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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!
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/
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…..no 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!
Raluca and her team made our three week visit to Romania spectacular. She selected, Andrei, one of the best guides we have ever to be our guide and driver for most of our trip.
We were attracted to Romania by the biennial Georg Enescu Classical Music Festival held in Bucharest. Raluca provided us with the programs for each concert and secured us tickets. In our phone and email discussions with her about other things to do in Romania she suggested a week or so in Transylvania and several days in the Danube Delta. We found Transylvania to be much more than Dracula – a dinner with a Saxon family in Vescri complete with geese parading by and freshly picked vegetables, a trip to a gypsy iron mason who made us a trophy horse shoe on his forge, a dinner with a Hungarian herbalist, and probably most fascinating, a meal with a gypsy family where we could ask any questions we wanted to about their lives in Romania. During the days in Bucharest where the Festival was held, Andrei provided us with a stories about living under Communism and what it is currently going on in his country. We visited Ceaucescu’s palatial home and had several tours of the hidden gems of Bucharest. With the recommendations of Raluca and her team, we experienced several gourmet meals in Bucharest, and will always remember one which was a seven course meal designed for the Enesccu Festival where each course was explained to us personally by the award winning chef! The Danube Delta was a fascinating surprise. It is the largest wetland in Europe and our guesthouse was only accessible by a 1 and 1/2 hour boat ride. We experienced a private tour along canals both wide and narrow, into small inlets and lakes while observing close up swans, ducks, pelicans, loons, etc., with no one else in sight.
Romania is a gem and deserves much more acclaim. We thank Raluca for showing us that.
From my initial email to a detailed post-trip feedback form looking for suggestions to make their future trip design and support even better, our entire experience with Raluca’s team was wonderful.
We loved: the suggested itinerary, the responsiveness to suggested changes, questions and our interests, the final itinerary, the willingness to change the itinerary during our trip, the checking in during our trip to make sure all was okay, the delicious treats from Grano Restaurant and gift of beautiful decorated eggs, all of our guides, the hotels and restaurants, the wonderful food related visits and experiences, the chance to learn to carve a wooden spoon with a fantastic wood artist, the photography tour/lesson, the chance to spend time with many Romanians in different towns.
Some of the particularly special experiences were an afternoon carving wooden spoons, a day spent visiting a local market and cooking with a wonderful woman known for the herbs, jams and handmade christening gowns she sells in Romania and abroad, four wonderful days in the village of Viscri (up from the two days originally planned because we didn’t want to leave) – we visited shepherds in the hills as they milked 500 sheep, spent lots of time with a local family tasting delicious local foods and homemade cherry brandy and learning to cook a few dishes, and we watched the cows come home ambling down the village street each evening, a great photo lesson in Cluj and more. The trip was the perfect mix of city and country, led by wonderful local guides arranged by Raluca and her staff, who gave us a sense of Romanians past and present.
I had no idea how appealing Romania and Odessa would be. The landscapes in the countryside of Romania where my specialist recommended and where my guide took me were breathtakingly beautiful. And Odessa is spectacular – cosmopolitan., lively and colorful. All the sights became more meaningful when accompanied by the narratives of Alex, the guide, whose depth of understanding of history, culture, nature, politics and architecture was astounding. I plan to return to Romania and Ukraine such was the visual joy and intellectual stimulation I experienced.
Wendy, thanks for the WOW moment on this trip. We really enjoyed getting to visit the highest tower at Bran Castle, an area generally off limits to the public. Our very experienced guide had never been there.
Raluca Spiac is an extremely attentive trip planner. I had many conversations with her and the attention to detail shown by Raluca, and Greg Helm, our guide, was best in class. Raluca went to extraordinary lengths to find us the right accommodation. I had requested an apartment in Bucharest and had found some on-line that seemed suitable. Raluca tracked down a private residence where we had a private suite and were treated like personal friends of the family staying for a weekend. Greg made adjustments to the itinerary on the fly to accommodate our requests and suggested activities as he came to know us. For example, Greg arranged a trail ride for our daughter at a horse ranch owned by our hosts in Bucharest. Raluca’s support team was constantly available to Greg.
In a couple of cases, the venues Raluca selected were extraordinary. For example, we had 3 nights in Brasov in a lovely 3 room hotel and 4 nights in Maremures on a 70 Hectare property in our own house. The house was probably 100 years old and had been saved from destruction in the local village, moved to the host’s property, and completely remodeled inside. Raluca arranged for a cook to come to the house and make us breakfast and dinner–truly special.
This was the second time that a friend and I used Raluca Spiac and her staff to plan a trip to Romania. The first trip, most of it in eastern Romania, was so terrific that we decided to visit the western side of this fascinating country.
Raluca does an excellent job of designing itineraries, willing to make any changes desired. Not every hour of our trip was planned, allowing us to just take off and explore, always with our expert guide, Greg. He had great suggestions and provided a wealth of information.
I also appreciated that Raluca had inspected all of our accommodations before making reservations.
I cannot speak highly enough about the excellent service, guidance, and friendship provided by Raluca Spiac and the rest of her staff.
Lastly, Romania itself is amazing. The bucolic scenery, stunning vistas, colorful villages, friendly people, interesting variety of architecture. Every day brought a surprise.
When preparing for our trip to Romania and excitedly sharing our plans with family and friends, we heard one question a lot: Why Romania? We would usually answer with a smile and announce something we were looking forward to, but after our trip, we have a bold and enthusiastic response of how much we recommend this trip to anyone who is looking for a new adventure! We are so glad that Wendy Perrin planted the initial idea of Romania to our travel plans and that we were able to work with Raluca to make it happen. Traveling to Romania was truly like traveling to another time! We were struck by the history we were surrounded by; we explored, climbed, slept in structures that were erected before the United States were even established. We learned about the context of Romania and its beautiful people from several centuries’ worth of history, from Vlad the Impaler (of course) to more recent communist rule. On our trip, we had the opportunity to work with a local guide who translated for us, filled in cultural gaps we would not have understood without him, and encouraged us to take advantage of every moment we were there. Raluca’s team did, in fact, go beyond! With their action-packed excursions and wonderful hotel reservations, but also the personal touches they included. Never did we imagine planning a trip where we would be able to make personal connections with the people from the agency themselves. That is something we will carry with us. So if we go back to the initial question: Why Romania? Meet great people, eat fresh and local food, live parts of history, appreciate simplicity, take in natural beauty, and be reminded of how small this world of ours really is.
I would absolutely recommend Raluca and her team! They did a fabulous job with us on the trip from start to finish. They were always attentive to our requests. Raluca was able to diplomatically tell us we couldn’t do all that we wanted within the time period we had established. Her thoughtful planning created a wonderful trip for us.
Our guide Greg was top notch! We thoroughly enjoyed his company, his knowledge of the area and its history, his quiet ability to give us “information time” while at sites and then time on our own to wander. He was also very good at touring by the seat of his pants sometimes as I made requests to stop at this shop, oh, this one too, and “do you know any weavers in this community?” etc. I also liked that Greg provided us with a phone, which came in handy.
Alex, our Bucharest guide, did a great job too. He was very informed on the history of the country, events in Bucharest, and a good driver. He carefully saw we were taken care of along the way at spots where no English was spoken, such as The People’s Palace.
I really enjoyed visiting with the local craftsmen known by our guide Greg…the blacksmith, bee man, jam man, also liked seeing the women’s knotted, woven, and boiled work. Along the same lines, I liked staying at the Viscri (spelling?) very much. Next time, an extra day there, maybe on a horse! I loved driving through all the different villages and eating local. Meals were always good; Greg did a great job knowing where and when to stop. And the Bucovina area was all so stunning and a fantastic place to stay and take our meals.
I didn’t expect the simplicity, beauty, and slow pace of life outside Bucharest. We will return, and the next time we’ll stay longer.
Great well organized people with excellent ideas that were tailored to my every need. I organized a trip for 20 very demanding people; all of whom were overwhelmingly enthused. Overall the experience was fantastic with the uttermost compliments from all!
From an organizational perspective, everything was perfect. Laura was fantastic !!
Great country and a great opportunity to see some of it. I did really love Brasov and the hotel!!
Our two-day tour simply spectacular from a VIP perspective.
My people overall VERY impressed which is hard to do. All of my group wish to use her again. In fact, I made referrals to colleagues who similarly had excellent experiences.
My husband and I are frequent travelers who enjoy interesting places and luxurious comforts, sometimes a difficult combination. Recently we took a trip to Romania and were fortunate enough to have Raluca Spiac as our travel advisor.
Over a three month period, Raluca questioned my likes and dislikes, got to know my husband and my interests, style and budget and proceeded to plan one of the best trips we have ever taken. I have never worked with a travel consultant that better identified what I wanted, needed, or would like to discover in a more consultive way than Raluca.
My husband and I tend to be “loners” when we travel. We are not the folks that take group trips, or follow a specific schedule of the highlights of a given place. We love to see the best of a place, but sometimes that happens to be a small shop on side a street, or a conversation with an art dealer who does NOT have a shop in the main tourist area, or a dinner with a truffle hunter in a small village. We love to sleep in wonderful beds, eat fresh, well prepared food, learn some history, visit a castle, and pick berries in a verdant field we may happen upon. We’ve taken walking trips in the English countryside, rented villas in Italy in towns where only the Italians go, stayed in 5 star hotels in France, hiked in Austria staying in small family owned inns, driven across the United States, toured Japan with Japanese friends, fished in Patagonia and even just relaxed on the beaches of Hawaii.
Romania is a very under-valued country. It has the elegance of Vienna, yet the charm and countryside of Sicily in the early 1980’s. The food is excellent and would impress the likes of Alice Waters for its provenance and flavor, the people are welcoming, generous and kind, the scenery is jaw dropping, and the culture is so very interesting because not many have discovered it yet. It is a true jewel in the rough, and Raluca and her team understand this and have made it their mission to show you the best of it. It’s impossible not to be moved by it, or fall in love with it.
Raluca takes her mission seriously. It is like having a very hospitable and intelligent friend plan a trip for you and follow you around to ensure that all is well. We were coddled, yet left alone. There was always someone there to assist, yet we had our privacy. That is a difficult one to engineer. We found ourselves truly relaxing because we knew everything would be taken care of. All we had to focus on was enjoying the moment.
Thanks to you we used Raluca as our travel agent, and I cannot rave enough about their excellent work. We worked mainly with Raluca, but all the staff had input into the itinerary. They did four revisions, back and forth with us, to get it just right. We sent lists of what we wanted to see, they made additions, lots of good back-and-forth communication. And the price was amazingly reasonable.
My daughter-in-law showed the itinerary to a friend of hers who grew up in Romania. She said it is absolutely a fantastic itinerary.
I cannot thank you enough for recommending Raluca.