We didn’t know much about the country before we came, and were astonished to find one of the most charming countries in Europe. We hiked for 2 days the Bucegi mountains. The bucolic scenery was out of this world -straight out of a Pieter Breugel painting. We then “graduated” to the Fagaras mountains; much more demanding physically, but the scenery made it worth it. In between hiking days Iulian sprinkled visits to mountain monasteries, Saxon fortified churches, medieval towns, and the castle of Vlad Ples (purported to be the character of Dracula). What a terrific combination of history, culture and nature. You sit in a cafe on the square in Brasov and you are transformed into a different world. You pass the villages and see the locals dressed in their traditional, colorful dresses. These are not “tourist villagers” -they are real people going about their daily lives. We had a unique experience visiting Iulian grandmother’s house in the village, and the welcome that we received from his parents, grandmother, and some neighbors who stopped by, was heartwarming. To top it all, they cooked a great lunch that reminded me of my mother’s house. How close can you get to experiencing the life of real Romanians? We were also flabbergasted to find how deeply rooted Jewish culture is Romania. The liturgy of the Saphardic synagogue sounds just like the chants in the Greek Orthodox churches we visited. Their folk songs and dances are just like many Yiddish songs and Israeli dances.
These experiences characterize the whole trip, put together so expertly by Iulian. His easy going and helpful demeanor puts you at ease. His expertise in hiking and knowledge of the mountains were reassuring. His engineering background came through with the meticulous planning and flawless execution of the smallest detail.
In summary, the perfect trip. We recommend it wholeheartedly.
Dov Michaeli and Pat Salber, Larkspur, California, USA, August 2011 – photos here