Just saying European vacation out loud gets me excited, that part of the world is abound with places filled with culture and merriment. Now Romania may not be one of the first countries that come to mind when you start to get fired up at the thought of a trip there, but it should be. This amazing land is brimming with beauty, life and down right fun. Only unlocked from communist containment a few decades ago this delicious destination is packed with treasures undiscovered by a vast number of travelers. Now with a recent tourism push, the country is trying to grow awareness and welcome visitors to come experience Romania, and that’s exactly what I did.
Bucharest, Romania, the countries largest city with nearly 2 million people, is bustling with energy and intrigue. The architecture varies throughout the city, endowed with varying styles representative of the changes that the country has endured. It gives it a character of its own and cultured feel. You can stroll the streets for hours on a selfguided walking tour, taking in the various sites and sounds, letting the city become what you want it be. One building that you will certainly gravitate towards is the Palace of the Parliament, otherwise known as The People’s House. And for good reason, it’s believed to be the heaviest building in the world weighing in at around 4,098,500,000 kilograms and is the 2nd largest administrative building in the world next to the Pentagon. If the neighborhood surrounding this mountainous structure is your speed, check out accommodations at the JW Marriott. It’s one of the nicest in their collection, equipped with great shopping, a variety of restaurants and even a casino.
One part of Bucharest not to miss is Old Town. The name is fitting as the streets are
filled with merchants, as they were in the 1800’s, and lined with eye catching old banks, churches and government buildings. The historic architecture may set the tone but the bars and restaurants make the scene. The fun, feasting and free spirits gust through the narrow climbing streets to the wee hours. The energy, fueled by the omnipresent music and laughter, carries you on through the night as it seems to never wind down or change pace, much the same as a Las Vegas evening where good times don’t expire and the face of your watch will always be a surprise. There is no lack of places to bop into or hospitable locals to share a cocktail with. I’d suggest a specific place but instead I’ll just suggest you enthusiastically tell the taxi driver, “take me to Old Town”. Oh, and if you want to stay close by so you can enjoy the festivities every night, the Radisson Blue may be for you. A 5 star in the heart of the city, check in and check out, all that the city has to offer.
The city is fantastic but the country is not to be missed. A few calming hours ride through the scenic countryside will blow the urban aroma right off you and put you in a tranquil state, prepared for the adventure that waits. Outside the city lies the Danube Delta, the 2nd largest river delta in Europe and the best preserved. Grab a boat in Mahmudia and let your nature expedition begin. The office, metro or long line at the bank will be the last thing on your mind as you make your way through a waterway of wonders filled with only beauty and your thoughts. Exotic birds and plant life pave the way to a day without worry. The boat captains know the way like you know your drive home, so sit back, take a deep breath and let Mother Nature in. Prolong the trip with a pit stop at the Sunrise Hotel in Crisan. There you will be greeted with a family feel as the staff takes you in as one of their own. You may even get a traditional dance and song at dinner.
Moving on down the delta towards the Black Sea you will come across a gem for those that love the outdoors, the Green Village in Sfantu Gheorghe. Stay for a few days in one of the many rustic yet pristine quarters that are offered. The natural landscape is so stunning that the resort is built to be in harmony with the surrounding area not to overshadow it. Go on an excursion or wander around on your own, the entire village is the attraction. Don’t worry; they didn’t leave out the luxury. There is a spa and pool that overlook the water for those that like to nature-chill instead of hike.
Now, on to the Black Sea and back to the party. The sea’s dark shadowing color is fitting for its name but there is nothing lifeless about this beach haven of fun. Full of beach parties and nightlife this is the vacation spot for
a lot of the country and you’ll feel it in the air. Pack your day full of vitamin D and fruity drinks and see where it leads you. For a night of great music and high-energy dancing in a classy New Yorkish atmosphere go Café Del Mar. Sit back and watch or hit the dance floor, either way you’ll feel like your having a special night out. If incredible live music enveloped in the fragrance of beach breeze is more your scene, than Biutiful by the Sea is the place to spend your evening. For a cool central beach spot with a “hot” spa, the Zenith Hotel is where you need to stay. Don’t forget to get one of their rejuvenating massages to refresh yourself after a long night out.
If relaxation is what the doctor ordered then there is no other place than the Europa Hotel, home to the Ana Asian Spa. Situated in picturesque Eforie Nord, this spa is world-class, and must for those in need of a holiday for the mind and body. Bedecked with luscious green grounds and breathtaking sea views from every room, you find no trouble taking a timeout at this sanctuary.
One thing you’ll find everywhere in Romania, that I found the most amazing asset of the country, is their people. From city to city from urban to rural, throughout, they remain gracious, fun and eager to share life with visitors and each other alike. You feel welcome and at home, and their vigor for life is infectious. You’ll likely make friends you’ll be anxious to return and see, and may even extend your trip. As you should, because there is whole northern section of country to see, filled with impressive skiing resorts, magnificent history-ridden castles and another side of their culture. Next time you’re thinking of taking a trip to Europe, do yourself a favor; experience Romania.