Eastern Mara Valley Cosau Valley

Heading south from Sighetu, bear left at Ferejti along the road leading to Maramurej' least accessible villages. From Baia Mare, you can approach this area through Cavnic, across the Neteda Pass. Cornejti, the first village along this stretch, has a small 18th-century church with interior paintings by Hodor Toador. Calinesti, 7km further south, is where in 1862 archaeologists uncovered a cache of bracelets and ankle chains, believed to date from Roman times. Calinesti has two churches, known as...

Vanatori Neamt Forest Park

The forest and woods surrounding these monasteries and stretching north to the village of Gro i are protected as the Vanatori-Neamf Forest Park ( 206 001 www.vanatoripark.ro). Its headquarters and information centre are in Varatec, on the main road to the monastery. A visit to the information centre (S 8am-4pm Mon-Fri) is highly recommended before any drive or hike through the region it has detailed maps of hiking trails and can alert you as to whether any side roads have been closed or...

The Muddy Volcanoes Of The Eastern Carpathian Mountains

The tiny village of Berca, about 30km northwest of Buzau, is the staging area for the Muddy Volcanoes (Vulcanii Noroio i) - or 'the gates of hell' as the locals call them - one of Romania's best known geological reserves. Mud replaces lava here through a less powerful geological reaction, but with similar effect. Volcano cones up to 6m high dribble mud with surprising colours -greys, browns, ochre or simply shining black - while the chocolate borders of the craters are adorned with the white...

Cricova

The Cricova winery ( 22-277 378 www.cricova.md Str Ungureanu 1 S8am-4pm) is the grand duke of Moldovan wineries - and it knows it. This underground wine kingdom, 15km north of Chijinau in the village of Cricova, is one of Europe's biggest. It boasts 120km of labyrinthine roadways, 60 of which are used for wine storage, up to 100m underground. These 'cellars' are lined with wall-to-wall bottles and are kept at a temperature of 12 C to 14 C, with humidity at 96 to 98 to best protect the 1.25...

Theatre Opera Ballet

The Opera amp Ballet Theatre Map p320 s 244 163 B-dul Stefan eel Mare 152 S box office 10am-2pm amp 5-7pm is home to the esteemed national opera and ballet company. It mainly stages classics but some modern pieces are occasionally performed. Tickets costs upwards of 3. If your Romanian is up to snuff, you'll get a few belly laughs from the plays staged at the Satirical Theatre Teatrul Satiricus Map p320 224 034 Str Mihai Eminescu 55 . Contemporary Romanian productions can be seen at the Mihai...

Gagauzia

Subordinate to Moldova constitutionally and for foreign relations and defence, Gagauzia Gagauz Yeri is an autonomous region covering 1832 sq km of noncontiguous land in southern Moldova. Unlike Transdniestr, the region eventually found its niche within Moldova through judicious mediation, but there's still simmering unrest between the two entities over language and economic issues. On a national level, Gagauzia is represented by the assembly's elected bafkan head, governor , a member of the...

Maps Publications

Some city and country maps are still around from the Soviet era, but they're as large as a city block. Chifinait the Touristic Scheme 1.50 , published by Strih SRL, is a good reference. Strih SRL also puts out a user-friendly map of Chijinauand Moldova 1.50 , sold inmost bookstores. Andy's Pizza Beer House iVif-iiioii.il I'.iik C f-nif-tf-iy 11 D3 Andy's Pizza Beer House National Centre of Culture amp Circus Star x ZSLi S 64km . - - - Trandaftrrior x ZSLi S 64km . - - - Trandaftrrior El t...

Transdniestr

One of the most patently curious regions in Europe, the self-declared republic of Transdniestr Pridnestrovskaya Moldavskaya Respublika, or PMR in Russian population 555,500 is nevertheless a largely unknown enigma. The street credibility of being one of the world's last surviving communist bastions is wearing thin, however, as the illusion of a worker's paradise is being swifdy eclipsed by sweet, sweet capitalism Monuments to Lenin and other Soviet heroes share high-profile street corners with...

Festivities Culture

Outside of carefree, fu ca-swilling wintertime, the most noteworthy celebration in Maramure is the Hora de la Prislop folk music festival, held annually on the second Sunday in August. The festival's hora dancers stamp their feet, swing their upper body, and clap vigorously to the rhythm of a apurituri, a chanted rhyme drummed out by three musicians on a traditional zongora a type of viola , a cetera shrill violin and a doba bongo made from fir or maple wood, covered with goat or sheep hide ....

Varatec Monastery

Six hundred nuns live at Varatec Monastery admission free , 7km south of the Agapia turn-off along 15C. Founded in 1785, the complex houses an icon museum and a small embroidery school. The grave of poet Veronica Mide, Mihai Emines-cu's great love, lies within the monastery walls. She committed suicide on 4 August 1889, two months after Eminescu's death. Whitewashed in 1841, the main church incorporates neoclassical elements in its design. Compared to other nearby monasteries, Varatec looks...

Cotnari

Its vineyards, dating from 1448, are among the most famed in Romania, producing four to six million bottles of sweet white wine a year and exporting to the US, Canada, England, Italy, Spain and Japan, among others. Legend says ijtefan eel Mare described it as 'wine given by God'. There was a Geto-Dacian stronghold on Catalina Hill 280m in Cotnari from the 4th century BC. In 1491 ijtefan eel Mare built a small church in the village and in 1562 a Latin college...

Not Exactly A National Sport

Did you know that Moldova is world famous for its underwater hockey teams Well, OK, infamous then. You wouldn't normally associate such a sport as underwater hockey with Moldova come to think of it, there aren't any countries you'd associate it with, but that's another story . However, in the 2000 Underwater Hockey Championships held in the world-renowned underwater-hockey metropolis of Hobart, in Tasmania, Australia, the Moldovan men's team puzzled referees and judges by not even knowing how...

Getting Started

Half the fun is planning a trip - and Romania and Moldova offer a range of diverse possibilities. See our suggested itineraries pi7 for more. Local travel agents offer some excellent trips or advice - see p363 for a recommended list. Its winters are quite cold and summers quite hot, but Romania is a year-round destination. There is much variation in its climate the average annual temperature in the south is 11 C, 7 C in the north and only 2 C in the mountains. In recent summer months,...

BUS

Arad has two bus stations, one for international buses Str6 V n tori 2 and the domestic autogar SS 273 323 Str Banu M r clne , two blocks west of the train station. Daily internal buses from the autogar include two to Timi oara 3 , one to Bucharest 12 and one to Craiova. State buses go to Szeged 10 and Budapest 15 . Private companies selling tickets for international buses to for example Hungary, France and Spain line B-dul Revolufiei. These buses are considerably more comfortable than the...

Getting Around

The central bus and trolleybus stop is at the eastern end of Pia a 22 Decembrie all buses and trolleybuses to and from the two train stations arrive at depart from here. Buses 2 and 4, and maxitaxis 6 and 9 run between the centre and Gara Sud Burdujeni . To reach Gara Nord, take bus 5 or maxitaxis 1 and 12. Beware, these maxitaxi routes are notorious for lurking pickpockets. Icar Tours 524 894 www.iar.ro Str tefan eel Mare 24 S 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1 pmSat has the largest fleet of hire cars in...

AIR

All international flights to Moldova use Chijinau Kishinev airport, Moldova's only airport, 14.5km southeast of the centre. Moldova has three national airlines. Moldavian Airlines Map p320 549 339, airport 525 506 www.mdv.md B-dul Jtefan eel Mare 3 located in the Air Service www.air5erviee.md travel centre offers 12 weekly flights to Timijoara and two daily flights to Budapest, from where it has connections to other European destinations. Also in the Air Service centre isCarpatair www.earpatair...

Highlights

Gorge on the many dining gems found in Chi inau p325 before diving into its kick-ass nightlife Stagger through organised or improvised wine tours p329 at the country's world-famous vineyards Contemplate the lifestyles of 13th-century monks in the fantastic cave monasteries at Orheiul Vechi p331 and Jipova p332 Make a discreet visit to the living Soviet museum that is Transdniestr and its capital, Tiraspol p337 Relax with likeminded Moldovans at the rural escapes of Zimbet Camping p332 and Satul...

Thermal Pools

Wallowing in a thermal pool or being pummelled into oblivion by a masseur is all part and parcel of a stay in Baile Herculane. Hotel Roman p222 has a thermal swimming pool admission 2 , which is open to non-guests. Hotel Cerna p222 also has a thermal pool adult child 0.60 0.30 and treatment centre. The Seven Springs Izvoare 7 thermal pool and camping ground is 4km to the north of Hotel Roman, from where you catch a maxitaxi 0.25 . Seven Springs is a summer-only attraction, and tends to be...

Tourist Information

Suceava is bursting with tourist resources. Start while you're still at home by visiting www.lasuceava.ro. Ciprian Slemcho 0744-292 588 www.mtour.go.ro Leading tours around Suceava and Maramure for eight years, Ciprian is a specialist in both religion and history. He's a can-do kind of guy if It's humanly possible he'll make it happen, including booking a room at no charge. Infoturism 551 241 infoturismiasuceava.rdsnet.ro Str Mihai Eminescu 8 S 8am-8pm Thls is the official tour-Ism office of...

Cernica

Often missed, but home to some breathtaking interior paintings, Cernica Sfanta Manastire Cernica is on a small island in the middle of Cernica Lake, 14km east of Bucharest. Two churches, some chapels, a cemetery, seminary and a small museum are contained within the intensely beautiful fortified complex, founded on the site of a 17th-century church in 1781. An earthquake destroyed much of the complex in 1842 but it was successfully restored in the 1990s. A smaller church, St Nicolae's Church...

Botiza

From Rozavlea continue south for 3km to ieu, then take the turn-off right for idyllic Botiza. Botiza's old church, built in 1694, is overshadowed by the giant new church, constructed in 1974 to serve devout Orthodox families. The 9am Sunday service is the major event of the week in Botiza. The entire village flocks to the church to partake in the religious activities which continue well into the afternoon. Op ration Villages Roumains runs a local agroturism scheme, which offers half full board...