My first visit to Romania was an unforgettable experience. It was a country that impressed and surprised me in many ways. I left with some great memories. Memories that I would like to share.
I think it is important to remember some of the history and origins of this nation. Romania was one of the countries behind the “Iron Curtain” which did not fare particularly well during the Soviet era. Once considered the "breadbasket of Europe" for its rich land, became one of the poorest nations of the communist bloc, with one of the harshest dictatorships. The Romanians are a people unique in its mix, as descendants of the Dacians originating in that region, the Romans, Turks and Slavs. However, they are very Latino and proud of it. They try to dress in the Italian style, learn French at school, like to watch Latin soap operas and there are salsa schools across the country. Despite their language contains some Slavic words, the Romanian language has a Latin root and many say it is the language most similar to Latin. The Romanians are talented people, despite having a hard past, they have managed to excel in various fields including science, music and sports.
When I first went, I did not know what to expect. I went for work and knew little about that nation. I think the uncertainty made my trip more exciting. Those who had previously been in Romania told me to beware of women and cars. Women for their beauty, and the cars driven very badly. More than that I did not know. Bucharest seemed chaotic at first. I have a life long passion for history of countries from behind the Iron Curtain, therefore, was fascinated with Bucharest an open-air museum that tells its own story. The Romanian Parliament, also known as Casa Poporului or "People's House" is one of the largest buildings in the world. With its eternal halls containing artifacts made by the Romanian people from carpets to hand made glassware.
Despite the city having a dark feel to it, marked by the Soviet harsh architecture, Bucharest has little gems hidden in the concrete. The Cismigiu Gardens is a wonderful park in the centre of town where people often go ice skating in winter. There are also impressive monuments such as the CEC Bank Palace, the Romanian Athenaeum, and the University of Bucharest.
Bucharest is full of surprises, like the wonderful Caru cu Bere brewery built in 1879, or Parhon Institute, with its controversial clinical studies to stop aging, where many famous actors and politicians went in search of eternal youth.
During my stay I had the opportunity to see the Romanian province. With its spectacular mountains a few miles from the coast. The country's main port, Constanta, has an abandoned casino worth seeing for its particular architecture and its huge shell-shaped window. The interior of Romania is covered with vast forests and villages. The country owns the legendary region of Transylvania where you can see the castle that the English writer, Bram Stoker based his famous novel Dracula. The cruel but beloved Prince Vlad Dracula was the motivation for this story for his brutal acts against the Turks while defending his kingdom.
I was fortunate to spend a Christmas in the north in a region called Bukovina. This is a region in the mountains with its snow covered forest. Bucovina is known for its Orthodox Christian monasteries. The monasteries have the smell of incense, candles, paintings and crafts that have survived for hundreds of years. Romanians tend to buy wine made by monks themselves to consume during the holidays. You can also buy a liquor made from plums called tuica, made only for the brave and is sixty percent alcohol. Typical dishes include sarmale (cabbage stuffed with pork) and mici (meatballs).
Nor should we forget that Romania is the home of the gypsies. While there is social conflicts between Romanians and gypsies, there is general acceptance of the gypsies great talents, like music, which is often heard on radio, television and in more traditional marriages. You can see the important presence in Romania of these unique and interesting people.
My experience in Romania was truly unforgettable. I had the chance to extended my time, and stay with friends there, which helped me to get to know the culture in depth. However, the striking contrasts and peculiarities I have told you about make Romania a highly recommended destination, even for a couple of weeks. It is a country that is growing and changing very fast, so I think you should visit before many of its charms are forgotten.