Since the release of Bram Stoker’s renowned novel, Dracula, Transylvania has garnered quite a gothic reputation. Visitors from all over the world flock to this wonderful land and try their best to immerse themselves in the atmosphere that it is deemed to possess. While not many vampires live there nowadays, it still is a moody place to spend a week or two at. Transylvania comprises the north-western section of Romania and it is called by many the Heart of Europe. So, without further ado, let us see the top six things to know before going there!
Do you know the etymology of the world “Transylvania”? It is Trans + Sylvania, meaning “beyond the forest”. While this is a beautiful way to call your home, the name is not just a set of sounds: it actually means what it says. Transylvania has countless forests that you can visit and they are all beautiful. Many of them are untouched and remote but chances are that you are going to find a rural road or two to take you where you want to go. If you are up for some adventure, we highly recommend that you grab yourself a tent and spend some nights under the stars in Transylvania – experiences like that cannot be forgotten. Oh, and did we mention that Romania has each and every kind of landform in the world? That is another fine reason to pick up a pair of trekking boots (wink)!
2. Language barriers:
Technically, Transylvania is located in Romania, meaning that the official language spoken there will be Romanian. There is, however, a Hungarian minority of 1.2 million people living there as well. These people will be bilingual, so if you happen to speak Hungarian, that can help as well. English is not very well spoken in rural areas but your chances will improve if you target youngsters. The urban population speaks English to some degree and if you can’t get your meaning across, just proceed to another person. Films in Romania are subtitled and not dubbed; meaning that the younger generation is bound to be able to help you out.
You may have had some good food in your life but we promise you that nothing can even come close to the untouched nature of the Transylvanian cuisine. Some of the most widespread dishes are unheard of in the western world such as smoked pork fat with onions and white bread, cabbages stuffed with ground meat, or bean soup served in a small bread with a hole bored in it. Here’s the thing: the air in Transylvania is so clear and refreshing that you need not worry about having enough oxygen to burn that extra fat that you’re bound to take in (wink). Just look at the locals and see how well they all are – and trust us, they are not checking their daily calories. According to the laws of aerodynamics, bees should not be able to fly… but they don’t know that (wink)!
4. The rail system:
This is quite possibly the worst thing about travelling to Transylvania. The rail system in Romania is so terrible that it should be kept at a safe distance. Trains are slow, sluggish and untidy. Petty thieves tend to concentrate around railway stations and prey on “rich-looking” tourists or travellers. Some of them will even have the audacity to beg for money while you are travelling on board with them. If you happen to be unlucky enough to sit next to one, you will have to keep an eye on your belongings all the time. Now, if we add the sluggishness to the mix, that may take 15 hours. Guess who’s going to fall asleep and get robbed? No, just avoid the rail system and stick to coaches!
Here’s the resounding hurray when it comes to budget-savvy travellers. Transylvania (and Romania in its entirety) is extremely cheap. You can get a whole pizza, for example, for around 2-3 euros. A beer is around 1 euro and restaurants are all affordable. Housing can be found at around 10-12 euros a night, so nothing can get between you and your fun. Taxis are also cheap if we take first world standards in to consideration: a kilometre costs 0.50-0.60 euros.
6. Internet vanguard:
You read that right: Romania has the most powerful internet connection in Europe and this translates directly to Transylvania. No matter where you might tread in terms of public establishments, you are going to find free WiFi. Cable-connected internet is also lightning-fast and there is nothing that you cannot get done online in a matter of seconds. There is no need for concern when it comes to sharing those wonderful photos taken in the local forests.
Did you enjoy our list? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about your Transylvanian experiences! Oh, and there is no need for wooden stakes (wink). Safe travels!