Archives December 2016

Five winter hiking trails in Bucegi mountains

Skiing is very much talked about among winter sports enthusiasts in Romania, but there are many other ways to enjoy breathtaking mountain views and working out outdoor. Hiking during wintertime is a great alternative for those who don’t know how to ski or prefer discovering places, a slower pace and a bigger freedom to move.

Here are 4 wintertime trails in Bucegi, the most popular mountain area in Romania. The Bucegi mountains have the densest network of marked hiking routes: 39 approved trails, most of them accessible during the cold season.

1. Trail: Sinaia (900 m) – Poiana Stanei (1270 m) – Sinaia
Marking: blue stripe
The trail length is about 2 – 2 ½ hours.

2. Trail: Gura Diham (987 m) – Poiana Izvoarelor (1455 m) (red stripe)
Poiana Izvoarelor – Diham tourist cottage (1320 m ) (blue cross & red dot)
Diham tourist cottage – Saua Baiului (1363 m ) – Gura Diham (blue triangle)
Marking: red stripe, blue cross, red dot, blue triangle
The trail length is about 4 – 5 hours.

3. Trail: Sinaia, Cota 2000 – Piatra Arsă tourist cottage (1950 m) (yellow stripe)
Piatra Arsa tourist cottage – Pestera Hotel (1610 m) (blue stripe)
Pestera Hotel – Padina tourist cottage (1509 m) (red stripe)
Marking: yellow stripe, blue stripe, red stripe
The trail length is about 4 – 4 ½ hours.

4. Trail: Padina tourist cottage (1509 m) – Saua Laptici (1830 m) – Valea Dorului tourist cottage (1820 m) – Mioriţa (1987 m) – Cota 1400 (red stripe)
The trail length is about 4 – 4 ½ hours.
Marking: red stripe

5. Trail: Cota 2000 – Babele
Marking : yellow stripe
The trail starts in Sinaia, Cota 2000 and ends in Babele (from where you can take the gondola for Busteni). The trail length is about 2 – 2 ½ hours.

When hiking during wintertime, make sure you have complete equipment including a map, adequate winter boots & waterproof clothes, a back pack, a headlamp, a first aid kit, a thermos bottle, food and sweets. Before heading out to the mountains, you may also want to pack trekking sticks, snowshoes and sun glasses.

Păltiniș, the oldest ski resort in Romania

The ski season is opening in Romania and winter sports fans are starting to plan their weekends away on mountain resorts in the Carpathians. If you are one of them, make sure you visit the oldest ski resort in Romania, located 32 km away from Sibiu, in Cindrel mountains. Since 1894, thanks to altitude of 1442 m, Păltiniș is the highest ski resort where tourists can enjoy the longest winter sports period.

Păltiniș is known to have ski slopes of medium and light difficulty, artificial snow and even a snow fun park. Enthusiasts will find here the newest slope complex in Romania, Arena Platoș, and several ski slopes with various degrees of difficulty: Oncești 1, Oncești 2, Păltiniș Dealul Poplăcii, Păltiniș Santa, Păltiniș Dăneasa, Oncești Păltiniș and DăujoaraPăltiniș. Located on Poiana Poplăcii plateau, 1 km away from Păltiniș at an altitude of 1400 m in Cindrel mountains, the Arena Platoș complex has five slopes for winter sports, equipped with four cable transport installations, snow cannons, nocturnal area, rentals center, ski and snowboard school and an Austrian après ski bar. For more details on the slopes and the rest of the facilities in Arena Platoș, visit their well organized website (English version available).

What makes Păltiniș a must-visit mountain resort is also the weather phenomenon common here, the temperature inversion. In days when it takes place, one can see a truly charming vue: beyond the sea of clouds down in the depression, appear the peaks of Făgăraș mountains to the east, Rodnei mountains to the north-east and Apuseni mountains to the north-west. At sunset, the Vălare area offers a wonderful scenery as well, over Sibiu and Făgăraș mountains.

A tourist attraction worth visiting is Schitul (hermitage), a wooden church built in the 1920s where the famous Romanian philospher Constantin Noica was buried. Noica’s memorial house is located in Păltiniș and can also be visited.


How to get there

By car: From Sibiu, take the county road DJ 106 A (32 km)

By train: you can get only to Sibiu, as Păltiniș has no train station




Address: 1 Strada Pricipala (Main Street), Păltiniș, Sibiu county

Phone:+40 269 215 000




Address: DJ106A, Sibiu county

Phone: +40374 905 090



Bujorul de munte Guesthouse

Address: Poiana Poplăcii – Platoş area, DJ 106 A FN, Poplaca village, Sibiu county

Phone: +40722-193055


Divan Group opens new Greek restaurant in Bucharest

Divan Group, the owner Bucharest restaurants Divan, Divan Express and Meze Taverna, opened the Greek restaurant Kuzina.

The new venue is meant to serve the offices in the Barbu Vacarescu area of the capital and comes with its own store retailing Greek specialties, and a wine cellar. The restaurant, which can seat 95 people, was designed by architect Cristian Corvin, who also worked on the other venues of the group.

The menu of the place includes the beef meat dish Gyro Kavurma. A range of Greek and Mediterranean products can be purchased at the store of the restaurant, including orange comfiture, olive oil, Greek cheeses and balsamic vinegar with a special flavor, kept in a barrel made of chestnut tree wood.

Divan Group is run by businessman Andrei Iușut, and operates on the Bucharest market. The group has two fast-food restaurants under the Divan Express brand, the Turkish restaurant Divan, the Greek restaurant Meze Taverna and the tourism agency AA Travel.

Photo: Corvin Cristian

Rimetea: the village where the sun rises twice

It is considered to be the most beautiful village in Transylvania and there is a legend saying that here, in Rimetea, the sun rises twice.

Half of the little over 300 houses have been restored, thanks to a funding program that helped turning it from an ancient mining village to a charming and successful agro-touristic region. Over 75% of the tourists coming here are foreigners and their number keeps growing from one year to another, attracted by the beauty of the wild landscape, traditional architecture and the locals’ hospitality.

Due to conservation efforts, Rimetea was awarded the European Commission’s Europa Nostra Award for the conservation of the material cultural heritage and, earlier, the village was designated a protected architectural and urban area. The oldest heritage sites are the two fortifications, one from the Latène age and the other from the medieval age, prior to the Mongol invasion. Most of heritage buildings date from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

What to see in Rimetea

Anyone can enjoy a stroll to discover the architectural beauty of traditional secular buildings (houses, stables, workshops etc.) spread from the center of the village to the outskirts. The oldest house in the village is the home of a miner, built in 1668 and renovated after 2004.

Rimetea also has the oldest working water mill in the region (over two centuries old). A small blacksmith’s workshop still stands next to the mill structure.

Tourists can also visit the Unitarian Church in the center of the historic town and the main square. Built on the site of a medieval church between 1780 and 1804, its oldest part is the tower enlarged in 1670.

The ethnographic museum in Rimetea has an impressive collection of over 11.000 objects exhibited in only 5 rooms, reflecting what used to be the main occupations of the inhabitants of the area: mining, metallurgy and woodworking.

Visitors shouldn’t leave out the village’s cemetery established at the beginning of the eighteenth century, a record of the development of folk art in the village and a unique place in Romania, as some tombs are carved into the rock.

What to do in Rimetea and nearby

Throughout the year, tourists come to admire local architecture, enjoy the taste of traditional cuisine and the locals’ hospitality.

Around the end of February, on the Saturday before the start of the Easter Fast or the Great Fast, villagers celebrate Shrove Tuesday (“lăsatul secului de carne” in Romanian) through a ”fărșang” (“farsang” in Hungarian) – a carnival whose main event is a ritual procession, a burlesque of the burial of winter, symbolizing the chase off of evil spirits. The fărșang is specific to Catholic and Protestant communities in Transylvania and is the equivalent of carnival in Catholic and Protestant countries.

During the warm season, Rimetea is a great destination for hiking, climbing and air sports, especially paragliding. Other sites nearby worth visiting are the Colţeşti Fortress (or Trascăului Fortress) built in 1296 in the neighbouring village Colţeşti, Piatra Secuiului – a limestone massif divided into two parts by a ravine which makes the sun, from May to September, to actually rise twice for people living in the north of Rimetea, Cheile Vălișoarei – the gateway to Trascăului depression and home to 27 caves (the longest is 134 m) – and the famous Salina Turda salt mine, nominated in 2014 by Business Insider as the most beautiful underground place in the world (read more about Salina Turda here).

How to get there

Rimetea is located in Alba County on DJ107M county road.

Getting there by car:
– from Cluj (less than one hour drive): take the E60 road from Cluj to Turda, follow DN1/E81 to DN75 in Mihai Viteazu, take the DN75 exit from DN1/E81 and follow DN75 and DJ107M to Rimetea,
– from Sibiu (about 1h 40 minutes): take the A1 road to Aiud and then continue on DJ107M to Rimetea,
– from Bucharest (about 5 ½ hours): take the E81 road from Bucharest to Sibiu and follow the route Sibiu – Rimetea above.

New ice skating rink opens in Bucharest

The first privately-owned ice skating rink opened in Bucharest this week. The rink, which was developed by the Ion Tiriac Foundation, is located on the Drumul Garii Odai St., in Otopeni.

The rink, called Telekom Arena, was built to international Olympic and International Hockey Federation standards .

The new rink has a total surface of 4,863 sqm, can seat 500 people and has 70 parking spaces, according to The rink cost EUR 3.6 million to build. It is meant to be the first arena in a larger sports complex that the former tennis player Ion Tiriac plans to build on a 20 hectares site in Otopeni. It is the first ice skating rink built in the Bucharest – Ilfov area in the past 64 years and the only one open after the Mihai Flamaropol one closed down in 2013.


Bucharest, a sparkling European city to see this Christmas

Bucharest’s University Square has been likened to a winter wonderland at Christmas time by the portal in a list of “14 sparkling European cities you have to see at Christmas time.”

Romania’s capital has made the list alongside Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Madrid or Rome.

The Christmas lights in the city were turned on by Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea on December 1st, the country’s National Day. The Bucharest Christmas Market opened the same day in Constitutiei Square.

Read more about the list of sparkling European cities at

Cismigiu: the city’s oldest public garden

The oldest public garden in the capital, the Cismigiu Park is one of the city’s most accessible and popular sites. Listed as one of the city’s historical monuments, it is landscaped similar to English parks, with a varied vegetation and colorful flower beds.

The history of the park begins in 1779 when local ruler Alexandru Ipsilanti ordered the construction of two fountains in the city. (In Romanian a cismea is a type of fountain and a possible start for the formation of the name of the park.) The first one was built on the side of the park which today faces the Stirbei Voda Street, and nearby the Dura the Merchant’s lake could be found. It is the lake that later took on the Cismigiu name. The lake used to flood the city frequently and in 1830 the general Pavel Kiseleff ordered the pond to be drained and turn the land into a public garden. The works take place only in 1847 when landscaper Wilhelm Mayer, the former director of the Vienna Imperial Gardens is called to work on the project with the help of gardener Franz Harer. In 1852 the garden received its first surrounding fence and various other improvements and it was officially inaugurated in 1854.

The winter of 1883 saw the lake freeze and the first ice-skating contests organized here. The same year the park was further enlarged and the statues of Romanian writers were placed here as well as the other monuments or statues, among which the marble one remembering the French soldiers who fought in the World War I. Another distinctive place inside the gardens are the ruins of a monastery built by boyar Vacarescu in 1756, another reminder of the age of the place and its endurance through the years.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Romanian wall-carpet craftsmanship included on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The wall-carpet craftsmanship in Romania and the Republic of Moldova has been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Romanian Culture Ministry announced. With the inclusion, the universal value of traditional wall-carpet weaving techniques is recognized, as well as their role in enriching cultural diversity and human creativity.

According to the craft’s presentation on the UNESCO’s website, wall carpets made by weavers in Romania and the Republic of Moldova have served various functions: decorative ones, an insulation one, and they were also part of a bride’s dowry. Based on the motifs woven, they could also indicate where the weaver was from. At funerals they symbolized a passage for the soul to the hereafter.

The craft was passed in villages from grandmothers or mothers to the girls, while in cities it could be learned in craft centers, associations, colleges or museums.

Five other Romanian traditions are currently on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Căluş ritual, the traditional song Doina, the craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics, the Christmas-time ritual of men’s group Colindat (caroling), and the lad’s dances.

Photo: Ministry of Culture of Romania/