While I have always been an adventurous spirit (I moved to Ghana with no job, remember?) I never expected that my wanderlust would take me to Romania. I always thought of Eastern Europe as a bit dark and dreary. In fact, the only reason I traveled to Bucharest was because a friend of mine had recently moved there to teach English. To say I was pleasantly surprised by my experience would be an understatement. In fact, the entire trip was definitely worthwhile.
I traveled to Romania in December, so lucky for me the fabulous Christmas markets that Europe is so well known for were going strong. I was lucky to have access to a plethora of Romanian scarves, hats, food, and other delightful souvenirs. The transition from West Africa to cold weather was startling, but I enjoyed the snow, and the cold was tolerable when there was readily accessible hot wine served in numerous locations. I went ice skating, and learned that Romania also boasts lots of opportunities to ski and snow board.
Here are some key things to experience when traveling to Romania:
Castles: Of course what Romania (at least for me) is known for is the castles. It boasts the castle that Dracula was written about, as well as numerous other castles. The Bran castle is not to be missed, with breathtakingly beautiful rooms, as well as a gorgeous outdoor view.
Parks: Romania is home to a great number of parks (although probably better explored during the warmer months). Aside from these parks, there is also an outdoor village museum, where one can view the homes and lifestyle of traditional Romanian culture from several hundred years ago.
Therme: What I did not know is that Romania is home to the largest wellness and entertainment center in Europe. This hidden gem of a spot boasts a large pool, hot tubs, several giant waterslides, and a spa. You can swim up to the bar and order your drinks all while sitting in the pool. There are also massages and facials, among other activities. This modern facility looks like it belongs in Dubai, and instead of using money, everything is paid for with a personal watch that tallies your balance at the end of your stay.
The Parliament Building: The Parliament Building in Romania is open for tours, and is also said to be the heaviest building in the world, and also one of the largest. At one point Donald Trump attempted to buy it in order to turn it into a casino. This building is extensive, and the tour barely covers any of it, but the intricate rooms made of wood and marble are not to be missed.
The best part of traveling to Romania is how economical it is to visit.
The dollar is quite strong, making the experience affordable. Although I stayed with a friend, cutting out housing costs, I was able to eat in nice Romanian restaurants and attend a tour including two castles and a Romanian town, go ice skating, and visit Therme, all for a budget of about $250. Although originally not a country I would have planned to visit, I can say that Romania is truly a hidden gem, and I would now highly recommend people to visit.