Wednesday, 16 February 2011

My first impressions of Romania

As a neighbour country I have always wanted to visit Romania but never been so impatient about that. My first visit was in 2009, a day trip to Costanta and I have to admit that it was just the same I imagined it - a big city at the Black sea.

Constranta port
Sure I compare it with Varna, the biggest Bulgarian city by the sea and only 100 km south of Constanta. They have so much in common - the port, buildings, Dolphinarium, there is a luxury resort next to each of them. I wasn't surprised at all that in the restaurants we could eat the same salads with the same names. Although we speak languages from different groups, we are so similar to Romanians, maybe because we are all orthodox and have alike culture and traditions, I don't know.
The casino
A central street close to the Folk Art Museum

On our way to Constanta, we entered from Silistra, a historical town by the Danube river. The traveling was around 2 hours but the road was terrible - pavement alternated with concrete slabs with large gaps between them. I felt I'm in Bulgaria or even worse sometimes. We passed through poor villages, all the houses were around the road, little and shabby. Going back to Bulgaria our way was by the Black sea where we were driving on a highway, definitely different from the previous route.
Part of the road
My feelings about Romania didn't change, I saw people live the same way as we do. But I changed my mind an year later when I visited Cluj Napoca, a lively city in North Romania.

This time we crossed the Danube river and in less then an hour we found ourselves at the bypass of Bucharest. It was early in the morning and there was almost no traffic. The next hour we were driving on the highway Bucharest - Pitesti, normal and comfortable. But then, we passed through the worst road I've ever seen - holes and turns everywhere. It was even dangerous because everybody was driving like crazy. Then came the passage in the mountain and after 2 hours we were in Sibiu - Voila! Unfortunately, we didn't have time for stopping and we went on our way. What I noticed was that the routes were already in great condition. Maybe you'll say that I pay so much attention on the roads but believe me - when you're in Bulgaria and Romania you will also do it.

View from the restaurant
Anyway, we arrived in Cluj in the early afternoon and after the meeting we had, we could enjoy the city from a restaurant on the top of a hill. Just lovely! I compared this view with my home city - Plovdiv, probably because it's also situated on hills. We tried nice wine and some delicious specialties. The evening ended at the lobby of the hotel with rum and coke.

The next day was for city tour. And just after it I became so keen on Romania. No,the right answer is Transilvania. It was completely different place from Constanta - architecture, museums, history, everything. People there have the Western European spirit, cultural and are very polite. I'll just give you a simple example: It happens rarely in Bulgaria and what I saw in Constanta and our traveling round South Romania too, that a car stops on a zebra crossing. But in Cluj Napoca they do it. Just the whole atmosphere is not the same. It's not that I didn't like Constanta but it was not so charming for me.
Already in Cluj

After all, I realize again that one impression you have can't be indicative, especially in a big country. That's why I decided to do a 5-6 days trip in Romania (Bucharest - Sibiu - Brasov - Drakula's Castle - Danube Delta) and see more of our neighbour country, to know people better, their characters in the South and in the North. Special regards to my friends in Romania - Codruts and Petruta!

Almost 2 years after visiting Cluj, I have already spent few days in Brasov and the area around - spectacular places!

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