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Could Romania become the new summer Spain

So would you ever think about visiting the country of Romania? Not many people in the UK would but the country has a lot to offer tourists. The area is filled with timeless traditions and the food and wine is to die for. Local people are proud of their heritage and welcome tourists. ‘So with pleasure I invite British tourists visit Romania and discover the unique culture and diversity’ says Mihai Petre. So what exactly is there for us typical British tourists to sample and enjoy?

Romania has some of the most beautiful attractions and its culture is a joy to witness. In Bucharest, The Palace of the Parliament is a must see attraction. For history lovers, there is a wide choice of museums steeped in traditional culture. The city of Pitesti, to the south of Bucharest, is filled with magnificent buildings highlighting the country’s beautiful architecture. There are many fine restaurants in the region and festivals showcase long standing traditions.

So what more could you want from a country? There are sights and sounds that are waiting to be discovered. ‘If people would come and visit Romania they could get in touch with the Romanian spirit, cultural and moral values and could easily understand the way of life’ says local Adelina Petre.

The first stop in Bucharest is to explore the city on a sightseeing tour. Tickets are priced at 25 Lei (£5) for adults and 10 Lei (£2) for children. Children up to the age of seven travel free. Tickets are valid for 24 hours after purchase.

The Palace of the Parliament or (The People’s Palace) was constructed in 1983 as a symbol of Communist power. It is the 2nd largest building in the world and contains 1,100 individual rooms. Since the fall of Communism in 1989, it has become the home of the National Parliament. The Palace is open from 10am- 4pm every day and English guided tours are available on request. The University Square in Bucharest is a bustling place to be and houses the Bucharest History & Art Museum (Muzeul Municipiului Bucuresti). The museum is open from Wed to Sun from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. There is an admission charge of 6 Lei (£1) for adults and 3 Lei (50p) for concessions. The museum features some 300,000 artefacts, ranging from antique coins to Romanian traditional costumes.

For art lovers, the National Art Museum is the best gallery to visit, exhibiting over 100,000 works of art. The gallery is open from Wed to Sun from 11:00 a.m. -7:00 p.m. (May – September only) and from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. from October to April. Combined entrance tickets for the Gallery of European Art and The National Gallery are charged at 15 Lei (£3). Students and senior citizens receive a 50% discount (with valid ID card). Admission to the museum on the first Wednesday of each month is free. Audio tours with an English speaking guide are available for 10 Lei (£2) per person.

Pitesti hosts an annual tulip festival in the spring named “Simfonia lalelelor” (translated as the “Tulip Symphony”). The festival was first introduced to the city in 1978 and has now become one of the most popular annual festivals in the region. As well as festivals, the city is home to the Fantana Muzicala/Cantatoare din Pitesti (Singing fountain of Pitesti). The fountain lights up each evening accompanied by traditional music providing hours of entertainment for the whole family.

For the shopaholics, the Euromall in Pitesti is a shopper’s paradise and has all your shopping and entertainment needs under one giant roof. It is open daily from 10 am to 10pm although the restaurants stay open until 11pm. There are plenty of opportunities to spend your hard earned cash. The mall also has a large food court serving a mixture of fast food and restaurants. For film fans, there is a six screen multiplex cinema showing the latest movies in 2D or 3D. Prices vary between 2D and 3D showings and the time of day. As well as movies, the whole family can enjoy a friendly game of bowling or two at the 6 lane bowling alley in Strikemania. Prices range from 5 Lei to 12 Lei (£1 to £2.50) per game and the alleys are open from 9am to 11pm.

As well as attractions, Romanian cuisine has a lot to offer tourists from the traditional meatballs wrapped in cabbage (known locally as Sarmale) to Supă (a clear soup made out of a mixture of vegetables and meat). ‘We proudly offer our guests some of our traditions and we can delight them with Romanian cuisine’ says Mihai. There are restaurants in Bucharest where you can indulge in the best food in town. Vacamuuu restaurant in the city centre offers the best in steak and meat. Or for those who want to sample traditional cuisine; Vatra offers great local food (Between £15- £20 per person). Romania has a long tradition of wine making dating back over 6,000 years. Transylvania produces high quality white wines, while Muntenia and Oltenia to the south of the country are renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon red wines.

‘I believe Romania is a country to visit even if it’s just for the experience’, concludes Adelina. Maybe as a country we should take on board her advice. Next time we pick up a holiday brochure and look at the hotels in Spain, we should pause for a second. Maybe we could go somewhere that will be a new experience for us. A place filled with culture, history and tradition, where the people welcome tourists with a friendly smile. A country that has so much to offer and in my opinion that place is Romania.

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