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Romania The Final European Frontier

If you're coming to Romania, check your preconceived notions at the door. Your experience here will not be defined by encounters with street children, Gypsy's, or even Dracula. While all three may very well exist, none of them accurately reflect modern day Romania. Romania, in reality, is a vibrant and diverse country consisting of bustling modern cities, small town charm, ancient European tradition and stunning natural beauty.

From it's mountain ranges to it's expansive Black Sea coast line, Romania deserves to be defined by, as much as anything else, it's raw untapped potential.Romania holds a lot in store for the unsuspecting tourist. The last of Europe's great final frontiers it is the home of the ecological wonder of the Danube Delta, the Carpathian Mountains, an abundance of natural springs and some of the most pleasant resorts along the Black Sea coast. Romania offers you the opportunity to step between European city life and still-functioning village life, right out of the pages of National Geographic, all within a short drive. Romania, as it's tourism board puts it is indeed "simply surprising". Romania is about to join the European Community, likely projections put it's time of entry at 2007 or 2008.

This means that the country is currently benefiting from intense modernization efforts and introduction of new facilities that are making the country easier to navigate and more pleasant to spend a prolonged period of time in. Today, Romania uniquely offers the opportunity to experience Europe as it once was and as it currently is - "Old" and "New" Europe at the same time. This paradox of time is reflected well in the architectural styles in Bucharest.

Buildings here vary wildly from ultra-modern to ancient, kitschy to ready-to-bulldoze. You can find all such forms of architecture on one single street.Romania itself takes its name from the ancient civilization of Rome of which it thrived under. Indeed, the Romanian language is Latin based and foreigners will not have a hard time breaking the language barrier in most parts of the country. Romanian is the closest spoken language to Latin and resembles Italian, French and Spanish, meaning that speakers of any of these languages will find Romanian a relatively easy language to learn with a little desire and tenacity.

Times have not always been kind to Romania. However in the end, that has only succeeded in making her people all the more resilient, appreciative of freedom and always committed to having a good time and enjoying life. The name of Bucharest comes from the Romanian word "bucuros" meaning joyful and the people here do their best to see that the city lives up to its claim.Some Latins have taken issue with the assertion that Romanians are a Latin people. One thing, however, is certainly beyond doubt: the Romanians exhibit all the zest of life and passion for fun that so characterizes those of the Latin bloodline.Bucharest, the capitol and undisputed heart of Romania, is a city that is alive, throbbing with happening night clubs, discos, pubs and restaurants, that would exhaust even the wildest party animal from the West.

One could say without exaggeration that Bucharest is the Atlantic City of the European continent. It is home to hundreds of casinos which are easier to find than gas stations. While not many actually deserve accolades, a handful of world class casinos do exist. Recently, a Romanian showed how for 500,000 lei (=15 Euro=19 USD) you can go to one of these top-notch casinos and if you know how to respect your limits, play all night long while you stuff your face from a tempting buffet, drink yourself silly and generally have a good time.

Then you can go out the next night to a different casino and do it all over again, week in and week out, if you so wish. What's more, you even get the occasional thanks from the casino manager for your kind presence!.In Romania, the old maxim rings especially true "chance favors the prepared mind". One other adage comes to mind "if it sounds too good to be true, it is".

So be wary, Bucharest is a city of hustlers. Every scam in the book has been played out here and every unwanted travel nightmare has occurred to unsuspecting tourists. Likewise, your chance of enjoying and actually thriving in Romania is based on the extent of your understanding of how Romania works and how you can make it work for you.You can leave Bucharest and within two hours be in the heights of the mountains and in the midst of some of the most incredible scenery available on this earth, where pine tree forests, meadows, running deer and mountain landscapes all blend together seamlessly. You can also go 2 hours to the south and vacation along the Black Sea Coast where Romania's passion for fun takes on new forms. There you can enjoy world class resorts or rough it for a few dollars a night in a wooden tent on the beach.

One thing though is always guaranteed; a good time will be had. Romanians wouldn't have it any other way.The mountains and the sea are only some of the natural highlights of Romania.

Romania is famed for the healing power of it's natural thermal springs and has developed spa resorts around them that offer full relaxation and recovery at a small fraction of the normal Western cost. Romania is home to a permanent ice cave and the ecological excursion of a lifetime at the mouth of the Danube Delta.Romania has of course its painted monasteries, palaces and castles, medieval towns and archaeological museums showcasing discoveries more then 2,000 years old. It is also home to the world's second largest building after the Pentagon, "The People's Palace". This mammoth building was once inhabited by Romania's modern day Dracula, Nicolae Ceausescu, who ruled over the people of Romania for more then 50 years with the help of the Soviet bloc.

The people successfully revolted against him in 1989 and ushered in the current period of democratic rule.The Dracula of legend may have been invented by British author Bram Stoker but the character on which he is based Vlad Tepes (Tzepesh), or "Vlad the Impaler" was real. Tourists are often taken to the lackluster Bran Castle to see where this semi-legendary figure lived, although all historical records indicate that he never set foot there. In reality, the actual princely home of this former Prince of Wallachia (a Romanian providence) still stands, in part, today, protected by more then 1,000 stairs that keep the more sweat-hesitant tourists away.One need not have a specific destination in mind in order to enjoy Romania. A simple drive in the countryside will yield it's own rewards.

The producers of the Hollywood blockbuster "Cold Mountain" chose Romania as their filming location, in part, because of the spectacular, uninterrupted skylines found in much of Romania - they could not locate such scenery in America. As a side note, the motion picture industry has found a new home in Romania. Chevy Chase, as well as Wesley Snipes, Nicole Kidman and others have recently worked in films there.

It deserves mention that they seem to amply enjoy Bucharest's nightlife and have made numerous positive comments about their experience in Romania.Romania offers the promise of the thrill of discovery, the excitement of going where few westerners have gone before and the opportunity to expand your horizons. It also presents the possibility of occasional frustrations and hassles. If you have something of the pioneer spirit burning within you and think you share to some level the Romanian joie-de-vivre then you should see firsthand why Romania is "simply so surprising".

.Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Travel.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_Russell.


By: Michael Russell

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