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Romania Travel Guide

Romania consumes a total of 237,500 square kilometres of land and is a southeast European state, with the Ukraine to its north, Bulgaria to the south, Belarus to the east, and Moldavia and the Black Sea to the west. There are around 22.3 million folk living around Romania who are mainly of Romanian, Hungarian, German and Roma descent and mostly Eastern Romanian, Protestant and Roman Catholic faith. The inhabitants speak Romanian and Hungarian and money-wise make their trade from manufacturing and agriculture, trading with countries such as the EU, Turkey and the US.

Once under the rule of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, Moldavia and Wallachia eventually gained independence in 1856 and joined together 3 years later as Romania. The country got total independence by 1878 and by WW I, united with the Allied Powers, gaining new provinces after the war. Romania went into relations with the Axis powers in 1940 and later took part in the 1941 German attack of the USSR, but 3 years later Romania was overrun by the Soviets, and had to sign a peace agreement. Soviet occupation was present after the war, which led to the creation of a Communist ‘people's republic’ in 1947 and the resignation of the king. In 1965, Nicolae Ceausescu, took over as king and tyrannically ruled the country for just over 30 years, but was eventually defeated and executed late on in 1989. Past Communists subjugated the government until 1996, when they were taken over by a restless alliance of centrist groups. Today, the Social Democratic Party has developed an ostensibly marginal government, which rules with the help of the opposition Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania. In 2004, Romania joined NATO.

Visiting Romania, travellers should not leave out the capital of Bucharest, located between the Carpathian foothills and the Danube River. The place has endured bombings and earthquakes in its time but still has some old buildings left standing including the 16th century Old Court Church whose interior is decorated in beautiful murals and the George Enescu Museum, showing musician's scripts and personal possessions. The area also has a very beautiful hotel, the Athenee Palace Hotel, which has had a $50 million revamp and is a must see, as it’s Bucharest’s proud and joy. Accommodation abounds in the capital from fancy hotels to backpacker hostels and those wanting to shop, party, dine, go to a show or see a flick, only have to stroll down to the centre of the city to enjoy it all!

Getting about Romania is possible via its local bus service, which passes through most towns, cities, rural areas and distant villages every now and again, at a laid back pace, so for speed, taxis are the best bet but costing that bit more. A faster way to get around is by train, with a regular rail service to many towns, cities and bigger villages within Romania. The various sort of train includes the ‘personal’ train, that goes at a snail’s speed, the ‘accelerat’, which is faster but costs more money, the ‘rapid’ and ‘express’ trains, which go quite fast and travel internationally and the ‘Inter City’, same speed as the latter three, but infinitely more comfortable. The terrain in Romania is rough and sometimes hazardous, so visitors wanting to hire a car should go for a 4WD. Those wanting to travel around the Danube Delta will most surely need a boat and travellers will find them frequent and reasonably priced. Travellers staying in Bucharest for a while will be able to make use of its metro underground network, getting them around the city in a very short space of time.

To get into Romania, passengers will need to fly into Bucharest's Otopeni International airport, with direct flights available from various Western countries and the rest having to make a connection during their journey. Arriving by train is another route into the country, with places such as Western Europe, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Moldova and Russia linking direct to Romania. Those wanting to soak up the heat need to come to the country in July and August; but visitors who want to avoid the humidity and swarms of tourists should arrive in May, June, September or October. When it comes to bird watching, the country’s Danube Delta is a birdwatchers paradise, with the best time to arrive being in the spring or autumn. The winter season is usually a time for avid skiers to enjoy the mountain pistes, at resorts such as Sinaia and Poiana Brasov, where the snow usually sticks around till early May.

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