Romania
Capital: Bucharest

Country Code 40, $1=21,800Lei, July 2000
Min. Traveling Cost: $12-20/day

General description of the country, simple history
-Antiquity: Around year 0, The area where approximately the same area that is now Romania, was inhabited by the Dacians. The Dacian kingdom was conquered by Romans in 105-106AD.(Fun story: Dacians used to have vineyards, and the wine drinking was such a problem that one king, Burebista, ordered all vines to be cut. Still, the wine tradition is very much alive now (and the drinking problem, too!)
-Middle ages: Three Romanian states were formed during the 13-14 century, by uniting different smaller entities: Muntenia (Southern Romania), Moldova, Transylvania. Until the 19th century, they were all under a different empire's domination: Transylvania under the Austro-Hungarian rule, Muntenia and Moldova under Turkish rule. This is still visible in customs and way of life in Transylvanya vs. Muntenia & Moldova. Muntenia and Moldova became united in 1859 under the name of Romania, which was still under Turkish rule. The independence was achieved in 1877.After the first world war, when Romania fought on the Franco-England side, Transylvania and Bessarabia (what is now Republic of Moldova) were united into Greater Romania. The date of this unification (1 December 1918) is the national holiday.
-Recent History: Like several other Eastern European countries, after World War 2, Romania was occupied by the Soviet Army and communism was imposed. The 45 years of communism can be divided in 3 periods: 1945 - 1965 Stalinism, millions of political arrests, etc., followed by a relatively more open period (1965-1980) after Ceausescu came to power, and made a few moves against Soviet domination (the most famous being the opposition against Czechoslovakia's invasion in 1968).After 1975, Ceausescu became increasingly megalomaniac and paranoic and the last 10 years of its rule, were some of the darkest in Romania's history.


Language
National Romanian: latin language, close to Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese.
Foreign Foreign language may be understood.
English, especially by younger people.
French, by older educated people.
German and Hungarian, especially in Transylvania.

Weather (General) /Season
Temperate continental, but can be quite extreme.
Summer June- Aug, can be very hot (35 C) but ocasionally quite cold, especially in the mountains.
Autumn Sep- Nov.
Winter Dec-Feb
, longer in the mountains, very cold (up to -25 C).
Spring March - May. Each season has its + and -. In winter roads can be sometimes blocked by snow.
Best month is probably September.

VISA/IMMIGRATION


BUDGET Min. Traveling Cost: US$12-20/day
Room (bed) $10 Room (double) $10
This section will be added soon.
Coffee(Bar) Coffee(cafe) 100Ft+
Mineral water 1liter
Big Mac meal, Ice Cream
Coke(market) Coke(restaurant)
Beer(market) Beer(restaurant)
breakfast

Opening Hours
Government: M-F 8-17:00
BANK: Varies. M-Th8-16:00, F8-13:00
Post Office: M-F 7-20:00, Sa 8-13:00 Some open later. See local info.
Shops : Varies. Food shops/shopping centers M-F 7-19:00, Sa7-14:00. On Sunday only the 24 hr shops so called Nonstop shops and large malls are open.
Museums: Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, shorter in winter.

CURRENCY/EXCHANGE
Cash: At exchange agents in town. Many in town. The rate varies so shop around.
T/C: Only at banks but the commission is high.
ATM: Many in town. It is 2nd best option after cash.
Cash Advance: At some bank. Usually no commission.
Banks: M-Th8-16:00, F8-13:00,
Money changers: open everyday.
Best Currency: Euro & UD$
Buying hard currencies: Not possible at money changers for Foreigners. Only at bank with exchange receipt.


MAIL/TELEPHONE
Post office General Opening Hours: M-F 7-20, Sa 8-13

Europe
Most other countries
post card
letter, 20g 10,150 lei; 12850Lei
small percel air 1kg 170,500 lei;

339,500 lei;

small percel air 2kg 291,700 lei

639,700 lei.

Telephone

Europe

USA
Japan, Australia
1 min.: 14,000 lei 18,000 lei 25,300 lei
Payphones(with card): 18,400 lei 23,000 lei 32,100 lei
Police: ?Inquiry:Domestic ? Operator(Int'l)
Public phone: Card phone only. The cheapest card costs 50,000lei. The miimum charge seems to be about 1000lei


ACCOMMODATION

Generally speaking, to find a cheap accommodation is very hard. Guesthouse/hostel system has not been established at all. Most of the time, you may have reply on cheap hotels.

Travelers Guest House:
Only available in Bucharest. But it costs about $10/bed

Official IYH:
There are a few. But most of them are in mountains, not many in cities, except Clji Napoca where seem to be the center of YH in Romania.

Private rooms:
Gradually increasing, specially tourist towns, such as Brasov, Sighisoara, etc. The quality is usually very good. Big and clean rooms with hot shower(private or communal). They charge per head not per room.

Hotels:
The cheap hotels are some time cheaper than guest houses. But quality may be lower. You should expect to pay at least $10/room


FOOD/DRINK
Sarmale: (stuffed meat and rice rolled in cabbage), eaten with sourcream
Mititei: a sort of sausages, made from a specially spiced meat, very tasty !!!Be careful with mititei: it's advisable to it them in a good resataurant, not on the street, as they must be absolutely fresh.
Mamaliga: corn flour boiled in water,the usual sidedish with sarmale
Bulz: (Bran area): mamaliga with a specific type of cheese, cooked in the oven
Eggplant salad: don't miss that!

TRANSPORT: International(Border information)

Border Crossing
AIR

International airport lists: Bucharest Otopeni, Timisoara, Arad, Cluj, Constanta.

Main crossing points:
TRAIN & CAR
Curtici(train) and Nadlac(car) near Arad; and Episcopia Bihor(train) and Bors(car) near Oradea; on border with Hungary. Stamora Moravita(train and car) and Orsova(car) towards Yugoslavia. Giurgiu/Ruse (train/car) to Bulgaria. Ungheni (near Iasi) to Moldova.Siret - to Ukraine.

Bus: Romanian bus timetable http://www.autogari.ro


TRANSPORT: Domestic

AIR
Domestic Airport Tax ?lei.
Domestic air transport is not frequent

TRAIN
Is the best way to travel through Romania. Still cheap, usually on time but slow. Use Personal trains (slowest) only if absolutely necessary. New wagons are gradually introduced on all Rapid trains. For the fare Click

BUS
Intercity buses are usual only in cities not served by train. Old,
state-owned buses are in dreadful shape, I don't reccomend them. There are however new bus companies, especially for int'l traffic: Atlassib, Eurolines, Double T, Kessler with regular routes, mainly to Germany and Italy. Boat: Only on Danube (eg. Braila- Tulcea) and in the Danube delta.
Romanian bus timetable
http://www.autogari.ro

Hitch hiking
quite usual; normal precautions apply though, especially for women.


LOCAL TRANSPORT

bus/trams: cheap (one trip around 2500-3000 lei) and quite
efficient, but can be VERY crowded, especially at peak hours. Tickets can be bought at ticketing booths which can be found near the bus/tram stops. Often tickets are for 2 rides. Once you get on, you should be validated by stamping or bunched one end for each ride. For the double tickets, use both end.

Taxi:
Cheap, except in Bucharest (cca 3000-3500 lei/km). TIP! Use company owned cabs, that usually carry the company logo, and not only the TAXI sign, they have standard tarrifs, set by the company. Always ask them to start the meter.

Rental bicycle: Not usual at all.



CUSTOMS
No. Generally speaking Romanians are friendly and hospitable (incredibly so in villages!), quite noisy and take great pleasure in talking (Latin temperament..).General European rules apply.
Tipping Round up the bill at restaurants/cafes. Make sure your bill does not include a service charge.
Dress Casual.
Cheers It is considered rude to clink glasses in a toast.


HEALTH
Nothing special to be careful about. Tap water usually drinkable. But healthcare system is in quite bad shape. It's not at all reccomendable to need Romanian hospitals.When off the beatten track, pay attention to restaurant hygiene condition.

SAFETY INFORMATION/ Emergency
Very safe. One problem people may encounter is cheating in bill s in restaurants. See Food section above.
Pick-pockets must take care in tourist area.
Don't leave valuables in cars.

SHOPPING
General opening hours: Varies. Food shops/shopping centers M-F 7-19:00, Sa7-14:00. On Sunday only the 24 hr shops so called Nonstop shops and large malls are open.
Bargaining: Most shops have fixed prices, Bargaining in markets.
Souvenirs:
Different types of pottery, very nice woodcrafts. Also, woolcarpets and traditional clothing.

WORLD HERITAGE SITES
W1 Danube Delta
Area made by the Danube, flowing into the Black Sea, is the largest and best preserved deltas in Europe. You can see over 300 species of birdsA45 freshwater fish in this area
W2 The Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania These 7 villages with fortified churches show the cultural landscape of southern Transylvania since the late Middle Ages, the 13th to 16th centuries.
W3 Horezu Monastery in Walachia
Founded in 1690 by Prince Constantine Brancovan, it, is a "Brancovan" style one.
W4 Churches of Moldavia
The 7 churches' exterior walls were decorated with 15th and 16th century frescoes, which is masterpieces of Byzantine art.
W5 Sighisoara
Founded by German craftsmen and merchants, known as the Saxons of Transylvania, It is a small, fortified, medieval town but it has been well preserved.
W6 The Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains
The Dacian fortresses, six Late Iron-Age defensive works, was made in the 1st centuries BC and AD against Romans.
W7 The Wooden Churches of Maramures
The Maramures wooden churches, 8 different styles, from different periods and areas.


OTHERS
Voltage Electricity:
220V, 50 Hz 2 pronged-rounded Plug type
Photo:

Lots of new photoshops. Quality is reasonable. Cost: film developing 15,000 lei, Photos 9/13 or 10/15 2800-3500 lei/print


FESTIVALS/PUBLIC HOLIDAYS. See local info
2000
Jan 1 PH New Year's Day
Apr PH Easter Monday
May 1 PH Work Day
Dec 1 PH National Day
Dec 25 PH Orthodox Christmas.

FESTIVALS in 2000
There are more regional festivals.

Brasov:
Spring
(first weekend after Orthodox Easter): Juni Pageant in Brasov. Young men from Brasov parade on horses, dressed in 1877 (independence) army clothing.
September-October: Berar: beer fair.

Sighisoara:
August: Medieval festival:
music (both modern and classical), street theatre, dancing, drinking (lots of!)

Maramures:
August: woodcraftsmen festival.


@ INTERNET @
Available in most cities. The connection is slow but it is the cheapest country for internet usage, from $0.5/hr.

Useful web sites

Romania information: Bus Romania General information for Romania

National/International Transport
Bus information: Autogari

Train information: ROL
Car pooling: Auto Stopist

Regional
Arad: Virtual Arad
Very good and detailed Arad town information
Transylvania: Medieval Transylvania for fortified medieval churches and citadels in Trasylvania region
Black Sea Coast: Info Litoral Travel Guide Excellent travel information for the towns in Black Sea Coast in Romania.


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