This year is the second I get to spend winter in New York. Last year I was very enthusiastic about spending New Year’s in New York. I mean…isn’t that for many a once in a lifetime opportunity? I didn’t miss it, but I also didn’t enjoy it that much. So given the underwhelming midtown experience and that all my close friends would be around, I decided to spend New Year’s in Romania this year.
With a heavy heart I boarded my flight on Air Serbia. It was cheaper by 50% compared to other airlines, the seats are great and lots of leg room. Get a night flight so you don’t need to use the old fashioned and not exhaustive entertainment. With a short layover in Belgrade (2 hours) I was in Bucharest in about 12 hours total. Not bad.
I am not a highly emotional person, but I love it when my friends or family wait for me at the airport. This time my friends picked me up, we went to their place to meet the precious and cute baby who was just delivered a few months back. After a lot of catching up, eating pizza and drinking wine, we we met my brother and another friend to go see the city Christmas lights. Yes, they are better than the New York ones (except the Dyker Heights ones) and you can see proof of that below:
Lascar Catargiu Street
Piata Romana (Romana Square)
Victoriei Street (George Enescu Museum – famous violin player and composer)
The first week was full of family, friends, many kids, Bucharest, my home town, mountain cabins, traditional food & drinks, Christmas gifts and magical snow landscapes.
The first mountain escape was in the middle of nature at the super popular Scandinavian style “Cabana Sapte” (Cabin Seven). I got to spend time with my closest friends and their family. Courtesy of the great moms, dads and uncles – we had really good food and drinks. We had my favorite meat “mici” (grilled sausage or “littles” if you translate literally), fish roe made from fish that was caught in the Danube Delta and the famous “cozonac” (sweet bread). We relaxed, talked, sat by the fire, walked and picked up fire wood and played with the dogs. I even found my favorite childhood book in this house. It’s called “Ciresarii” and it’s about a group of young friends and their adventures – highly entertaining and able to instill a sense of curiosity and exploration in anyone who reads it.
View near the cabin
View on the way to the cabin, shot by Andreea
Fire at the cabin
Welcome to my home town. This is where I spent the first 19 years of my life before going to University. It’s not actually called Pitesti City, I just like to reference it that way to resemble New York City :). Pitesti, older by only about 100 years than NYC, has never reached the same kind of status. However, I never thought that saying I’m from here would make me sound exotic and interesting to people who have never been around this part of the world. Life has its funny ways.
While at home, my mom always hopes that I help her more with the cooking. This year I specialized in “salata boeuf” (beef salad). We make it without the beef actually. There are lots of recipes on the internet like this one but my mom makes the best obviously (she is also a food blogger – check her out here). Reach out to me for her recipe and if you don’t know where to find pickled sweet peppers in NYC.
In Pitesti we decorated the Christmas tree, we received and offered gifts, we saw the Christmas lights (also better than NYC:)), had lunch with the extended family and spent more time with my highschool friends.
Pitesti City Hall Square, shot by Andrei
Strada Mare (Big Street – pedestrian street)
Snow in Transylvania
From my hometown I went on another 2 day trip to the mountainside with my friends from Pitesti. This time the weather got more winter like and we got to see the amazing nature covered in snow. We warmed up with the traditional boiled “tuica” and danced the Romanian “hora” a style we normally dance at weddings. Check a sample of Romanian folklore here. There’s much more so just search by the keyword on youtube if you’re curious. Our accommodation was very affordable and nice at Vila Ada in Moeciu de Jos. From there we drove about half an hour to the ski resort in Cheile Gradistei
and it was so worth it. Later in the day we went to Brasov. Though we had a hard time parking, we got to walk around the pedestrian street and the main square “Piata Sfatului” and the little quirky streets around it and enjoy their winter magic while it was snowing.
View from Cheile Gradistei
View from our room in Vila Ada, Moeciu de Jos
Main pedestrian street in Brasov (Republicii Boulevard)
George Enescu Square
Sfatului Square (Piata Sfatului)
My vacation hasn’t ended yet. I’m happy to be spending more time with close friends and equally happy to be back in my new home once 2020 begins. Happy New Year!
P.S. To learn more about Romania watch this 25 minutes Rick Steves video.