Why is Romania considered a poor country

Our first impressions of Romania: An up and coming travel destination

Romania is a beautiful country. Here are our impressions.

If you are thinking about traveling to Romania, this article is for you!

It's no secret that we spent a month in Romania during one of our trips. Why did we do that? What did we think How was the country

In this post you will find out what we thought about the country before our trip, what we experienced in Romania and what our thoughts are about our trip.

Romania is not just about castles, bears and Dracula - there is much, much more to discover.

This article and our impressions are from 2018. Please keep in mind that some things may have changed in the meantime.

Why travel to Romania

This is a big question because it became clear early on that our friends and family viewed Romania as an “obscure” travel destination.

After moving to Europe together, we chose Romania for many reasons.

The first reason is that we felt that Romania was still "untouched". Now it seems that every month we are seeing more and more blog posts or travel guides about the country.

We wanted to see it before things changed too much and / or too many tourists visit the country.

The other reason we decided to stay in Romania is because we had to watch out for Eric's time in the Schengen zone.

He currently still has his Canadian passport and is waiting for a formal work visa for the Netherlands.

For those wondering, Canadians (and Americans as well as a few other passports) can spend 90 days within 180 days in the Schengen Zone.

Since Romania is in the EU, but not in the Schengen zone (these are two different things), we can spend more time in Europe without paying careful attention to the 90 days.

In Romania we saw three main places: Sighisoara was the smallest of the cities we visited, Brasov was the bigger city we spent most of the time and finally we traveled to Bucharest, the capital, to catch a flight to Budapest.

We landed in Sibiu on our entry, but it was quite dark when we arrived and we had to catch the train to Brasov.

Unfortunately, this didn't give us the chance to explore much of the city. Apparently the old town is really nice - and we are planning a detour next time we are in Romania.

We are glad that we saw three very different places in the country because they gave us a good perspective.

We also took the Brasov to Sighisoara train and stopped at literally every single small town or train station (sometimes this wasn't even a location) on the way back and forth.

Romania is a country full of contrasts

For us, Romania was a country of contrasts. One of the biggest things we noticed was the environment. Even in the middle of nowhere there was plastic waste. Bags, bottles, etc. Plastic lined the river and stream beds.

However, we also took the train to Bucharest through the Carpathian Mountains. The air was fresh, the rivers were clear, and the trees were lush and full of snow.

We don't want to criticize Romania for its waste disposal methods or its cultural value of the environment - but compared to Germany, Hungary or the Balkan countries we are currently traveling through, it caught our eye.

We will not hide the fact that there is a contrast between classes in Romania. Yes, you can find ethnic Roma in many parts of the country.

Perhaps you have interacted with them in other European centers like Barcelona, ​​Paris or Rome.

Many travelers have developed an image of these people as “beggars and thieves”. Unfortunately, this is often true - Eric knows this from his own experience in Venice.

However, it is important not to lump all people into the same pot. You are in Romania - there are “Roma” who differ from “Romanians”, and by no means all Roma are “beggars and thieves”.

Many of the people we interacted with were pleasant and we tell below how we personally felt the interactions.

The story of the Romanian train

Nor can we write about our time in Romania and the people without telling the story of what happened on the train from Sighisoara to Brasov.

In short, we had a really uncomfortable situation with some Roma. As the only tourists on the train and among the few local Romanians running errands or driving home, we were an easy target.

On two occasions, children / young adults entered our train compartment, sat next to us and begged for food. We really didn't have anything to eat, so we said - as respectfully and clearly as we could visually express it - "we have no food, sorry".

It was noticeable that they were conditioned to keep pushing until people collapse and give them something to eat or money.

Probably some travelers before us had given in and they expected us to give them too Sometime would give something.

But we had nothing to give - and we didn't want to give any money. We have been told not to give money as money only continues the cycle of poverty.

In any case, it was really uncomfortable and difficult to deal with this situation. Still, we are glad we experienced it, as we saw such a real perspective of a country with ups and downs - just like any other country has.

To go to Romania and say that everything is a beautiful fairy tale would be a lie - because it is not. There are beautiful castles and nice people, but the country is not without its difficulties as it grows and changes in the age of globalization.

This is probably also a good time to mention that although we are not Romanians, we are not just “tourists chatting about a country's problems”.

Eric holds a Masters Degree in Health Inequalities and Public Policy and has worked with marginalized populations, including Canadian Indigenous Peoples in Northern Canada.

He knows something about looking at social and economic conditions with a respectful and critical eye - and we hope our comment is as honest and respectful as possible.

Romania is a country that is changing

It is no secret that Romania has beautiful castles, ancient cities, etc. that attract visitors. However, in order to really maximize tourism potential, many things will change.

There is some work to be done on infrastructure and rail transport. It will be interesting to see what further integration with the EU and development of the tourism industry means for the whole country.

In Romania you can sometimes still see horses and wagons on the streets. In the rural areas, people still live in a very agricultural way.

In Bucharest it is exactly the opposite. Businesspeople in suits with briefcases live in towering buildings built in the mid-1950s or in the beautiful historic homes that can be found in different parts of the city.

There didn't seem to be a lot of younger people (our ages) in Brasov. We had read that this may be due to the job opportunities (or lack thereof) in the smaller cities compared to the larger cities in Romania or Europe.

Apparently, joining the EU caused mass migration of young adults to look for opportunities in other European countries. When we got to Bucharest we saw a lot of younger people - so there seems to be something to this explanation.

Eliminate Romanian myths

Since we had never been to Romania before we decided to live there for a month, we read a lot about the country in advance.

In retrospect, it's interesting to remember how many different Perspectives we received from online posts.

"It's safe or it's dangerous, there are stray dogs or there are no stray dogs, it's dirty or it's clean" - there was just no consensus and even less we knew what to expect.

One of the biggest myths we are about to dispel is that about "stray dogs roaming the streets". While it's true that Romania had a stray dog ​​problem in the mid-2000s, the government has taken initiatives to contain it.

We didn't meet a single stray dog ​​in Brasov. The same goes for Bucharest and Sighisoara. The only time we saw dogs that could have been "strays" was from the train near smaller villages. It can be assumed that these dogs also belonged to humans.

We had read that stray dogs could interfere in Brasov and that one should be vigilant.

We never had a problem. Bucharest is a big city, and here too - nothing. Not even in Sibiu (Hermannstadt).

The blog posts on “Dealing with stray dogs in Romania” are largely out of date. In every country there are dogs that could attack you. Just act like you would in any other country and you'll be fine.

Our personal thoughts about Romania

Overall, Lisa was pleasantly surprised by the country. Admittedly, she didn't know much about the place and as a Western European one often only hears about the stereotypes with which the newer EU countries are defined and described.

But isn't that the case with all places or people we don't know personally?

In the end, we had different feelings about the people and the culture. We had a lot of great interactions with shopkeepers, hotel receivers, train drivers, our hostess's parents who checked us in, etc. Lisa found the Romanians overall to be friendly.

Eric, the Canadian, is used to an overly polite culture. He found the Romanians very stoic - which is not bad at all.

He found the people very hardworking and characterized by a “no time for bullshit” mentality. He has Eastern European roots so it's a mentality he's quite used to!

Should you travel to Romania?

Yes - we definitely think you should. Romania is a beautiful country. There are strengths and weaknesses in every country - the same goes for Romania.

We are fortunate that we got a versatile perspective on the country during the time we were there.

Our opinion was not shaped by just one city. You are sure to find the castles and ancient cities you are looking for - but Romania will change you in ways you never expected before.

It's more than just Dracula souvenirs and cheap prices. We look forward to returning soon to discover more of this country and understand it better.

What is your opinion? Have you been to Romania before or are you considering going there soon? What did you hear or what did you experience?

We'd love to hear the perspectives of other travelers or locals.

As always, happy waddling!
-L + E

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Categories Romania