As a matter of fact, so many people have the misconception that Romania is a dangerous country, one that is not travel-friendly and therefore not worth a visit.
THE TRUTH IS SO FAR FROM THAT!!!!
ROAD CONDITIONS: we had heard horrendous stories of road conditions in Romania and I was a bit worried about it. However, the situation was much better than expected! We have found major roads in fair to good condition. Secondary roads were generally ok, with only a few of them being in poor repair. The only unpaved road we have seen is the one to Viscri (but there is construction work now and it will surely be in better conditions soon!).
DRIVING: we had been warned that driving in Romania is very dangerous. The only dangers that we have noticed are:
(a) some Romanian drivers tend to overtake in the most unexpected places: just before a turning or when a car in the opposite direction is approaching;
(b) pedestrians, animals, horse-drawn carts and cyclists can be extremely difficult to see (or overtake), especially at night.
A couple of driving tips:
-Romanian traffic laws are very strict, especially for failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
-It is important to remember that there is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol!
ROMANIAN FOOD might not be very well known outside the country… but it is delicious! It is well worth trying the local specialties. If you like soups, you should try all varieties of ciorbă, the traditional Romanian sour soup. Meat lovers will be spoilt for choice: from the traditional mici / mititei (grilled minced meat rolls), to sarmale (cabbage rolls usually with pork or pork combined with beef) to cighiri (meatballs made of ground pork, onions and garlic) to tocană (meat stew), there is something for everybody! Vegetarians and vegans will also find several dishes to try: zacuscă (a delicious vegetable spread), fasole batută (similar to refried beans), mămăligă (Romanian-style polenta… but vegans should be aware that it is often served with cheese and sour cream), snițel de ciuperci (mushroom fritter only suitable for vegetarians, as they contain eggs). And those with a sweet tooth should not miss alivenci and papanasi with sour cream and jam.
And the best news is that eating out in Romania is not expensive at all (as long as you stay away from the touristy restaurants).
LANGUAGE BARRIERS: we encountered very few language barriers during our travel. Lots of the people we met could speak English or German (or both). We also met several people who could speak Italian. In the few occasions when we approached people who could not speak any of these languages, they were very friendly and we managed to communicate with our hands. It goes without saying that the younger the people you approach, the more chances you have that they speak English. However, it is not the same with German or Italian: in Viscri we asked information to a man well over 60 who could speak perfect Italian, as he had worked in Genoa for 20 years; in Cisnădioara two German speaking ladies in their late 50’s or early 60’s helped us to book a taxi.
Having said that, learning a couple of words of Romanian is a MUST, as it is hugely appreciated by the locals.
WILD DOGS used to be a problem in Romania in the past, but for what we could see, the situation has improved. Having said that, stray dogs remain an issue, but no more than in many other southern European countries.
If you are an animal lover, instead of not visiting Romania because the sight of stray dogs might spoil your holiday, why not supporting one of the many local animal charities?. There are plenty of them and you can help them in many ways, such as
- If you are travelling by car or motorhome (like in our case), you can collect old blankets, towels, bed sheets from your friends back home and bring them to your chosen animal charity.
- If you have a pet back home, you can speak to your vet and ask if he / she can provide you with free medicines (most vets will have to discard medicines which are nearly expired, although they are still perfectly ok).
- If you have some time to spare, you can do voluntary work.
Here are a couple of animal charities in Transylvania
Victory Dog Shelter (Brasov)
They always need materials to repair the paddocks or pens, food and water bowls, winter straw, cartons, food.
Animal Life Shelter (Sibiu)
They always need dog and cat beds, leashes, collars, crates, food … basically anything a pet needs! You can also volunteer for them: https://animallife.ro/en/get-involved-be-a-volunteer
You can read this blog about volunteering this organization: https://slightnorth.com/volunteer-in-sibiu/
Casa Cainelui (near Timisoara)
You can volunteer for them.
H.E.A.R.T. of Timisoara (Timisoara)
You can donate food, blankets and toys for the animals. Or you can donate anything that can be sold for their “Shop & Save Project” (jewelry, clothes, etc.)
Sirius Animal Rescue (Cluj)
You can donate foods, blankets, pads, beds, anything you think would be useful to dogs and cats.
AFRAID OF GETTING BORED IN ROMANIA? Romania is full of tourist attractions and you will have the opposite problem… too little time and too much to see! We spent 7 days in Transylvania (which is a region of Romania) and we did not even see a fraction of the attractions the region has to offer!!!
Romania has a VERY LOW CRIME RATE and as long as you watch out for pickpockets, you will probably be safer than in your own country.