marți, 30 octombrie 2012

Suceava, the gate to the painted monasteries

Bucovina, the upper northern part of the Romanian Moldavia, is a wonderful hill land,scattered with many painted monasteries build in the middle age, mainly by the well known legendary ruler Stephen the Great (1457-1504).
Suceava Fortress, residence of Stephen the Great and capital of Moldavia

Stephen the Great is still living today, being subject to many jokes, proving his strong influence in all Romanian history. The history fact is that he was an exponent of a new ascending country, namely Moldavia, and he managed to keep a certain independence of Moldavia, despite its many enemies ( Turks, Polish, Hungarians etc). His capital was in Suceava, look anyway for the fortress of Suceava (Cetate).
City Hall from Suceava is a good example of Secession style

The fortress of Suceava is very strong, and from here Moldavia has been ruled for centuries. On unknown reasons, in the XVII th the fortress of Suceava was left and deserted, but even nowadays, after successful restaurations, is very impressive. The walls are 20 meters high and 2 meters thick, and you can try climbing then during your visit (there is a small fee to be paid). From the fortress you have a good sight to the all city, and decide what else to do here.
The interesting railway station from Suceava, in my opinion one of the nicest in Romania

Suceava has today 100000 inhabitants, among them a few Rusians, Ukrainians, Lipovans and Polish (more than 90 % are Romanians). Suceava was a century ruled by the Habsburgic empire, and you can still find some things to remember, e.g. the Catholic Church. Orthodoxes Curches are much more, but you may not miss the Miclauti Church, where for centuries the Moldavia's ruler have been appointed and crowned. Observe there the ingenious positioning of the bell, which is not in a separate tower, but included in the front wall.
The orthodox church of Miclauti, Suceava where for centuries the  Moldavian Rulers have been appointed and crowned

You also can't miss the horse statue of Stephen the Great, dominating the city, and the railway station with its 100 years old architecture, one of the most beautiful in Romania.

Suceava is maybe the only city in Bucovina, and has an important tourist circulation. The offer on hotels and restaurants is wide and generous. I would suggest you Hotel and Restaurant Bucovina, and the restaurant Casa Arcasului, for the good balance quality and price (the both are high end category).

From Suceava you can make daily trips to the painted monasteries, one of the most important things to see in all Romania. But you need nevertheless at least another day to visit Suceava Museums: Ethnography Museum, History Museum, Art Museum. Men, you are going to like and love Suceava for sure.

Braila, the sleeping beauty

Braila is an interesting wonderful city in the south eastern Romania, on of the most important Danube ports in Romania.
An example of brillant old architecture in Downtown Braila, where you can see the glory of the past

After the dissolution of communist power in 1989 Braila falled in a deep recession, and the economic decline is still progressing today. Nevertheless, there are many things to see in Braila. Consider only the simple fact that 100 years ago Braila was one of the most important ports in Romania, which is not anymore, due to ascension of the marine port of Constanta. Visiting Braila in the Downtown one can feel doubtless the past prosperity of the city. Special mention for the cereals trader having their base in Braila, 100 years ago. Mainly Greeks, they were wealthy indeed, and you can see still an interesting Greek orthodox church build by this community.
You might love better the modern Braila, with its amazing fountains from the Civic Center

Very interesting in the history of Braila: during Middle Age has been ruled by the Turks for 400 years, and the legendary Romanian ruler of Moldavia, namely Stephen The Great, set it on fire in 1470. Braila still counts today 130000 inhabitants and during the communist times was an important industrial center. But all this industry was obsolete and decayed almost totally after the fall of communism. Legendary in Braila: it was an important big factory for manufacturing creamy biscuits, under name of Eugenia. I had an aunt working there, and every time when visiting she brought us special biscuits, with many cream, much more than usually. Braila is an important transit point for the tourists going to Tulcea and Danube Delta (Danube crossing only possible by ship, towards Macin and Tulcea).
Braila at the peak of its glory at the end of the XIXth century; back in the ground is the Greek church

Fascinating in Braila was always the mix of populations, ethnic groups and minorities (Greeks, Turks, Romanians, Bulgarians and even Jews add a little to the cosmopolitan spirit of this city). Braila is known for its wonderful girls, and for the dangerous underworld ( totally avoid at night some quarters with bad reputation like Brailita and Chercea!).
This is also Braila, in its most spectacular aspect: the enlighted fountain from the Civic center at night

Visit in Braila first the downtown, and then the modern center with interesting fountains. Visit the Art Museums, and the most interesting city's churches: the Greek church and the  St. Michael church ( which was 150 years away a mosque, transformed in a church. looking carefully you can still discover some hidden signs of the oriental art, e,g arabesques on the ceiling). Don't miss a walk  on the Danube cliff which is very relaxing.

luni, 29 octombrie 2012

Piatra Neamt, a Romanian pearl

Piatra Neamt (or Neamtz, for an accurate pronounciation) is really something special among the cities of Moldova, which have been for decades subjects to a forced industrialization, which destroyed their landmarks.
Panoramic view of the city Piatra Neamt with the neighboring mountain Pietricica behind

I think that in Piatra Neamt this process was not so brutal, and this is one of the reasons for the city acting so relaxing and wonderful. It is definitely a city to fall from the first sight, due to its privileged position in the middle of the mountains. The city has been not totally spared to the communist systematization at all, you can see the unavoidable blocks of flats. The city consists actually from two cities, the Northern one and the Southern one. The Southern part of the city is well developed, but lacks on landmarks and personality, while the Northern one is much nicer, greener and shows a strong personality. My tip: prefer the North, of course!
The old church of Stephen the Great from 1497 is a must see in Piatra Neamt. Notice the  high  bell tower, which served in the peaceful times as observatory for the firemen.

Piatra Neamt lies on the boundary between town and city (100 000 inhabitants) and enjoys the vicinity of the Pietricica peak, offering an excellent view of the city. My tip: visit Popasul Gospodinelor, a good restaurant on Pietricica, in the middle of the forest. The etymology of Piatra Neamt is not easy to define: Piatra means rock, but there are other many towns in Romania carrying the same name. To make a difference, was added Neamt=German despite lack of any special relation to Germans!
The amazing Cucuteni Museum of Neolithic Art will delight any Art and History  freak.

Piatra Neamt has a wide offer on hotels and restaurants, and is a favorite starting point for many trips in the surrounding area (Durau, Ceahlau, Pietrele Doamnei etc). Also, the city itself has some very interesting museums and buildings. Start your tour with the King's Church build in 1497-1498 by the great Romanian ruler Stephen the Great. The bell tower served as observation point against fires, and offers a nice shot of the city (tip: ask for the key in the church, it is not permanently open). The interior paintings are not so impressive anymore, being not the original ones. A few steps further to the West the small, but interesting Ethnology Museum, shows up a collection of traditional suits, carpets and tools, as some traditionally decorated rooms.
Piatra Neamt is nice and spectacular also in winter

The Art Museum is much more interesting and have rich works of Romanian masters in painting, scupture and tapestry. My tip: don't miss the section called the Museum of the King's court, but probably you must ask for the key and pay another fee! This is actually a rounded cave hosting artifacts and photos. Pay attention to the superb green ceramic tiles, they are original.

Even more spectacular is the Cucuteni Museum of Neolithic Art, which is unique in the all Romania, totally dedicated to the Cucuteni culture. See in the ground floor a nice collection of colored decorated pottery, and in the first floor antropomorphic and zoomorphic figures representing the Neolithic culture of Cucuteni in an amazing good state of conservation. Another place to visit is the unique wooden synagogue from the 18th century, which is not in function anymore, being replaced by the Leipziger Temple. Unfortunately, they are almost permanently closed and can't be visited.

duminică, 28 octombrie 2012

Exploring caves in Romania

Romania has a wide offer for adventurers, and an important issue for these freaks would be the caves (speology is nevertheless a Romanian discovery, thinking to Emil Racovita, one of his pioneers).
Muntii Apuseni, or the Romanian Western carpathians,  are build in a soft lime stone, which made possible an intensive water erosion resulting in many cute caves.

The best area for visiting caves in Romania is the the Western Carpathians (Muntii Apuseni) due to their soft limestone structure. One of the possible ways is leaving Oradea in Direction Deva, turning right to Remetea, and then driving to Meziad, our first target. The Meziad cave is waiting for you for visiting everyday between 9 and 17 hours, less on Mondays. Count on a little entrance fee and enjoy the 5 km long galleries of Meziad cave, discovered in 1849 by a local climber, and was among the first in Romania opened for its fantastic touristic potential. Observe carefully stalactites, stalagmites and the remainings of prehistoric bears sheltering here.
Pestera Ursilor (The Bears Cave) is very spectacular and you can't miss it.

Afterwards follow the way to Lacul Ursu. Beware if it is raining, this way is no more accessible. Lacul Ursu ( The bear lake) is a wonderful lake with a very strange form in the middle of mountains, promising adventures to every step. The lake is also famous among fishermen, and the trout captured here is very tasty. Leaving the lake to south you go through Valea Iadului (The hell valley) which is really very nice and cute, but bears this name on unknown matter. 6 km away from Lacul Ursu you must be able to find and see a water falls, namely Iadolina; if not, you are on the wrong way. Very close, Stana de Vale, a resort for winter and ski, which can act a little disappointing, despite its superb position at 1100 meters altitude. The offer on hotels is not so rich, as also the possibilities of skiing are not brillant.
Please, don't try to do that, is only for skilled trained climber

Very close, The  Monastery  of the Saints Peter and Paul, one of the newest in Romania. It lacks on any possibility of lodging, but is a good starting and orientation point for the many walking trips you can try in the neighborhood. A path leads to Pietroasa, 14 km away direction  south when you can't miss the wooden church from the XVIIth century. From there, very easy and quick to the last targets, Pestera Ursilor (The Bears' Cave) and Pestera Magura. Magura is opened mainly for specialists and experts coming in organized groups, but Pestera Ursilor is worth to a visit and your attention. You can do there a guided tour lasting 1 hour which will delight you, as the cave is very special and spectacular with many stactites, stalagmites, holes and rocks. In some areas looks like a future city, as imagined in Hollywood. Not very big and discovered by accident, has many skeletons of an extincted species of bear.
Skiing in Arieseni, on the beginners' slope

After coming back on the highway turn please left to Lunca, following the indicator to Turda. Within short time you can reach Baita, one of the oldest mining areas in Romania. Already during the Middle Age silver and copper have been gained here, but very famous became this place during the communist era: during the 50' years of the XXth century thousands of miners and soldiers exploited 30 000 tonnes of Uranium, which has been entirely send to the Soviet Union. Radiations are still an issue among the former and retired miners! Beyond the Pass Vartop you can find Arieseni, after a pleasant downhill. Arieseni is an other becoming ski resort in birth state. Amazing in Arieseni, a very unusual church from the XVIIIth century, which is not specially beautiful, but striking.

sâmbătă, 27 octombrie 2012

Baile Herculane, the Romanian spa by excellence

If you are in that corner of Romania close with the today Serbia, just having visited Iron Gates (Portile de Fier) with their breathtaking landscapes, would be such a pity to miss a visit in Baile Herculane ( The Hercules Baths, German Hercules bad, Hungarian Herkulesfurdo).
According to the legend, Hercules himself took a bath and a rest in Baile Herculane. This statue is 150 years old  and is a mark of the resort

In the caves from the vicinity have been found traces of living people which dates back to Mesolithic and Neolithic. The legendary Hercules came here, took a bath and had an excellent rest. During the Roman occupation of 170 years important people and elites came here, setting a sort of aristocratic spa.
Hotel Cerna from Baile Herculane has a history behind, and is very proud of it.

At 1700-1900 the spa was one of the best known in central Europe, with excellent hotels and restaurants and exquisite clients. Visiting that part of the resort with the deserted hotels makes feel a little sad, if you thing to the growth and decay of everything. But there are also good news, for those who can receive them: the reopening of the rebuild Hotel Ferdinand since a few years gave to the resort a new impulse.
One of the old pools of Herculane, filled with warm thermal water, the main attraction point for youngsters, mainly when after sunset

During the communist times, the rulers tried to democratize the resort and brought mass tourism, building big hotels. This part of the resort is much more animated, and enjoys two very different categories of clients: very young and very old! The old ones try to rejuvenate through Aslan treatments, while the young ones love the thermal pools where  they stay very long,until midnight, without being sick!

It is a good idea coming To Baile Herculane by train, as the railway station  is very old, nice and spectacular. If you don't come by train, it is nevertheless a must seeing it, not only for Architecture or History freaks. Further, in Baile Herculane, you can make wonderful Danube cruises, climbing mountains in the neighborhood . Beware here the venomous snakes, but don't miss the Cerna Valley, which a gorge with abrupt walls of strong rocks. The hot air coming from the south west stays long in the valley, resulting in one of the hottest area in Romania! Add also the many rains, resulting in an a fast tropical vegetations, vey unusual for Romania.
The railway from Baile Herculane is the most beautiful in the all Romania. Very old, nice, and spectacular, is a must see for any visitor.

From Baile Herculane you can go to Drobata-Turnu Severin, Timisoara, Orsova. But first of all stay here at least a few days, you will feel much better!

vineri, 26 octombrie 2012

Portile de Fier, a savage part of Romania

The Danube River flows through all Europe 2800 km, crossing 3 capitals and 6 countries and ends its adventurous travel through a wonderful Delta. When the Danube crosses the Carpathians and constitutes the border between Romania and actually Serbia has the ugliest, most dangerous face.
His majesty The Danube in Cazane

Before 1972 when the big dam of Portile de Fier was raised the navigation was barely possible, but even today it is not easy, despite the building of the second dam (Portile de Fier II). In the area, 100 km long, the Danube crosses a few gorges offering a savage landscape.  You can make rafting on the lakes, on the Danube, or you can climb the mountains feeling a Robinson Crusoe.
The impressive monument of the dacia ruler, King Decebal, who fought against the Romans and is nowadays a national symbol of courage and patriotism

Portile de Fier means Iron Gates, translated from Romanian. Amazingly, all the other people in the area, and all the navigators, have the same designation for this region. With a ship, you pass first through the Gorge of Golubac (14 km long), and you can see from the former Serbian city of Golubac only nine towers emerging from the water. Further, the Gospodin Gorge, 15 km long and 220 meters wide, followed by a gorge called Cazanele Dunarii, which is 19 km long and 150 meters wide. The surrounding rocks are very abrupt, 700 meters high, and there is no possibility to come on any shore. You will notice here Tabula Traiana, an antic Roman monument, build to remember the Roman highway to Dacia . On the Romanian shore, on behalf of Iosif constantin Dragan, wealthy businessman, has been carved a huge statue of the Dacian king Decebal, who dared to fight against the Romans, and is today a model of patriotism (no Romanian city without a Decebal street). 12  sculptors have been busy 12 years working at that monumental statue, and they even wrote "Facet Dragan" . After, the former city of Orsova,overflowed and removed on a new location.
The picturesque Island of ada kaleh, overflowed after the building of the dam

In this region was also the Island Ada-Kaleh, for centuries a pirates nest and a Turkish enclave. Some of its buildings have been removed to Island of Simian, but the people refused to reset, and fled in Dobrogea (another region of Romania with an important Turkish minority) or Turkey. This the most evocative, if not hurting, lost due to the Dam of Portile de Fier, and there are plans and intentions to build Ada Kaleh again from scratch.

Not far, there is Drobeta Turnu Severin, an industrial town, hosting The Museum of Iron Gates and the amazing water tower (1904). In Drobeta are still visible two foot of the former Roman bridge on the Danube, which facilitated the displacement of Roman divisions.

Portile de Fier is really a paradise for nature and mountain freak, for rafters and adventurers, historians and environmentalists.

joi, 25 octombrie 2012

Dracula Tour on Haloween

There are more opportunities which you don't want to miss very soon, within a few days. On one hand, the frequent passages and aggressive marketing Dracula enjoys in Romania, on the other hand the celebration of scaring Halloween worldwide (which is again a matter of marketing, of course). My idea and proposition for you is the Halloween Dracula Tour in Romania, a clever combination of these two events.

You must be very carefully, and book very soon, the Halloween falls on the 31st, and we must be on the way! Let,s start on the 28th, as the tour itself lasts 3 days long and costs only 270 Euro, as a way to thank you this last minute reservation! Completely not recommended for honeymoon!

The historic truth served as a base for a well known novel of Bram Stoker . There was a Wallachian ruler called Vlad Tepes (The Impaler) who was a very cruel man, his favorite execution method being the impalement. He hated the Turks and strongly fought against them, being celebrate as an athlete of Christianity and being supported even by the Pope.
Vlad Tepes The Impaler, also called Dracula, was cruel, severe, but right and fair, according to Romanian myths and legends

He had no trust in the local influent big boyars, who betrayed his father. These categories of enemies of Vlad Tepes gave him the unhappy opportunities to execute many of them. In the Romanian myths and legends, Vlad Tepes has been portrayed as a right, but severe ruler. His opened mass executions freightened even the big Sultan Mehmet II The Conqueror, coming to Wallachia to cash his tribute or kill Vlad Tepes. So, Mehmet II lost his temper and gone back, when seeing terrible scenes of impaled Turks ( a slow difficult death).

Starting from this truth, Bram Stroker's Novel made from Dracula a world symbol of horror, which is a terrible mistification. But we shall also marketing the Dracula legacy! And I gathered in this Romanian Dracula Tour everything which can remember the life and rule of Vlad Tepes Impaler.
Sighisoara is the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, and a well preserved medieval fortress

Day 1 Sighisoara in Transilvania is the birth place of Vlad Tepes The Impaler. The town of Sighisoara is even nowadays a very well preserved medieval fortress, and many buildings look in the same way they did a few centuries ago, during Tepes childhood. Stay a day there, walk and look the traces of Dracula. Wine tasting in Jidvei possible, and even probable.
The Bran Castle has many in common with Dracula  and makes a good marketing and publicity for it

Day 2 Travel to Cabana Fantanele, a mountain chalet, where Dracula used to refugiate, and Bran Castle, where you can find a torture room and the genuine atmosphere of the old times. You are supposed to eat a lot of garlic during all the day, in order to keep the Devil away (The Romanian Dracula originates from Dracu, or Devil). Not recommended for people with heart diseases, and only possible with a prescription from you Physician.
The Monastery of Snagov  hosts, according the legend,  the tomb  of Dracula

Day 3 Travel to Bucharest and visit the Monastery of Snagov, where according to the legend Vlad Tepes the Impaler was buried. This is again a mistification, he lies most probably in Comana monastery! Besides, you can visit other nice places in Bucharest or one of its wine tasting rooms.

Alba Iulia, a symbol for any Romanian

Visiting Alba Iulia means a lot to any Romanian, and I could compare with some well known pilgrimages. Even if you are not a Romanian, the town of Alba Iulia is a visit worth.
Roman walls in Alba Iulia, antic Apullum

Alba Iulia (hungarian Gyulafehervar; German Karlsburg or Weissenburg) has a wonderful fortress, build by the Habsburgs in the XVIIIth century. Much earlier, in the antic times, on the place was the city of Apullum, already a capital and the most important local city. In Middle Age,during  the XVIth century, Alba Iulia was again the  capital of The Transilvania Principality. Newer, on the 1st December 1918, 100000 people representing the Romanians and the Saxons of Transilvania, the unifying of Transilvania with Romania. Maybe you understand now why is the town so important in the Romanian history.
The main entrance gate in the Fortress of Alba Iulia has a baroque tower; pls observe back the Orthodox Cathedral

Much better for you if visiting Alba Iulia have not this very high emotional charge. Drive in the city, see the impersonal blocks of flats, pass through center to the fortress (Cetate) and take a wonderful walk in the area. Admire the Catholic Cathedral, build in the XIIIth century, a model of Medieval architecture. Admire the Orthodox Cathedral, bild in 1921, where the King Ferdinand was crowned in 1922 as King of all Romania. Admire the gate of the fortress. All these walls are full with history, allow me giving another example: in 1784 the Romanians lead by Horea, Closca and Crisan fought for their social and national rights against the leading Hungarians. Very successfully in the beginning, but at the end the Hungarians defeated the Romanians and executed the leaders inside this fortress, through lugging on the wheel!
The Catholic Cathedral from Alba Iulia is very old (XIIIth century) and constitutes a model of Medieval architecture

Visit the interesting Unity Museum, and if you need a rest after all these cultural adventures, you are welcomed one of the many Restaurants inside the fortress. Please avoid fast-food, and make a wiser choice, take a Romanian menu (soup, main dish,desert), with a glass of wine, costing 9-10 Euros.
Replacing the Guards in Alba Iulia is a coloured show

After that relaxing lunch, if you are still in the mood, continue discovering the town of Alba Iulia, searching the well known Bathyaneum library, a really sanctuary hosting a vast collection of Medieval books. Really a must for any culture freaks. From Alba Iulia you can drive to Arad, or in the neighboring mountains, offering some interesting places (need only to hurry up,the winter is coming!). Jidvei and Blaj are also in the area, and you can take part there to exquisite wine tasting!

miercuri, 24 octombrie 2012

Romania for honeymooners

Unfortunately, Romania is not seen as a destination for for honeymoon. It is not right, it is not correct, and it is not true, and I will explain why. Please,reconsider your approach seeing Romania as an important destination  for your honeymoon.
Maybe you'd like to be bride in the Romanian popular dress, which is very rare and exotic even among the Romanian brides nowadays

First of all, you can make your wedding here, in an orthodox church, goes so deep inside! It is touching indeed, and lasts 2 hours. For the non-orthodox would be a problem, they need prior to baptise, which is a separate ceremony, and is practically impossible to have both in the same day! But doing this you will feel yourself filled (remember from the Greek, orthodoxia=right religion!) and doing this you will have a perfect balance between mind, body and saw!
I wish you to have such a huge wedding as the daughter of the Romanian President Traian Basescu (here in the churc, during the religious ceremony)

After the religious marriage, or even prior, bag you pardon, you need the civil ceremony, when the Mayor shall pronounce you man and wife for the rest of your lives, no matter how long it seems nowadays! At evening, the feast, lasting all night long, because all the friends and relatives would like to take part and celebrate! Be sure to order more sorts of wine, in big amounts. Be sure to dance a lot, having a good orchestra, and be sure to have a wonderful time. It is unforgettable for the bride and the gloom, an important day of their lives.
Honeymoon on wine tasting, why not? Romania's many vineyards will facilitate a long exciting trip

After that you might need a day for rest, and afterwards you need some privacy, find a place for your own! The gloom must be a wine afficionado, I am very sure; and if the bride shares the same passion, we can have wine tasting a milestone for your original honeymoon. In this wonderful season, a long Autumn, I am going to organize special wine tasting of Muscat Ottonel and Feteasca Neagra in vineyards, staying there in the manors! Remember that Feteasca from Romanian means young girl wine, and make distinction from babeasca (old maid wine). I am going to spare you during the honeymoon from Babeasca, you won't get any drop.
An isolated cabin in the mountains is a good option for honeymooners

Another possibility is going in an isolated chalet in the mountains, where you can get all the intimacy you need. Keep writing there in your book of souvenirs for the latter years, make short walks. You are a small piece in a puzzle, which is your Earth and the Universe. Most important, stay in peace and harmony with the Universe, maybe you will experience even tantra!
Travelling on a ship on honeymoon is like a dream coming true

Also recommendable for honeymoon in Autumn: a trip in Danube Delta, starting from Tulcea, of course. Very relaxing and romantic indeed to discover other living creatures of the Universe. And from time to time you can go back in your heated cabin, under the deck!

marți, 23 octombrie 2012

Tulcea, the turning plate of Danube Delta

Danube delta is an amazing huge teritory transforming itself from day to day, due to the deposits brought by the River. Danube Delta is one of the favorite targets of the tourists and travelers in Romania, so you can't miss it. Danube Delta has a particular charm, a few of the tourists stay here for the rest of their lives.
Tulcea is more than anything else the turning plate towards Danube Delta, and consequently a touristic port

There are many possibilities for visiting Danube Delta, shorter or longer, according to the time and budget you have for it. Most important, all these trips in Danube Delta starts and ends in Tulcea. The city of Tulcea hosts even the administration of Natural Reserve Danube Delta.
Very important for locals, as also for visitors: Tulcea has many flowers

But Tulcea is itself a nice city to see, and a nice place to live too. It hosts nowadays 100 000 inhabitants, which are busy in fishing, tourism, navigation etc. The city lies on seven hills, similar to Rome and Iasi, and was existing already in antic times, under name of Aegyssus (Greek colony from the VIIth b.C.). Further came the Romans, Bulgarians and Turks. During Middle Age after destruction due to migrations the city has been deserted for 1 century.
Tulcea by night is very picturesque, relaxing and spectacular. Also very safe.

There are many hotels and restaurants in Tulcea. At night in summer you can walk on the promenade along the Danube and eat quietly on one of the many restaurants (some of them are on ships, and if you are a fish freak, as I do, could be the paradise for you. Ask in restaurant Aegyssus about fish bechamel sauce, and you'll be delighted.
Wine tasting in Macin, 30 km away from Tulcea

From Tulcea you can make trips not only on water, but also on land, e.g short trips to the vineyards from Niculitel and Murfatlar, where you will take part to long wine tastings for sure (there are some special sorts of wine to be found exclusively in these exquisite locations, more details on place).
If you are an art freak, The Art Museum from Tulcea is the right place for you.

During the Day in Tulcea, waiting for the ships, you still have many things to do and have no time to sleep. Check the Art Museum, or The History Museum of Danube Delta and you will not be disappointed, I bet, but you only need a few hours for anyone of it.In the Delta Museum you will find an excellent organized aquarium among others artefacts, as the Delta was an issue for all the European powers, due to the possibility to control all the trade on the River. In the Art Museum you will find surprisingly much masterpieces of Romanian and foreign painters.

luni, 22 octombrie 2012

Extraordinary in Romania: Targu-Mures

Targu-Mures (Hungarian Marosvasarhely) is a magnificent city in Transilvania. Actually two cities: a Romanian one and a Hungarian one. Since big ethnic fights from 1990 these communities strive to live together, avoiding mixes. Nevertheless, mixing is unavoidable, and they only have to avoid mutual provocations!
Panoramic view of the interesting city of Targu-Mures

The population consist 50 % or Hungarians (most of them are Szekelyi, said to be not Hungarians. But neither they are Romanians, and they speak Hungarian and have strong connections to Hungary. Some of them simply refuse to learn or to speak Romanian. In the Middle of Romania, in Szekelyi land the Romanians are simply in minority, not more than 10-20 %, and the locals speak Hungarian. Incredible and sad, but true.)
The Culture Palace from Targu-Mures is one of the most interesting museums in Romania

But let's go back to our sheeps, the city of Targu-Mures (German Neumarkt), which has some wonderful monuments of Architecture. First of all comes in my mind The Culture Palace (Palatul Culturii/Kulturpalota) which is really a palace, comparing with many other buildings in Romania which are called palaces, but don't deserve this title at all! In the Culture Palace from Targu-Mures you will notice and recognize the style Art Nouveau with popular influences. And you will notice also the Mirrors' saloon, giving an extraordinary perspective. The feeling is overwhelming, you feel enlighted and is highly probably to get a brillant genius idea.
The Orthodox Cathedral in Targu-Mures lies in the central Roses' Market

You will also notice the rich collection of of Romanian and Hungarian painters, as also the weapons' saloon. The Culture Palace lies in the Roses's Market was opened in 1913, while the city enjoyed a peak of his culture life. Even today the city is an importand culture center for all Romania: here are located a very good  Medicin University and a good theater, hosting two troops, one Romanian, and one Hungarian.
City Hall from Targu-Mures at night

The City Hall is also located in the Roses' Market. It is older than the Culture Palace and was build in Secession style. Further in this Central Market are other interesting things to be seen: the big Orthodox Cathedral, hosting touching paintings inside; History and Archaeology Museum.

If you got tired, go and rest in a good restaurant, as Targu-Mures has many. Try first The Cave La Mitica, where you'll find an extraordinary atmosphere, with more languages being spoken to the tables. Or you can also try a good Hungarian restaurant at Emma Vendeglo, where you can surely find a good goulasch and Budapesta beefteck!

I am sure you are going to like this city, but I must warn you: a city break in Targu Mures is almost imposible, you need 2 days at least for knowing the city. Very close, in Ganesti, you can do a good wine tasting. 

duminică, 21 octombrie 2012

A Romanian Wine Festival

Focsani is a little town 200 km away from Bucharest. Nice, peaceful, clean enough, but has not very spectacular old architecture landmarks, as do  other bigger or smaller cities in Romania. During Ceausescu's forced industrialization policy, all Downtown has been destroyed, and instead have been build so many identical blocks of flats. Maybe it is easier to live in these match boxes, but the city itself acts grey and is not able to differentiate comparing to other sad grey towns countrywide.
In the very peaceful like Focsani, the Wine Festival is a necesary celebration, which everyone waits  in the Autumn

Nevertheless, there are also some things making Focsani special. First of all, in the Vrancea mountains, not far from Focsani (80 km) have the origin and epicenter all the major earthquakes who scares all the Romanians every 50 years. Amazingly, these earthquake don't do much harm in Focsani, but can cause large scale destructions in Bucharest and other towns lieing 200 km away or more! One might say, the people of Focsani are the most feared Romaniawide!
At the presentation stand of vineyard Rovinex I managed to taste an excellent Feteasca Neagra from 2006

Second, Focsani is a local center of the biggest vineyards in all Romania. Consequently, it is normal to organize here an yearly Wine Festival, and this edition from 2012 has a huge budget, which is not so normal in a poor country like Romania. But the people live their lives and take profit from this huge festival with consistent budget. Most important than everything else, the wine is being honored as it deserves, and many exquisite wine tastings ruled by leading someliers took place between 19th-21st of October 2012.
The Romanian "mici" or "mititei" are one of the stars of the Wine Festival. They enjoy a good tradition and reputation, and are easy to pair practically with any wine.

My personal favorite was a fabulous Feteasca Neagra 2006 from Rovinex, which has such a strong bouquet.  Legends say, that you can get drunk with Feteasca Neagra even without drinking a single drop! That impossible to describe bouquet is all the secret! Further, when you have this wine in your mouth you'll notice! Tastes like dried wood fruits, and it is not wise to hold it in the mouth longer than 60 seconds, or you can get drunk again only through tongue absorbtion. Last, you must spit this excellent dangerous wine, no matter how sorry you might be. Pair this wine with a roasted meat or chicken, may be even with mititei, the local star of the Festival and uncrowned King.
Imagine how difficult is for the poor locals to drink the contents of so many barels, paired with mici or  meat.

May be next year you will have the time to see Festival alive, if you will go healthy and wealthy through the End of The World. You need only some time and a small budget, as I have as always some unbeatable propositions, need only to mail at or to call at 0726268717

miercuri, 17 octombrie 2012

Most important things to do in Brasov

Very easy accessible from Bucharest (only 170 km away), Brasov lies literally in the very center of Romania. After visiting Brasov you are going to have a tonic feeling that the World, Romania and specially Brasov are wonderful, a good place to live.
The Black Church of Brasov is not black at all, but passed many fires. It is one of the Europe,s biggest gothic cathedrals. Be sure not to pass the organ concerts on Tuesday and the fab carpet collection

Brasov (German Kronstadt, Hungarian Brasso) has a Turkish ethimology after all, as the Turks have been also active and interested in the area. Brasov is maybe the most touristic city in Romania, with the best restaurants and a much relaxed atmosphere compared to Bucharest, the Romanian Capital. The city has many cafes and hotels, but usually all of them are booked up; during the Music Festival Golden Deer you need for sure a prior reservation.
Downtown at night. Very impressive, very Medieval and very nice. A living lesson of architecture

Historically speaking, the first attested written docunent date back from the XIIIth century, mentioning the privileges granted to German Saxon in Brasov by the Hungarian King Geza IInd. The German traders and craftsmen from Brasov gained a good reputation in the neighboring Romanian countries of Wallachia and Moldavia, where they received also some privileges. The Black Church in the centre of Brasov is still today the center of the German community, still counting 2000 people. The downtown is very well preserved and offers a brillant example of German architecture, and you can feel transported elsewhere in Austria and Germany. Looks even today overwhelming for the Romanians (during Middle Age the Romanians had no right to settle in the German city, and were supposed to live in the Schei neighborhood, entering the city through Scheigate. Compare the architecture from Schei with the Downtown!). Don't miss in the Black Church the organ concerts on Tuesday and the impressive collection of hand woven carpets, donated by the German traders.
One of the two citygates still lasting today.(Catherine gate)

Very close to nature, Brasov has very near (12 km away) the winter sports resort of Poiana Brasov ( actually counting as a city neighbourhood!). In Poana Brasov's many slopes you can ski at any knowledge level, you can skate and practise other winter sports. It is really a bid for an edition of Winter Olympic games.
Poiana Brasov is a reputated winter sport resort

After a longer or shorter walk in Brasov you are normally subject to napeache, due to the many things needing your attention. If you are not hit by napeache, it surely means that you haven't been enough regardful to city beauties! A wonderful panorama of the city you can get from Tampa, the peak overseeing Brasov. Up to 1450 there was a fortress there, but Vlad Tepes Dracula destroyed it. Nowadays you can find a good restaurant there.

Another highlight in Brasov is the Romanian Orthodox Church of  St Nicholas