Romania: Travel Debrief
Usually, on the last day in a particular location, we sit down and ask a few questions to help ourselves to process our experience. We use the same 12 questions for every country so we know what to expect and can be thinking about it.
Where did you stay? Did you like it?
We stayed in a quaint little one bedroom flat in the center of the city that we found on Airbnb. The flat itself was really great but I don't think our Airbnb host communicated that he would be renting out the flat so we actually got thoroughly questioned and had to have our flat inspected by the building management to make sure we weren't trashing it. So that was less than desirable but our host was really great through it all and even recommended some cool places to visit while we were in town.
What do you admire about the people of Romania?
They love kids and festivals so there was always something fun going on that our girls could readily participate in.
Should I know anything before I visit?
Culturally women don't really drink in public so that was a little different. If you're a big coffee drinker plan on getting your daily fix at a cafe as they pretty much only sell Nescafe packets at the grocery stores.
What was your favorite thing about Romania?
The parks were amazing! They have a few giant parks (like same size or bigger than Central Park in New York) with everything from huge playgrounds to lakes to restaurants and history parks in them. They also have exceptional free wifi in the parks so you could easily work outside if you felt inclined. Even the smaller parks had great playgrounds and walking paths. Every weekend that we were there was some sort of festival in each park (even if they were right across the street from each other) so it was a wonderful way to get outside and enjoy the culture.
What is something you didn't expect in Romania?
I didn't really know anything about Romania before we visited other than it is the home of Transylvania and Dracula so I didn't even know what to expect. I was a little bit surprised by the architecture, it seemed epic and almost Parisian. I guess that it's former nickname "Little Paris" made good sense. But in addition to having some beautiful architecture, I was a bit surprised by the state of disrepair of the outside of almost every apartment building.
Later we found out that after communism fell in Romania the people we able to either purchase their assigned apartments or move and build their own homes. Many people did purchase the apartments that they were living in. However, if you owned a piece of land before it was confiscated by the state to build apartments you could also step up and claim it as your own (with the apartment building on top of it). Instead of the residents coming together to take care of the outsides of their buildings they just leave them so they don' end up "wasting" a bunch of money on the exterior just in case the former owner should step up to claim the land. Interesting. I would have thought that they would put a time limit on claiming formerly owned land but apparently not.
What were the top three things you saw in Romania?
We actually didn't venture out too much in Bucharest but did take a bus tour of the city. During which we saw the Palace of Parliament (the second largest government building in the world) which was epically huge, the Arc de Triumph (very similar to the one in Paris) and lots of other lovely historic buildings.
Was there anything that you didn't get to do but wish you had?
I really had hoped to get to take a weekend trip out to Transylvania to get to explore a bit of the countryside and see Dracula's castle. Alas, renting a car and two car seats was going to be quite expensive so we had to skip it this time around.
Did you have any experiences that shouldn't be missed?
On the outskirts of Bucharest, there is a crazy indoor water park/spa called Therme. There are three sections that all provide different things. There is a family section with lots of water slides, a wave pool, indoor-outdoor pool with swim up bar, lounge areas, splash pads and a few different steam rooms. Then there was an adult area with slightly nicer hot tubs and pools, a more extensive bar and another indoor-outdoor hot tub along with three therapy pools that each have different minerals in them for different health benefits. Upstairs there is a spa where you can get all sorts of massages, facials, and health treatments and enjoy a sunny patio cafe.
Everything about it was relaxing and beautiful. They have something like 500 palm trees inside so it was like getting transported somewhere tropical
If you could bring home some cultural idea, custom or food from Romania what would it be?
Basically I think it comes down to - lets get better parks and spend all our time there.
Did you have a favorite food in Romania?
Interestingly enough my favorite food was this incredible sausage sandwich from the German restaurant down the street.
What is something that you disliked in Romania?
The transportation system hasn't really been updated since the Soviet era so it was really dismal and difficult to navigate with a stroller. Also, if you got out of the city center everything was very dirty and run down.
Do you think you'll visit again?
Yes. It's a great place to visit if you want to stay in Europe but need to get out of the Schengen area for a while. Also I need to visit Transylvania at some point.