Off the Beaten Path – Travels in Romania
This week, we have with us Ruth Johnston from Exploramum and Explorason who is an Australian single Mum that has been travelling around the world for the past 3 years with her son. They have visited 44 countries so far and are loving their life as they world-school and explore the road less travelled. Today they will be talking to us about their travels in Romania.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your travels
This month I turned 53 year old and my son will soon turn 10. We started planning this trip when we lived in Australia where I was working day and night to survive and pay off a house. With little or no spare time or money, we made the decision together to change our life. We both loved travel, and we both loved helping the poor, so we decided to combine the two and set off on our own adventure.
First off we went to Fiji, and there we raised funds to help a poor village. We bought food and clothing and also helped pay for 2 children to go to school. Later we did a lot of work with street people in South America. We both have a passion to help children, especially those we see begging in the streets. Our travels do not just encompass the glamourous and touristic destinations, we also discover some very out of the way, and unique locations. We love to meet the local people and become friends, and see how they really live their lives.
Why did you chose to travel to Romania?
We spent 5 weeks in Romania. We had planned Christmas in Turkey, but my son decided he wanted a Christian Christmas, and a white Christmas especially after being in Cuba for the one before that. So we hopped in the car and met up with friends in Romania. Romania turned out to be a really pleasant surprise. We made a lot of new friends, and visited some really unique places including a night in the Hotel of Ice where we ventured up in a snow blizzard inside a retro Coca-cola cable car, and spent the most fantastic night sleeping on a bed of ice. Dinner was served on ice platters – it was just the best experience.
I have loved Romania, because it is yet to be damaged by mass tourism. The culture is still rich. The country is affordable, and many speak english, so for us we just loved every aspect of our time here.
Where did you stay?
We stayed in so many places, but one was Brukenthal Palace – a summer residence of the palace and that was fantastic, and the owner was so good to us. We also stayed in a traditional Saxon house in Viscri organised by Beyond Dracula and that was very relaxing and authentic. And of course we stayed in the Hotel of Ice, at Balea Lac.
What were your favourite and most difficult parts on this journey?
My most favourite part of Romania was just driving. Being Australian the experience of snow is unique, so to drive through back roads with trees that looked like they were sugar coated in snow was spectacular. To meet the local people, and buy antique cloth off little old ladies who never stopped smiling was also a delight for me.
The most difficult time was when out GPS took us up the wrong snow-slushy road on a rainy day. Then we turned back and a large shard of metal ruined our tyre. Things went from bad to worse with the car, but all the locals helped us. It took all afternoon, but we realised how important it is to pay them as they gave up so much of their time to help us, and we wanted to encourage them to help others.
Highlights of your stay
New Year’s Eve at a Medieval Resort with a sleigh ride was definitely a highlight. Here we met so many nice people as we all stayed a few days. These people then helped me plan my trip through Romania. Romanians are just so kind.
What were some of your favourite dishes/food there?
I think the favourite for me was the soups; creamy mushroom broth with bread-balls; and the cabbage rolls. Oh and the desserts with local berry jam.
Would you recommend Romania to other people? Families? Solo travellers? Backpackers?
Romania is perfect for all travellers. It is safe. We only had one incident when we took a photo of a house that was colourful, and the Gypsies chased us with a stick. I think they thought we were ‘casing the joint’, as they say! Romania is way more than Gypsies, and in fact they really paint a false picture of what the country is like. Bucharest is rich in culture, and there are many prosperous areas in Romania. So there are places from 5 star to backpacker standards. Romanians are so friendly, that it is also a perfect place for solo travellers. There are loads of family friendly places to visit too, and even though the legend of Dracula and Transylvania seems to be the predominant feature first thought about for Romania, once this legendary cloud is removed, there is a land of wonder awaiting all who visit.
What’s next on the horizon for your travels?
We don’t have any set plans. We are very free spirited with our travels, and this gives us the flexibility to learn about places as we go and then choose where to head next. So we are very much “watch this space”. We have a car to get back to the UK, but then we could always sell it, or just scrap it, so who knows!
The amazing thing is that you can never see it all in this wide world, but to see even a small part is incredible. Explorason has a goal of visiting 100 countries, so we have a long way to go!
To read more about their travels, have a look at any of their following social media: