Bucharest and Beyond
The logistics of going to Romania are fairly easy because there are not tons of options. Most flights are in and out of Bucharest, the biggest and capital city of Romania. While much of Bucharest shows the clear effect of Communist architecture (now covered in graffiti, Old Town still has gorgeous, Old World buildings.
Besides the Carturesti Carusel, an amazing bookstore, visiting Old Town for a historical building walk, having a Romanian beer, and eating some traditional food, there is not much going on in Bucharest that is a do-not-miss. But the food I did have at the traditional Caru cu Bere was fantastic!
I asked what was the most traditional thing I could get and I was brought these stuffed cabbage rolls served over polenta with sausage and sour cream. It sounds weird but was totally delicious. Also I was starving.
The best course of action is to stay one night in Bucharest and head out to the countryside. The Curtea de Arges is a few hours drive from Bucharest center. But driving around Romania can be tricky as there aren’t interstates and two lane, curvy roads are the norm.
The Curtea de Arges Monastery is the burial spot for a few popular Romanian monarchs and has a gruesome legend attached to it. But most of Romania likes to attach gruesome legends to different people and places I found, it is part of the charm. Make sure to go inside the monastery as the frescos inside are beautiful. But you have to pay extra to take photos so here is another photo of the outside
Close to Curtea de Arges is Vlad the Impaler’s “summer house”, his fortress on the mountain called Poenari Fortress. Vlad the Impaler (now commonly referred to as Dracula) really used this fortress, unlike Bran Castle.
My group really came here to climb up to the fortress but there were aggressive bears in the area apparently and everyone was barred from entering. This was also a common theme in Romania. In the off-season (now), a lot of things were closed or we had to convince someone to come open them. There may have been bears or maybe someone didn’t want to come to work that day.
So to make up for not climbing up the side of a mountain, we ate all the food! Grilled meats, French fries, and picked vegetables for all! Everything was very tasty- I made it through the beef, chicken, and sausage but was too stuffed for the pork. The picked vegetables were divine! Honestly I didn’t have the pork because we were promised the most amazing doughnuts for dessert.
Romanian doughnuts were the best! They aren’t super sweet and were covered with blueberry jam and sort of a sour/clotted cream- not too sweet but not too sour. It was a great combination and probably the best thing I ate on this entire Romanian trip.
The Romanian countryside is the place to be. Next up is Sibiu and Sighisoara, two important places in Transylvania in the life of Vlad Dracul and Vlad the Impaler.