Flying north for the winter? Sophie Austin went to Romania and has five reasons why the country should be an addition to your next European holiday.
If you’re asking “why Romania?” while reading this, you wouldn’t be the first to do so. Even the locals were curious as to why an Aussie girl would hit the streets of Eastern Europe, minus a Contiki tour.
The real question is, why not Romania? It has an ever-stretching supply of nature, cobblestone streets, rich history and cheap beer (by our standards). Even the back alleys of Cluj-Napoca were decorated in well-loved townhouses with their own untold stories.
For students, braving the big world before graduation may seem daunting. There’s something so comforting about a cup of joe and a Netflix marathon between exam seasons.
But here I am to tell you why you should put Romania on your map. There are more reasons than can be counted on your fingers, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to five to showcase this colourful country.
1 – It’s cheap as chips
It’s no secret that students are always on the hunt for bargains. With Romanian Leu making up only 0.33 of our Australian dollar, students will find five dollar steals an everyday occurrence.
That means a two-litre bottle of spring water will set you back 2 Leu (0.65 AUD), a return bus ticket in Cluj-Napoca will set you back 4 Leu (1.30 AUD) and a nice top at H&M will set you back 20 Leu (6.52 AUD). It’s easy to live on 20 bucks a day, which isn’t too bad for a vacation budget.
2 – You can eat until your buttons pop
Not only does Romania have a generous menu of their own traditional foods, but while being in the heart of Europe, you can bet they have the best pizza, pasta, cheeses and meats. If you prefer local cuisine, try Sarmale (meat rolled in cabbage) or Mici (their version of a snag on the barbie) or even Mămăligă (a dish made from cornmeal, kind of like polenta):
For those with a sweet tooth you aren’t forgotten. Gelato waits for you on every corner, and so does the famous Papanash, a native doughnut style dish that you’ll die for.
3 – Beer flows like water and it’s beautiful
Ever wondered what it would be like to have Happy Hour every hour? No need to wait for Wednesday Student Night. You can grab a six pack of beer for 12 Leu (3.91 AUD), which is cheaper than one beer at your favourite bottle shop in Australia. Even restaurants will cater to your thirst for a cold one, offering local and imported beers for as low as 5-8 Leu (1.63 AUD-2.61 AUD).
4 – Fresh air to clear your assignment anxiety
From mountains to valleys, to streams and old cities, Romania can quench your thirst for wanting more than four walls. Sometimes students can find themselves stuck looking at the same study notes, or getting square eyes from staring at the university computers for too long. This is where Romania enters to answer all your prayers, offering an abundance of grassy knolls in the summer, and frosty peaks in the winter. It’s the best remedy for semester-long stress levels.
5 – A healthy dose of culture shock
Sometimes all it takes is a healthy dose of culture shock to remind you how small your world is back home. Romanians aren’t shy of their culture, in fact, they’re just as proud as an Aussie at a sausage sizzle wearing a pair of thongs. Not only will travellers be surrounded by a new language to learn, but they can also experience firsthand what a country is like after Communism.
Whether that’s through buying your watermelons on the street, paying to use public toilets, wearing “house shoes” as soon as you step in the door or immersing yourself in Romanian history, there’s plenty to be learned on your trip.
If you’re thinking of flocking North for the winter, or maybe having yourself a White Christmas, consider adding Romania to your bucket list. When you’re two beers in, relaxing next to your new Romanian mates and lapping up the sunshine, you won’t be regretful.