Are you thinking about booking the ‘Bear Watching and Castle Hopping in Romania’ tour with Much Better Adventures or Truly Romania, but want further detail from someone who’s done it? Or are you just curious as to what this trip is all about? Love reading about travel? Then this is the post for you as I will be going through how I found the trip and what you can expect on each day!
The trip: Bear Watching and Castle Hopping in Romania
This three-day trip was a short-and-sweet introduction to Romania: on the itinerary was a walking tour of Bucharest, two castle visits and two opportunities to try and see some of Romania’s bear population. We stayed one night in Bucharest and another night in Braşov. The trip was led by a company called Truly Romania and I booked it via a company called Much Better Adventures who helped organise airport transfers and pre and post-trip accommodation.
We had arrived a day early and so we had all day in Bucharest to look round, the tour not starting until the evening with a welcome meeting. Bucharest really surprised me with its colour and energy. When I had been planning the trip, Google had seemed to suggest that Bucharest may not be the prettiest or most exciting place to visit, but I have to disagree. There are some beautiful buildings, nestled in amongst some not-so-attractive buildings, and so many hidden corners of history. There was so much to see and do, in fact, that we ran out of time to see all the things we had planned.
My recommendations to see in Bucharest are:
- Stavropoleos Church (tiny, beautiful monastery)
- Carturesti Carusel (very instagram-able bookshop)
- Palace of the Parliament (built by the dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, it is the heaviest building in the world and quite the sight)
- Old Princely Court and Curtea Veche Church (ornate church and courtyard)
- Hanu Lui Manuc (the oldest inn in Romania, set around a pretty courtyard, also has a good restaurant that serves traditional Romanian food)
The tour company had booked for us to stay in a Hilton in the city centre. The area itself was fairly quiet but it had some quaint cobbled streets and majestic buildings (the Museum of the National Bank of Romania was right outside the hotel), and there wasn’t far to walk to find restaurants and bars. Truly Romania normally use boutique hotels and accommodation but, because of Covid, it had not been possible this time (the hotel in Braşov, Casa Wagner, definitely met the boutique brief). The Hilton was just fine and what you would expect.
After the welcome talk, the guide took us for a short walking tour of the city and following this, we had our first meal together at the Caru’ ca Bere (which means ‘the beer wagon’). This restaurant serves traditional and very delicious Romanian food, but it is also a sight in itself. The building is richly decorated with stained glass, tiled floors, wooden panelling, a balcony and all kinds of carved intricacies. They also have live music and dancers who take to the floor at regular intervals throughout the night.
The meal began with ‘fire water’ (our free ‘welcome’ drink) which was unique and… powerful… in its flavour and strength. We were then served soup, followed by pork wrapped in cabbage leaves with polenta (we ate a lot of pork on this trip), and a doughnut-style dumpling for dessert. We rolled back to the hotel, we were so full.
Booking the trip was simple and easy, as was the airport connection and meeting at the hotel. It was a good-sized group of friendly and adventurous people. I’m glad that we arrived a day early to get a chance to see Bucharest as the walking tour was only short and we left for the mountains early the next morning. Day 2 led us to Peleş Castle, Braşov and bear watching in the woods.
The next post will be published on 18 August.
Have you been on this trip or have any other questions about it? Let me know in the comments!