Without a doubt, the most common reaction I get when I tell people where I am going is always the same:
I get it. It’s not exactly a popular vacation destination, and most people I know can’t even point to Romania on a map. The truth is, ever since I was a kid I was captivated by reading about the country’s history, by looking at pictures of castles, and as I got older by hearing the music that came out of the post-Communist era of the country. I love learning new languages, and learning Romanian on my own has been one of the most fun challenges I’ve taken on as a hobby. So when the time came for my husband and I to pick our honeymoon destination, for us there was really only one choice.
After having been to Romania, now it’s at the forefront of my mind whenever anyone says they want to go abroad but aren’t sure where to go. Sure, we had an advantage in that I had some friends there and that I’d been studying the language, but I think just about anyone could enjoy going to Romania even if you aren’t familiar with the country at all.
First and foremost, it’s super cheap.
As of the time of writing this, 1 Romanian Lei (RON) is worth about $0.26 USD. Obviously some things cost the same in Romania as they do in the United States, but you’ll find when you travel to Romania there are some things that come out way cheaper. You can have a really nice meal with wine and beer and dessert for less than $30 USD, and you can rent a room on AirBnB for as little as $20 a night. We found this was also awesome because we were able to tip people well instead of penny pinching, and we were able to spend more money while we were there on handmade Romanian items and unique experiences rather than pumping all the money into our lodging and food.
Mind you, flights from the United States can run the gamut from $500 USD to $1500 USD depending on the carrier and time of year, but you’ll find that’s pretty similar with many European destinations.
Romanian is a romance language, not a Slavic language.
This comes as a shock to a lot of people, and though there are many Romanian words that are borrowed from or inspired by Slavic languages, it’s still a romance language at it’s core. After all, it’s right there in the name! Romance languages come from the Roman empire, which Romania was a huge part of! (That’s also a huge history lesson we won’t get into right now but you know, ROMania, ROMe, ROMance language. You get the picture.)
Anyway, this means that Romanian sounds a LOT like French, Spanish, and Italian. If you speak any of these languages, you’ll probably have a much easier time in Romania than you might expect, and many Romanians speak English anyway. But this also means that you’ll see a lot of familiar words on menus, signs, and instructions if you are familiar with one of those three languages, plus they have a lot of cognates with English. (Train, for example, is just tren in Romanian. See? You already speak Romanian!)
Oh, and though it probably goes without saying—yes, Romanian does use the same alphabet as English, with a few additions. They do not use the Cyrillic alphabet you see with Russian. (Not anymore, anyway. But again, history lessons. It’s fine. Maybe we’ll get there one day.)
Romania has all the awesome castles, beautiful beaches, sprawling countrysides, delicious food, and incredible culture of much of Western Europe.
While preparing for my first trip, a lot of people kept asking me what I was going to do in Romania, and the fact is the three weeks my husband and I were first there we had a lot of trouble fitting in everything we wanted to do—in fact, we only managed to see a very small section of the country! If you’re like most travelers and start off in Bucharest, you’ll find that there’s a whole selection of day trips you can take to hit up most of the things I mentioned above. You’ve got castles, fortresses, the oldest still-inhabited fortified city in Europe, museums, mountains, the Black Sea, dozens of parks, impressive shopping… and that’s all just in a couple of counties. Seriously. There’s a lot to do.
It also helps that travel within Romania is fairly cheap as well, as Americans we were pretty shocked to see that we could fly across the country to another city for the day for just $45 USD round trip for two people. And that’s with paying extra for choosing our own seats. So if you’ve got some time to spare, you can easily hop on a plane, train, or taxi and see a lot of beautiful things and a really incredible country in even a short period of time.
While I haven’t traveled much outside of the United States so far, my first trip to Romania was so memorable and I am so unbelievably excited about going back. It’s going to be especially fun coming up to actually live in Romania for a time and see things from a different perspective, so hopefully you’ll enjoy coming with me on that journey. I plan to count down to my next trip by sharing stories about my last trip here on this blog too, so we should have a lot of fun together.
Sa mergem! (Let’s go!)
This is gonna be fun.