Romania in the Fall (1st Time)

May 29th, 2012, 05:40 PM
  #1  
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Romania in the Fall (1st Time)

After much discussion, my husband and I have decided to do a Black Sea trip in the fall to Romania, Istanbul, and the Crimea. I thought I would start with the Romania portion first (since that seems to be the most difficult). We are in our 60's, well-traveled, independent, and most interested in culture and history (and wine).

This is what I have so far:

Fly into Cluj-Napoca (2 nights) -- St Michael’s Church, Pharmaceutical Museum, night at the opera (Hungarian Opera House)

Arrange for a car and driver -- have contacted Discover Romania and Tours of Romania (Compass) -- any thoughts on who to use?

Drive to Sighetu Marmatiei with stops at villages such as Remetea,Chioarului, Giulesti, and Berbesti on the way.

Sighetu Marmatiei -- 2 nights here with a side trip to the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta.

Rural homestay -- 1 night in a village like Ieud, include visits to Barsana Monastery, Poienile Izie, and plum brandy distillerie

Drive to Suceava area -- 2 nights in the vicinity to see the Painted Churches

Drive to Sighisoara -- thru Bicas Gorge with stop at Red Lake, and perhaps stop at Praid salt mines. From here on we will travel on our own.

Sighisoara (2 nights)

Train to Brasov (3 nights) -- day trips to Bran Castle and Rasnov Fortress (by public bus)

Car and driver to Bucharest with stops at Peles Castle in Sinaia and Rhein Cellars in Azuga (sparkling wine)

Bucharest (2 nights)

I greatly appreciate any suggestions, particularly regarding the car and driver. Thanks!
Magster2005 is offline  
May 29th, 2012, 06:40 PM
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Not sureof the other places before Brasov.

You will like Brasov, it really is a nice place.

You can do Bran Castle and Rasnov Fortress in one day , they are only 10 miles apart.

You will enjoy Peles Castle and the Sinaia region as you motor on to Bucharest.

I would get a drive in Bucharest to tour you around because you are there for actually one day... 2 nights , to me is onme day..

because you arrive on day one ,rest up, sleep the first night ...that leaves the next day and night...as you are gone on day 3.

You can contact Tours Romania in Bucharest...if you do ask for Dan, he is very good.
Percy is offline  
May 29th, 2012, 07:08 PM
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I am not sure about the 2 nights in Sighisoara and 3 in Brasov, unless you plan to visit more sights around the cities themselves, maybe some fortified churches. I would spend less time in both.

You could also add the Sinaia Monastery since you will be making the stop at Peles Castle and Pelisor. It is not as impressive as the others you would have seen on the way there, but still an attraction.
MilenaM is offline  
May 29th, 2012, 07:37 PM
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there is a nice hotel on the grounds of peles... very nice and not expensive..

we drove ourselves very easily all around the country.. we are 60's too.

click on my initials and you will find my trip report...

marriott is decent and well placed in B
rhkkmk is offline  
May 29th, 2012, 07:45 PM
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sorry---intercontinental not marriott
rhkkmk is offline  
May 30th, 2012, 05:14 AM
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It's a good plan but you should also add a day or two in Sibiu.

Cut a day from Sighisoara and Bucharest each - either spend these days in Sibiu or go see some of the vineyards north and west of Sighisoara.

If you just need a car and driver (not guide) you should also check with local car rental companies (Autonom, Eurocars etc.). In general they can also provide drivers, it might turn out cheaper than with travel agencies.

Or you could just drive yourself, like Rhkkmk said it's not that complicated.
flat4 is offline  
May 30th, 2012, 08:23 AM
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Thank you all for your comments!

Percy -- After reading your comments, I am thinking that I may be shortchanging Bucharest. You are right that I really only have one day there.

Hi Bob -- I read your trip report (very helpful!) -- particularly noted the Romanian Athenaeum and Caru cu Bere in Bucharest. The Bastion Hotel at Peles looks great. Will have to see if I can fit in a night there.

MilenaM -- Maybe I shoud shave a day off Brasov. We like to travel at a slower pace, and I figured by the time we got there we could use an easy day or two.

flat4 -- I do hate to miss Sibiu (wish I had more time overall). Can you tell me more about the vineyards near Sighisoara?

In general, I am struggling with the amount of time that I have to work with. Always the case though with trip planning isn't it? Hard choices when their is so much to see.

I could skip Cluj-Napoca and fly in and out of Bucharest -- that might help. Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. Will let you know what I come with next.
Magster2005 is offline  
May 30th, 2012, 09:11 AM
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Flying in and out of Bucharest may be a good idea.

I did not read Bob's report but I can attest to having lunch at the Caru cu Bere Restaurant...this is almost a must see just for the interior.

from the Caru cu Bere the Romanian Athenaeum is a four block walk straight down Victory Avenue at Revolutionary Square.

Bob, I wouldn't mind reading your trip report.

How do I get to it. Thanks
Percy is offline  
May 30th, 2012, 10:35 AM
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You could check the winery and castle in Jidvei ( http://www.jidvei.ro/en/#/ABOUT%20US-THE%20CASTLE ) about one hour and half north-west of Sighisoara.
flat4 is offline  
May 30th, 2012, 11:31 AM
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Magster:

Observations...based on frequent auto trips to all regions of the country during "the regime" when petrol and food was a daily planning problem. However, a recent trip showed marked improvement. The infrastructure is still iffy in many areas...highways are just OK, some need work, others are poorly marked, but nevertheless acceptable. I self-drove every mile, even when archaic car rental was a bit of a problem and at times worrisome.

The Merry Cemetery near Sighetul is a quick study, an hour or much less (the humor is in the picture on each marker, but your guide will translate the epitaphs for you... Sighetul (Sighet) is interesting because Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was born there and deported at age 15. His home has been made into a mini-museum. The synagogue he and his family attended before deportation to the death camps in Poland, still stands. The town's history during the brief period of Nazi occupation (aided by the willing Hungarians) is a dark and brutal one.

In the Maramures(h) Region, the many wooden churches are certainly a goal to hunt up and visit. Your choice of Ieud (Yay-ood)is a good one...woman and men still dress in traditional clothes, and Sunday as they walk to church is a good time to visit. There is a hidden Jewish cemetery which can only be found with a knowledgable guide..the hike there is most fascinating with a good look at rural old Romania. Ask your driver..he'll get directions.

The drive over Prislop Pass (4,000 ft.) to Moldavia/Bukovina is scenic and the road which was occasionally unspeakable back in the 70's and 80's, is now a better one. In the fall you could run into snow..I did twice...my trekkers of 1904 had a near life-threatening experience therein (fiction, based on fact).

I suggest staying in Voronets (location of one of the painted churches/monasteries in Bukovina). The Casa Elena (where RHKMMK stayed at my suggestion) is a surprisingly modern lodging, walking distance from the church. It's a good base, as all the other frescoed churches are within easy driving distance. I think it would be more interesting than using Suceava as a base.

Heading toward the striking Bicaz Gorge from there, I suggest a visit to Tarpesht (just north of Piatra Neamts, which is a good sized town) for a most unique little museum...the colorful Neculae Popa museum. Tarpesht is very small, have your driver ask any local for directions, unless he/she has heard of it. Large potholes all over the "street" leading to it.

Lacu Ros(h)u (Red Lake) is different but quite underwhelming in my opinion, especially after the dramatic drive through the Bicaz.

I agree with flat4 that Sighis(h)oara is a one night stand and Sibiu is certainly worth a visit, if only just for the architecture. Brashov and it's mountaintop ski resort are interesting also...close to Bran Castle. and the fortress at Ras(h)nov, two days is ample.

The Peles(h) Castle is an hours visit, and the resort town of Sinaia is well placed and quite attractive. Bucharesht is big and in places unsightly, with many of the side streets sorely in need of pavement and sidewalk repair...but there are some attractions, dependng on your interests. The Palace is a must as overpowering as it is. Ceaus(h)escu's parting gift to his subjects. Makes the White House or Buckingham Palace seem like summer cottages. Your guide will certainly be able to accomodate you with a visit and suggest the city sights for you to see. In Bucharesht, Hotel Opera is sort of a boutique lodging, quiet. convenient to the sights, and I recommend it.
Percy's comments on the famous Caru Cu Bere resto in Bucharesht is spot on...the interior is a knockout and the menu offerings are quite good. I think Bob and Karen took it in also.

Rough Guide is a good current guide book with very detailed town and city maps therein, Suggest you read through it before embarking (just highlghtng the places you'll want to visit). I will hunt through my pics and select the ones for places mentioned in this post. They might give you some ideas which could be helpful.

I agree with RHKKMK and flat4, driving yourself has rewards and it is not at all complicated. If Bob and Karen (RHKKMK) can do it, so can you. I recall they quite closely followed the itinerary I designed for them, and we're still on friendly terms, I think! Don't go by my grim descriptions of the old Romania, when hard-liner Ceaus(h)escu ruled the roost. If you're more comfortable with a driver/guide, then do it.

stu tower (well, I needed a break from my "work")
tower is offline  
May 30th, 2012, 05:48 PM
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flat4 -- Thanks so much for the Jidvei Castle suggestion -- definitely looks like the kind of winery we would love to visit. Maybe we could do Jidvei on our way into Sighisoura instead of the salt mines...

tower -- Wow! Thank you so much for all the helpful, detailed comments. I love the hidden cemetery in Ieud -- just the kind of thing we like to do. (And thanks for the pronunciation of Ieud -- never would have figured that one out!)

I was wondering about snow... We are thinking of the last 2 weeks in October. I was just talking with my husband about driving ourselves. We'll take a look at the quotes from the travel agencies and then make a decision. I'll be copying all of your suggestions into my plan -- thanks again!
Magster2005 is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 03:25 PM
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I'm hanging on every word, as we are going for two weeks the end of July!

Thank you for all the GREAT info, I'm also writing everything down.

Sandy (in Denton)
sandy_b is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 06:03 PM
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sandy_b

Are you going to Romania for 2 weeks in July.?
Percy is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 08:20 PM
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Magster...all of a sudden, starting wih Clifton a few tyears ago, Romania has been doscovered. I seemed to be the love American for over30 years traisping around the country. Noce to have company.

I rpomes you some pics of the places we were addressing...so here, I'm starting with a few of Bucharesht, Sinaia, Brashov, Sighishoara and the exceptionally colorful Maramuresh region, plus the world famous frescoes in the Bukovina monasteries/churches.

Tomorrow, I'll add the Neculae Popa museum to which I referred, and the "gorgeous gorges" of Bicaz..I'll throw in a few of Iasi(Yash) too. This first bundle of pics were taken from the early 1980's to 2005-2008.

Sandy from North Texas, haven't seen your posts in a long time..good to see you here ...you also might get some ideas from my above post to Magster and these plus the other pics I will have set up for tomorrow. You're both in for a very intriguing adventure.
Stu Tower

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...ureshBukovina#
tower is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 09:29 PM
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please excuse typos..no excuse on my part..just old man's eyes playing tricks
stu
tower is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 09:39 PM
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In autumn, a nice place to visit from Brasov as a day trip, or in your way from Brasov to Bucharest, is Cheia - Muntele Rosu (Red Mountain).
It is a small town on Muntele Rosu (which is not too high,maybe 1200 m. only) and in the autumn the colors of the trees are so beautiful, from yellow to red.
Many years I was sure that these colors are the reason of name (Red Mountains) , but only later I learned that the name is given by the color in spring, when the mountain is covered with red rhododendrons.
valtor is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 05:03 AM
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stu -- Your pictures are amazing. Thanks so much for sending the link. I am starting to get a better idea of what a wonderful trip this will be!

valtor -- Thank you for the Red Mountain suggestion! I found some photos on Google, and it looks lovely. (Have added to my ever-growing plan.)
Magster2005 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 06:01 AM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...icazGorgesEtc#

Magster..here are the remaining pics..click on "slide show"

Happy journeys. Romania awaits you (and Sandy, too)

stu
tower is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 05:05 PM
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stu -- I love your pictures -- especially the Popa Museum! Maramures appears to have a old-fashioned sweetness that is very appealing to me. Can't wait to experience for myself.

I am sorting thru itineraries from two travel agencies now (quite interesting), so I am getting closer to finalizing this part of the trip. Thanks again for all your help!
Magster2005 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 06:28 PM
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Great pictures I enjoyed seeing Romania again

Thanks You!
Percy is offline  

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