Romania: Explore the Carpathian Garden – By Natalia Oparka-Kharma


Bran Castle

When we think of summer we immediately think of holidays…resting..relaxing…sunbathing… This year, however, I chose to spend my summer differently. Since it’s been a tough year, I wanted to do something unusual with my life, something fulfilling, something… that would make me want to wake up in the morning and not complain about too much sunlight. I took an offer of becoming a teaching volunteer in Romania.. crazy, right? The offer sounded too good to be true, so I immediately pictured my poor body being sold for parts, but I went for it anyway. Said tearful goodbyes to my family (may be seeing them for the last time, right?!) n off i went. When i reached the airport I was apprehensive..anxious… but happy. I met other volunteers and our amazing adventure started! I got a chance to live in 3 places all in all: Bran, Fundata and extraordinary Bucharest…

  1. Bran –  Are you familiar with vampire stories? Who am I asking, we are the generation of The Vampire Diaries and Twilight afer all. Well, Bran is the place with Vlad Tepes’s castle – that guy was supposedly the first vampire. And his story was convincing enough for Bram Stoker, the author of “The Dracula”. Beautiful town with an extraordinary castle, a museum and lots of cosy beautiful restaurants and pubs. The views of the mountains will take your breath away. Expect lots of tourists and quite a crowd on weekends.

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  1. Fundata – Sports resort. If you love mountains and scenic views, Fundata is the place for you. It is an amazing sport resort (you are very likely to meet some foreign and national football teams, sportsmen of all sorts, so if you’re a female reader, don’t forget to put your make up on before leaving the hotel) with a proper SPA. Massive complex of beautiful hotels guarantees a great time both in winter and summer.

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  1. Bucharest – If you are in Romania, visiting Bucharest is a must! Beautiful city with amazing Old Market, which is buzzing day and night. Whether you are with your mates or with your family, you will never be bored in Bucharest. Plenty of museums to go to during the day, the city itself seems to be collection of monuments of  its times. Don’t be discouraged by the communist looks of some of the buildings, this city has a soul that is worth looking into. Very vibrant and never asleep, Bucharest will surprise you with its nightlife.

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Thanks to the amazing volunteering opportunity, I got a chance to see the beauty of Romania and its people, who are very open, generous and friendly. Most people speak English and even if they don’t they are extremely helpful. Summers are really hot, so go easy on the sweaters, while winters may need your warmest coats. Don’t forget to try some Romanian food (they are big meat-lovers!) and if you are offered Palinca – expect to get drunk in about…3-4 minutes..

Dubai, Malaysia, Italy and Spain do sound great, but if you want to go off the beaten path, try Romania, which is after all a bit underrated when it comes to tourism. I guarantee you will have the time of your life! Tried it – loved it!

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