar-Bran, Tara motilor in the Apuseni Mountains, or Lepsa in Vrancea county.( wine tasting in Focsani, Panciu, Odobesti is a must)

A necessary mention for the Dobrogea Mountains, who will make you a sad philosopher. They measure only 700 Meters height nowadays and you can climb them very easy, but in their times of glory were higher than the Mount Blanc. Much older than the Carpathians, they are almost completely eroded now. Nearby, the vineyards from Niculitel.
Apuseni Mountains offers some unique landscapes

There are many things to do in the Romanian Carpathians, and you can get some magnificent landscapes with your camera. But during the climbing is not allowed to drink wine, don't forget. You can ask any further details at, I still have some discounts for September.

miercuri, 22 august 2012

The Big Transilvania Wine Tour

My previous Romania Wine Tour, the big one, was not so big to contain also the vineyards from Transilvania  (namely Recas, Minis, Diosig, Lechinta, Tarnave). So I must make mea culpa and correct it with this wine tour of Transilvania.
Timisoara is a wonderful example of peaceful life  with minorities. Here is the Orthodox Mitropolitan Church, but the city hosts also Germans, Hungarians and Serbians.

Day 1. Let's start from Timisoara, an economic miracle, a wonderful city and a good example of peaceful life of Romanians with minorities (Hungarian, Serbian, German, Jewish). Timisoara needs at least one day long to be discovered, but you won't be disappointed!
Be sure to not neglect and forget the grapes, the wines the tastings

Day 2. Leaving Timisoara we visit the vineyards from Recas and Minis, where we should also taste the local wines (I underline the qualities of the red wines made here, e.g. Merlot). We reach shortly afterwards in the best shape and disposition Deva, having in its southern part some interesting curiosities: the spectacular castle  of the Corvin family from Hunedoara, the hills around Hateg, or the original church from Densus, build with stones from the neighboring Roman fortress.
Cluj Napoca is an uncoroned Transilvanian Capital

Day 3. Near Orastie, you can admire some artefacts of the antique kingdom of Burebista and Decebal. Following Sebes is model of German Saxon influence, with its Evangelic church and a fortified citadell. Alba Iulia is a former administrative capital of Transilvania, and therefore is full of history and symbols. Visit also Blaj with its wineries and taste the local wines (Feteasca Regala is my favorite). Prepare for the visits in two Saxon cities, Sibiu and Brasov, having so much in common.
Sibiu has a strong German Saxon influence  and visiting it , you feel  very European!

Day 4. Brasov-Cluj Napoca is our last day on this tour. Don't worry about wine tasting in Lechinta, I did not forget. Cluj Napoca is worth of your visit and attention, it is a very dynamic economic and cultural center. And also a nice one, honestly.  The dinasty of Corvin appreciated it very much, followed by the Habsburgs. Cluj Napoca is de facto the Transilvanian capital, with its more than 400 000 inhabitants. The Romanian and Hungarian local elites and Intelighentsia resides here. There are some open wounds on the both sides, radicals and also normal wise people. The former Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu tried to do a forced assimilation ( but the same thing did the Hungarians during the XIXth century!)

Stay better concentrate to Cluj Napoca and walk through its parks or along its boulevards. Visit a restaurant from the downtown and enjoy a glass of the Best Romanian Wines. Total price of the tour is 550 Euros, but booking until the 1st of November you get an extra discount of 10 %. Please mail me at for any additional matter

The Big Romania Wine Tour

Romanian leading vineyards are spread throughout the country, and a  complete Wine Tour is also  a Big Romania Tour
As wine and vineyards have in Romania a long traditions, the leading vineyards are spread throughout the country, in all its historical provinces as Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transilvania. Up to now I have offered many Romanian tours, but I strove that my tours are shorter and smaller, as I thaught to offer Romania on a small budget. But many of my clients remonstrated, and said that they would have stay longer, in order to know Romania deeper.

O.K., let's do it, let's think big and globally, but I have to warn: Romania has many hidden faces, and even I don't know them all after living a life here! But I will strive to show you many of the Romanian mysteries, to the best of my knowledge. I also have something for those who are not wine afficionados, as me and most of my tourists: this is not exclusively a Romania Wine Tour, but also a Romanian culture tour, facilitating an in depth sight view of Romania. Even this Tour is not complete, there are a few vineyards from Transilvania missing

Arrival in Bucharest, departure to the Black Sea coast. Dinner and accommodation in Constanta or Eforie Nord, one of the seaside summer resorts.

Bucharest and its eclectic mix of architecture style has a secret charm

DAY 2Morning at leisure (you might have a sun bath, or just relax). Lunch with wine tasting at Murfatlar - in the biggest vineyard of Romania. In the afternoon visit to Constanta and Tulcea the city at the entrance of Danube Delta. Dinner and accommodation.
DAY 36-hour Danube Delta Tour, with lunch on board. Dinner and wine tasting at Niculitel the second largest vineyard of Dobrodgea. Special here are the 
Romanian red wines(”Feteasca”and”Babeasca”) of Niculitel
Wine tasting are important on this tour, but bear in mind that is also a Romanian Culture Tour , the  people who  are not so fond of wine will be also able to find interesting things to do and learn!

DAY 4Departure to Iasi. We cross the Danube at Galati and we arrive late in the afternoon in Iasi, the capital of Moldavia after visiting the small but exceptional winemaker of Husi (the famous wine - ”Busuioaca de Bohotin”) Tis was one of the favorite wines of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.. Dinner and wine tasting at Bucium, one of the largest winemakers of Moldavia.
DAY 5What about dinner in a monastery with wine made by the monks and their blessing for the rest of our tour? Morning at leisure, or a visit to Iasi to see the Mitropolitan Cathedral, Culture Palace and Golia monastery. Lunch and wine tasting at Cotnari, one of the oldest wineries of Romania, where we can 
find the unique Romanian wine "Grasa de Cotnari" 

DAY 6.. Departure to Focsani, the center of Romanian wine. Here we will visit a couple of winemakers and have many wine tastings such as: specific in the area 
“Champagne” of Panciu, the famous wine of Odobesti and others of VINCON - Vrancea
Focsani is not only a Romanian Wine Capital, but also a cultural  city.

DAY 7Today we continue the yesterday program with wine tasting. Lunch and wine tasting at one of the wineries. Diinner and accommodation.
DAY 8Departure to Brasov, one of the most beautiful medieval cities of Transylvania. Lunch break. We will visit the Dracula Castle and have dinner and wine tasting at “Cerbul Carpatin” with Romanian Folk music.
DAY 9Departure to Ploiesti over Cheia Gorges to have lunch somewhere on the Romanian wine road, the largest red wine region of Romania: the Prahova area. Visit to the greatest winemaker of this area, in Ploiesti. Dinner and accommodation.

The savage Romania is also a highlight during a trip

DAY 10We visit several wineries of this area (Dealu Mare, Urlati etc.) and late in the afternoon we come to Bucharest. Lunch and wine tasting at Dealu Mare or Urlati wineries. Dinner and accommodation.
DAY 11Bucharest sightseeing, we visit the Palace of Parliament (former Palace of Socialism during Ceausescu’s dictatorship - second biggest building in the world after the Pentagon). Lunch at a fancy restaurant. Last wine tasting and farewell dinner.
DAY 12 Transfer to airport. Departure. Please, let your air company know that you carry a precious luggage, containing at least 10 bottles of best Romanian wine!

marți, 21 august 2012

The genuine Romania and its unexpected sights

The last untouched European forests are in Romania, as this country had had for years a coherent policy in that field. Extending and generalizing, the last villages from Europe are also in Romania to be founded. You will notice in some remote settlement from Bucovina or Transilvania, with strong traditions, a strange feeling: the society seems to be entirely in order.
In Romania the meals taste and smell very different comparing with your usual meals

If you wanna know Romania in its deepest corner, don't avoid a stay in a remote pension, or even in the house of a local. Everything is different, comparing with what you usually, and even comparing to a hotel. All the meals taste and smell totally different comparing with what you eat at your place. The day starts with a strong breakfast based of fresh product from the neighboring farmers, maybe even a brandy or a glass of wine  for warming up!
In many places in Romania you may have the feeling that this society is still o.k. and still in order

Then you can walk or take the horse wagon, and you will got another dimension of life. Only thus you can discover a lot of details of the life to the countryside: the market, the bar, the land works, the animation around the fountains, cheese production (or other important local activity, like wine making), the acurate handicraft, the church, the football matches, the take off of the children to the school and their way back. You might be very upset about the proximity of the domestic animals, but you will accept the idea soon: the cows on the street  and the geese also free, the goats and the sheeps emitting unheared noises, and the bees visiting the flowers. You will be very pleased by the rural architecture, the nice peaceful houses, the sunny gardens, the monasteries. The smell of hay slightly excite your nose. You will find for sure during your walk in an unexpected tree a small, wizened, but very flavored tasty apple.
Wine tasting is a part of your Romanian trip, as this country is mainly a wine country

In the evening, a rich dinner, with wine of course. You will not succeed eating everything on the table, I can bet. As your vacation gets longer, you will find some differences from this idyllic image, as our grandparents described. The life at the countryside is not easy, even on the contrary, very tough. The old people living there alone see often the stranger only as a source of income, which is not so terribly wrong, as long the quality and the sincerity of hosting are still o.k.!
The local craftsmen keep the Romanian rural society stil in order

A total different way of life can you experiment visiting on the Romanian Black Sea coast. This coast is not very long, and were during the communist time a must do for every people in vacation. Forget the illusion to find lonely beaches. Mamaia and other resorts are overcrowded day and nights and lives passionately, you must do the same. Whether peaceful, or frenetic, don't let the best Romanian wine to stay out of your vacation!
Mamaia on the Romanian Black Sea coast means  a huge difference comparing  to the  peaceful  villages.

luni, 20 august 2012

The most interesting cities of Romania

For the most urban of you, Romania has also something to offer, besides seaside, mountains and Danube Delta. And be sure to find in the Romanian restaurants the exquisite house wines, or special wine tastings. Many parks, museums and monuments will make your delight for sure.
Bucharest, the romanian Capital, is an eclectic city

The star among Romanian cities is Bucharest, without any doubt. Once named "Little Paris", Bucharest is neither the most beautiful, nor the agreeable city you can find, but for sure the most fascinating among the Romanian cities. Bucharest emits a lot of energy, you are going to feel it, and presents also a rather unique mix of Architecture styles. The treasures of the city, together with its wounds or its ugly places, make from Bucharest a half western, half oriental, and very Romanian Capital.
Sibiu is a charming typical Saxon city, with a remarcably well preserved Downtown. In 2006 Sibiu was the European Cultural Capital 

Transilvania counts a few big cities, charming through the mix of Architecture styles and culture. The magic charm of Sibiu (in German Hermannstadt) and Brasov (German Kronstadt) with their Medium Age and Saxon flair is easy to understand by anyone. They are similar in many aspects through history and culture, and conserved a lot of the Old City.
Cluj Napoca is a dynamic Romanian city

Cluj Napoca(German Klausenburg, Hungarian Koloszvar) is a very dynamic economic and cultural hub of Transilvania. Also very dynamic is Timisoara, the country's first free city during the Revolution of 1989. Timisoara represents really an economic wonder, and proudly rebuild all its German, Hungarian or Jewish houses.
Pradea was reinvented by genial architects by the beginning of the XXth century

Oradea has been transformed by genial architects by the beginning of XXth century, without losing something from its genuine baroque charm.

All these charming medium cities luck in Moldavia and Wallachia, with two or three exceptions. There also some differences in the quality of life, mentality among Transilvania and the Old Kingdom. Impossible not to notice.
Iasi has been for centuries the Moldavian capital. Amazing today, near the old buildings, museums, and churches, there is a Bohemian, student, liberty wind. Iasi (or Jassy) is a fascinating city, with a rich history (between the World Wars there were many Jewish living here).
Braila is maybe the most surprising Romanian city. Today it may seem ruined and sleepy, but only 100 years ago rich businessmen coming from all over Balkans and Armenia made it very thrifty, and you can notice it through the many churches and other public buildings.
Constanta is a big port to the Black Sea and a tourist hub.  Constanta proposes many bars, restaurants, as also a little historic city, which is maybe not very well preserved, but charming.

Besides all these wonderful cities, you have the little towns, which have been artificially developed during the communist regime to become industrial centers. Towns like Piatra Neamt, Calarasi, Bacau may seem very depressing on a winter afternoon, but you will find them also full of joy and life in a Spring morning. Notice everywhere in suburbs the obsolete factories which are not anymore in use.

Many of these cities have vineyards very close, and you can go for a wine tasting, if you don't feel the City breaks so interesting.

Best time for a Romanian vacation

Which is the best time for visiting Romania? Which is best time for a wine tasting? There are a lot of opened questions about the unknown Romania, about its wine and its people. I am going to try to give you some answers to these questions, as you must be aware and get more from your Romania trip.
Wine tasting is in my opinion a part of any  Romania trip

When it comes to wine and wine tasting, any season is advisable, as I already discussed. But, broadly speaking, what about Romania and the best time for visiting it?

First of all, depends on you and on your vacation schedules. There is no way to quit a job for a trip to Romania (don't do like me, I quitted a job for visiting Rome!). Bear in mind that Romania has huge differences between seasons, due to its continental-temperate climate (very important: the 45 degrees of northern latitude crosses through Romania. Why should this latitude be so important? It marks the half of the distance between Equator and the North Pole, the most extreme climates of the world). In spring and autumn there are strong winds; on the other hand winter ans summer are getting longer due to global heating. In summer of the last years have been registered temperature of 40 degrees Celsius; also very unusual, the Black Sea froze. But the width of Romania, the diversity of its forms of relief and the diversity of its folkloric festivals are almost a guarantee of a high quality vacation in any season.

The winter is tough in hills and mountains and a paradise for the skiers. The snowy villages are superb under a blue clear sky, while the houses and the animals smoke. The hot soups, boiling wine or brandy will warm you up. Unfortunately, the closed roads will not allow to discover the remote villages, which are by far  the most interesting. On Christmas and New Year you have the unique opportunity to see some very interesting and picturesque customs, coming from the ancestors. Also a good occasion for the families to stay together, and have traditional meals, sprinkled with wine. A wine tasting in winter is unforgettable, and sometimes even necessary to warm you up.
The winter as you like in the pictures!

The summer is the best time for discovering mountains, while the life in Bucharest is almost unbearable. It is maybe the peak season, if you allow me a cliche! The seaside is full of people, while other groups are simply invading the cities of Transilvania, Bucovina, Danube Delta and Maramures. But you must be very careful and book in advance for a hotel room.
The Summer in the romanian Carpathians

The spring means Valentines, field flowers invading gardens, and orchard in hills and mountains. The singing birds start their concert and the people clean their homes. It is maybe the best time for discovering the cities, as the blocks disappear behind the trees in blossom. Billions of birds from the all world come back in Danube Delta. Also important for Eastern, the biggest orthodox celebration.
The Spring in Romania means a total resurection 

The autumn is very cute and picturesque, mainly in the mountains, when the forest is literally on fire due to falling leaves, which take very different colors. Harvesting time, inclusive for the grapes, which will do an excellent opportunity for wine tasting.
For a skilled photograph, the autumn is by far the most beautiful season

duminică, 19 august 2012

Romania at its best

Starting from The fore posted Bucharest Architectural Tours I thought it would be interesting for you to see and feel Romania at its best. So, I made a short selection of Romanian highlights, and of course, wine tasting will be also included (so, please, don't worry about it)
Bucharest is a charming mix of different Architecture styles, and a walk in the Downtown  is  a gift for booking up to 01.10.12

This Romanian vacation comprises 6 days, 5 nights of stay in a leading 3*** hotels in the heart of Bucharest. The most spoil of you could book only this stay at the special price of 295 Euros (comprising airport transfer and breakfast; no other meals or entrances fees included!). As bonus for booking in September, you will receive a free walking Architectural Tour in Bucharest downtown.
A wine tasting may never luck from  the Romania  higjlights

For the more active of you who also aim getting more from this vacation, I prepared a more generous package, including:
Day1: Arrival in Bucharest Airport, introduction to the guide, Hotel Transfer
Day2: Bucharest walking Architectural Tour in downtown(free bonus), followed by a visit in the wonderful Village Museum.
Day3:Trip to Niculitel and wine  tasting ( some of the best Romanian wines available here)
Day4:Trip in the Romanian Carpathians, visit of the Peles Museum  in Sinaia (former Residence of the Romanian Kings, nowadays turned to an amazing interesting Art Museum). Lunch in Sinaia.
The Peles Castle ids the former residence of the Romanian kings and nowadays  a leading Art collection

Day 5:Rest, relax., walking in Bucharest parks, shopping in Bucharest
Day6 : transfer to the Airport, goodbye kiss from Romania and the guide.

Maybe you noticed the special free bonus from me, The Bucharest Walking Architectural Tour in Downtown! This much more complete Romania Tour comprises 3 meals daily, all the trips and transfers, and all the Museums entrance fees, and mean only 670 Euros/person a place in single room!
Hope you will enjoy it, as other tourists and I also do, and keep in mind another important thing: this price include a special 5 % discount for booking up to 1.10.2012. For booking after this deadline the price will increase to 5 %. So, my tip, please hurry up!

joi, 16 august 2012

Danube Delta cruise and wine tasting on the ship

Really hard to speak to someone about Danube Delta, as you must see it, in order to understand it.
But, let's try, I need your attention and I hope to be not very abstract. Maybe you know already something about Danube, having its sources in Germany,Donaueschingen, where it is only a very little brook! Afterwards, it grows and grows, receiving many rivers and going through a few of Capitals like Vienna, Budapest and Belgrad. Bucharest and Sofia are also not far away from the longest European river, after Volga (Volga has also a Delta, but Danube Delta is bigger and better preserved).
Typical view from the Danube Delta, a virgin natural paradise

Danube Delta with its 5000 sqkm is a nature miracle and paradise. The river brings with mood and the soil in  Delta is permanently forming and disappearing. There are floating islands (plaur) and the exactly place where the river goes into the sea is unknown, it changes every moment.
Danube Delta means 6000 square kilometers, 90 % in Romania. Observe on the map the three arms Chilia, Sf Gheorghe, Sulina. Not far from here the vineyards from Murfatlar and Niculitel (not visible on the map). But they are there, don't be anxious seeing only water.

On the forementioned surface of 6000 sqkm live only 12000 people (4000 in Sulina, a port to the Black Sea) resulting an average density of 2 people on square kilometer, the lowest in all Europe. All these people living in some villages like Crisan, Maliuc, Mila 23  (none is bigger than 500 people) are mainly fishermen and gain very difficult access to the sanitary network. Most of them are Lipovans, former Russian refugees after the Lenin's Revolution, and there are many legends about their alcohol addiction.
This local fishermen is probably Lipovan, speaks  Russian and drinks  a lot of spirits

You can imagine, there is no other possibility to see Delta than by ship. I will propose you a full day cruise starting from Tulcea to Sulina, and back, with little incursions on the little channels, which is the most important and picturesque thing here (most probably, we must descend from the big ship and go further by little boats) . It will be a quite relaxing day ( if not stormy) turning in an unforgettable event. On the ship, during lunch, a surprise: wine tasting with the best Romanian wines (5 sortiments and a good meal). Man, we will have a good time. The wine selection is personal and I will only reveal on place!
No way not to love Delta. Some tourists even settled here for the rest of their lifes

But maybe I should be more specific: transfer from and to Bucharest Airport, 2 nights in a 3 *** hotel in Tulcea, Delta Cruise with wine tasting compose a strong package costing only 300 Euros; for booking in September you are going to receive a discount of 5 %.

Danube Delta has a rich history, as it was a strategic position for controlling navigation and commerce on the river. You will be amazed of the strange beauty of the town Sulina. I can tell you much more about the history, climates and ecosystems from Danube Delta, but this remains open fort the trip! For bookings mail at
A wind mill in Delta, another pearl you must see

miercuri, 15 august 2012

Romania Survival Course (part II)

Dear friends, in order to really enjoy the Romanian wines, I must insist on these little things, who could spoil or ruin your pleasure. Even if you book through me, and I will be guiding you all the time in Romania, you should be aware of these details, which are not worse in Romania than in any other part of the world.

1. Romanian policemen are always wearing uniform. No one of them is entitled to check your money, after checking your identity. It is normally for them to introduce themselves and show a police pass. They are also not allowed to check your identity without a strong reason (this applies even for the traffic agents checking your driving licence)
A Romanian policeman wearing his uniform

2.When hiring a car, prefer the agencies from Bucharest and other major city. Negotiate the price per day (between 25 and 70 Euros) and check (even double-check) milesage, general state ( scratches, wheels, go to details). Never take a car without insurance! When having an accident with victims, you are not allowed to  leave Romania until police research.

3. Be very careful when paying by card. First of all, make sure that the system is running, even if the labels indicate it so. Prefer the bancomats of the leading banks, they seem to be safer. When paying by the card double check the amount; another way to be cheated is to charge you twice (become very suspicious if the operator says that system is not working properly, and he must try again).
Usually, you don't find or need cars like this. But you must respect some procedures and pay attention to details!

4.Don't interfere in the Romanian politics during discussions with unknown (e.g. in trains), even if you have opinions. The Romanian society is very splitted nowadays, and its members very fervent. The same applies by football matches, when the fans become easy very violent.
Romanian politics simply splits the society and make the Romanians mad

5.When meeting a person, strongly shake hand if he's a man, or kiss the hand, if a lady.When entering a church or monastery you must  wear decent clothes (common sense, like in Rome and its churches), don't smoke, and don't take photos (if forbidden)

6.The dogs might become in Romania a serious matter. They are by hundreds everywhere. When they are alone, can't do any harm (major exception are the the shepherd dogs in the mountains, who can ruin your day); on the contrary, when grouped in a pack they could become very aggressive and dangerous (sometimes a quarter can't sleep because of the barking dogs).
The dogs living on the streets can become aggressive  when are in a pack

7.In the remote areas are still to find poisonous snakes (vipers), while in Danube Delta you need protection against mosquitos. In some protected areas of the big Romanian forests is possible to find big mamals, like wolves and bears.
The Danube delta is a Romanian natural paradise, but what you can't see in the picture are the unbearable mosquitos

Vrancea county, the paradise of the wine afficionados

I have a lot to tell you about the Vrancea County, lying on the arch of the Romanians Carpathians. There are a lot of myths and legends concerning this unique place, a lot of history and a lot of things to be discovered by you.
This is Vrancea County, with its legends and its wines! 

First of all, the district of Vrancea proudly counts 350 000 inhabitants ( also, not so many, counting also the surface of 5000 sqkm. Results an average of 70 people on sqkm). The relief of the district is a miniature copy of Romania, it is very well balanced between mountain, hills and plains (everyone contributes with 1/3). The soil is very fertile, making from Vrancea one of the most important agriculture area of Romania. With a very special mention for the hills of Vrancea, hosting the country's widest vineyard.
The vineyards are a major richness of Vrancea, and its economy relies on it
In Medium Age, the Moldavian Ruler Stephen the Great (a living legend in Romania), during one of his many battles against the Turks, fled and refugiated in Vrancea County. Here found a a helpful mother, Baba Vrancioaia, which gave all her seven sons to fight back and hit the enemies. Stephen ( 1457-1504) took the offer seriously, took the young sons and fought back. Returning triumphant, he showed his gratitude, saying : "There are seven mountains in Vrancea, and you are seven sons. Let this mountains be yours for ever, and everyone from you shall take one!".
The legendary Medium Age Ruler Stephen The Great is living even today in the popular tradition

The legend doesn't say anymore about the hills of Vrancea, which are much more attractive to me due to the huge vineyards. The economy of the district mainly relies on wine, there are many vineyards and many producers, very proud  of their wines, and very temperamental when it comes to them. There are little, medium and big producers, and everyone is happy receiving guests for tasting, harvesting and other occasions. In Focsani, Panciu, Odobesti are to find bigger companies for processing wines. My tip: go for a tasting first to a medium producer, and afterwards to a big one, in order to compare it. The medium one is friendlier, but the big one has more sorts of wine. And never forget the posibility to go wild on harvesting, which has just begun.
Wine tastings in Vrancea are not very expensive, but highly reommendable

Also in Medium Age is good to know, that there were 3 Romanian countries: Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia (The Romanian Country). The Vrancea County was on the intersection of all these provinces. The border between Moldavia and Wallachia was even in Focsani, and because if this fact we had two Focsani towns, one in Moldavia and one in Wallachia. This artificial border could not resist, it was maybe comparable with the situation of Berlin after WWII. When in 1859 Moldavia and Wallachia unified, there were some voices asking Focsani to be the Capital of the new founded Romania, but Bucharest was finally preferred. Now Bucharest hosts 2 Millions people, and Focsani is a province town with 70 000 inhabitants. This is history, but I can't help myself figuring the town Focsani where I live as the Romanian Capital!

There are many sorts of noble excellent wines in Vrancea, and is not an easy task to choice the best of them. The women would choice without any doubt The Champagne from Panciu as the best Romanian Wine. They could also prefer a desert wine, a Muscat Ottonel from Cotesti. But what would choice the males?

Well, many of them would prefer a red wine, e.g. Babeasca (The Old Maid wine), which is a rich, tasty, halfdry Red, recommended for accompanying meat and hunt. The Babeasca from Odobesti 2005 is really one of the Best Romanian Wines.

I have so many to tell you about the Vrancea County,its myths and legends, its wines, but I will spare your time for now. Maybe I will continue in a future post. Meanwhile, I wait for your comments and reservations.