Before your trip to Romania
It's decided ? Are you coming to visit us in Romania?
To make sure you are prepared, here are a few aspects to consider about our country & culture that you can read below
Also take the time to consult the testimonials of our customers after they have returned from their trip. Finally, our posts on the culture and history of Romania should spike up your curiosity about our beautiful country.
Romania - most important aspects
Romania has a population of almost 22 million inhabitants.
Romanian is the mother tongue for 90% of the Romanian population. Romanian is a language of Latin origin and has well maintained the Latin structure at the lexical level (75% of the total vocabulary comes directly from Latin) as well as at the grammatical structure level (it inherited the causal system, the declination and the three kinds of names). Romanian is considered an "asymmetric" language compared to other Latin languages: it is quite easy for a Romanian to understand Italian, French and Spanish, but it’s not the case the other way around due to the influences of Slavs and certain phonetic mutations. The spelling of Romanian is, like that of Italian, very simple, because phonetically each phoneme corresponds to a letter.
Other spoken languages
Each minority has the freedom to practice their own language. Hungarian and German are fairly widespread in Transylvania and in the west of the country. Ukrainian and Russian are common near the northern borders with Ukraine and southern and eastern borders with the Republic of Moldova. English is gaining more and more ground, especially among young people who are learning it in school,as well as French. Tourists will have no trouble finding people to exchange thoughts & ideas in both languages or others.
The Romanian population is made up of 89.5% Romanians and 10.5% of other nationalities. The main minorities are: the Hungarians or Magyars (6.6%) followed by the Roma (2.5%), the Ukrainians (0.3%) and the Germans (0.3%), the Russians (0.2%) and the Tatars (0.2%). They maintain their identity through regional customs and traditions.
Romania is a country where the predominant confession is Orthodoxism (86.8%). The other important denominations are Catholics - Both Roman & Greek (4.7%), Protestants (7.5%) and Muslims (Infine). The Orthodox religion was banned during the years of communism, the religious sentiment of the Romanian people experienced a strong expansion during the December 1989 revolution. The numerous construction of new churches throughout the country demonstrates this phenomenon.
Until 1989, the national holiday was celebrated on August 23, the date which corresponds to the Romanian army switching sides during WWII and fighting alongside the Soviet army. Since 1990, it was changed to the first of December: it is the date of the celebration of the Great Union of all the Romanian provinces in 1918, which happened in Alba Iulia.
Romania, once a province called Dacia that became gradually part of the Roman Empire, was invaded by the Goths, the Huns, the Vandals, the Avars, the Tatars, the Slavs and the Hungarians between the 3rd and the 10th century. Then, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Tansylvania were created between the 10th and the 14th century from small state nuclei called “voivodats”. It was in the 16th century that Moldova and Wallachia came under Ottoman supervision; as for Transylvania, it was occupied by the Austrians at the end of the 17th century. In the 19th century, Russia which occupied Bessarabia and part of Moldova supported the revolts which broke out against the Turkish occupier. 1859 is the year in which “small Romania” was formed through the union of Moldova and Wallachia until 1878 when it became fully independent. In 1916, Romania entered the world war alongside France, England and Russia against Germany and then during the Second World War, following the overthrow of the king by Marshal Antonescu, the country entered the war of side of Nazi Germany, while many Romanians organize armed resistance. Romania became a popular democracy in 1948 after the abdication of King Michael who was overthrown by the victory of the Communists in the 1946 elections. Nicolae Ceausescu took over the leadership of the Communist Party and became president in 1974. He launched a vast austerity program aimed at making the country self-sufficient and repaying the external debt. The policy of "systematization" (forced regrouping) in the countryside was accompanied by an unrestrained cult of personality and an unequaled police tyranny. Fifteen years later, in 1989, the Ceausescu couple were executed after a speedy trial.
Member of the European Union since January 1, 2007 and of NATO since 2004, Romania is a parliamentary democracy which is based on the principles of the Constitution adopted in 1991 and modified in 2003. According to the Romanian Constitution (developed on the principles of that of 1923 and the French Constitution of the Fifth Republic) the President of the Republic is elected for five years by direct universal suffrage.
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), sculptor, the author of the masterpiece of contemporary sculpture, the Column of the Infinite in Targu-Jiu. He is considered the father of modern sculpture; his workshop has been reconstructed near the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris;
Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889), the "national poet" of Romania;
George Enescu (1881-1955), the most important composer and violinist, died in Paris;
Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), writer, essayist and historian of religions;
Emil Cioran (1911-1995), writer and philosopher, known as Emile Michel Cioran. Like Brancusi he was buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery;
Eugen Ionescu (1909-1994), playwright, known in France as Eugène Ionesco;
Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), the initiator of the Dada movement, he died in Paris;
Nadia Comaneci (1961-), elected Gymnast of the century in Vienna in 1999. In 1976, she was the first gymnast to obtain the maximum score from the judges with a perfect 10.00 on uneven bars;
Gheorghe Hagi (1965-), footballer, nicknamed the "Maradona of the Carpathians";
Ilie Nastase (1946-), tennis player, voted best player in 1973;
Ion Tiriac (1939), tennis player;
Simona Halep, tennis player, Wimblendon winner & former number 1 in the WTA classement.
The tip is left to your consideration. It comes in addition to the salary we pay the guides and providers. At the restaurant, 10% of the bill is usually the norm. As a general rule, it is best to align your tip with the local economy: the prices of a beer or tea, a pack of cigarettes, will give you an overview of the standard of living and will allow you to estimate its amount. Romanians are very keen to share their moments of joy or sadness. You can easily be invited to share with families these personal moments such as during a wedding, a baptism ...
If you have the opportunity to participate in a wedding do not take offense if during the wedding meal, we pass a decorated bottle with liquor to share. It's custom! During greetings, the hand kiss is still practiced in the countryside. In churches and monasteries avoid walking around in shorts and other light clothing. Women are advised to wear scarves. If you choose to spend New Year's Eve in Romania, enjoy the rhythms and colors that bear witness to traditions and that are lost in the mists of time. To the sound of wild music, terrifying characters perform ritual dances ("dancing with the bear", for example) in an apparent stampede which in reality is ordered by very specific rules. All these cultural ceremonies can be discovered during your stay in Romania, mostly in rural areas
Do not forget to take off your shoes when you enter your hosts' house, especially after a hike.
Know-how and talents are to be discovered in each region of Romania where you will find local and hand-made products. You can bring back as souvenirs embroidered tablecloths and napkins, pottery items, folk costumes, wooden carvings, porcelain items, silverware and icons. Near the monasteries of Bucovina or Maramures, numerous stalls display carpets, embroidered fabrics, wooden sculptures, painted eggs and icons under glass. In Bucovina, delicately decorated eggs are real marvels.
The Romanians reserve a special place for hospitality and will welcome you around well-stocked tables. Romanian cuisine has preserved strong peasant roots and it is still very healthy, especially in the countryside where the products used are fresh and often sourced directly from the vegetable patch.
Romanian cuisine has been enriched over time with oriental and Slavic products and dishes due to the geographical location of Romania, at a crossroads of the European and Oriental cultures.
This is how a few basic products and dishes have given birth to a profusion of regional flavors and variants. Pork is particularly appreciated but you will find very well prepared beef or poultry meat too. The grills are delicious. Among the Romanian specialties, we strongly recommend the “sarmale” which are rolls of grape or cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice and spices, cooked in a broth, serves with sour cream or the “tochitura moldoveneasca”, a tasty stew served with polenta, an essential side dish in Romania, which is mainly found in the eastern part from the country. Among the fish dishes, choose perch carp, a specialty typical of the Danube Delta. Soup dishes offer assemblages of flavors and colors. Ciorba ("tchiorba") is a soft, velvety soup prepared with borş ("borch"), a liquid obtained after maceration of wheat bran, which gives it a characteristic sour taste. Soups are more on the sweeter side, with fewer ingredients, but delicious nonetheless.
The meals are very rich on feast days: dishes based on eggplant, peppers or other pickled vegetables, various preparations of spicy meatballs, and mititei - similar to kebabs, the sheep pastrama (mutton marinated in spices and then smoked and dried), different cakes and pastries, are just some delicacies that brilliantly mix the tradition of local cuisine with Oriental flavors.
If you are in Romania in September, do not hesitate to taste "zacusca", this smoky puree of grilled vegetables like eggplants, mushrooms, tomatoes and condiments that Romanian cooks in large batches and preserved for the winter. At the end of the meal, it is good to congratulate the hostess: "Sarut mana pentru masa" ("Thank you for the meal" or literally “I kiss your hand for this meal”). She replies with: "Sa iti fie de bine! (" May it do you good”).
The appetite is stimulated by a small glass of Tuica, this mirabelle or plum brandy or moonshine typical of the countryside, which is served on every occasion by addressing the sound of “Noroc, sanatate, la multi ani! ("Luck, health, long life!"). The old viticultural tradition exalts the flavors of the table with wines of own production like “Cotnari”, “Jidvei”, or “Murfatlar”. Romanian beer is also excellent and nowadays, you can find a lot of local craft beers in supermarkets.