Travel Blogger in Romania | Episode #1: Justin Ames – The Velvet Rocket
The first blogger on our list is Justin Ames, and today we will talk about their experience in Romania. He was born and raised in California, but throughout his life, he lived in numerous countries. He came to Romania in search of Transylvania’s Dracula, but let’s not spoil the fun and let’s discover Romania with Justin Ames from The Velvet Rocket:
1. How long have you been traveling for?
Ha, my mother took me on a flight when I was just two weeks old, but if I don’t remember it, it doesn’t count, right? I did plenty of travel with my family when I was younger, but I really started traveling on my own to interesting places after I was done with university and felt stuck in a boring job. Traveling to places like Afghanistan or Somalia seemed like an antidote to that life.
2. Are you a backpacker/long-term traveler/business traveler or do you live and work abroad?
My backpacking has been confined to the wilderness, but I would definitely fall into either the “long-term traveler” or “live and work abroad” category.
3. How many countries have you been to?
The last time I counted, it was in the 70-75 range.
4. Quickfire questions:
Favorite season? – Fall.
Beach or mountain? – Mountain.
Urban or rural? – Rural.
Next destination on your list? – Eritrea.
5. How did Romania find its way on your list of destinations?
I really like Eastern Europe and so, naturally, Romania was a country that I looked into. The more I researched it though, the more I found that I wanted to see. So, fairly quickly, Romania moved to the top of my travel wish list.
6. Expectations vs. reality in Romania
I believe many visitors expect all of Romania to be gray and grim and, yes, there are a few parts of Bucharest that look like this. However, Romania has so many layers that are the complete opposite of that stereotype from the Danube Delta to the Carpathian Mountains to the plains in the east to the small rural villages in Transylvania. It is really a tremendously diverse country. No matter what one is into – from history to hiking – there will be something in Romania for them.
7. How was your experience with the traditional Romanian food?
We frequently will purchase groceries at a local market and then just take them back to whichever apartment we are renting to make breakfast and dinner. However, we ended up eating out almost every night in Romania because we kept finding great restaurants with great food. And when we discovered freshly baked kürtőskalács up in the mountains, well, they became a daily meal for us.
8. How did the Romanian people seem to you?
Although Romanians can seem somewhat reserved to outsiders, don’t be put off by that exterior. They are extremely helpful and friendly. As an example of this, our car broke down in the middle of nowhere just as it was getting dark and a heavy storm was moving in. This was not a good situation because there was just nothing around at all and it was already extremely cold. However, at considerable inconvenience to themselves, the first person that passed by stopped and helped us get the car to an auto repair shop. Then, the owner of the auto repair shop stayed open late to get our car fixed. He charged us a very, very reasonable price for the work and we were able to be on our way again the same evening. So, for that experience alone, I shall always be grateful to the people of Romania.
9. Regarding this, did you make any friends in Romania? Do you keep in touch with anybody from Romania?
Unfortunately, given the language barrier, we were unable to get close enough to any Romanians to form a lasting connection. Hand gestures and smiles can only take one so far.
10. Do you have any funny travel stories from Romania?
No, nothing on this trip…
11. Did you convince anyone to travel to Romania?
I hope that I have because I have talked it up to anyone that has asked about it.
12. What is your least pleasant experience in Romania?
Haha, well, the traffic in Bucharest comes to mind.
13. Could you ever live in Romania?
14. Do you have any pieces of advice or tips for aspiring travelers?
I would suggest renting a car for a trip through Romania. There are so many places that are inaccessible to public transportation and yet should not be missed. Also, one of the joys of Romania is that there are so many surprises that are encountered along the way while driving that you will want to stop and explore or take pictures very, very often. One can only do this if they have their own vehicle.
15. Do you believe in vampires?
Life would certainly be more interesting if such things existed, but, no, I do not believe in vampires.