5 Reasons Why I Loved Romania

In my quest to see the world, I chose Romania as one of the destinations to commemorate my 30th birthday.  It was so off the beaten path, and since I had friends living there, it was the perfect place to visit.  So now that I’ve given you a play by play of what we did during our stay, here are 5 reasons why I loved Romania:

1) I felt welcome.

When you think of a formerly communist country, you think of a cold and unwelcoming place, when Romania was the exact opposite.  Although we were stared at most places we went, people were very friendly and seemed to want to know more about us. We were happy to tell them we were from the United States and represent for Black American women well.


Men waving to us from afar

2) It was a beautiful country.

I’m glad our friends arranged for us to get out of Bucharest for a day and see a more rural area, Busteni.  The views were stunning!

3) I’m a city girl, and Bucharest was a bustling city.

If I wasn’t in Eastern Europe, I could have easily been in another major city.  There were restaurants, bars, and nightclubs everywhere.  Not to mention they have a good public transportation system, great places to shop and an expanding tourism industry.

4) The people were so fashionable.

Both women and men alike looked like they stepped out of the pages of Vogue.  I was actually quite surprised to see how seriously they took fashion.

5) It was very affordable.

This is always an important factor when traveling. Eastern Europe tends to be cheaper to travel throughout than Western Europe. We were able to splurge a little more on nice dinners and drinks, and didn’t feel the need to guard our coins very heavily.

Romania has a new fan in me, can’t you tell?  I look forward to visiting again, seeing more of the country and drinking more Palinca!

Adventures in Bucharest “The Buch” Romania

Romania sounds like such a random vacation destination but there’s a method to my madness!  Since I have 2 friends living there, not only was I able to visit a country I wouldn’t normally think to visit, but I was able to cut down on costs by crashing with them for a few days.  My friends and I also brought a little USA cheer and greetings from home.  It was a win/win for everyone!  While I didn’t do much research on Bucharest since they live there and we were pretty much following their leads, it was a more rewarding experience than I could have imagined.

Day 1

The four of us arrived in Bucharest around 1:30 pm after a 2 hour layover in Amsterdam.  Our friends arranged for a driver to pick us up from the airport who drove us to our respective destinations (2 girls staying with one friend, 2 girls staying with the other…thanks Shamera and Alex!).  Since our friends are schoolteachers, we waited until around 5 pm for them to get home.  We headed to an area of the city called Lipscani (it means Old City in Romanian), which much to our surprise, was a really hip area.  It reminded me of downtown Baltimore, filled with tons of quaint restaurants and bars.  I was caught a little off guard by the number of stares we received, but I guess it’s not every day that a group of Black girls descend upon the city.  Nevertheless, we took in all the sights and sounds of Lipscani, including shots of native spirit, Palinca.  If you’re curious, Palinca had a licorice taste and wasn’t bad at all. Quite tasty.  We did a bit more bar hopping and called it an early night since we wanted to maximize our time in the city the next day.

Day 2

We took a bus tour around the city and while it’s so cheesy and touristy, it’s such a good way to see the major city attractions with only limited time.  And since our friends live there, we knew they’d show us the ins and outs of the real city after work.

We saw several of the main Bucharest attractions including the “People’s Palace” (which apparently wiped out tons of Romanian natural resources while being built), the Free Press Square, Arc de Triumf (modeled after the one in Paris), the Village Museum and several other local treasures.

After we finished the bus tour, we stopped at our friend’s apartment to freshen up.  She lives right in the heart of downtown Bucharest. It’s such a bustling city and much like you’d imagine in other major cities.

We headed to dinner in another part of downtown Bucharest. It was great being with people who live there and could show us the best places to eat and drink!

Day 3

Our friends organized a trip for us to go to a mountain town about an hour and a half away called Busteni.  The town was so picturesque, looking much like what’d you expect when you think of Romania.  Small shops, trees as far as the eyes can see and humble-looking people.  We took a cable car to the top of the mountain and the views were so breathtaking!  I immediately started singing, “The hills are alive…” because I felt like Maria in the Sound of Music.  Just amazing.  We checked the weather the night before and it said it would be rainy and cold.  What we didn’t expect was to see snow!

We worked up an appetite so our tour guide, Sandu, took us to the best restaurant in the town where we could experience great, traditional Romanian food.  And he was so right!  Everything was so delicious including the beef stew, homemade sausages and sandwiches…not to mention the homemade beignets topped with blueberries.  Yum!

After lunch, we went to one of the King’s summer vacation castles that was built in 1814.  It was a very grand castle but since it was built in the 1800’s, it seemed relatively new compared to some of the other historical castles I’ve visited.  Nevertheless, the rooms were beautiful and I’m glad we were able to see inside.

Since it was our last night in Bucharest, we went to a fancy restaurant near Herăstrău Park, right on the water.  It was a great way to end our last night in Romania.

“The Buch,” as I’ve come to call it, was so amazing…more amazing than I thought it’d be. I still felt like I was in a major city and while it’s not the most beautiful city I’ve seen, it still has its own unique charm and made me feel so welcome. That wasn’t the last Bucharest has seen of me!