Overview

We were in Romania during a time of unprecedented rainfall that ultimately resulted in widespread flooding. The never-ending rain gave the country kind of a dismal feel, which disappeared once the sun came out. Rain or shine, the tiny Romanian villages were like nothing we’ve ever seen–small houses lined up on either side of a narrow dirt road, which was invariably populated by at least one horse-drawn carriage and, more likely than not, a cow or two. Just outside these towns, we found incredible countryside scenes that seemed to be the very definition of “bucolic.”

The larger Romanian towns, on the other hand, had a much more cosmopolitan feel. Although many are still protected by the remnants of ancient city walls, modern life carries on within, most often in the myriad public squares that seem to be at the heart of local goings-on.

One can certainly travel on a budget here, but it’s not hard (especially if you want to stay in hotels that are mid-range or above) to spend quite a bit of money in a fairly short time. Having a car made seeing the countryside a lot easier for us, though the roads were generally awful. We soon learned to double the amount of time we thought it should take to get from one place to another, and that helped a lot.

Blog Entries We Wrote

  • To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.

Pictures We Took

  • To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.

Cities/Areas We Visited

  • Timisoara (July 20-21, 2008)
  • Sibiel (July 21-22, 2008)
  • Miklosvar/Transylvania (July 22-25, 2008)
  • Sighisoara (July 23, 2008)
  • Guru Humorului/Southern Bucovina (July 25-26, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Stayed

Timisoara

  • Hotel Central (July 20-21, 2008): This multi-storeyed place (about $100 a night–the cheapest available place we could find in the area) is incredibly centrally located, and the rooms are actually pretty nice, as are the breakfast and the free wifi. Our only problem was that the water, for the first hour it came out of the tap, was a sort of dark, rusty color. But it apparently had something to do with some recent plumbing work, so future guests hopefully won’t have that issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sibiel

  • Mioritica Pensiunea (July 21-22, 2008): Love, love, loved this place. It was one of the “author’s picks” in our Lonely Planet, and those usually turn out to be pretty much on-the-mark. The B & B (where you can also get dinners if you ask in advance) is in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere (finding it in the dark was nearly impossible–we almost had a high-speed collision with a horse-drawn cart). Its gardens are incredible, as is Sorian, its friendly (and very loquacious) owner. We would definitely recommend making the trek to this place. Room and board (a hearty dinner and breakfast) cost us $50 total–one of the best deals we found in Romania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miklosvar/Transylvania

  • Count Kalnoky’s Estate (July 22-25, 2008): So we love the idea of this place, in that it’s the residence of a former Romanian count who has decided to bring money to his impoverished village by upgrading his estate, turning it into a B & B (with full board optional) and putting some of his profits back into the local community. And we loved the little serf’s cottage we stayed in. (Surely the cottage back then was not filled with down comforters, lace curtains and local antiques…) What we didn’t love was the food–so bland and so, so meat-based (a problem for Shanna, not Derek). We saved some money because we were able to take advantage of a deal they offer for people who book last-minute. Total price was $120, including room and breakfast. Dinner (with all the wine you can drink) was $30 a person, a terrible value.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guru Humorului/Southern Bucovina

  • Villa Fabian (July 25-26, 2008): Ah, the Rough Guide Romania steered us in the wrong direction with this one. We’re actually pretty sure they put the wrong name with a description that sounded quite lovely. We showed up expected a bustling hostel environment, complete with wifi and cafe. What we got was a room with a shared bathroom in an semi-empty house where the furniture was all covered in plastic. But it was only $38 a night including breakfast, and the French-speaking owner was very nice (and gave Shanna a chance to brush up on her language skills).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Ate

Timisoara

  • McDonald’s: Ok, so we ate at McDonald’s, but it has to be one of the nicest McD’s in the world. Just look at that picture! And the food was delightfully familiar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lloyd Restaurant: We waited forever (and ever) at this cafe on the main square in town, but they had free wifi, so we didn’t mind all that much. And our food, once it arrived, was pretty darn good. Shanna’s salad was big and tasty, and Derek is still talking about the chicken and polenta dish he got. That combination is a Romanian staple, and this was the best version we tasted during our time in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sibiel

  • Restaurant at Mioritica Pensiunea: Heaping plates of hearty stew and potatoes for dinner and fresh bread with homemade butter (as well as slices of meat, cheese and tomatoes) for breakfast. Mmmm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miklosvar/Transylvania

  • Belvedere (on road near Miklosvar): Derek didn’t like the pork chops he got at this truck stop-type place, but he loved Shanna’s bean soup, which came in a bread bowl. Shanna’s still trying to figure out how the cook got so much grease into just one serving of soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Restaurant at County Kalnoky’s Estate: We thought the food was decent during our first dinner here. We lost our affection for it during the second. Our third dinner we decided to eat bread and cheese in our room rather than pay $60 for food that, by that point, was barely tolerable.
  • Ristorante San Gennaro (in Miercurea-Ciuc near Miklosvar): We loved this little sidewalk cafe for its great pizzas and its free wifi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sighisoara

  • International Cafe: This sidewalk cafe made for a great escape from the crowds in tourist-packed Sighisoara. And the food was fantastic. (Lots of veggie options on the menu–a rarity in this area.) Shanna loved her salad and spinach quiche. Derek liked his ham and cheese sandwich, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guru Humorului/Southern Bucovina

  • Restaurant at Hotel Simeria: This was one of only a few places in town that had any people in it at all. Our salad and chicken/polenta dish were decent but not great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Taco Loco (in Suceava): We were so excited when we read about this Tex-Mex place. Sadly, all of their dishes turned out to be variations on the same few ingredients: boiled veggies, cheese, black beans and warm (!?!) guacamole. Ew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things We Did

Timisoara

  • Walked along the lovely pedestrian mall, which is anchored by the Metropolitan Cathedral on one side and by the National Opera House on the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sibiel

  • Walked around the tiny village and visited the local cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miklosvar/Transylvania

  • Walked around the small village and visited the local castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched the cows come home–at 7:50 p.m. on the dot every day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Drove around the beautiful countryside, carefully avoiding the horse-drawn carts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sighisoara

  • Walked around the Saxon village and admired its bell tower, its churches and its cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Saw the house where Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian count who was the inspiration for Dracula, lived as a boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Visited the nearby Saxon village of Vicsy and explored its fortified church in the rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guru Humorului/Southern Bucovina

  • Visited the extraordinary Voronet Monastery, with its frescoes full of shades of “Voronet blue”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Admired the painted interior walls of the Humor Monastery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Cautiously drove through the flooded roads of Northern Romania/Southern Ukraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Facts

  • Capital City: Bucharest
  • Currency: Lei
  • Exchange Rate: 2.25 Lei to $1