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How to Holiday in Romania

Updated: May 7, 2018

A short guide to enjoying the sights and smells of this majestic country without ending up accidentally married or on the wrong end of a Kalashnikov.


Before we start, some useful local words you might like to get acquainted with:

Vlad (n.) - man (“Hei, mein vlad!” - “hey, my man!”)

Vladette (n.) - woman

Dah - yes

Nah - no

Skoda (n.) - local transport wagon. Runs on a biofuel created from fermented turnips, but has been known to run just as well with a quart of vodka in the engine. Has the acceleration of a three legged mule on its way to the knackers yard and all the tyre grip of bambi on ice.

  1. DO learn how many leis there are in a Euro - just kidding, no one knows. Just shout a lot, throw a random assortment of notes/receipts/buttons on the counter and run.

  2. DO NOT look the beautiful women at passport control in the eye - they can pluck a man’s testicles off him like a ripe plum from a tree.

  3. DO be prepared to eat literally anything. The official national dish is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, stuffed with ham and covered in cheese. No meat or dairy product is safe. Mayonnaise is a side dish. If you can’t read Romanian just assume the menu is detailing 200 ways to prepare pork. If you’re a vegetarian then it’s BYOS (bring your own snacks).

  4. DO embrace rickets as a new constant in your life.

  5. DO NOT attempt to have a hilarious and immersive ‘local’ experience in one of Romania’s charming rural dive bars - you will be about as conspicuous as Prince Charles in a Chicken Cottage and treated with similar hostility and confusion.

  6. DO NOT try to engage the barman in polite chit-chat about the vodka ad in his window featuring a topless woman resurfacing a road.

  7. DO immediately adopt the local driving style; as though your wife is crowning in the back seat and you have minus ten minutes to get to a hospital. Romania has the highest rate of traffic fatalities in the EU so a slug of Țuică and a firm word with yourself is recommended before venturing out. It’s kill or be killed.

  8. DO NOT accept more than two shots of Țuică if you enjoy being able to see.

  9. DO remember that everyone hates you and no one is grateful for your tourism.

  10. DO embrace this fact and take tasteless photos everywhere.

  11. DO NOT go to ‘Coca Cola Wow Club’ in Transylvania. Coca Cola is selling an old fart once emitted by a glittering dream.

  12. DO go to ‘Emotions in My Trousers’ nightclub in Bucharest - it will leave you with emotions both in your trousers and in your heart.

  13. DO waste a whole disposable camera documenting the best of Romanian signage - those are memories you'll want forever.

Written by Jess Bird

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Cover illustration by Christopher Bragg

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