Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Watching a Roma woman making boiled woolen slippers, a blacksmith visit, and a very educational time with a beekeeper who supplies King Charles with his honey
Roderick and Patricia Hines | May 2, 2023

We had begun planning our trip to Romania several years ago but it was postponed because of Covid. When we were able to depart this spring we found the trip to be even better than we hoped for. Raluca had worked very diligently, with frequent emails and an initial Zoom, to plan our trip around Orthodox Easter celebrations, small village and town stays, and the chance to see spring flowers in the countryside. We knew the latter would be limited somewhat because of early Orthodox Easter.

After landing in Bucharest we left the next morning for Brasov, stopping at Peles Castle on the way. The castle visit was the only crowded time of our whole 2-week trip but very interesting inside and out, and we began learning the complicated history of Romania from our excellent guide Andrei. Our accommodations in boutique inns in Brasov, Sighisoara, and Cluj were all excellent, with a unique combination of traditional furnishing and modern amenities and excellent breakfasts in all. One of our highlights near Sighisoara was an afternoon and evening in a small village with Emese and family, touring her herb gardens, good conversations about her familiy’s history, and having a delicious traditional Easter meal.

Our first small village stay was in Breb, in the beautiful Maramures region, with green fields with haystacks, and distant snow-covered mountains. Our stay in The Village Hotel, a small group of restored traditional cottages, was wonderful with the help of the owner Penny and assistant Andrada. Dinners in a villager’s home were excellent with everything self-sourced. We did not overall visit museums but the Museum of Communism in Sighetu was very powerful and worthwhile.

Next stop was Bucovina area for Orthodox Easter celebrations. We attended midnight service, which involved passing lit candles, walking in and out and around the beautiful painted monastery, and responsive singing, all very moving. Easter Day included more services, with traditional dress, and tradition of cracking painted eggs at breakfast with the words “Christ has risen” and response “He has truly risen,” along with traditional Easter morning and Easter dinner lamb dishes. Our stay was again in an individual restored cottage at Casa Cu Cerbi with unique traditional bed arrangements and furnishings. The painted monasteries including Voronet were another highlight.

Back in Transylvania we stayed in the very remote village of Valea Zanalui in King Charles’ cottage. A very informative walk with a local biologist to look for flowers and discuss the area’s natural history had been set up ahead and very worthwhile. Communication was more difficult here because of the small staff primarily Hungarian, not Romanian, speaking and without our guide and preplanning we would have been unaware of potential available activities in the area.

In our last village Viscri, where we stayed at the very comfortable Viscri 125, we had our best chances to meet local craftsmen including watching a Roma woman making boiled woolen slippers, a blacksmith visit, and a very educational time with a beekeeper who supplies King Charles with his honey.

Lastly Bucharest surprised us with its vitality, green spaces and wonderful old buildings.

Each area we visited was unique with differences in architecture, language, food, and dress due to the complicated ethnic and political history of the country. Because of this and the beautiful landscape, churches, cleanliness, and friendliness our visit was very rewarding and enjoyable.

We would not have been able to appreciate any of this if we had attempted to plan and drive ourselves or been part of a large group staying in nondescript hotels on the edge of town. All of our accommodations were exceptional and we know that Raluca visits them all regularly to reassess. Monica checked once or more daily to adjust the schedule for weather changes, restaurant closings, etc. and made sure everything ran smoothly. Our wonderful guide Andrei was able to determine our interests, physical limitations, and schedule very easily and was always pleasant, reliable, easy to talk to, and extremely knowledgeable about Romanian history and culture. He was also flexible so we could easily add or subtract activities not on our planned list.

We would without question recommend planning a visit to Romania with Raluca.

Hikes in the Piatra Craiului Mountains, a private tour of the magnificent Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest...
David Weinkle | October 13, 2021

PANDEMIC TRAVEL  Have just returned from our first trip to Romania and wanted to say thank you to Raluca for a warm welcome to her fabulous country! From first contact we knew we were in good hands. A phone call helped Raluca determine what type of adventure we were looking for and from that moment on, everything ran smooth as silk! Recommendations for sights, restaurants and hotels were all spot on.
Our personal guide, Alex escorted us into the countryside for sightseeing, hikes in the Piatra Craiului Mountains, led a private tour of the magnificent Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest, and even arranged access for us to services in the beautiful Choral Synagogue. By the end of our trip, Alex felt like an old and well informed friend!
Raluca kept in touch during our visit via email and phone calls just to make sure all was going well. COVID and seasonal changes threw a few obstacles into our plans, Raluca however was on top of everything and adjustments were made without having to miss anything on our agenda.
I cannot give enough kudos to Raluca and her team and look forward to planning our next trip to Romania!

The guide could not have been better…
Robert Rosenberg | October 25, 2019

Raluca and Roxanna listened carefully to what we had in mind and planned a magnificent trip, making a number of changes based on our comments to their first effort. They were in contact with our guide several times a day to make sure all was going smoothly. And the guide could not have been better–Andrei was extremely knowledgeable and, perhaps even more importantly, extremely easy to be with for almost two weeks. I cannot recommend highly enough/

Cultivated personal relationships with many of the people we met throughout our journey which greatly enhanced our experiences…
David Lusignan | October 24, 2019

Raluca and her team gave us invaluable assistance in the development of our 2 week trip to visit 3 regions of Romania…Bucovina, Maramures and Transylvania. Our objective was to see the beautiful country-side, visit small villages/medieval towns and meet/engage with the local people and their daily life/customs. Raluca was always responsive and worked collaboratively and patiently with us to iterate a final itinerary that met these desires and the trip did not disappoint! Our stay in 3 small village guest houses provided direct interaction with the owner families over home cooked(and delicious) breakfasts and dinners; the boutique hotels recommended in the old towns of Cluj, Sibiu and Brasov provided exemplary service and gave us quick and direct access to the historic centers(and, again, delicious breakfasts!). Our guide/driver for the entire trip(Ilona) was terrific! Ilona was pleasant always and patient as we juggled each day’s travel; and her extensive knowledge of Romanian history coupled with her art history background provided excellent insights to all we did. Ilona had also cultivated personal relationships with many of the people we met throughout our journey which greatly enhanced our experiences These people were genuinely pleased to see her and meet us. We had our WOW moment on this trip as well. An after hours visit with private guide of Bran Castle with access to the tower was superb… crowds, no rush, unlimited photo opportunities and personal attention from an excellent guide. Raluca’s team produced 2 other surprises as well. They were able to arrange access for us to William Blacker’s Transylvanian village house which is not open to tourists. William left the UK and spent several years living in this village in the late 1990s with a local family which he chronicled in his book “Along the Enchanted Way”. Since we had read his book before we left, this was a special connection for us. They also arranged a birthday surprise for me while we were in the village of Breb…. our dinner host baked me a cake and, with her niece/nephew dressed in traditional garb, sang me happy birthday. Thoughtful and special. So a 5 out of 5 for Raluca and her team from planning, to delivery, to choice of guide and accommodations!

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