MESSAGE: Romania *Videos*
Romania may just be my favorite European country. I found the countryside surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains to be beautiful and the region’s small medieval towns picture-perfect! Even the capital city of Bucharest exceeded my expectations.
What surprised me most was to see heaps of Mediterranean charm within an Eastern European country. But that’s just it really – Romania, with its Latin-based language and attitude, is miles away from its Eastern European neighbors.
Here’re my 7 hot picks when exploring Romania:
MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Strolling in Brasov. The city of Brasov is in the heart of the Transylvania and surrounded by the Southern Carpathian mountains. When you arrive, you know you’re in Brasov because of the giant Hollywood-inspired sign high up on the mountainside overlooking the city.
Brasov was also colonized by Germany in the 12th century, giving it a distinctly Teutonic flavor, seen in the fortifications and stone towers dotted throughout the city. Today the main square has preserved its medieval charm, offering a long promenade lined with restaurants and bars. We were there for 4 nights and it was quite the place to hang out and be seen!
EAT (Tasty Eats) – Gogosi (Romanian Donuts). Every night Romanians were lining up to buy gogosi from store-front bakeries. You passed some change through the window and were rewarded with hot fried sweet dough.
The donuts came in all sizes, but the most popular seemed to be a conical shape, which allowed you to pull off thin sugary strips with your fingers. Salivating? Here’s a recipe for gogosi.
SEE (Must-see Sights) – Dracula’s Castle. Really this was the reason for visiting Romania – to see Transylvania and the infamous Bran Castle, the home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula character. The Irish novelist wrote his gothic horror novel in 1897 and loosely based the vampire tale on real-life Transylvania tyrant Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad Dracula.
Vlad Dracula lived during the 15th century and reigned for less than 10 years. Nevertheless, he was especially blood-thirsty and was thought to have killed about 50,000 civilians and soldiers during his rule, mainly Ottoman Turks and those he deemed “useless to humanity.” His favorite form of death was to impale his victims on a pole, hence his gruesome nickname.
Here I am just outside Dracula’s castle:
Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Erin at Bran Castle
SHOP (Gotta Have) –Sibiu’s Streets. Traditionally the capital of Transylvania, today Sibiu is one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Both its large and small squares are surrounded by cobblestone streets, churches and cafes. This charming city was rated “Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes magazine.
This idyllic ranking is slightly ironic since while we were visiting there was a heavy metal music festival going on. Here’s just a peek at the head-banger concert that was held in a square surrounded by storybook houses with brightly painted shutters and flower-boxes at the windows:
Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Heavy Metal Sibiu
ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Climbing the Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathians span 7 countries: Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia and parts of Hungary. Instead of a continuous mountain chain, the Carpathians are actually a series of mountains stretching over 1,500 kilometers (932 miles), with the highest peaks reaching an altitude of about 2,500 meters (8,202 ft).
The Carpathians are home to Europe’s largest populations of brown bears, wolves, and lynxes, with the highest concentration in Romanian where we were hiking. We didn’t feel we were in too much danger though since we stuck to the summertime ski trails, climbing underneath the chair lifts to see the rock walls in the distance.
The mountain temperature was perfect for our outing, cool with a slight rain, that only slightly hindered our visibility of the forest. We walked a bit, had ourselves a picnic, then climbed for a couple of hours to see the magnificent view. Good day out!
GIVE (Greatest Need) – Dangerous Human Trafficking. Romania is a country that is marred by heavy human trafficking. Within the country, human trafficking takes the form of forced labor, including coerced begging and petty theft. Outside the country, Romanian women and children are trafficked into prostitution in countries throughout Europe, most notable Italy, Spain, and France.
Currently, the Romanian government is not meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Several years ago, the government dismantled its lead anti-trafficking agency: the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP). Now Romanian anti-trafficking initiatives are under the management of the National Police and Ministry of Interior.
This change has denied anti-trafficking NGOs funding to support victims of trafficking and prevention programs. As a result, over the last 3 years, more than 30 NGOs have either closed or changed their missions in order to retain state funding.
ENJOY (Extra Fun) – 5D Haunted House Movie. After visiting Dracula’s Castle, my friend Brid and I treated ourselves to an additional scare — a 5D horror movie! Now, I had been the 3D movies in the past, but never a 5D movie that incorporates rocking chairs, water and air into the experience.
We were the only one in the theater, but that didn’t stop us from screaming and howling throughout the entire 20-minute animated flick. I highly recommend the experience! Want just a taste? Here’s the 5D Haunted House trailer