Brasov, Romania

When I moved back to Romania, I knew one thing: I had had enough of the traffic and chaos of big cities. Don’t get me wrong, Toronto is an amazing city, but living there made me realize I’m more of a small city girl. Imagining that Bucharest was even more chaotic than Toronto, I wanted to stay away (although that didn’t last too long and I don’t regret my change of heart). I was considering moving to Brasov, a small city at the foot of the Carpathians, with its less than 300,000 inhabitants and intricate history written into every aspect of the city. I didn’t know much about it, before deciding to move there, so I went to walk around the town center on a warm autumn day. This is what I saw and the city won me over. Had you been in my place, would you have made the same decision?

 

 

In Maramures, Romania you must see the Barsana Monastery

In the heart of Maramures, hidden between rolling hills and quaint villages, not far from the must-see Mocanita Steam Train, you will find the Barsana Monastery. I have called Maramures the keeper of traditions. This monastery, although only recently built, has kept tradition by constructing its buildings out of wood in the typical Maramures style. You will notice the wood is a light color, not yet darkened by the elements, as is the wood of the hundred-year old wooden churches dotting the Maramures landscape. Impeccably kept grounds with blooming flowers, beautiful architecture, a place of spirituality and peace.

Aventura Parc – Brasov, Romania

Instead of cutting down forests to make space for shopping malls, why not make a natural amusement park - Aventura Park, Brasov, Romania

Romania is home to Eastern Europe’s largest adventure park. If you travel to Brasov, why not spend an afternoon outdoors at the foot of the Carpathian mountains? Climb through the trees at your own pace and level. And don’t miss out on the over 300m long zip-line that takes you over a lake! This is a tourist sight off the beaten track, so happy adventuring!

Visiting the Danube Delta – Romania

The Danube is Europe’s second largest river. It flows from its spring in the Black Forest in Germany almost 3000km to the Black Sea in Romania. On its journey it flows through four European capitals:  Vienna – Austria, Bratislava – Slovakia, Budapest – Hungary, and Belgrade Serbia. So it’s really no wonder that the Danube has always played such an important role. Over 1000km of its journey is in or bordering Romania. It enters Romania at the Iron gates, where it has carved its way through the Carpathian mountains, then acts as a natural border between Romania and Bulgaria. It eventually heads north and as it flows into the sea forms the Danube Delta.

The Danube Delta is a significant biosphere, recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Organization. It is the largest and best preserved of all European deltas. It is a series of canals, islands, lakes, and marshes, whose borders and shapes change with every passing season and year. What is so special about this natural reserve is that it hosts over 300 species of birds, some migrating from North Africa and Siberia. But it is not just home to wildlife, but also to fishing communities whose traditional cultures are still alive since they have been somewhat separated from the rest of the world. There are many things to see in the Danube Delta.

As you visit the Danube Delta, you will probably start in Tulcea, the gateway into this corner of Romania. Here you can find the Tulcea office of tourism, accommodations, and boat tours. You can also reach a few other villages by road, such as Murighiol or Dunavatu de Jos. In every village you will find at least basic forms of accommodation if not beautiful resorts, delicious fish dishes, and boat tours. Most typically, tourists are taken with small motor boats on canals along the reeds, to small lakes where pelicans and egrets hide, to Lake Razim, the largest lake in Romania, or even to see wild horses. You might also choose to spend a few days in Sfantu Gheorghe or Sulina, the main towns in the Delta. There you will spend time by the sea, watching the long journey of the Danube come to an end, as it flows into the Black Sea.

Visit the Bucegi Mountains and the Heroes’ Cross

The Bucegi Mountains are part of the southern Carpathians in Romania. They are where you can find the Old Ladies and the Sphinx. And they are also home of a Guinness World Record: the tallest summit cross at such a high altitude. And that altitude? 2,291 meters or 7,516 feet! The size of the cross? 39.5 meters or 129feet 7inches, including the base. And the cross? Well, it’s the Heroes’ or Caraiman Cross on the Caraiman Peak. Visible day and night – when it’s all lit up,  it has been standing guard over the Prahova valley for almost 100 years.

This massive structure was build between 1926 and 1928 to commemorate the Fallen Romanian Heroes of World War I. It was built at the initiative of Queen Marie and King Ferdinand,who were also responsible for building one of the impressive things to see in Romania, the Peles Castle. Wood, metal, and concrete building materials were carried to great heights either by oxen-drawn carts or by cable car, and this record-breaking cross was built.

Aside from witnessing this impressive, commemorative construction, a visit to the Heroes’ Cross offers a stunning view of the Prahova Valley, with the town of Busteni being directly below. It’s not for the faint of heart, but rather one of the many adventures in Romania. You will be standing on top of a cliff face, looking straight down to a drop of more than 1,000 meters.

It is not often than one can see such beautiful views in Romania without first hiking for hours up a mountain. The Heroes’ Cross is only an hour and a half from either the Busteni – Babele Cable Car or from the Piatra Arsa Cabin which can be reached by car. If you are an experienced hiker and are looking for an active day, you can hike up from the town of Busteni for about 5 hours, and see both the Heroes’ Cross and the Old Ladies and Sphinx rock formations before descending. But make sure to start early and go prepared, because it’s going to be a full day.