vineri, 26 iulie 2013

Biking in Romania

Discovering Romania by bike

It is not easy to discover a country by bike. First of all, you must be health, fit and in a good shape. You must also know your limits, be aware of them and wishing nevertheless to outrun them. You need a good bike (hiring or buying in Romania is also a possibility). Don't mention the budget, Romania is not so expansive, but you may not forget this matter.
The Transfagarasan Road is one of the most spectacular in Romania

Other important things: your mates. Make the best choices, take a leader with a positive thinking and approach. Your mates must be good companions, reliable, team players and have the sense of humor. Otherwise your dream tour will end before starting, and you will hate your mates.
Oradea is a good gate for Romania

Third thing is the worst, the most difficult after all: the environment. I mean not the country, landscapes etc, as Romania is a wonderful land, fascinating me since years. It lacks on biking tracks, and the driver are not aware about the two wheel riders. We name in Romania the motorcycle drivers "the organ givers". But we stay to the pedal bikers, and I am warning you to be very carefully about them, as they are not carefully at all with the bikers. Respect all the applying rule, but never expect that a car driver would give you priority, even if you are entitled too! No, Sir, you are alone against the others.
The Danube at Iron Gates, next to Drobeta Turnu Severin

When knowing all the things above, and despite all risks, dangers, and hazards you want ride your bike in Romania, discovering this fantastic country, I will help you! Even being you guide, or recommending reliable companies to book through. A good one, Germany situated is Launer Reisen (Manager and Tour Leader Paul Launer) or their Romanian corresponding enterprise, the best Romanian Travel Company for incoming tourists. I am going to have an excellent Romania Tour by bus and bike in this exquisite organization, through the best Romanian landscapes and will report you more about. Our fantastic tours leads from Oradea to Constanta and Drobeta Turnu Severin and is going to start within 2 days. Really amazing for sure, will keep you informed about everything.

miercuri, 17 iulie 2013

Tips For Making Your Romanian Vacation Perfect

How to make your Romanian vacation perfect

Normally, nothing can go wrong during your Romania trip. It is such a nice land and the people are so friendly, they will set anything for you. They will invite you probably at their homes, as they have many thing to tell and show you with a natural born hospitality.
The Romanian Mountains and the Danube are highlights during your Romania Tour

Simply unbelievable are these people for sure, very normal and relaxed. They can improvise anything, they can make jokes from anything, or making big events from anything. My tip: say them sometimes "multumesc" or "mersi", is a fantastic reward to them. You really don't need to learn Romanian, most of them are cultivated and speak foreign languages. Say sometimes the magic words from above, will cause wonders. About "Salut" (Hello) or "Buna ziua" (Good afternoon) I won't insist.
The Romanians are 90 % Orthodox and you can see many splendid churches (like St. Nicholas from Brasov)

If you are on a budget, go to the market (avoiding the supermarket chains). From spring to autumn you will find a wide assortment of vegetables, which are cheap and taste totally different comparing of what you know from your country. If you love wine, you can find some good, even excellent wines, unbottled in specialized stores. My tip: search the red Cabernet Sauvignon, you will get addicted! Even better, visit a vineyard.
Romania is without doubt a wine land (here an impressive cave from Cotnari)

While on the way at lunch, never miss "The Day Offer", which you can find only in Romanian (Meniul Zilei) consisting on a medium meal with three courses for unbelievable  4 EURO!
Meniul Zilei (The day Offer) is not to miss, if you catch it

There are a few established destinations in Romania, and these are really must do and must see: Danube Delta, Black Sea coast, Bucharest, the painted churches from Bucovina, the fortified Saxon churches and towns from Transilvania. But besides, if you have time and budget, and are in the mood, you can certainly try to see Romania off the beaten path. Which is really fantastic and unbelievable, showing a strong character and an unforgettable hospitality. You can climb the mountains, discover the the rich fertile plains or visit the cities. Some of the Romanian big cities show extraordinary urban life, with culture, museums, theaters etc, e.g. Sibiu, Brasov, Oradea, Iasi, Craiova ( don't mention Bucharest here, it is something else). And I would have a special mention even for the small towns, who are very genuine indeed (e.g. Bistrita, Focsani, Tulcea, Suceava, Botosani).
Some Romanian big cities show an impressive urban life (here the City hall from Oradea)

So, dear friends, visit Romania, enjoy it and be happy. You can do on your own, or in an organized group (I suggest the check the offer of the best incoming agency, namely Karpaten!)

luni, 15 iulie 2013

The history of the Romanian Germans

Myths and legends about the Germans from Romania

I must confess, I like and love Germans, as the most of people in Romania also do. They have been for centuries very esteemed and beloved, being a sort of people who had major contributions to the culture and civilization in Romania.
German Made Architecture in Sibiu/Hermannstadt, still having today a German Mayor

They have been very orderly, hard working  and industrious, they build hospitals, schools, museums etc and we, the Romanians, would like to say "Danke!" /Thank you! Comparing to them, the Romanians seem to have a better sense of humor, as they are oriented to enjoying life, while the Germans are hard workers and the last to understand a joke! But nowadays this cliche does not apply anymore, my German tourists understand a joke better, deeper and more sweeping than I do myself!
The Black Church from Brasov is one of the most impressive in Romania

The Germans came to Transilvania during  the XIth century brought by the Hungarian King Geza I, who aimed to secure the boundary. For almost 1000 years they did not only defense and securing the boundaries, but also developed cities like Brasov/Kronstadt or Sibiu/Hermannstadt. They made business, they build houses in an easy to recognize style. But the history has been very ruthless to the Germans during the 20th century. After the WWII the Romanian Germans have been deported to Romania or Russia. Many of them did not come back.
Old Habsburgic Uniforms to the guards from Alba Iulia

Besides, after a catastrophic economic policy of Ceausescu, he simply bought a good part of the German experts to the Western Germany. It was a major success of the Romanian economy during the communist time! After the dissolution of the communist regime and the fall of Ceausescu, all the economy collapsed and almost all of the remaining Germans took the decision to emigrate in the reunified Germany (it was obviously the only possible option, not only the best one).
Another example of K.u.K architecture, in Suceava

But nowadays we need another Geza to bring our Germans back! The Romanian economy started to move, the country is stable, it is possible to make businesses here. Best prerequisites to come in Romania. Some of the Germans who left Romania really come back. The life is cheaper, and the environment better than in the Western Europe. The city of Sibiu still has a German Mayor, Klaus Johannis, and this is maybe the best guarantee for the returning Germans.

Myself, as a travel guide, never forget in my trips to mention all these things about the history of the Germans and their contribution to the local culture and civilization. And all the Romanians feel the same, we love our Germans. And nowadays, we call sometimes one Romanian as "The German", being the most beautiful compliment: he is the best in his area!

marți, 9 iulie 2013

Romania for Nature freaks

Romania Travel Guide for Nature freaks

If you are a nature freak, you might find in Romania a few interesting areas and landscapes.
Fantastic road in the Fagaras Mountains

Even if you are not a big fan of the wet lands, Danube Delta is a must. It is the big winner of the strong  rains falled this year throughout Europe. Also UNESCO appreciated as a part of the world heritage, is really spectacular. But please, as a nature freak, don't take part to the organized cruise ships turning Danube Delta to mass tourism and ruining it. Discover Delta on your own, from a fishermen village in its middle, which you can reach by a line ship. Observe the locals already on the deck, they are amazing. Will seem to be not very friendly, but a bottle of alcohol will save everything. Observe carefully the environment, there are some problems for sure, and first of all this plague of the plastic bottles (PET), turning to the worse threatening and provocation in the all Romania. It is really an issue.
Try to discover the pelicans in Romania without disturbing them at all

Once there in the middle of nowhere, go in a canoe or kaiak discovering further the secrets of the Danube Delta. Go bird watching, there are a few protected areas, trying not to disturb the pelicans, as other sensitive birds. Go fishing, and ask the fishermen about their prey. There are for sure a few endangered species, mainly the sturgeons. Nevertheless, The Danube Delta is a trip worth. If you aren't a nature freak, can take a cruise ship, and I suggest to use Karpaten, it is the most serious and has largely contributed to environment protection.
Fishing in the Danube Delta

If you are a montagnard, or even a climber, The Romanian Carpathians will offer you many magnificent places and unforgettable landscapes. You can start with the Romania's highest mountains, Fagaras. Discover them from Sibiu or Ramnicu Valcea. They are not very high or impressive for you, with their 2500 meters, but really spectacular in some places, e.g The Lake Balea or the Waterfalls Balea. Very close to them there is a cabin for the convenient discovery.
St. Ana lake is the only volcanic lake in the Romanian mountains

Also very interesting to discover are the Retezat Mountains, a protected area and a national park. Please notice there the strange extincted animals and plants, as the fantastic glacial sees. Don't dare to bath in them, unless you are not a skilled swimmer: they are deep and cold! Close to them, and similar from many points of vue, the Parang Mountains. Observe everywhere the plastic pets, it is a national obsession and dilemma!
Man made or natural erosion? Totally strange limestone rocks in the Romanian Carpathians

In many places of the Carpathians small, but hardworking  rivers managed to digg impressive  keys: Prahova Valley, Olt Valley etc. But the most spectacular of all is the fantastic Bicaz Gorges, near Lacu Rosu (The Red Lake; due to the ferric and ferrous oxides, its water have strong red reflexes. Walk through the gorges only one kilometer, becoming already anxious due to the high rocks overwhelming you. Really strange, yet great sensations.

And a last tip: the caves, e.g Scarisoara, or Pestera Muierii. Or even the deserted salt mines, waiting their visitors. You have a lot of work in Romania as nature freak indeed.

sâmbătă, 6 iulie 2013

Falling in love in Romania

Romania Travel Guide for Lovers

So, you are in love (first time, or again, or finally etc, there is no matter!). Or it just happened during your Romanian trip, and you are supposed now to reconsider all your trip, choosing a new configuration.
Go deep inside the Danube Delta, in the land of nowhere, where you can't find other human beings

First choice: keep it secret with your beloved one, or show and share with the others. Anyway, it is not a sin at all, but only a mean to better integer the world and the universe. Anyway, remember that love is not at all exclusively fornication (excepting maybe the one night stands), but has also a deep spiritual side. It is karma, it is Yin and Yang, it is a subtle holly union. Speak a lot to your beloved one, hold his/her hand, kiss and cores. It gives you such an unbelievable power.
The Ciuperca Sea in Tulcea is a good place for swimming at night

Best choice to start or strengthen a relationship while in Romania is not at all a big city like Bucharest, but a small town like Tulcea, the turning plate to Danube Delta. Make a trip deep inside the Delta, feel the miracle to be in love ( it is really divine and holly this union between man and women). The best thing would be hiring a paddle boat or kayak, and going somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Hear the water, feel the Earth energy and Prana, the cosmic energy. Make love there, like you were the only living creature on Earth, but come back in harbor of Tulcea.
The Restaurant Republica from Tulcea is a former war ship with big  wheels

The shore of the Danube in Tulcea at night is very nice and romantic, even sexy I would say. You can bath at night in the Ciuperca sea (no bathing suits, of course!), coming back on the shore and looking for a ship restaurant. I found, checked and recommend the Restaurant Republica, a former war ship with wheels, as seen on Mississippi River. You can even find a museum on board, opened until 18 hours. But you are not interested in museums, churches etc but only in the wonderful human being besides you!

You can eat there a good meal, but you can also take only some drinks. I suggest as a wonderful foreplay and prelude a Mojito for the lady, and a glass of Red wine for him (Cabernet Sauvignon, if possible). Check please, this lethal combination makes really wonders. Don't dare to think what comes after, in one of the leading Tulcea Hotels (e.g. the friendly Europolis *** or the exquisite Delta ****).
Varna at night is very spectacular and romantic, don't miss it

You can stay here in Tulcea for days, weeks and years with your beloved one billing and coo, but maybe you want change the landscape, go on the coast. In Romania I would recommend Mamaia, Constanta and Vama Veche, but the neighboring Bulgaria is also very attractive. Check the good friendly Erma Hotel from Golden Sands, if you can get a free room! From Golden Sands go to Varna at night, enjoying a wonderful seasight in one of the many beach restaurants. Simply unbelievable and unforgettable! If you still can, stand up early, at 5, bathing in the sea while the sun sets! It is really beyond words the huge harmony you feel doing this.

vineri, 5 iulie 2013

What makes Romania so different?

Why is Romania so special?

I must confess, I travel a lot, most of the time inside Romania. But sometimes also beyond the borders in Germany, Austria, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Moldavia etc. I must confess again, I always come very gladly in Romania, my homeland. Must have something special, at least for me, and I would like to explain you what is so special and different in Romania.
The Rural Romania is eternal and fascinating

I must, and try hard, to remain unbiased. Maybe one could say the cliche "Romania is a nice country". It is much more than nice, or beautiful, is simply fabulous, but other countries are also, and attract even more tourists (may be is better so for the time being, a mass tourism could ruin The Danube Delta, e.g). But Romania has more, a sort of sex-appeal, something special beyond the material!
The Danube Delta is one of the secret beauties of Romania

 We are surrounded by Slav people, and Hungary. They are really good neighbours, we love them, but despite a long common history we remained through a miracle a Latin nation. Our language is very easy to speak and understand by a French, Italian, Spaniard etc and I think we still have a Mediterranean and Oriental charm. We have special relations to Germany, and I work myself mainly with German speaking tourists, wanna say once more hello to them.
Happy German Tourists in a highway restaurant, in Romania 

Despite global crisis, despite corruption, despite communism, despite the Romanian politicians and despite the bad image due to the Roma/Sinti/Gipsies we are a happy optimist people, enjoying life in all its forms and moments. That's why we are so proud to be Romanians.
The simple joys of the daily life to the countryside, shared by  my German tourists

Visiting Romania, I think that you will observe and agree all these things, starting to love my country! By the way, it is nowadays one of the safest countries worldwide as travel destination. We are tolerant, love and respect our guests, and the Police also does his job all right.

The Romanians are mostly sanguine and exuberant, showing a deep sense of humor. If you only think to the fantastic energetic Sister Tatiana from the Moldovita monastery, in the North of the country!
Romanian folklore show in a leading restaurant

miercuri, 3 iulie 2013

Romania saw by a group of Austrian tourists

The highlights of a Romanian Tour, as seen by a group of Austrian tourists

There are a few places in Romania that one must do when visiting this country (btw, there is a boom in visiting Romania, hurry up and book!). These must do would be:painted churches from the Northern Moldavia, Bucharest, Sibiu, Brasov, the Sachsen citadels of Transilvania/Siebenbuergen/Erdelyi and the city of Sighisoara.
The fantastic Austrian group, came in Romania through Springer/Karpaten. In the center Tour Leader Kurt Zechner  and his lovely wife Gerlinde.

But if a group from Springer comes, selected and trained by Group Manager  Mr. Kurt Zechner, be sure to find besides some special and secret surprises, his personal contribution. Mr. Zechner and his lovely wife Gerlinde love culture a lot, as the rest of the group (they have been traveling for 20 years together, unbelievable!). That's the reason for adding to the program The Miko Citadel from Miercurea Ciuc, and the Agapia Monastery (probably the biggest women's monastery worldwide), as an inside visit of the Parliament house, the second biggest building worldwide. The little details make the big differences.
Tour Leader Kurt Zechner (first) and the half of his exquisite group, in a farm restaurant from Sibiel 

It was my pleasure and honor to keep company to this excellent group as a travel guide, helping them to discover the known or unknown beauties of Romania. The cultural changes and the new contacts are the thing I am appreciating most in this job, and I must confess that I took the big share, knowing so many cultivated special people, and winning them as personal friends. Thank you very much, Kurt Zechner &Co!
Group of Austrian tourists lead by Tour Manager  Kurt Zechner(back to the camera, with white pullover) preparing to go in the Romanian traditional  horse carts

Special mention for the hotel selection, made by Karpaten! As the group was totally special, they got the best possible hotels, all ****: Ramada Parc Bucharest, Ramada Sibiu, Gerald's Radauti, Binder Bubi Sighisoara, Casa Bazna. It was a delight of our senses, as my  new Austrian friends also experienced the basics of the Romanian gastronomy (food and wine).
Austrian Tourists enjoying an excellent and cheap lunch at a  Medias restaurant ( special offer found by myself)

Another special thing was the dinner in a peasant's restaurant in Sibiel. We all enjoyed totally, and had a wonderful time. The food was entirely made  in the own farm, and tasted totally different comparing to restaurants and supermarkets. The host said from the beginning: "You are my personal guests, enjoy it, by eating everything you want and can. The more you eat, the happier I am".

A small event, a big tragedy in Romania and the future of television

A small event, a big tragedy in Romania and the future of television

I was travelling by train from Pascani to Focsani on Monday, 17th of June. It was a nice, quiet, slow travel (the trains drive in Romania slower than 100 years ago!) and suddenly I heard a noise, I noticed a cloud of dust and saw a car wheel flying.
Searching for the deaths: fortunately, it was only one

It was for sure only a small event and a minor incident for the train, it didn't suffer any major damages. But for the crashed car turned to be a big tragedy: one man died and the car is totally destroyed. Don't give a dam for the car, but I do feel sorry and compassion for the dead. He was still young, about 35, and had no chance to survive. Most probably, his fault, but it doesn't make the things easier for his family and friends. If you are tough enough, watch the snapshots!
The TV team got everybody nervous, and no one accepted to speak with them!

All the responsible institutions came enough quickly, one by one: ambulance (totally useless, unfortunately); firemen; police; state attorney. They have been waited, and the people showed respect, love and cooperation toward them. Meanwhile, the train conductors (two or three) started to story their rich criminal records: one was at the third victim (one of them simply committed suicide by simply putting the head on the steel rail. Another one killed 17 sheeps, and the last two cows. Right or unright, no one showed mercy or regrets.
Unfortunately, this poor man payed with his life his moment of  mind absence

The TV made also a flamboyant apparition, but no one seems to be happy of it. Maybe because the Romanian televisions are very bad, and not beloved at all, or maybe because this team of journalists simply asked the worst questions, irritating everybody.

So, please be very careful in Romania or everywhere else while crossing a railways. And don't bet on the future of TV in Romania or elsewhere.

luni, 1 iulie 2013

Prices and bargains in Romania

How much should cost a glass of wine in Romania?

I am born in Romania, I am living in Romania, I have been living in Romania for decades and I am a professional travel guide here, aiming to present the real Romania to the foreign tourists.
The Romanian wines are very tasty, but may not be very expansive!

As a local, I know the best places and prices, mastering the art of good living on a budget (don't laugh, in Romania is still possible). And I am the happiest travel guide on Earth when I can spare something for my tourists.

E.g.: I am going with my tourists in the best hotels possible, and I was very angry to see how expansive is a glass of wine in Hotel Gerald's, Radauti. It was 10 Lei for sure (if you still don't know, the Romanian coin is called Leu, plural Lei and 1 EURO= 4,3 LEI). The result is not very bad for a foreign tourist used to travel at four stars hotels: 2,2 Euro for a glass of wine. But I buy a liter of the same wine (my favorite Cabernet Sauvignon) in my town of Focsani with 10 LEI again. Seems to me so unfair!
Happy german Tourists in Romania, on a Danube Delta cruise

I am not angry anymore about the high price of a glass of wine in Hotel Gerald, since I discovered in the Ramada chain the same glass of wine at 14 LEI! Otherwise, with a few of small observations, these hotels are really excellent, and the tourists really enjoyed staying there. Tell me your opinions about it, I hope I am not exaggerating in protecting the interests of my tourists vs my beloved Romania!

As you see, I am striving not to present Romania as a fancy expansive destination. Nevertheless, it could become also such a destination, we have many exquisite hotels with four and five stars. But I am trying to keep everything in the limit of a certain common sense, and I am going to give you another example.
Eating in a Romanian restaurant is a rewarding task sometimes, you must only 

Most of my groups come with half board, and sometimes I am trying to organize the lunch on the way. Most of restaurant owners and managers, when receiving such a call, try to offer rich tables with expansive prices, beyond the limit. Consequently, I refined my searches: don't call anymore with one day or a few hours in advance. Instead, capture and hunt the fantastic offer "Meniul Zilei" (Day offer) when I can find it.