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Romania was one big question mark when I first went, but after a couple months exploring the country, a clear chain of top notch attractions populated my mental map. Add in an incomparable history that mingles fascinating cultures (Celtic, Greek, Saxon, Slavic) with pivotal empires (Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and whatever the EU is) and I was dreaming about running a tour. But I knew that most people were where I had been, with only a vague idea of a strange land on the edge of Europe. That blankness doesn’t exactly make most people clamor to go. Then I realized this unfamiliarity was just one more strong reason why a Best of Romania tour needed to happen.
I spend months every year taking people to Europe’s top sites, and believe most are worth seeing. (Especially if you understand where they come from and why they’re important. Being famous isn’t good enough.) But Europe’s tourist track is well trodden, familiar icons drowning in crowds and hidden behind crass commercialization. I see my groups struggling to appreciate the icons they came to see, distracted by the crowd, the pickpockets, and the price tags.
Over and over, I try to help them look above the crowds, put the costs in perspective, and accept that if they lose their wallet, it’s just a cultural experience in the modern tourist world. But in Romania? None of those. Tourism there is on the rise, but is still nothing like we are forced to navigate in more calendar-common destinations. When you head out for dinner on your own, you won’t have to budget like it’s Paris (without sacrificing anything on the flavor). And I left my bag unattended on tables many times, and felt comfortable on every street in every place at every hour.
With those concerns taken care of, it’s easy to look around and do what we love to do when we travel: learn, experience, and enjoy! We’ll listen to the stories in Bucharest’s historic streets, fall in love with the real Transylvania, and devour the rustic flavors of the country’s proud north. Romania feels a little like time travel, back to a simpler time of honest experiences and sights that hadn’t been photoshopped a thousand times on google.
Finally, as we move into balance with covid and mass tourism, I believe the best way forward is the “premium economy” model of experiences at a higher standard, but still done at a bargain price. So instead of 30 people (much less 60) I am limiting this tour to just 15 tour members. This smaller size will not only minimize our viral exposure, it will maximize our access to the best places and most authentic experiences.
So check out the tour’s homepage and the itinerary at: guided-by.com/romania and let me know if you have any questions. You can sign up for a consultation on the tour’s site any time.
It feels great to be out in the wider world again, and I can’t wait to bring you with me to Europe’s best kept secret, Romania. Happy travels!