vineri, 30 noiembrie 2012

Best Hotels in Iasi

There are a lot of things to do in Iasi, which is a very nice cultural city, even a magical one I dare to say. You need more days in Iasi for sure, and nevertheless you won't be very happy when leaving it, feeling that you still have something to discover.
Hotel Traian was designed by Gustave Eiffel, 150 years ago, but still holds on!

The first mention as the best hotel in Iasi is for Traian. I can agree with you, might be a personal ranking and impression, it is to discuss. But doubtless the hotel represents the most significant and beautiful building in the city, designed by the renowned Gustave Eiffel. The staff welcomes you warmly, they are very kind and speak more languages. Not very expensive, thinking to positioning or other factors, a room costs only 80 Euros.
The spectacular hotel Unirea in Iasi, at night

Very close to Hotel Traian is a sort of local skyscrapers, Hotel Unirea. Going to the last floor you can have a charming panorama of this wonderful city. Also the rooms offer excellent views, mainly the upper floors. The rooms are very modern and comfortable, but the service only satisfactory, comparing to Hotel Traian.
The boutique spa hotel Majestic in Iasi

A little cheaper is the small pension Majestic. Also central, but quiet, friendly and warm, proposes unique rooms organized with good taste. Really deceiving was for me the breakfast, unfortunately, but I can only hope that the things have improved.

Discover the Iasi museums, once you solved the lodging, and make also small trips to Bucium or Cotnari for wine tasting. The life flows so relaxing here in Moldavia, comparing with Bucharest. Walking on the streets and mixing with all the students gives an excellent youth feeling. Don't you dare to speak more to the local beauties from the Medicine School, wearing white tight gowns even in their spare time!

How to find the best hotels in Brasov

It is not very easy finding the best hotels in Brasov. As the most touristic city in Romania, it doesn't lack neither on tourists, nor on hotels. Based on my personal experiences and on what I shared with other travelers, I made a selection which could be helpful to you.

First, if you don't need to stay within the city of Brasov, you could stay in the neigborhood, in Poiana Brasov or Bran. About the hotels in Poiana Brasov, waiting their skiers clients or the wanderers, be very careful in the mid seasons or on week ends, due to the crowds of travelers coming mainly from Bucharest.

In Bran there are a lot of small hotels, villas and pensions along the main road. If you are luckily enough, here you can find a room without prior reservation.

About the good hotels from the very city of Brasov, you also need normally a prior reservation. The hotels are good, and the city very circulated, resulting in a huge traffic. Having a hotel in Brasov is surely a good business, despite the crisis!
Aro Palace is the normal first choice when thinking to Best hotels in Brasov

Thinking about Brasov and the good city hotels, my first choice is unfortunately also the most expensive. Being in downtown and walking there you simply can't miss Aro Palace, which has a long tradition, excellent service and a good cuisine. A room costs 100 Euros, affordable comparing with some locations from Bucharest, e.g. The golden interiors, the marble and  other golden ornaments compose a particular, but cold environment. Coming alone means that you are aware of some risks, the many groups coming here have a priority!
Hotel Postavaru is for the budget travelers

If you are on a tight budget, The Hotel Postavaru is very close, and a room only cost 25 Euros (no bathroom). Don't forget the wonderful position, and you must declare you very happy with this solution.

After presenting the cheapest and the most expensive hotels, let's think to the middle budgets. In downtown Brasov, in Piata Sfatului, you can find the totally satisfying Casa Wagner. It is small, familiar and charming with only 12 rooms ( 70 Euros for a room). Old furniture, sober interior of good taste make from Casa Wagner an important adress.
In downtown Brasov the House Wagner is a good target

Not far, maybe similar in a way with Casa Wagner one can find Casa Rozelor (The Roses' house). The house itself is very old, from the XVth century. The special of this hotel consists even on combining in style the old stone house with the modern amenities, and further in combining with a good taste the old stone with the contemporary furniture. Must see for art freaks.

The Roses house in Brasov is a boutique hotel with a touch of style

joi, 29 noiembrie 2012

Best Hotels in Bucharest downtown

The big city with its eclectic architecture is charming and welcomes you from the heart. It is a good start for your Romanian adventure, and you are going to need a few days for visiting and understanding Bucharest, Romania and their wines.
In Cismigiu Hotel is possible to avoid the noisy rooms opening to the main street!

Staying in downtown would be the first choice. Here are some good restaurants, museums, shopping possibilities, everything what you expect to find in an European Capital. Thus you are going to discover and create your Bucharest, and don't forget socializing with the locals at a glass of wine or beer.

You must make from the start a good choice, which is really decisive for your stay in Bucharest. Select your hotel according your budget (no chance under 60 Euros, breakfast included, the upscale goes up to 300 Euros), rooms availability (this is a job for me, believe me).

Near the Cismigiu Park you can easily find Hotel Cismigiu. 25 years ago when me and my wife were students in Bucharest she lived it, I can recommend something based on personal experience. First, if possible, avoid the noisy rooms from the front, opening to the main street. Also noisy and to avoid is the elevator, stay better to the first floors and use the stair. To be honest, I never got stucked in that lift, but I never liked it, is personal opinion. But other wise, the hotel is good, and a room only costs 60 Euros.
Vila Helga is the typical hostel in Bucharest

If you are really on a tight budget, there is no problem, you can still find your hotel in the downtown, which is actually a hostel! At Vila Helga you can stay for 12-22 Euros in separate rooms or shared dormitories, no breakfast included, but a cosy, young, friendly atmosphere.
Casa Capsa is a symbol of  the cultural bohemians and a landmark of Bucharest

Casa Capsa  is a symbol of Bucharest since 100 years. In the upscale restaurant here used to come, and still do artists, writer, prominent businessmen, I mean spirit people. The hotel has been just rebuild and enjoys the wooden works, lamps, carpets and deserves 200 Euros for a night. Unfortunately, the concierge is sometimes not very well mannered.
Hotel Radisson is very modern and comfy and will definitively spoil you.

If you are used living like a king, and money doesn't matters for you, at 300 Euros for night I could recommend you the prestige Radisson SAS hotel, with charming modern rooms, excellent service, swimming pool and restaurant with Romanian specialities and wines.

Well, something for every pocket, I think and hope. Still know other names, but that will do for the moment, I expect your requests.

miercuri, 28 noiembrie 2012

The best business hotels in Cluj-Napoca

Cluj Napoca is such a wonderful city and really deserves a few days from your time. There are a plenty things to do in this charming location, which seduces with its peaceful multilingvistic and multicultural  flair.

Supposing you are businessman, or dispose anyway of the daily budget of 50-60 Euros. With this budget you can get a good average three stars hotel with breakfast ( to the limit I also selected ** or **** hotel). We should avoid the very centre, simply too noisy, overcrowded and expensive.
The good Hotel Victoria in downtown Cluj Napoca

Only 5 minutes away from the downtown you can find Hotel Victoria, the meeting place of the exquisite clubs Lion and Rotary. The kitchen is only satisfactory, the stairs looks fantastic with its lamps, but the rooms  need a refreshment.

10 minutes away a typical business hotel, the Best Western. It is totally blue for sure, is standard comfy, but has a good kitchen and a wonderful attractive bar, visited by the rockers, being totally dedicated to personalities like Elvis Prestley, Buddy Holly and Rolling Stones.
The conventional Best Western Topaz Hotel, whose bar is totally special, meeting point of the local rocjers

Also 10 minutes away from the downtown, but in other direction a nice surprise: Hotel premier **** at costs of three stars with a dynamic super team lead by Lucian Stanciu, who strives to salute every guest personally (when i arrived, 11 hours p.m. he was there, but also when I left at 6 hours in the morning he was already there.)  Don't need to say anything else about the service or about the kitchen (don't miss the delicious crepes suzettes/pancakes filled with confiture). So, probably the most interesting and advisable stoppover in Cluj-Napoca for this budget! And I can reveal you another secret: as Cluj Napoca has a strong football team, namely CFR, his counterparts from Romania (Steaua Bucuresti, Dinamo Bucuresti) or from abroad always make the choice to stay here.
Hotel Premier offers **** service for ***prices and a lot of space
General manager of Hotel premier, Mr Lucian Stanciu, takes always the time to speak personally with all his guests.

A little bit further from the downtown, maybe 30 minutes walking, the Hotel Sport** was first for sportsmen oriented, but meanwhile its esteemed clients turned to be businessmen  with much higher requests on service quality level, but the team managed to solve all the possible problems. You can find here a good kitchen and a good service in hotel and restaurant.

Hotel Sport is far from downtown, but offers major compensations

If your budget is lower, we will find solutions and recommend them to you on another occasion. And if you have a bigger budget we also have solutions, choice Opera plaza  in the downtown for 120 Euros at night.

marți, 27 noiembrie 2012

The best restaurants in Bucharest

If you know very good yourself and you are aware of your tastes (which you really should), Bucharest has for sure something for you. There are so many restaurants in Bucharest, it is simply impossible not to find the right one for you!
If you are on the go, take a satisfactory meal in a popular restaurant, e.g. Springtime

First, let's see what is your favorite kitchen. Due to the many expats from Bucharest, there are a selected brunch of restaurants catering at high quality levels in a foreign style: oriental, Lebanese,French, Italian,Hungarian etc. Nevertheless, stay to the Romanian Kitchen, I recommend it from the heart, and it is really normally to be set on this kitchen, because it is an intrinsic part of Romania. And there is another advantage, a major one, at the popular restaurants you can find the house wine, unbottled, but a very good one, at an excellent report quality/price. Also, if you are lucky enough, you will find the offer of the day (look after Meniul zilei) , which means a three course menu for 4-5 Euros. Really a bargain, but at the rush hours these restaurants are overcrowded with students, of course! Discover please the hidden restaurant Gara Lipscani, while having a walk in the old downtown on Lipscani street. You will find there a relaxed atmosphere and a wide assortment of salads, grills etc!
A student cosy atmosphere and a good Romanian kitchen in Gara Lipscani

Also to visit for a frugal meal, Spring Time, in the center, near University, on Academy street, or in the Railway station. Very beloved among students, you can eat very good and very cheap pizza, salad, deserts, and even shaowarma.
Carul cu bere on Stavropoleos street is really special

 If you are not necessary on a budget, visit the exquisite Carul cu Bere, which is traditionally the meeting point of the local intelighentsia since 100 years. It has interesting Neogothic interiors and glassworks, and the prices are still democratic. The kitchen is also excellent, but you need a prior reservation, otherwise is difficult to get a table.
Casa Doina is one of the most exquisite locations in Bucarest

Enjoy further the tasty juicy Romanian kitchen in some exquisite location, e.g in House Doina, on Kiseleff street. The house hosting you is totally special, from 1889, and represented Romania to a Paris exhibition. Excellent careful service, and exquisite Romanian kitchen, really at its best. A good place for celebrations, special invitation, etc.

Maybe I should stop the list, as I am terrible hungry. I will try today a good portion of beans with sausages, enjoying also a good glass of exquisite wine ( Grasa de Cotnari, a half dried white). Cheers.

luni, 26 noiembrie 2012

Epic tours in Romania and the neighboring countries

Romania is cute and nice, I really love it, and maybe I will succeed to make you feel the same. I love Bucharest and other cities, I love wines as you know already, I love the Romanians and the other nice people living here (Hungarians mainly, also Germans, expats etc).

I will never stop loving Romania, it is one of the reason of keeping this blog, as the other one is my need for sharing it with you! About the position of Romania in the South-East Europe and its balanced relief I had other occasions to name it, I just wanna name now the possibilities to visit the neighbors: Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia (SRBIJA), Hungary (Magyarorszag) and Ukraina.
The big quantity of concrete in Chisinau/Moldova is counterbalanced by its atmosphere.

There are many things in common with our neighbors, but we have also some differences. Along the centuries there were mutual influences which are still to observe for a trained eye, as you are, in gastronomy, popular dances, vocabulary etc. A fascinating research you can also lead on your own, but with your permission I will assist you! As Romania is an European country, member of EU, there is no visa needed for all these countries, but you need a passport or an identity card (for the EU citizens).
Varna/Bulgaria is very touristic attractive

Moldavia (Moldova) is poor, isolated and ignored and a trip there is a little adventure. The Capital Chisinau (Kishinew) is not far from Iassy, but you can count with a few hours delay to the border formalities. The Capital Chisinau has a too long experience of Soviet urbanization: has  many blocks of flats, bery grey in winter and very green in summer (there are plenty of parks and green in this city with 500 000 inhabitants). Amazing here is the nice flair and atmosphere, rather than any Architectural treasures. Very close to Chisinau is the huge underground cave from Cricova, which has some exquisite wines indeed and was the reservoir for all the Sovietic Empire. Also to mention: the cave monasteries from Orheiul Vechi or Tipova.
Belgrad recovers after wars and bombings quickly and succesfully, and is very picturescque in its old quarters

Bulgaria is easy reachable by train, car or by ship. Going from Bucharest you will discover first the city of Ruse wit its cute downtown, consisting mainly from fresh renovated building ( but I personally can't understand why some people name Ruse the little Vienna). Not far, only 20 km away the wonderful monastery of Ivanovo and the city of Veliko Tirnovo in a breathtaking landscape. Another possibility to discover Bulgaria is coming from Constanta and the Romanian seaside, crossing Balcic, Varna, Albena and other resorts.
Visiting Budapest ( not Bucharest, I repeat) is really an event

Serbia is to visit starting from Timisoara, 170 km away from the Capital Belgrad, which lies in a magnificent position and recovers after the wound of the last wars and fights. There is a lot of concrete in the city (e.g. Novi Beograd) but the charm of Belgrad is rather rural in some little markets, river beaches and quarter of Skadarlija with its narrow streets.

Hungary welcomes with its neverending plain and the nice villages visible from the distance, if you live from Satu Mare, Oradea and Arad.  You can observe and admire the puszta and the cities of Szeged (80 km from Arad with a few Art Nouveau buildings), Gyula (attracting the pastry addicted ond water freaks) or Debrecen (acces in the National park Hortobagyi) . Only 200 km away from Arad is the wonderful Budapest (don't take it for Bucharest, even Michael Jackson made this terrible mistake).
Kiev welcomes you in its way, with its many golden churches.Don't be afraid, is not anymore so expensive like  during the EURO championship 

Ukraine is our big neighbor from North and East, and we share with it the Bucovina (historically cut) and the Danube Delta. Only 70 km away from Suceava, Cernicvski (or Cernauti, on Romanian) is a cute drive, but lacks nevertheless on historical buildings or landmarks. 100 km to East, Kements podolski and its wonderful island city will attract you from the first sight. Afterwards, the wonderful Kiev with its many golden churches is a necessary stopover.

Discover all these neighboring country if you are on a longer Romanian trip, and remember that I can help and assist even for these destinations. But don't neglect Romania, please, this is the main target. 94K7B2BR73T7

Myths and legends about the Hungarians of Romania

Romania is a relative homogeneity  population (90 % are Romanian, 80 % are Orthodox and everybody likes wine!). From the rest of 10 % the overwhelming majority consists on Hungarians (also, totally, between 1,5 and 2 million people).
The traditional way to cook paprikas

From this many people the most lives in Bucharest, which is, after Budapest, the most populous city with Hungarians. Other important part are typical Hungarians (Magyar) living peaceful with the Romanians for centuries in all cities or villages of Transilvania. Another Hungarian population, namely the Szekely) lives very compact  in two mountains districts (Harghita and Covasna) as a majority, enjoying a certain autonomy.

The fact is that they speak a language almost identical with Hungarian, and very different comparing to Romanian. Also, culture, way of life are completely different, despite some similarities. They are also good people, not fundamentally different than Romanians. They build here a total special county, Tinutul Secuiesc/Szekelyifold, where is practically impossible to hear Romanian.
The Szekelyi gates are a typical landmark of the region

The origin of this Szekelyi population is very controversial. The Szekelyi self say to be direct descendants of the bloody cruel Attila, king of  Huns, whose son Csaba came and set in the area in the IVth century. After collapse of the Huns Empire Csaba remained the ruler of this population of fugitive horse riders. According other sources, they were first surviving Avarians from a rebellion against Francs. Other ivestigated possibilities: they are Khazars, a Turkish people converted to Judaism ; they are unconquered and unromanised Dacs;  Hungarians having a separate evolution. The fact is that those 600 000 Szekelyi living today in harghita and Covasna districts keeps their identity, language and traditions, organized around the interesting town of Odorheiul Secuiesc.
The Miko castle from Miercurea Ciuc

I strongly recommend not to avoid this Tinutul Secuiesc/Szekelyifold. Even the gastronomy is completely different and you have a lot of things to discover, as the county is totally in the mountains, with picturesque villages, valleys and castles. They drink mainly palinka, and cook in a special way, different even from the Hungarians. Prince Charles of Britain was seduced by the area and bought a property here!
 Thus, you can discover the salt mine from Praid, used for healing the lungs pacients. Observe the wonderful wood gates to the entrance in villages or yards. Discover Sovata, an interesting spa retreat with a very salt lake (very easy to swim, but there are precautions needed)

Take a look to the ruinated castle from Lazarea and drive further in the sleepy Gheorgheni. In the central market named Petofi Sandor there is an interesting Armenian church, unfortunately closed most of the time. The next stop in Miercurea Ciuc/Csikszereda, the coolest town in Romania for real! Visit here Csiki Szekelyi Muszeum (The Szekelyi Museum of Ciuc country). It is also a good place to eat something, enjoying the spicy local gastronomy.

I personally am very fond of the Hungarian and Szekelyi, koszonem!

duminică, 25 noiembrie 2012

5 Ways For Having The Best New Year Vacations

So, you are again supposed to live on vacation. After the mess from the last year would be maybe a good idea working on New Year, as you are a real workaholic.
Iasi is a good target for New year party, organized even on this market

But there are many other options to have a even better vacations. First of all, stop reading, stop any other thoughts (use all your strength, tantra, yoga, whatsoever), close your eyes and start concentrating on the New Year Vacations. Don't feel guilty anymore for not working on 31st December. Take the first decision: stay at home or leave!

Leaving means also visiting friends, relatives etc and is already an adventure, but a peaceful one. What about leaving for vacations? Now you must choose next: budget, ,medium or luxury, according your budget, time and mood ( respectively your wife's!). Whatever you choosen already, we wanna congratulate you, as being on the good way!
In many places in Romania, whether inside the cities, or at the country side, the traditions are very well kept.

Now it's time to refine your searches, and this an activity who will ruin your time, budget and irritation. Better hire a travel agency, if you can afford that, for Romania I have some recommendations to do!

But you must first take the major decision: where to go? Forget Rio, it is too hot, and forget other civilized destinations. I think it is obvious now, Romania remains the best and only target. Just joking of course, can't influence so much your thinking, it is entirely up to you!
Brasov would be very happy welcoming you on New Year 

Supposing you took the big decision of coming here, another question: would you like partying on the streets, or rather relax in a fancy restaurant, with a lot of food and drinks? If you are the street type, bear in mind that almost all Romanian cities offer a New Year party in the central market, with lots of champagne, concerts, lights and lots of crackers (don't be scare, it is not the local artillery). Traditionally, the best street parties can be found and discovered in Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Brasov and Iasi and there is a competition to get the better artists for the shows. Even smaller towns like Focsani, Sighisoara or Suceava have a lot to offer.

If you are rather the restaurant type, first suggestion is Poiana Brasov, with its exquisite restaurants, followed by Constanta (personal opinion, the seaside has its secret charm in winter, without being overcrowded like in the summer season).

Last, but not least, the rural pensions from Bucovina, Bran, Lepsa which are very traditional, offering nevertheless all the modern ammenities. A tour, even a wine tour is not the best choice for the winter, due to the usually bad weather with lots of snow and frost.

vineri, 23 noiembrie 2012

Best places for Christmas celebrations in Romania

Halloween and Thanksgiving are a little strange, new and exotic in Romania, but I can promise to organize next year some interesting celebrations, as the globalization works. Keep in touch for that, I wonder how will the Romanians accept the idea, and how many foreigners will like to celebrate them far away from home. And don't forget the expats.

With the Christmas is completely different. There is a long tradition and a long story for celebrating Xmas. It is probably the most beloved day of the year, when the family holds together, waiting for the youngsters which visit them and sing carols. There is also the tradition of a rich table, a Christmas tree and the presents.

This is already merchandising of Christmas, and I don't have the intention to do something like that; on the contrary, I appreciate and love the genuine spirit of Christmas, where I can still find it. It is surely another story, another discussion.
Sibiu and his officially Christmas market is unique in Romania ( here the Liars' bridge)

Everywhere in Romania you may have a perfect Christmas, and it is a very difficult task to recommend one or many certain destinations, but I must do it. The first choice is of course Sibiu, the only Romanian city having an official Christmas market, comparable with those from Wien, Budapest, Prague etc. You must only remember to book in advance and be aware that the prices are high in that period of year.

Bucharest is another hit for Christmas. Everybody celebrates, there are crowds of Carols singers on the streets, there is a wonderful partying atmosphere. Visit one of the many churches of Bucharest on Christmas and you will be delighted, it is such a relief and a relax, and a wonderful occasion regaining yourself.
Bucharest has something magic on Christmas

As the religious and spiritual side of Christmas is   much more important than the commercial one, I can warmly recommend further Bucovina for celebrating Christmas. There are many churches there, and if you are on a budget they will host you. If the budget is not a such dramatic problem, you can choice one of the many hotels,motels or pensions in the area ( ask me, I have some fav and I will be glad to recommend you them). The only problem is the feast, simply too much! The wine is flowing, and if you want something stronger take tzuica (plum brandy) as a help for your digestion.
Suceava and Bucovina are a must for the people who wanna feel the genuine spirit of Christmas.

Thus you will have an unforgettable Christmas, and depends on you how long should be this travel and how much would it cost. Maybe is advisable to stay longer, celebrating also the New Year, but be very careful to your stomach and liver, the meals and drinks are delicious.

joi, 22 noiembrie 2012

Golfing in Romania with style

As the world is shrinking and globalizing, which really scares me, whatever obsolete it may sound, playing golf is not so strange in Romania anymore. Similar with Halloween, Thanksgiving etc they are not mysterious anymore, you can even celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving in Romania!
Lac de verde Golf ground in Breaza is an excellent golf place, close to Bucharest

Playing golf is very popular between Romanian expats, but also between native Romanian who have such friends as golfers. The prices are more and more affordable, nevertheless golf is not the most popular sport in Romania (which is football btw, I would compare Bucharest with Madrid or Buenos Aires). 30 years ago it was still possible for addicted golfers to play their favorite sport only on small minigolf fields.

Nowadays it is much better, but there is still a huge distance to go comparing to the States. There are many plans for building more and more grass fields, but I wil put them away, I am not interested in plans at this moment! I will stay to the topic and tell the right places for playing golf in Romania.
The golf place in Pianu de Jos was developed around the personality of Paul Tomita, Romanian golfer

Please, don't you think that the choice is huge and I could give you some recommendations, by selecting the right courses! Not at all, on the contrary: there are only two golf places in Romania, one of them is in Breaza, its name is Lac de Verde, 100 km away from Bucharest, and the other one is in Pianu Mare, district Alba. 500 km away from Bucharest.

So, it seems to be an easy choice! If you land in Bucharest and neighborhood, you must go to Lac de Verde/Breaza, on the way to Brasov (Prahova Valley). You need only to be very carefully
 about reservations, as the place is overcrowded,  specially on week ends! Once arrived here, if you are a pro, you will observe the prices, much lower comparing to other places worldwide, and also the special care of the owners granted to their guests. They have everything you need, and even more, and do everything possible for an unforgettable golf experience.
The Diplomatic Club in the Herastrau Park from Bucharest is very exclusive

The ground of Pianu Mare has a much more interesting legend: an important Romanian golfer was born in Pianu Mare around 1920. he moved out in Bucharest to follow his dream, which he really did, taking part in the 70's at some important contests abroad. After his retirement he came back home at Pianu Mare, fascinating all the village with his real, but extraordinary stories. And this led a group of locals to have the dea and initiative to build a golf place in the area. Which they successfully did, in the middle 90's to the delight and joy of Paul Tomita, who supervised this development, until in his last days of life.

The wonderful combination of relaxing, networking, nature and sport which is after all golf could be played also in Bucharest to the exquisite Diplomate Club, in the Herastrau Park, but it only counts 6 holes, after works to the park. But this is a club, is members only, and you must be whether a diplomate in Bucharest, or  having such a friend!

marți, 20 noiembrie 2012

Best Romania Archaeology Tour

Romania has an ancient civilization, thousand years ago these fertile blessed lands have been by the people who were hunting and farming. Only one month ago, during excavation works for the building of a highway, it has been discovered an 8000 years old written stone plate, probably the oldest writing world wide.
The Romanian dances are a major subject of interests, the songs set the language barrier

Is is fascinating to navigate through the Romanian history, searching artifacts and thinking to the daily life of the people. Even this thing I am going to propose you, in an unforgettable History and Archaeology Tour of Romania. We are going to start from the antique Greek and Roman times in Tomis, the father of the today Constanta. I propose you also something based on the overexagerated legend of Dracula, and I am not going to miss a visit in the most important History and Archaeology Museums in Romania, in Bucharest and Constanta. Bear in mind that the time is late for this year, the winter comes and is knocking on the door. My tip: still possible to do and book this year, getting a 10 % off discount!
The antic ruins of Histria are simply fascinating if try to figure the daily life in those  old times

Day One  
Arrive in Bucharest, drive to hotel in Constanța. At the moment Constanta is not anymore animated and overcrowded, an excellent season for visiting the charming city
Day Two
 Constanța, the ancient city of Tomis, including some current excavations, including the ‘mosaic building’. The large museum 
houses finds from all over Dobrogea, including the famous ‘Sculpture Treasury’.
Contemporary Bucharest

Day Three
Day at
 Histria, the largest excavation site in Romania. It was an ancient Milesian apoikia (trading colony) from the 7th century BC, which was subsequently abandoned. Most of the visible monuments are Late Roman in date, including city walls, baths and several Christian basilicas.
Day Four
Drive to
 Adamclisi to see the Tropaeum Traiani, the triumphal monument erected in celebration of Trajan’s vistory over the Dacians - the provincial counterpart to Trajan’s column in Rome, one of the very few such monuments which still survives. Continue to Bucharest. Optional, wine tasting in Murfatlar.
The monument of Adamclisi celebrates the Roman conquest of the ancient Dacia 

Day Five
National Museum in Bucharest, containing treasures from all over Romania, including lifesize replicas of the reliefs of Trajan’s column in Rome. The museum’s ‘treasury’ is also very impressive displaying Romania’s most valuable artefacts (including much gold and silver) from prehistory to the modern era. ‘Pharaonic House of the People’, the world’s largest civilian building, built under the Ceausescu regime, which now houses the Romanian Parliament. The old city of Bucharest is changing fast - those who want to see it should hurry! Free afternoon. Discover the typical architecture of an Orthodoxe church in archbishopic of Bucharest. Extra free discount: Bucharest Architectural Tour
Day Six
Drive along the Prahova Valley to
 Bran Castle, popularly linked with Dracula, founded in the 14th century and later used as a defence against the Ottoman Empire. Continue to Brasov (‘Black Church’) and city break
Sarmizegetusa in the mountains, the former Capital of Dacia

Day Seven
Sibiu, a Medieval town founded in the 12th century by Saxon settlers, became the most important of Translyvania’s ‘seven cities’. Charming old town with narrow lanes, Medieval houses, churches, merchants guild and the Bruckenthal Palace, which houses one of Romania’s largest and oldest museums. It was European ‘Capital of Culture’ in 2007.
Day Eight
Sarmizegetusa Regia, capital of the Dacian kingdom - monumental architecture with Greek influence, and a quite unique appearance, including defensive walls, artificial terraces, temples and sanctuaries. Nearby fort of Costesti.
Day Nine
Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, capital of the Roman province of Dacia, with amphitheatre, temples, forum and the residence of the province’s financial procurator. On to the Gothic Hunyad Castle at Hunedoara, associated with John Hunyadi, the Romanian general who fought the Turks.
Day Ten
Drive back to Bucharest for flights home.

Total costs of 990 Euros include good *** hotels with lunch, breakfast and lunch, as also all necessary fees and entrances,  but exclude the flight, the optional wine tasting and tipping.

Prahova Valley, a Romanian Royal getaway

If you need to relax and detox, if you need to forget the usual trouble and the daily routine, I have the right medicine for you. I really recommend to go from Bucharest to Brasov, through Ploiesti on the A1 highway, along the spectacular Prahova Valley. But please keep in mind, that this highway is the busiest in Romania, and you must avoid it during the week end rush hours, e.g. Friday and Sunday afternoon.

The Prahova is simply superb,  meanders through Bucegi and Baiului Mountains, and could be named The Royal Valley of Romania, because the former King Carol I used to live here, in Sinaia, where he managed to build the fantastic Peles Castle from stone, wood and precious materials. Consequently, all his suite adopted Sinaia as a summer Capital. Ever since that period, the beginning of XXth century, the skiers and mountain climbers are the masters of these places.
Valea Prahovei is simply superb, the best place to disconnect from anything else.

Due to its proximity to Bucharest, Prahova Valley was an important connection between Wallachia and Transilvania., centuries before opening of a railway and a highway in 1880. Because the old highway is obsolete and overcrowded sometimes, there are plans for building a speed highway between Bucharest and Budapest, but the environmental price will be huge ( nowadays in the big forests of the area you can still find bears, wolves and lynxes). The legendary stylish train Orient Express drove this way on his long journey between Paris and Istanbul.
Peles Castle in Sinaia is a must see for any art freak

On the way to the mountains, discover first the quiet town of Campina, where you can find two interesting museums. One of them refers to Nicolae Grigorescu, the most important Romanian painter from all times, which lived here during its last years of life, and left his last masterpiece unaccomplished. He started his career by painting churches and monasteries, and finally an important politician, impressed by his paintings, offered him a scholarship in Paris. Nowadays, if you have the chance to buy a painting of grigorescu, please don't hesitate, it is a safer placement than gold! The secon interesting museum in Campina is Hasdeu Memorial Museum, with a very strange spiritual atmosphere, as Hasdeu, an important political and cultural personality, tried to further communicate with his beloved genial daughter Julia, died at 18 years.

Further, you reach the town of Breaza, which is simply very long, build mainly along the street, and very famous due to its excellent golf coarse. Afterwards, within minutes, you are in Sinaia, and you don't need to hurry up anymore. Enjoy Sinaia in all its splendor, it deserves. The quiet town is very animated on week ends, but in the rest of time keeps an interesting flair of the beginning of XXth Century. After King Carol set here his summer residence emmerged many luxury villas, his suite visited the Casino, and took part to hunting. If you are an art freak, don't miss the Peles Castle, it is simply superb. It was an avangarde building for Romania of those times, heated and electrified. Observe please the wood works, while going from the honor room in the weapon and Marocco room! Next to it, the Pelisor Castle, a paradise for Art Nouveau freaks.

Go deep in the Mountains by the cabin, if you are in the mood to climb them.  Further, before reaching Brasov, find Busteni and Predeal, very important for addicted skiers.

luni, 19 noiembrie 2012

Best way to discover the Hills around Buzau

Living Bucharest to East, after only 100 km of an endless boring plain you can see with a deep relief the hills of the Northern side of district Buzau. Discovering this intensiv village life in the hidden valleys of the hills announcing the Carpathians will be a big pleasure. The colored rural shows is played by the people, animals and the rich vegetation with a tremendous success. This plain-mountain hilly region is very particular, similar with nothing else in Romania.
The City Council of Buzau is the landmark

But let's start our discovery with the city of Buzau, which is not the best, but also not the last among Romanian cities. The city is an industrial one with 130000 inhabitants, and is one of the oldest in all Romania and looks nowadays typical Romanian. Observe the central market and its animation, and also the rroms quarters of the city (Simileasca, Chimica, Micro 14). Don't miss in downtown the fancy Mayoralty,older than 100 years and rebuild after the WWII. Despite its respectable age, it is impossible to see buildings older than XVIIIth century, as the city was subject of repeted destroys caused by Turks, or Earthquakes.
The House Vergu-Manaila in Buzau is one of the oldest in the city 

Every 6 year there is an Earthquake in the area, approximately 6 degrees Richter, and every 50 years a major earthquake of 7 degrees Richter causes big damages in the all Romania. The explanation is easy: this area Focsani-Buzau lies on the intersection of three major geological plates, namely the European, the Asian, and the African one, causing huge stresses.
The picturescue monastery of Ciolanu, 20 km away from Buzau

What you have to see in Buzau the Archbishop residence, observing the older one, from 1649 build by Matei Basarab. Also, the district Museum, worth your visit, despite the unhappy obsolete manner of presentation. On weekends and at night the main occupation of the locals is walking in the superb Park Crang. Seniors play chess, young married do photos, and young boys and girls are fixing each other. Buzau is also proud of its pretzels (secret recipe and ingredients), the local brandy (tzuica) or  wines (Dealu Mare, Dealurile Buzaului).

There are more sorts of wines in the area, the Reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Feteasca) or Whites (White feteasca, Riesling, Muscat) . For the small familial farms, visit the villages of Soresti or Blajani . If it happens on the first Sunday of July, you are very lucky, there is the Wine Festival on place! More exquisite wines can be discovered in Pietroasele.
The Crang Park from Buzau is a major attraction, especially at nights and on week ends

A recommended target in the neigbourhood would be the Monastery of Ciolanu, 20 km away from Buzau to brasov. The Monastery is very old, very quiet ( excepting week ends)  and the monks buildings are covered in flowers, similar to the village. Next to the monastery you will discover the amazing sculptures of Magura. Going further to the forest, you can find the picturesque little village of Colti, the center of an area rich on amber. You can even find here an interesting Museum of Amber near the school (my tip: if closed, go and search the key to the Council!). If you are not tired, you can discover in the forest a few stone churches (no access for the cars). If you are lucky, you can still find some amber, took by the locals from their secret places ( the mines are closed from 1948).
The spectacular strange phenomenon of Moody Volcanoes in Berca

Another important attraction are the Mood Volcanoes from Berca. It is a strange phenomenon, the gas comes to the surface taking with it some bubbles, resulting in bigger or smaller hills of mood, similar to small volcano crater. Don't step on them, only observe from a safe distance, otherwise is dangerous! The visits are no more possible on bad weather (simply too much mood!).

Going further, you can reach Brasov, over the mountains, passing through some unforgettable landscapes.

sâmbătă, 17 noiembrie 2012

The best city breaks in Romania

Thinking to a city break lasting 1-2 days I wanna propose a special selection for Romania. I have made this selection based on the things to do in every mentioned city, hotels and restaurants, museums, airports. It is possible to organize the transfer, where we can't find an airport immediate next to the mentioned city!

The selected cities are selected all over Romania, and everyone is in the happy position to offer an unforgettable city break. So, these are my winners:

1. Brasov/Kronstadt, maybe the most travel oriented city in Romania. You can even ski in Poiana Brasov. At every step you will be welcomed by hotels and restaurants, giving the city an exceptional flair. You can take a walk in the centre and downrown, you can climb in Restaurant Panoramic  to get a wonderful spectacular view of the city. For gourmet, Aro Palace is also a target, there is a wide selection of exquisite wines. Landing in Bucharest or Sibiu requires a 100 km long transfer, also very easy and affordable.
The Black Church from Brasov is the biggest Gothic Cathedral in the South East Europe

2. Bucharest. The Romanian Capital needs a longer break, if I may to say so. This city is huge, you must only avoid it in summer, even the locals are going out in the mountains or to the seaside. It is really warm, nevertheless charming after 18 hours with so many open terraces to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer. Discover the Bucharest fountains with their legends, Bucharest museums and Bucharest parks. Walk in the downtown on the Magheru Boulevard or Calea Victoriei, which are really expensive, even comparing with other famous streets worldwide.
You can walk on Calea Victoriei from Bucharest, but avoid entering the boutiques if you are on a budget. They are really expansive

3.Iasi. hasn't an own airport yet, transfer from Bucharest lasts 5 hours, but you can also use the airports of Chisinau or Bacau (2 hours). I can organize wonderful breaks in Iasi, with wine tastings . Don't miss the Culture palace with its 4 museums, and visit Hotel Restaurant Traian, the city's oldest and biggest. The city is build on 7 hills, similar to Rome, and you can have a relaxing walk in this city.
The Culture Palace from Iasi is a must see for any art freak

4.Cluj Napoca/Koloszvar/Klausenburg is really international and definitely worth to your time. Take a walk in the downtown, be sure to visit the catholic church of St Michael and also the orthodoxe cathedral. Visit the New York Palace, today Continental Hotel. Other important points: History and Art museum. But first of all, observe the fantastic cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city sitting in a restaurant from downtown. You will be able to hear more languages, mainly Romanian and Hungarian, and the locals can easy commute among these two!
Cluj Napoca and the Orthodoxe Cathedral

5.Constanta, the old Tomis, is a must see for the sea lovers, but it is not limited to that! Its position on the seaside gives him some advantages, against other cities from Romania. The vineyards from Murfatlar and Niculitel are very close, and the city has a breathtaking History Museum. Coming in summer, you have at your disposition a wide selection of beaches. Coming out of the season, you will find a quiet peaceful city, which is also very affordable, you can stay on a budget for sure!