After a long one and a half year with the pandemic, not being able to travel much, it was finally a time and opportunity to go out and explore the world again. With the travel restrictions, there was not many places to chose from, but luckily, a couple of places I didn’t visit yet was open for Norwegians, one of them – Romania!
I made a rough draft of what I wanted to do while in Romania, with a time frame of three weeks, and also had a hope of being able to visit Moldova, as the border between these two countries were also open.
I asked my friend if he wanted to join, and after some back and forth on the plan and budget, he decided to join me for this adventure!
Our flight was to Bucharest, with return. The flight was about 80€, but with check-in luggage it came to about 200€. We shared this, as we only needed one check-in luggage for both of us.
We decided to spend our three first nights in Bucharest, exploring the capital of Romania, before renting a car to explore the rest of the country.
Heading to Moldova
From our research, it looked like driving to Moldova and crossing the border should be easy, so we rented a car in Bucharest, and headed of to Chisinau. A 6 hour drive later, we arrived at the southern border crossing between Romania and Moldova – but there was one problem. We had to have a negative PCR test to enter, despite none of the web sites or research we found saying so.
Tired from a long drive, we got help finding the nearest place that could provide us with a test the same evning. So we drove an hour and a half north to the city of Iasi. We got the test, and had the negative result 15 minutes later. Then it was back to another border crossing for our last chance of crossing for the day. This time, with no problem.
Our first experience heading into Moldova was darkness. The roads were completely dark, no lights, no roadmarkings, nothing. Part of the roads were well maintained, and part of the road was forestry gravel roads. Despite this, it was only about a 1.5 hour drive from Iasi to Chisinau.
Our plan was to stay in Chisinau for 3 nights, as we heard there’s not much to do here, except just to have a look at the capital and experience this post soviet country and capital, with the least amount of tourists of any capital in Europe. We expected it to be a bit interesting, but overall pretty boring – but how mistaken were we.
Our second day in the city, we met a couple of really friendly local girls, that felt so interested in talking to us, and letting us get to know real Moldova. We ended up taking a roadtrip a few days later with them to two of the most popular tourist attractions of Moldova; Old Orheiul Monastary, and Cricova Whinery.
They also let us meet their friend group at a bar, drinking, having fun and just feeling really included in a local group of friend in the city. They were so open to letting us into their group, having really interesting conversations about life in Moldova, and also their interest in how life in Scandinavia was in contrast.
We ended up extending our stay from 3 nights to 5 nights, just to have more time with these people.
I would shower them with gratitude for giving me one of my best travel memories with these people!
From Chisinau, we decided to have one day trip with a guide to Transnistria. This breakaway autonomous republic, declaring their own country in 1992 after the collapse of Soviet Union is the last and best preserved Soviet republic you can come across. Lenin statues, USSR emblems and symbols everywhere.
They have their own border control, currency, government and army. It really felt like the saying;
“The country that doesn’t exist”
Our tour first took us to the border town of Bendery, with Bendery foretress. From there to the capital of Tiraspol, and finishing of in a village of Kitskany, including the Noul Neamt Monastary and the Memorial Complex of Kitskany
After Chisinau, we drove back to Iasi, Romania. It was a short drive of 1,5h, and we only stayed here one night. The city center, with their avenue leading up to the Palace of Culture was really amazing, along with a lot of other beautiful buildings I didn’t get any good picture of, because it was too dark.
After Iasi, we drove to Cluj-Napoca, about a 5-6 hour drive. Part of the scenery was really beautiful, with big green rolling hills, and some mountains. First hours of the drive was mostly farmland.
From Cluj, we drove 40minutes south to a popular destination called Salta Turdas, a salt mine outside the city of Turda. These mines style of architecture was gave me serious Sci-Fi vibes – really cool and a must go to if you visit Cluj for a few days! They even had a ferris wheel, mini-golf and a lake inside where you could rent some row boats.
In Timisoara we met up with a friend I met online through a gaming community. He agreed to meet us mulitiple days, to show us his city, taught us about it’s history, showed us local food and drinks, and took us to a music festival. He really made this city memorable for us, and we really appreciate all the memories made with him. Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures from this place, as many of my files from here got corrupt…
After Timisoara, we headed to Transylvania, the highlight of the trip nature wise. On the road we stopped by Corvin castle, and from Brasov, we visited Rasnov Castle and Bran Castle. From Brasov back to Bucharest we took the long mountainous road through Transfagarasan, a really memorable road which you would never forget driving through!
Below is a series of pictures from all of these places.