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Dates of visit:
Sept. 7, 2005 -
Sept. 27, 2005

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Visit Family
 Romanian Wedding
 Eco-touring
 Danube Delta
 Iron Gates NP
 Fishing Villages
 Mountain Villages
 Monasteries
 Roman Ruins
 Roman Spas
 Black Sea Coast
 

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*** City of Bucharest ***
*** Black Sea & Mamaia Resort ***
*** Romanian Wedding ***
Go to second page - Roman, Greek & Medieval Ruins, Tulcea, Murighiol
Go to third page - Danube Delta, Hyrmalis, Macin Mnts. Monasteries
Go to fourth page - Iron Gates, Eibenthal & Bigar, Orsova, Cazanele Mici
Go to fifth page - Monastery Vodita, Turtles, Rural Romania
Go to sixth page - Timisoara, Arad, Baile Herculane, Monastery of Horezu
        Map of Romania
        Travel route in Romania
        Travel in Romania
        Introducing Bucharest
        Site Gallery - City of Bucharest
        Black Sea Coast and Mamaia Resort
        Site Gallery - Mamaia Resort
        A Romanian Wedding (Urban)
        Site Gallery - A Romanian Wedding
Travel in Romania

Romanian SarmaleTravel in Romania is as rewarding as it is challenging. The country's mountain scenery and great diversity of wildlife, its cultures and people, and a way of life that at times seems out of the last century, leave few who visit unaffected. However it is still one of the hardest countries of Eastern and Central Europe to travel in.

Much of Romania's charm lies in the remoter, less-visited regions, and it's the experience of getting there that really gives you an insight into the country. Rather than expecting an easy ride, try to accept whatever happens as an adventure.

Romanians (the country's largest ethnic group) trace their ancestry back to the Romans, and have a noticeable Latin character. They are generally warm, spontaneous, anarchic, and appreciative of style and life's pleasures - sadly, in contrast to the austerity with which they're saddled.

In addition to ethnic Romanians, one and a half million Magyars pursue a traditional lifestyle long since vanished in Hungary, while dwindling numbers of Transylvanian Germans (Saxons) reside around the fortified towns and churches their ancestors built in the Middle Ages to guard the mountain passes. Along the coast, in the Delta and in the Banat there's a rich mixture of Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Slovaks, Bulgars, Gypsies, Turks and Tatars.

Bucharest has lost much of its charm - its wide nineteenth-century Parisian-style boulevards are choked with traffic, once-grand buildings are crumbling and the suburbs are dominated by grim apartment blocks - but it remains the centre of the country's commercial and cultural life.

Many of Romania's other cities are blighted by industry and decay but Timisoara, Arad and other historic towns still show glimpses of past glories and have retained a wealth of medieval churches and streets, as well as impressive Baroque and Secession edifices.

The best of Romania, though, is its countryside, and in particular the mountain scenery. The wild Carpathians, forming the frontier between the province of Transylvania and, to the east and south, Moldavia and Wallachia offer some of the most undisturbed and spectacular hiking opportunities in Europe.

In contrast to the crowded Black Sea beaches along Romania's east coast, the waterlogged Danube Delta is a place set apart from the rest of the country where life has hardly changed for centuries and where boats are the only way to reach many settlements. During spring and autumn, especially, hundreds of species of birds from all over the Old World migrate through this region or come to breed.

Almost any exploration of the villages of rural Romania will be rewarding, with sights as diverse as the Delta villages built of reeds and the country's abundance of churches and monasteries, which reflect a history of competing communities and faiths. (Partial Source: Rough Guide to Romania, Rough Guides, 2001)

Introducing Bucharest

Bucharest churchTree-lined boulevards, park-girdled lakes, pompous public monuments and its very own Arc de Triomphe give Bucharest a smooth Parisian flavour. The city is at its best in spring and summer, when relaxed crowds fill the beer gardens and parks. Having the usual complement of museums, Bucharest has a gentle Latin air that goes well with the mysticism of its Orthodox churches.

On the other hand, few travellers fall in love with Romania's capital, largely thanks to its petulant street hustlers and expensive restaurants which spur far too many travellers to leave as quickly as possible. Bucharest can be fascinating if you approach it with patience and humble expectations. Back streets bustle with hawkers and artists, 18th-century monasteries and churches hide behind pretty walled gardens (or monumental apartment blocks), while the decaying elegance of the city's historic quarter is riddled with a charm of its very own.

During the 1980s southern Bucharest was transformed by Nicolae Ceausescu's attempt to recast Bucharest as a grandiloquent socialist capital, with the behemoth House of the People as its centrepiece. The 1989 revolution put an end to the city's Stalinist make-over, yet reminders of the Ceausescu era remain - the turn of every corner unveils a bullet-pocked building, a candle quietly burning by a memorial statue, or a marble-covered apartment that once housed Communist Party elite.

HISTORY

Bucharest derives its name from a legendary shepherd named Bucur (bucurie; literally `joy') who founded the city and built a church on the right bank of the Dambovila River. The city, which lies on the Wallachian plains between the Carpathian foothills and the Danube River, was settled by Geto Dacians as early as 70 BC. By 1459 a princely residence and military citadel had been established under the chancellery of Prince Vlad Tepes. By the end of the 17th century, the city was the capital of Wallachia and ranked among south-eastern Europe's wealthiest cities. Bucharest became the national capital in 1862.

The early 20th century was Bucharest's golden age. The city's narrow streets were placed with wide, tree-lined boulevards as Romania looked to France for its cultural and architectural inspiration. Large neoclassical buildings sprang up, fashionable parks were laid out and landscaped on Parisian models and, by the end of the 1930s, Bucharest was known throughout Europe as 'Little Paris' or the 'Paris of the Balkans'.

Bombing by the Allies during WWII, coupled with a 1940 earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale, destroyed much of Bucharest's prewar beauty. In March 1977 a second major earthquake claimed 1391 lives and flattened countless buildings. Ceausescu's criminal redevelopment of the city marked the final death knell of Romania as the 'Paris' of Eastern Europe. (Partial Source: Romania and Moldova, Lonely Planet Publications, 2001)

If interested you may wish to explore two previous visits to Romania ...
Year 2001 Visit or Year 2002 Visit

Site Gallery - City of Bucharest
 
General Views of Bucharest
** Location of Bucharest **
Bucharest City Center Bucharest City Center Bucharest City Center
Bucharest City Center Bucharest City Center Bucharest City Center
Bucharest Cows on Parade
Bucharest Cows on Parade Bucharest Cows on Parade Bucharest Cows on Parade
Bucharest Cows on Parade Bucharest Cows on Parade Bucharest Cows on Parade

Black Sea Coast and Mamaia Resort

Black Sea CoastBlack Sea Coast: This is the main tourist area, considering the large number of Romanian and foreign tourists. The Romanian "Riviera", which is 30+ miles long, is made up of a continuous belt of 16 seaside resorts (some of the being also spas), out of which six are in high demand: Mamaia, Eforie Nord, Costinesti (the resort of the youth), Neptun (the favorite holiday place of former dictator Ceausescu), Olimp, Venus, 2 Mai, all of them built after 1960. In this region tourists can visit also the vestiges of the three colonies that were founded there by ancient Greeks in the 7th 6th centuries BC: Histria to the north, Tomis in the centre (the present-day Constanta, which is the main Romanian sea port, boasting an imposing archaeological museum) and Callatis (the present-day Mangalia). Besides the ordinary cure factors, there are natural lakes here with therapeutic mud.

Constanta: Located on the Black Sea coast in Romania. In ancient times it was called "Tomis", and Greek merchants settled the city in the 6th century BC as a seaport. It was later developed by Romans and renamed after the emperor Constantin. It was here that emperor Octavian Augustus in 8 A.D. exiled the poet Ovid until his death in 17 A.D. The city was attacked and destroyed by Avars in the 7th century AD and was not redeveloped until the 19th century, when King Carol I decided to turn it into an active seaport and seaside resort. Constanta is now a cultural and economic center in Romania, with a population of 350,000. Its historical monuments, ancient ruins, grand Casino, museums and shops, make it the focal point of Black Sea coast tourism.

Mamaia: The largest Romanian resort on the Black Sea coast. It is located about 3 mi north of Constanta City on a stretch of land that separates Lake Suitghiol from the Black Sea. The climate is mild and the annual average temperature is about 51F. In July, the temperature rises to about 73F and in January to 32F. The resort was officially opened in 1906. Currently, it can accommodate about 20 000 visitors in more than 64 hotels. Mamaia has a 5-mile long by about 100-yards wide beach with most of the hotels located in close proximity or directly on the beach. The resort has tennis courts, mini golf, an outdoor theatre, and aquatic park.

Site Gallery - Mamaia Resort
 

General Views of Mamaia Resort
** Location of Mamaia Resort **
Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort
Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort
Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort
Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort
Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort Mamaia Resort

A Romanian Wedding (Urban)

A Romanian WeddingA European wedding, especially a Romanian one, is celebrated in so many different ways from a western one that one must experience it first hand to understand its multitude of traditions. To participate in one is a unique experience. The pre-nuptial preparations and the actual church service and finally the eventual all-night celebration filled with music, ethnic foods and drinks leaves one with the impression that Romanians know how to savor the joyous occasion and take merry-making to the extreme.

Our participation in one such wedding, although urban in nature, revealed the many sides to such an event. Being introduced to ethnic foods such as "sarmale" and "mamaligna" was enriching to more than a waistline. The national drink of Romania, "Tzuica", was mellow but with an eventual kick. Dancing the "Hora" (Romanian round dance) was spirited and easy to learn. Watching the bride being "kidnapped" by some guests and her eventual "ransom" by the groom was done in good spirits and fun to see evolve. Street dancing, the Orthodox church service and the merriment was to be appreciated for its novelty, solemnity and gaiety.

A Romanian wedding is not a one-day event but a one that spreads over many days and long hours. Although this wedding was held in a privileged environment in a major seaside resort, the many traditions seen harken to a typical village wedding. Same celebrations ... different environments.

Site Gallery - A Romanian Wedding
 

A Romanian Wedding Celebration
Constanta
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Picking up the bride
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Mid-Day lunch
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Orthodox Church Service
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After Church Service
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All-Night Celebration
Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding
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Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding
Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding
Mamaia Resort At Night
Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding Romanian Wedding

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