The Transylvanian citadel of Sighisoara is famous for being the birthplace of Vlad Tepes (Dracula, anyone?), a still inhabited Medieval stronghold (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and for its Medieval Festival that happens every year in August or September. Yet beyond the culture, the history, and the Goth passion for vampires, there are restaurants, cafes, and cool summer drinks to explore.
On my recent trip to Sighisoara, I explored quite a few of them. Others I chose to skip, because I didn’t have the time or inclination to wait for too long, or to make a reservation. Let’s explore the delicious, the not-so-delicious, the complete lack of cider, and the places where you can grab a quick snack.
Before we begin, here are a few things you should know:
- Sighisoara is a small place, the historic center with the Medieval citadel is even smaller. You don’t have to walk too far to find a restaurant. In fact, you might have to pick one out of 5-6 just by turning around and looking at everything you see
- The restaurants are overall pricier than other touristic on non-touristic places, like Brasov or Ploiesti. Sometimes even Bucharest. But that does not mean they’re still not affordable. The most we’ve paid was 35 US dollars for two adults, so it’s still pretty cheap.
- Even in high touristic season (we visited in July), you won’t find food late at night. If you’re lucky, you can order till midnight. Most places don’t take food orders after 11 p.m.
This place is the best to have lunch at. It’s got tasty food, the quality of service depends on who you get, and the ice cream is fantastic. Portions, word of caution here, are huge! There are even huge pizzas that you can share with 2-3 more people and still have a hard time finishing them.
But the pest place about Jo’s pub is that they have water sprinklers all around the terrace. And as it gets really hot during the summer, this was pretty much the only place we could eat at lunch time without self-combusting.
This terrace is right across the alley from Jo’s Pub. We went there once, and never returned. While the food at Jo’s Pub is slightly better, eating at Concordia was just too much. Lunch is important to us, and if we feel like we are melting, then there’s no point in staying. They have great coffee though, and their cappuccino alone is worth a meal there.
This was the first restaurant we had a meal in. We were starving, it was the closest to our hotel (and yet only a stone throw away from the citadel, and right off the Central Park. We ordered burgers because we craved them, and while the meat and fries were great, that was the worst burger bun ever. The taste was passable, but it was pretty much disintegrating as I tried to eat my burger.
As it was the first restaurant, La Perla was where I got introduced with the local lemonade. I am used to the freshly squeezed, honey sweetened variety that is quite popular around Romania. No such luck, they had the canned/bottled variety which is okay, but I don’t love. I became less disappointed with this when I realized most restaurants in Sighisoara serve the same kind.
This is where you go for your sweet tooth-induced cravings. The cakes are amazing, and a cookie, or a slice of cake costs about a dollar. The mouse varieties, the cakes (especially those with fruit), the eclairs, they are to die for! We couldn’t decide on what to try, so we shared three different types, one mouse and two cakes. They were delicious, but we couldn’t finish them. It felt like such a waste!
Casa Vlad Dracul
This is perfect for all those who want to see where Vlad Tepes was born, then enjoy a meal in that same building. It’s super crowded, we were told to come back in a few hours when we visited. But you can find their details on Google Maps and make a reservation, or at least call ahead to know how busy they are.
While the building is great, it’s right next to the Clock Tower (Turnul cu Ceas), we didn’t feel like it was worth the wait. Or the effort of a reservation. Then again, we grew up in Romania, we’re sort of fed up with all the Dracula stuff. The rustic décor and their menu are appealing and, had we been less famished, we’d have gone for more than admiring the architecture. You can also pay 2 lei (50 cents) and visit the room where Dracula was born.
This was unfortunately a very late find for us. They barbecue their meat outside in the evening, and it all smells delicious. Plus, when it comes to drinks, especially lemonade, they rock! I had a delicious passion fruit lemonade there and it made up for all the bottled varieties I’ve been given in Sighisoara.
As we didn’t get enough time to inspect their menu (we discovered it after midnight on our last evening in Sighisoara), this is at the top of my list the next time we go there.
So you have chosen to head to Europe for your vacation time this summer. Of course, Europe is the ages old place to go, with a lot to see and experience. You may be thinking of going to any number of places such as France, Spain, Germany, Great Britain, but I must say there is another place you should consider of the cliche destinations seem a bore, you can always go to Romania.
Some reading this may ask yourself now, “Just what does Romania have to offer that is so special”. But to tell you the truth, Romania has all of the things that other European countries have. Of course the country has magnificent nature reserves (like the Danube Delta above), mountains, plains, beaches, as well as castles, a rich culture, expansive cities, and unique cuisine found only in Romania. Why have you not heard more about this? That answer is unknown, however we can tell you about the things you may see and experience while you visit….
Everyone knows about Transylvania, from pop culture, movies, TV and books have spread the word of this illustrious Romanian region via legends like that of Dracula. Here you would find beautiful countrysides, the indomitable mountain ranges, sleepy fairy-tale old ages towns, a magnificent and broad history to saturate your sense and natural curiosity. The places you may visit such as Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu give you the feeling of the region’s rich culture, as the region was settled by Saxons from Germany long ago, and brought with them many traditions, and intermingled them with the native traditions residing there. The surrounding mountains give the towns their seclusion and air of mystique, as the cobblestone streets remind you of the movies you saw as a kid.
Besides the general feeling, you will also delve into the history of the place as you visit the winding streets of Sighisoara, the real birthplace of Vlad Dracula (Vlad Tepes “The Impaler”). The ominous clock tower of the town tolls for the hour of venturing onward to Brasov, to hike Mount Tampa the relax with your special someone in the romantic center of the town enjoying a great tasting glass of wine as the sun goes down.
A most intriguing and mystifying region of Romania is Maramures. The region is un-tampered with from the rest of Romania as it is surrounded by dense woodlands, resulting in the centuries old traditions of the folk being alive and vibrant to this day. The beautiful wooden churches, many of which are UNESCO World Heritages, among them is the Barsana Monastery home to beautiful and unique murals.
Europe is littered with castles to visit, but Romania is the big shot when it comes to castles in Europe. For example the Peles Castle, among the most famous European castles, was built for the Habsburgs as a sort of “country house”, however the Habsburgs loved their country house so much that it was a wonder of its time, with New German Renaissance architecture and a sweeping gaze of the Carpathian mountains.
Aside from the royal playgrounds that were Peles Castle, there are dozens of castles that were actual fortifications during wartime. Such a castle for example, would be Bran Castle, who many have called “Dracula’s Castle”, even if there is no real evidence that Vlad the Impaler ever lived there. The most unappreciated of the castles in Romania would have to be the Gotch Corvin Castle, with a huge moat and a drawbridge to gain entrance, typical in our minds of the way castles should look.
Not to ever be mixed up with the Hungarian city of Budapest, although boatloads do for some reason, Bucharest is a sprawling city with lots of history and culture of its own, with all things modern, yet keeping its ancient past preserved. Fountains, grand causeways, the city has been called the sister city of Paris, for a very good reason as you will find out when you visit the city.
This highway should probably be more widely known, however it remains obscure. Yet this scenic route gives you the chance to view the wildlife and scenery of Romania, while the opportunity to travel faster to the locations you wish to visit. Some who have driven down the Transfagarasan have called it the “best ride in the world”. The twists and turns break the monotony of normal highways and by ways, allowing for a more enjoyable trip.
A €10 million dollar debt of a cash strapped Romania TV channel threatens to exclude the country from the upcoming Eurovision song contest.
Romanian Prime Minister, Dacian Cialos told the media on Monday, the country is looking at ways to take care of a bill owed the European Broadcasting Union. The public broadcaster, TVR, announced that it owed the European Broadcasting Union , EBU, which runs the annual contest, over 10 million euros. Cialos said; “We will have a discussion and we’ll find a solution.”
TVR made its admission on Saturday and warned that Romania might not be able to participate in the glitzy song contest this year. TVR’s statement read:
“Representatives of EBU – the world’s largest public broadcasters’ association – have verbally warned TVR’s representatives that, because of the debts accumulated in the past eight years, they will move to the next stage of sanctions.”
According to TVR spokespersons, the EBU could not be convinced to forestall payments beyond what the station has already remitted. The debt-laden public broadcaster also warned of programming interruptions because of its status, like the viewers maybe missing out on the European football championship and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Eurovision Romania producer Iuliana Marciuc urged the authorities to step in, in order to rescue the Eurovision and future events. Most of TVR’s revenue comes from commercials, fees, and licenses, while the remainder is from the state budget.
Earlier this month the luxurious private estate of Romania’s late communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu was opened to the public. The massive 80 room “Spring Palace” (Palatul Primaverii), designed to the president’s specifications, was the Ceausescu family home for over 25 years. Here’s a look at the former Romanian leader’s estate, and at how Romanians view the regime today.
Situated in the heart of Bucharest’s most lavish neighborhood, the palace has over 14,000 square meters of gardens, a swimming pool, cinema, and extraordinary furnishings and amenities. Designed in the 1960s, the residence was taken over by the state after the leader’s quick trial and execution in December 1989. Once put up for sale, the estate has long been a key point of interests for not only foreign visitors, but for Romanians as well.
Romania has had a turbulent relationship with its Communist past, and Ceausescu’s regime has never really been fully researched, let along completely condemned. In fact, after 25 years since the ruler’s fall, surveys among Romanians show a revision of views on the controversial leader’s regime.
Ceausescu’s leadership of Romania was once associated with totalitarianism, hunger, censorship and a closed society, and with the Securitate, or secret police. Today up to half the population believe life was actually better in the Communist era, with a higher standards of living and job security among the main points of contention with past beliefs. It is a fact that during the Communist times, Romania’s share of world and European GDP was during many years higher than it is today.
Compared with the average American’s financial situation, Romanians were far better off during the 1980s than today. This data reveals the relative poverty the country feels today, versus the prosperous times before the fall of Communism. From 1980 through 1987, the average Romanian produced and earned at a rate that was above 50% of the average American. Since then the GDP per capita has ranged from 30% to 50% of American GDP per capita. During most years, the rate was far below 40%.
Increase from online business from OTA Vola totalled some €63.2 million euro for the four countries the online travel agency covers. According to the news, Vloa in Romania, Poland, Ukraine, and Vietnam increased revenue by over 50% in some cases.
The biggest profits, according to the company, came in Romania, where turnover was in excess of €43 million, up by 54% since 2014. Vola expects business this year to be up by as much as 40%, or a turnover of between €55 and €60 million euro. According to Wall Street Romania, this would equal about €85 million overall.
Vola Travel provides hotel details. Vola Travel for holidays, vacations, camps and trips.
Starting today, till Sunday, February 28, agencies and tour operators present their offer for the upcoming tourist season at the tourist fair “Targul de turism al Romaniei.” Visitors can expect special offers for cultural tourism, business tourism, and for those enthusiastic about cruises, exotic destinations and adventure tourism.
The fair is an occasion for tourists to take advantage of early-booking offers, last minute travel packages for the Romanian seaside, summer travel packages abroad, in popular sea resorts in Greece and Bulgaria, and even offers for city breaks in major European capitals. For those who want to sped Easter away from the bustle of cities, there are many special packages for travel in exotic destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Maldives, Thailand, Bali and Seychelles.
As for its previous editions, the fair dedicates a special section to the beautiful Romanian lands, with travel offers in Maramures, and excursions to the monasteries of Moldova.
Over 280 exhibitors participate at this edition, including travel agencies, tour operators, national tourism associations, as well as international organizations. Besides Romanian companies, visitors will find offers from tourist boards and agencies from Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, Malaysia, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and Hungary. The fair takes place at the Romexpo Exhibition Centre.
Some 30 million Indians are expected to travel worldwide in the short term, tourism boards from Bucharest to Varna and beyond are seeking to woo these news tourists via marketing and trade shows.
It’s not secret Eastern Europe tourism is suffering since the most recent economic and political downturn. Businesses dependent on foreign visitors in countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and even far off Iceland are now bent on engaging India’s outbound travelers, and justifiably. Flows of Russian and other travelers have all but dried up, and China tourists are in decline too.
One way these European agencies turn to boost inflows is the attend or present at meetups like the recent South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) 2016. Framing this marketing outreach, this Times of India piece tells us luring India’s business and leisure travelers is full scale. Billing East Europe as a bargain compared to France, the UK, Germany and the West, Romania’s offer has to seem hard to beat. Quoting Viadora Travel’s, Cecilia Enache; “We offer a 7-day trip for a person in just 1000 euros. The traveller can experience Europe at a discount,” tells the tale considering the cost of visiting most destinations West of Prague.
Eastern European hospitality companies are keen to supplant favorite Indian hotspots Morocco, Bhutan, Greenland, Thailand and the UAE in summer, as people from the sub-continent try and escape the blistering heat there. Travel researchers have watched avidly as India tourists get more and more experimental in their vacation pursuits. Where once rich Indian families ventured to Punjab and Gujarat in the North to cool off, in recent years world ski resorts and beach haunts have welcomed more and more Indians. Whether or not Romania and the others can convert Indians to rescue sagging tourism, remains to be seen.
According to Yahoo! Travel, Romania is one of the top 5 affordable, and underrated European countries to visit now. Well, things are not quite true when it comes to affordability. Yes, when compared to western European countries, Romania is more affordable, but the situation changes when you compare it to its close neighbors Bulgaria and Turkey, for example.
In the summer, many Romanians prefer the two aforementioned destinations because of what they describe as high cost of accommodation and poor service found in Romanian resorts on the Black Sea. But things change if you choose Bucharest as your destination: according to the Europe Backpacker Index for 2016, Bucharest ranks second as the most affordable European destination, with accommodation starting at 25 USD per night. Still, Bulgarian capital city Sofia still manages to attract tourists with cheapest prices, starting at 13.70 USD per night for accommodation in a quality hostel. However, because the price for inbound flights from other major cities is relatively high, Sofia is not as appealing for budget travelers, the Europe Backpacker Index for 2016 explains.
But when it comes to The 10 cheapest European city breaks, The Telegraph doesn’t even come close to mentioning Bucharest or Sofia. But when you look at this infographic by SimplyHolidayDeals.co.uk, you’ll see Bucharest and Sofia still in the top five:
As tempting as Bucharest may be, other are the top Romanian destinations you should visit, and among them, Transylvania, with all its glorious nature, history and culture. The vampire legends that fascinate the world are not a topic of interest in this region, unless you want to see the tourist traps. Bran Castle, although considered by many, erroneously “Dracula’s Castle,” is a stunning architectural and historic landmark, but its connection to Vlad III, voivode of Wallachia, who inspired the Dracula character, only serves to attract tourists, and it is not based on fact. It is still worth the visit, but be advised that this is where things tend to get expensive, with kitsch sold at unreasonable prices as authentic handicrafts.
There’s much more to Romania than hype – the country’s outstanding beauty is presented in the following documentary, the best to introduce you to the true values of the country, and to inspire your future travels.
According to figures from the Romanian National Institute of Statistics (Institutul National de Statistica) arrivals and overnight stays increased by 6.1 % and by 5.7 %, respectively over the last year.
The report shows that compared September of 2013, customs registered an increase in both the arrivals of foreign visitors of 7.7 % and in the departures of Romanians. As an example of the quoted statistics, in September 2014, the average time of stay was 2.6 days for Romanian tourists, and for foreigners those stays were just under 2 days. Also during this period, the net use index of accommodation hovered at 29.1% on total tourists’ accommodation. The highest index of stays was registered by hotel stays at nearly 37%, but nearly three fourths of all stays were Romanian.
Interestingly, the regions that showed the biggest gains revealed Africa and Asia visitors increasingly, but the vast majority of foreigners still came from the EU. As for touristic destinations, Bucharest and some other city capitals saw the most inflow of tourists. The Romanian ski areas and the beaches of the Black Sea saw the majority of Romanian visits outside Bucharest.
To see the full report readers should look here (PDF), or contact the institute directly at: e-mail: email@example.com
Photo credit: Romania flag by Alex:D
You might have heard about the Transfăgărăşan¸ a splendid mountain road in Romania. It was actually named by the famous TV show Top Gear as ”the most beautiful road in the world”. You might have also heard about the Transalpina, another mountain road that offers incredible views.
Well, now it’s time to hear about a new such mountain road opened in this country. It is called Transrarău, The Treasures Road, due to the natural treasures (various natural resources) that can be found in the area. The people in this area are also special, friendly and open, and it is always a pleasure to travel here. Of course, the name has a historical significance also. There is a lovely legend saying that one of the rulers of Moldavia, Petru Rareş, was hiding in 1541 with his family and his treasure in the mountains. They entered a cave to pray, and, while being there, a storm started and huge rocks fell, trapping the thieves.
The Rarău Mountains are some of the most beautiful mountains in Moldova, Romania, so we can say without a doubt that this road will provide each tourist a gorgeous landscape. Pietrele Doamnei is one of the main attractions in the area, praised by travelers and writers as well.
The road links Chiril and Valea Moldovei to Pojorâta. An important mention for the tourist: from Chiril to the cabin the speed limit is 30 km / h and large cars are not allowed.