I’ll be honest in saying Romania probably wouldn’t have shown up if I had written a list called Countries I Really Want to Visit. But when my husband went there on a work assignment and stayed for nearly a month, for the second year in a row, he logged quite a bit of exploring and convinced me to throw the whole “we will save some money and not take a trip overseas this summer” idea out the window. And that is how I ended up on a flight bound for Europe with hardly two weeks of notice, excited to discover a new country!
My husband picked me up at the airport in Bucharest and we headed straight for the pleasantly touristy beach town of Mamaia. Resorts lined the beautiful beach and offered gorgeous views of the Black Sea. Our hotel, Hotel Prestige, was right on the beach and along the main drag of the town, just steps from tons of shops and restaurants. We set out exploring and realized quickly that we were a little early for the season. There were a lot of people around but many of the bars and clubs on the beach were still closed up. Our first stop was the boardwalk, a long dock that led out into the Black Sea to a jetty of rocks where tons of birds landed and took off. It was a pleasant stroll past the fishermen and the fresh sea air did wonders for my jetlag.
We had dinner at one of the pretty restaurants we passed, and had the first of what would be many experiences of trying to communicate through a language barrier. In all of the rest of Europe I have visited, it was usually rare to find someone that didn’t speak English, but in Romania it was the opposite- it was rare to find someone that did, even in areas that seemed touristy. Luckily my husband knew a few important Romanian phrases, and the old adage that a smile goes a long way couldn’t be more true. After leaving the restaurant, we got the weirdest dessert I have ever seen- a sombrero, which is a collection of naked churros (most churros I’ve seen have a cinnamony sugary coating, but these did not) and two dips of your choice. There were fruity ones, savory ones, weird ones, common ones… the girl working this stand knew enough English to inform us that chocolate sauce and salsa were a perfect combination. If you say so! Both sauces were truly delicious even if this dessert felt weird to eat.
Next we took a drive out to another part of Constanta to see the old abandon casino out by the water there. Such a great place for a stroll and the views of the old building are just fantastic. You cannot go inside, as the casino was closed in 1990, but it looks truly impressive from every angle perched on the shore. There were tons of people around, dogs circling their owners, kids on scooters, and couples hand-in-hand. We even saw three different brides and grooms having wedding day photo shoots against the beautiful backdrop.
It was truly a great way to begin my short time in Romania. On the following days we headed out to other parts of the country, including Saint Andrew’s Cave and the city of Bucharest, which I will write about in following posts. I couldn’t believe how much Romania had to offer than I didn’t even realize!