Christmas in England, NYE in Romania & flying to Bangkok

As I write this post I am in Thailand…to be more precise I am on a bus travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. A lot has happened since my last post reviewing 48 hours in Sydney, so let’s catch up, here is what I have been up to…what I have learnt along the way…and what I think some of you may find helpful or interesting at one point or another. 

Flying Home for Christmas

Aside from my mum cooking up a storm of all the typical Italian dishes I have been deprived of during the last year, being home was a very British affair.

I spent my time catching up with friends in quaint little coffee shops, enjoying walks around the local park and cobbled streets, indulging in the cheeky Sunday Roast and of course visiting my favourite city of all - London. 

During one of the days I spent in London, I got to experience the 'Hidden City' tour as a belated birthday present from my very generous cousin. It was such a fun day out!! A great activity for anyone who wants to explore areas of London away from the crowds in a fun and adventurous way. The tour will have you solving riddles which give you the directions from one place to the next, it's perfect for groups of friends or for a date. I will try to review the experience on the blog, but for more info just click here to go to their website.  

Flying to Romania for NYE

I am going to be honest, before I met my partner a visit to Romania would have been far from my radar. Like many countries in Eastern Europe, Romania doesn't hold a reputation for being a popular tourist destination.

However with the increased availability of cheap flights with airlines such as Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz-Air and the relatively affordable prices of accommodation, food and activities Romania is slowly becoming a hot spot for the more intrepid traveller. 

We spent New Year's eve in a 'Pensiune'...better known as a Guest House/Bed & Breakfast called Casa Germana, located in the ski resort of Straja. The accommodation was clean, homely and the hosts were welcoming and attentive.  

Our room was on the top floor, with amazing views over the snow covered mountains (pictured below).

Skiing & Sledging

Another perk of our accommodation was it's proximity to the skiing slope, with the ski lift a mere 100m from the house. 

Compared to Skiing resorts in other parts of the world like Italy, France, Switzerland ect. the Ski passes (£50 for 3 days) and Ski rentals (£15 for 3 days) were a lot more affordable. 

I had never been skiing before nor have I ever had any lessons. Although I would like to learn one day I am a bit of a wimp so as we were only there for a few days I decided to stick to the child friendly activities of Snow Tubing and sledging. I am cool. 

He made it look so easy.....

Maybe it's not as scary......

Nope. Not doing it. 

Instead I spent most of my time watching people fall over whilst drinking hot chocolate...I had a good time. 

Buffalo reserve

On our drive back from Straja to a small village called Brad, we stopped at a Buffalo Reserve in the Silvut Forest close to the town of Hateg. The pictures don't do the animals justice, but they are HUGE. They weren't doing much other than sitting quietly, pondering about life but they were pretty impressive creatures, if not only for their sheer size. 

Deva Fortress

Another fun activity was visiting Cetate Deva - which translates to Fortress of Deva. The fortress is built at the top of a volcanic hill overlooking the entire city below it. It can be reached via a Gondola as well as a walking track although the latter is best in the summer. 

The views from the top are breathtaking, unfortunately on the day we visited we were faced with -20 degrees Celsius temperatures, therefore we didn't stay up there too long in fear that my fingers and toes would fall off! In hindsight wearing my flimsy Chelsea Boots was not a good idea, fashion is not worth more than your fingers ladies...lesson learnt the hard way!  

Casa Rustica

Whilst we were in Deva we went to lunch not once, but twice at a restaurant called Casa Rustica - the food was absolutely delicious. The restaurant is casual but well presented, the portions are very generous and the prices extremely affordable (total of £12 for a lunch for 2 people with 2 mains, extra side and 2 drinks) especially when comparing the cost of the same meal in another european city i.e. London. 

The most amazing crispy Chicken Schnitzle and home made chips I have ever had. 

Pizza quattro formaggi as good as the Pizza I have eaten in Italy...trust me, I'm Italian. The base was thin and crispy but not dry and the toppings plentiful...after all the salad I ate over christmas an extra cheesy pizza was just what the doctor recommended (cough cough). 

Typical Romanian Food

Jumping on the food wagon, here are pictures of some typical Romanian dishes I tried during my stay. From what I gather, the Romanian cuisine is very strong on soups, stews, meat and polenta. 

1. Ciorba de Perisoare (Meatball Soup)

2. Pork & Mashed Potatoes with gravy

3. Chicken in white sauce with Polenta

4. Grilled Fish with garlic sauce and Polenta

Other dishes I don't have pictures of but which deserve an honourable mention are 

- Mici (Grilled Sousages)

- Zacuscă de vinete (Aubergine Dip ***My Favourite)

- Plăcinte cu brânză (Pie/Fried Dough with cheese) 

- Sarmale (Cabbage rolls***Also my Favourite!) 

Flying back to the UK

At the end of my trip to Romania, I flew back to England to spend a few more days with family and friends before leaving once again to go on my next adventure....Travelling around South East Asia (Where I am right now). 

Look out for the upcoming Blog Posts on exploring Bangkok and getting an overnight bus to Chiang Mai. 

Speak soon V x