“Why are you going to Romania?”
When I told people about my travel plans, they didn’t understand why I was going on a weekend trip all the way to Romania.
And then I showed them these.
Seriously, if more people knew how beautiful Romania is, everyone would want to go!
The truth is, though, I’ve been wanting to visit Romania for years.
So, without knowing beforehand how beautiful this country was . . . why did I want to go?
Here’s the Truth . . .
Fun fact: I started learning Romanian three years ago.
Why Romanian, of all languages?
Shortly before I left for Colombia, I heard this catchy bop on the radio. Sadly, I wasn’t able to catch the song’s title, and I couldn’t make out the lyrics.
Months later, I came across this travel vlog, and lo and behold, this song was playing! Digging through the comments, I was able to find the title: “Stereo Love” by Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina.
If you go through the comments, you can still see several people rejoicing at finding this song after months of searching.
Anyway, I wanted to find more music by these artists. Wikipedia said they were from Romania. Out of random curiosity, I decided to search for what the Romanian language sounded like. So I did.
And I fell in love.
Romanian sounded like music to my ears. I remembered from my linguistics classes that it was a romance language. Some words sounded similar, but it also sounded so different. So unique. And I was completely and utterly swooned.
So I decided to teach myself this beautiful language. (I studied linguistics in university; languages are kind of our thing.) And it was great fun. Even if some of my friends made fun of me. (If it’s not for learning Romanian, it’s for something else.)
I wondered what it would be like if I ever got the opportunity to visit these two countries in which Romanian is the official language someday (the other is Moldova). However, over the course of time I set aside my Romanian language studies, as life and new hobbies and interests got in the way.
Fast-forward three years. My friend sends me a link to cheap tickets to Bucharest.
My time has come.
First Stop: Peleș Castle
We didn’t have much time. Our flight arrived at 4 in the morning on Saturday, which, by the time we got to our Airbnb and settled in, gave us an hour and a half to sleep before our 7 am (!!) tour pick-up.
Our tour consisted of my friend and me, a couple from Greece, and a couple from Italy and Poland. We all had decided on a whim to fly to Romania for the weekend because we found cheap tickets. See, I’m not the only one who does things like this.
As we drove to the first attraction, Peleș Castle, our tour guide gave us a brief history of Romania. I’m not going to retell it here (use Wikipedia if you’re that interested), but I will say that learning about Romania’s history wasn’t the most uplifting way to start the day. But war isn’t the most uplifting of topics.
That being said, it was interesting to hear, and it wasn’t all sad. In general our tour guide did a good job sharing Romania’s history and stories throughout the day.
After our tour guide finished with his brief recap of Romanian history, I was able to sleep for about an hour before arriving at Peleș Castle.
Otherwise known as Winter Wonderland.
Welcome back to Michigan! Just kidding.
Fun fact 2: I bought my winter coat from Mango four days before flying to Romania. Perhaps the lack of a winter coat in my wardrobe is why I was sick as a dog the week prior.
The snow did make everything prettier, however.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the castle, so just take my word for it that everything was super fancy and looked like fairy tale. We were allowed to take pictures outside of the castle, however, which also looked like a fairy tale.
After touring the castle, our guide drove us to our next destination. On the way, we got to see a bit of the Romanian countryside, which made me even more enamored with this country.
Second Stop: Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle)
Fun Fact 3: The author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, only visited Bran’s castle for a few days (Wikipedia says he may not have even visited). The rest of the ideas for the book came from his imagination and research.
If no one had told me that this was the castle Dracula was based on, I would never have guessed it. The castle wasn’t haunting at all. And it wasn’t as big as I thought it would be. I would describe it as cozy instead of scary.
The scariest thing about this castle, though, was the wind. It was sunny, but very windy that afternoon. The slap-in-your-face wind that Michigan natives know all too well with the icy windchill in the winter (this tour is reminding me more and more of the Mitten…).
Bran’s castle is one of the top tourist attractions in Romania. That being said, I liked the Peleș Castle better. Sorry Dracula.
Fun Fact 4: People apparently pay hundreds of dollars to visit “Dracula’s” castle on Halloween (who may not know that the author may or may not have even been there).
Third Stop: Brașov
Brașov is a city in Transylvania that feels more like a town. We stopped here for a few hours to get food and walk around.
But after a long day, and an hour and a half of sleep, my friend and I decided to wait in the local square until it was time for our group to leave. We waited in a coffee shop. In a Starbucks. Because even in this small city tucked away in Transylvania, of course there’s a Starbucks.
The funny thing is that I think we found more Romanians in Starbucks than walking around Brașov. In a Seattle-based coffee chain. Who knew.
On the three-hour trip back to our Aribnb, we just slept.
Last Stop: Bucharest
Our flight left at 1pm, so we just had the morning to walk around Bucharest. It was pretty (it’s known as the Little Paris of Eastern Europe), but after awhile, most capital cities start to look the same.
I did have an amusing scenario trying to use the little Romanian I know, however. I said “Thank you,” in Romanian to a guy who held open the gate for my friend and me as we left the Airbnb. Which may not have been the brightest thing to do.
“Wait!” The guy came walking after us. “You speak Romanian?!” He didn’t seem creepy (unlike other scenarios where guys follow my friends and me around), just surprised.
“No, sorry! That’s the only word I know!” I said. He walked back to the apartment, thankfully.
However, I would like to brush up on my Romanian again. Is it as practical of a language as, say, Portuguese or German? Probably not. But why do we have to learn a language because it’s useful? Why can’t we learn because it’s fun? That’s the reason why I initially started to learn Spanish. I just thought speaking another language would be fun.
We walked around for as long as we had the patience to, but once it started getting windier and cold, we decided to head to the airport.
Would I visit Romania again?
Yes, I absolutely would. It’s one of my goals for this year. However, I’d like to visit when the weather is nicer. Maybe spring or fall. I’d also like to visit its neighboring countries Moldova (to practice my Romanian in another country), and Bulgaria (to visit the Black Sea). Hmm. . . summer road trip?
Overall, I had a great time in Romania, and wish we could have stayed longer. Until next time. Mulțumesc, România!