Don't be influenced by the first impressions that the overpowering communist apartment blocks leave on you as you first enter a Romanian city from the airport. The country is doing it's best at a slow pace to recuperate from the ugliness. The city centres, the parks, villages and most importantly the rich emerald nature tell you a different story.
I arrived in Romania with low expectations and yet I am truly impressed. We are in Transylvania for a wedding and got to travel across Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu and Sighisoara (the birthplace of Dracula).
Cluj is the second biggest city of Romania and a university town, which makes it trendy and hip with clubs, cafes and restaurants on top of Austro-Hungarian historical influences in impressive architecture, squares, boulevards and villas. It is worth mentioning that in Romania they call a venue serving in a courtyard, a terrace.
The road to the city of Sibiu is normally about 3 hours; however, literally the longest ever tailback I experienced in my life was on this road. Whilst there are brand new motorways in part, the road takes you through the most authentic Romanian villages and the most beautiful forest and farmland scenery. It is absolutely serene and gorgeous.
In Sibiu Old Town, you might even feel like you are in Prague at times. The squares, the little alleys and buildings are beautiful remnants of the Austro-Hungarian times. However, I didn't come across any Ottoman remnants. Perhaps they got rid of them purposefully. However, I have come across a surprising number of Turks who live and work here.
Whilst Dracula's birth town Sigishoara is much smaller, it is very quaint and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What I liked most about Romania is that it is very comfortable to drive around, very safe, not commercial or inundated with tourists, the common architecture is very unique ( how I would picture a Draculan Romania) and most importantly the nature is unspoilt and absolutely stunning.
For our friends ' wedding, we are told that the tradition is to pay for the wedding dinner in an envelope and putting it in a box.