The Nomadic Wanderlust Memoirs: Exploring Romania
“Travelling, it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” — Ibn Battuta
For years now, I have been fortunate enough to have seen many beautiful parts of the world, experienced many different cultures, had great varieties of food, and witnessed greatness unfold right before my eyes in every place I have visited during my travelling and exploring times & enjoyed lots of adventures.
Yet, I’ve noticed how travelling changed the way I see the world, my perspective towards what I see became more focused on finding beauty in everything I witness. I can imagine for some this can be a little bit boring, but wandering through the streets and alleys of different cities, enjoying the beauty of the architecture that defines them and wondering about the history behind every stone I touch, embracing the wonder of nature in every place I visited and try to identify with every aspect of the different cultures I explore. I can say that this change in perspective made me hungry to travel and explore. I don’t feel that I belong to one place anymore, I feel that I am truly a citizen of the majestic beauty of earth we call our world. And for awhile now, I embraced this part of me, the part that is always restless, hungry to explore, I knew then who I am… a Nomadic traveler.
As a nomadic traveler, I have no route defined, my aim is to explore, enjoy and witness beauty, history and culture with every step I take. Yet I know that there are few things that, somehow, are a must for me to explore while traveling. Nature, History & Architecture are some of the things I always make sure to explore whenever I have a chance to explore a new country or a city.
This is my first article from a series of what you can call my travel memoirs, which will be a series of articles I will be sharing sporadically, as I want to share with you some of the amazing memories I managed to collect the last years as a Nomadic Wanderlust Traveler, and all the images I am sharing are taken by me through my iPhone lens. You can also follow my visual blog on Instagram, by clicking the below link:
Wandering across Romania: Exploring the land of the Dacians, Vlad the Impaler, the Carpathian mountains, sculptor Constantin Brancusi, Nadia Comaneci, Gheorghe Hagi & Dacia Cars.
For the past years, I had the chance to visit Romania many times, and I was lucky enough to have seen many different places within this beautiful and historic country. Something about Romania appeals to my heart and I can’t describe it in one word, and every time I go back to Romania, I make sure to see a new town or city, and explore the wonders this country holds.
“The extravagant architecture porn of Bucharest” — William O’Connor
It is said that “Great Architecture withstands time!” and being half Egyptian, I can relate to that just by visiting the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Architecture for me is a form of art, where it stands as an evidence of the evolution of mankind throughout history. Every monument, palace or building ever built has a story behind, that’s why nations do their best to preserve their architectural history, as an evidence of how great they were.
While walking around the street of the “Paris of the East”, Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, you can see its story unfolds right before your eyes, the stunning pieces of architecture in different styles, whether Art Nouveau, Neo-Romanian, French second empire or even Art Deco. Every corner, alley or street has its unique flavor of architectural art that is mixed with either over-the-top dictator style of Nicolae Ceaușescu or the ruins of the gritty-communistic architecture.
From the Palace of Parliament, or what they call the ‘House of the People’ which is the 2nd biggest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon in the USA, to the Arcul de Triumf, and to the BNR Palace all the way to the CEC Palace, you can see the faded grandeur that is mixed with the utilitarian buildings left behind from the decades of communist rule. One thing for sure, this city has one of the coolest bookshops in the world, the ‘Carturesti Carusal’ which is located in the heart of the city’s buzzy Old Town.
“There should be no Romanian who does not know of Iasi” — Nicolae Iorga
Located in the historical region of Moldavia, the second largest city in Romania is place that I found to be one of the most fascinating place in terms of history in Romania. Iasi is hailed as the Cultural & Historical capital of Romania. It was one of the first cities I ever have visited in the Eastern Bloc, and I was lucky to have been there when they were celebrating 160 years anniversary of the “small Union”.
The city is very unique, it speaks of rich culture and glorious history. It was fascinating to know that this city is traditionally known for being one of the leading centers of Romania’s social, artistic & academic life. Which is something I have sensed very clearly while exploring the city.
Beside the beauty of the glorious ‘Palace of Culture’, the city has a lot of beautiful places that demonstrate its cultural and academical significance. When I was there, I had the chance to enjoy a nice walk in a beautiful park that celebrates Eminescu, Romania’s National Poet. Also I got to walk in the hallways of the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, which is the first university established in modern Romania back in 1860. What was unique about it was the moment I got lost in the poetic reverie of the “Hall of the lost footsteps”, or as they call it in Romania, ‘Sala Pasilor Pierduti’. The hallway includes murals painted by the Romanian Painter Sabin Balasa, where he depicted Romanian legends & universal myths, as well as cultural references in a very epic cosmic romanticism way.
The birthplace of Romania’s national anthem, Braşov
I have to be honest here, Iasi has been one of my favorite cities in Romania so far, until I went to the Transylvanian sweet spot, Brasov. Surrounded by the Southern Carpathians, Brasov really managed to captivate me. It is not a city that is pretending to be Medieval, it actually is one!
It was very cold then! Freezing weather… But I really enjoyed wandering around in the historical town hall square of Braşov! You can see the clouds covering the peaks of the southern Carpathian Mountains. The town is resplendent with gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture! And I walked through Strada Sforii, the “Rope Street”, one of the narrowest streets in Europe.
And 25 kilometers southwest of Braşov, I had a short trip to visit a place I always wanted to see, the Bran castle. It was my dream since childhood, ever since my father brought home a Dracula movie on a video cassette tape, from the Video rental store (For the younger generation, this is how we used to watch movies before DVDs and Netflix came to be). The castle that was made famous by Bram Stoker, although he never visited it before he wrote his famous book ‘Dracula’. It was a mystical place, that I knew for a fact that it held too much pain and sorrow. Yet, it was a very important part of my exploration journey in Romania, and I couldn’t have not seen it.
Romania is definitely one of the countries I can recommend to visit, I felt very close to the culture, as some resemblance with the Egyptian culture was there. It is a unique country, like any other country is unique, it holds many historical significance that is demonstrated almost everywhere, and above all the nature in Romania is very majestic and breathtaking.
Let me leave you with this; exploring new places is always a great opportunity to learn more about how nations came to be, a chance to learn more about history, culture and witness all this while wandering the streets and the alleys of every place you visit.
“Traveling opens your heart, broadens your mind & fills your life with stories to tell.” Paula Bendfeldt