In this post, I would like to tell you about our weekend road trip around Romania back in Spring 2015.
Romania surprised me a lot. I’m sorry to say so, but I though that it’s one of the poorest countries in Europe and will be in quite a bad condition. But when I arrived in Romania, I was genuinely impressed by clean streets, great roads and nice buildings. Also, I didn’t feel like we’re in danger at any point of our trip. And that’s pretty awesome. Because in the cities like Paris and London, I usually do. However, in Romania, I was with Pepe and two of his good friends, so maybe that’s actually the reason, why.
As we arrived to Romania in the afternoon, and when we actually got to our hotel, it was already around 5 pm, we agreed on just going out for dinner to a fancy place. Because on the next day, our mini road trip around Romania was awaiting us.
Read about 7 reasons you NEED to go to Bucharest in this post (it’s about my recent trip in May 2017).
As we got to our hotel – RIN Central (which was great for its price and had more or less centric location), we changed and went to a restaurant. That zone is pretty impossible to reach by public transport and the taxi system in Romania just sucks (sorry to say so, but it’s true). But at that moment we still didn’t have a car, so we decided to go by taxi.
At first, we chose to go to Hard Rock Cafe, but unfortunately, it was closed for some private event or concert. So we checked on Foursquare, what’s around and decided to go to the place with a good rating, located on the top of one of the newest skyscrapers in Bucharest called 18 by the Embassy.
The atmosphere was incredible: the place looked very fancy and posh, the view was great and the service was good. However, the menu was a bit too elaborated, which made the dishes taste weird. The cocktails and a dessert were awesome, though. For Romanian standards, this place was very expensive, so I’m unsure, whether to recommend it to you or not, I’m sure for this price and even much less money you can find some better places.
On the next day, we decided to hire a car, and the only Avis office available was located in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel. Hiring a car in Romania isn’t so cheap, especially if you’re doing it inside the country, so it’s better to do it beforehand and online. I recommend using rentalcars.com for that. However, even if it’s a bit pricey, it’s worth it, because your own road trip around Romania would be better than many of the bus tours, where you can’t really decide, how much time to spend in each location.
The way to Transylvania wasn’t so long – around 3 hours from Bucharest to the Castle Peleš, one of the most beautiful castles I have ever seen. You have to leave the car in the parking lot for some fee, around 1-2 euros for 2-3 hours, and then you can climb up to the castle, not for long, but expect to climb at least for 10-15 minutes.
Tip: It’s quite chilly up there, so better bring a sweater or a light jacket with you. Even though it was +27 in Bucharest, in Peleš it was around 20-21, and I felt really cold in my summer dress.
You can’t visit the castle without an excursion, it’s actually very strict. You also need to follow your guide like a tiny baby duckling, no step to the right or to the left. But at the same time, it’s great, because that way the castle is safer and people get a better impression of the castle while listening to the tour guide.
The gardens around Peleš are also very impressive. If we only had a bit more time, we would go walking further up to the mountain, but we already had another castle on our agenda.
After the castle Peleš, we decided to go to the famous Bran Castle (or the Dracula Castle). It was closing early, so we had to hurry up a bit. It takes around 1 hour to get from Peleš to Bran because the roads are very narrow and quite meandering.
When we saw the castle for the first time, we were a bit disappointed. But it was even more disappointing inside. The Bran castle is definitely overrated, and, at the day we were there, it was overcrowded. At some point, it was even ridiculous: imagine a queue in the airport and place it in the tiny medieval castle. Hard to imagine, I know. Maybe the photo will help.
So well, there is also pretty much nothing to see in the castle. Except for some Dracula outfits made of plastic and paper. And some furniture. And a torture room.
We had an early dinner in a place right opposite the castle: it was actually pretty good and moderately cheap.
The way back to the hotel was actually very tiring: it took us more than 3 hours to get back to Bucharest. The road had much traffic and that’s probably the only time when we were disappointed in our road trip around Romania. However, as soon as we got back to the hotel (super exhausted), we forgot about all the negativity.
On the next day, we decided to stay in Bucharest. There are many places to see/ visit in Bucharest, so one day wasn’t enough. However, it was enough to get the overall impression of the city. The city centre of Bucharest is very beautiful – it has some very authentic Orthodox churches, beautiful theatres, and just nice streets. Everything outside the city centre looks very grey. By the style of the buildings you can understand right away that Romania was one of the socialist countries, but nonetheless, the city looked very lively.
We went to see the palace, but couldn’t get inside. Then we went to the city centre, visited a couple of churches and a crafts market, full of interesting goods, and stayed for a lunch in some pub. This zone is quite great for the nightlife, as there are plenty of bars, lounges, and clubs. The day passed very quickly, and to celebrate (my) last day in Romania, we tried to get to the Hard Rock Cafe again (this time successfully). However, it was very challenging to get back to the hotel, because as I already have mentioned, the taxi system in the city is very strange. The staff in the restaurants can get you a taxi, but around 10-11 pm it’s extremely hard to get one. So we waited for more than 30 minutes before one taxi accepted out request.
To summarise: Romania is a great country to visit. It’s also worth to do a road trip around Romania, however, 2-3 days are definitely not enough for seeing even a small part of the country. Even for Bucharest alone, 1 day is not enough.
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