As soon as the wheels of the plane touched down on the tarmac of Coanda Airport, I could instinctively sense that my 7-day journey throughout Romania was going to be a magnificent and other-worldly experience. Visiting the mystical and picturesque Eastern European region had always been a must on my bucket list, and I was so pleased with myself for finally committing to the journey. As I was travelling alone and spoke no Romania, I was also terrified. But in a good way.
Once I had collected my baggage from the carousel, I made my way towards the expansive glass doors that opened onto Bucharest, a bustling hub of activity made even more stimulating given the perfectly temperate climate as Romania is best experienced in late Spring-early Summer weather. I flagged a city taxi and, in my best broken Romanian, guided my driver towards my Airbnb.
Romania is best experienced in late Spring-early Summer weather.
After a lengthy flight, I was eager to drop off my bags and grab a quick shower. It was still early afternoon, and I had tons of adrenaline leftover from my 8-hour sleep on the plane. So, freshly dressed, and armed with my English-Romania dictionary and cellphone, I headed across the street to the beautiful gardens of Herastrau Park and joined a tour. Our handsome guide, Florin, took our modestly sized group throughout the wondrous city, heading south down Victoria Boulevard. What struck me immediately was the city’s fantastic architecture––the National Museum of Art, The Romanian Atheneum, The University of Bucharest Library, Cantacuzino Palace.
We continued along past the Arch of the Triumph before taking a break in Victoria Square. Fortunately for me, I was able to separate from the group (not before giving Florin a tip––which, contrary to belief is recommended in this part of Europe) before heading back to check out some of the buildings’ interiors.
The National Museum of Art is so spectacular (and relatively empty on a Tuesday afternoon––note: most museums and galleries in Europe are closed on Mondays!) If you visit one cultural spot in Bucharest, make this the one. I couldn’t wait to see and do more…but I had a busy week ahead of me. And this was only my first five hours in Romania.
After three days exploring the best of Bucharest’s cultural points, and experiencing the sumptuous dining and nightlife, I had planned on taking a three-day expedition out to the city of Turda, about 8 hours north. I woke up to find the sun shining and the sky cloudless––perfect for my journey ahead.
I caught my bus at the nearby depot and set off out past the city limits. About two hours into our trek, we stopped into the serene commune of Snagov, where I quickly made my way towards its noteworthy monastery. Needless to say, the Snagov Monastery is a stunning structure inside and out, replete with colourful images of iconography.
I looked out onto the stunning hills in front of me, convinced I would never experience surreal pastoral beauty like this. To this date, I have yet to be proven wrong.
As my journey continued towards the mountains, I took note of the bucolic scenes passing by my window as we proceeded towards the Transylvanian Alps region.
By now, I had made friends with a few English speakers in my group. When we all got off at a scenic spot overlooking Lake Vidraru, we quickly unloaded the basket of goods we had gathered at our last stop and had a bounteous picnic at the base of the Fagaras Mountains in the heart of the Southern Carpathians, a mountainous landscape of stunning cliffs and greenery.
We carried on for another few hours before arriving in Turda, where I promptly checked into the beautiful Potaissa Hotel, near the river Aries, and grabbed a quick meal of smoked sausages at the hotel restaurant.
If I thought the previous days had been filled with awe-inspiring beauty, it was nothing compared to the wondrousness that awaited me here.
Another few days of local hospitality and sight-seeing were concluded with a tour of the Salina Turda Salt Mines. If I thought the previous days had been filled with awe-inspiring beauty, it was nothing compared to the wondrousness that awaited me here.
There was no better way to end my Romanian getaway than with a solo trip on the Ferris Wheel in the mines’ adjoining amusement park. Tomorrow I would be boarding the same bus back to Bucharest, and onwards home.
At the moment, as the wheel made its final revolution, I looked out onto the stunning hills in front of me, convinced I would never experience surreal pastoral beauty like this. To this date, I have yet to be proven wrong.