Voronet Monastery
May 21, 2014

ABOUT ROMANIA

MAP-800px-EU-Romania

Area
– Total: 238,391 km2 / 92,043 sq mi (83rd)
– Water (%): 3

Population
– 20 October 2011 census: 20,121,641 (58th)
– Density: 84.4/km2 (118th) / 218.6/sq mi

Currency: Romanian leu (RON)
Time zone: EET (UTC+2)
Capital and largest city: Bucharest

Short History:

RomansoldiersvsDacianwarriorsThe Dacians fought the Romans and the Romans won. Hence those forts with countless ruins by the Danube or all the way up to Transylvania. The Romans then left for Rome and migratory people came around from the East, with the Hungarians making Transylvania part of their mighty kingdom in the 9th century, but even the Saxons’ settling around did not put an end to invasions. Hence those countless fortified churches and fortresstowns or that sign reading a village name in 3 languages. The rest of the land developed like pricipalities that never ceased to fight the Tartars and the Ottomans. Hence the Moldavians’ building fortresses and fortifying their painted monasteries, the Wallachians’ setting their villages, mansions and fortresses deep in inaccessible swamps, woods or highlands. And hence the occurrence of that kula prototype, with a house turned into a small scale fortress. Dazed and confused? It ain’t o’er, pal, as a late Renaissance brought around Neoclassical or Secession palaces and administrative buildings, and the Oriental or shepherd style beat of the local music got a violin and harmonica vibe. Past an interwar Art Deco layover and Brâncuși’s turning back to the roots, it was straight to the Socialist victory with massive projects and masterplans meant for the people, but used by the few. Familiar?

Why Romania? 

This is where diversity is at home. So plentiful that it kicks, so omnipresent that one forgets what lunch was about by dinner time. Romania stands for carved stone columns at one of Brâncoveanu’s palaces and monasteries, the continent’s second largest river delta, still inhabited fortresses set by the Saxons in hilly Transylvania, tall steeple wood churches in Maramureș, the exterior frescoes at many Bukovina monasteries, Timișoara’s Habsburg style squares and the carved wood gates of the Szeklers.

When Romania? 

Start in the fall with a trip across the South and deep into the mountains, go on in winter with the festivities in Moldavia and Maramureș. Come back in spring time and explore the Danube Delta with those pelicans or cormorants around and that carp roast in front of you. And save the summer for the Transylvanian Alps.

How the he…? Hmm, err, logistics, anyone? 

arger cities have airports with direct flights from various cities across Europe. There are domestic flights to the major towns that do not. The romantic will love a long haul train ride from Istanbul, Vienna or Moscow , a bottle of farfromhome Carmenere in hand. And from that last port of call, we shall take over. Vrooom.

Lodging?

There are 5* hotels in several large cities, while most of the other regions have 4* options every 50 km. or so. There are comfortable guesthouses even in the countryside and should you want to just throw an arrow at the map and sleep right where it hit it, camping is free unless that is a military base. So, do let us know about all of your wild dreams.

Dining?

Local cuisine often means meat stuffed with meat and served with a side of minced meat. And the best local vegetable is pork. That being said, the country has its good share of tasty veggy dishes, but even for them a meal often comprises of 5 courses, starting with a snack and then going on among sour soups, a couple of main courses and some small desert such as a couple of jam and sour cream topped, cheese filled donuts. Burp. As for where, there are plenty of options around, usually in the traditional, Italian or fusion cuisine league.

In a nutshell: contrasting scenery, fortified churches, roads across dramatic mountains, Voroneț Blue, pork dishes, Byzantine art, Dracula steak, sailing across the Danube Delta, carved wood gates.