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Fun Friday–My Virtual Summer Vacation: Romania

Friday, May 20, 2011

It’s no secret . . . I really enjoy watching HGTV. And one of my favorite shows is House Hunters: International. But unlike most people, I tend not to watch the episodes in which they’re looking at properties on magnificent tropical islands or looking for beachfront property. (And don’t get me started on people who are looking for vacation properties, where they’ll spend at most three or four weeks a year and they gripe about small bathrooms and kitchens—it’s a vacation home, people!!!)

So, since I’ve been housebound the last three weeks—two weeks finishing Turnabout and this week because I’ve been not just flat-broke but in-the-hole-broke and can’t even afford a big night out at McDonald’s, I thought it would be fun for the next few weeks to take a virtual vacation, hitting some of the top spots I’d love to visit and spend some R&R time. So today, we’re traveling to . . .

Anyone who’s heard the story of the origin of my last name should understand this one. But for those who haven’t, here’s the scoop. Dacus is Latin, dating back to the early Roman empire, and it’s the Latin word for a person who was from the province of Dacia—what is now Romania. In fact, Dacia, which was home to at least twelve different tribal groups, traces back to the Iron Age. I’ve always figured my ancestors came from the area that is now Transylvania—it would explain why I’m such a night person!

For my virtual trip to Romania, I will stay in the village of Sinaia, Busteni, known as the Pearl of the Carpathian Mountains. Sinaia, in the foothills of the Bucegi range of the Carpathians, takes its name from a 17th century monastery built by a Romanian nobleman after he took a pilgrimage to Mt. Sinai. So, of course, I would need to do my due diligence and visit the Sinaia Monastery:

After spending time in a quaint village in a gorgeous mountain setting . . .

. . . and visiting Peles Castle, the summer palace built by the royal family in the 1880s:

. . . it would be time to move on to some of the more famous sights in Romania. The first, of course, being Bran Castle, reputedly Dracula’s castle, as it was one of the fortified castles Vlad III the Impaler called home:

(though I will be sure to visit during the daytime 😉 )

The fortified church-city of Sighisoara is known as the city of Dracula, as it’s the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, son of Vlad Dracul, who would become known as Vlad the Impaler—it’s also one of the most beautifully preserved medieval cities in Romania. So, of course, this is my next stop!

From there, it’s on to the Maramures region, known for its wooden churches:

Then, it’s on to Bucovina to visit the painted (and fortified!) monasteries:

What’s a vacation without a relaxing stay at a spa? I’ll visit Ursu Lake near Sovata, famous for its unique bearskin shape and heliothermal saline qualities. A layer of fresh water sits atop the saltwater, holding in warmth from the sun. It even has its own legend:

      “Once up in the woods above Sovata lived a fairy in a beautiful castle. She saw a shepherd lad and she fell in love with him. But according to the fairy laws they couldn’t met so she listened his flute play every night. After a while she decided to break the law and meet the lad. She went down to the valley and saw the boy kissing a girl. She went crazy and turned them and the sheep into stones. She also paid for her villain deed. After this she wondered in the woods and from her veil flowers grew everywhere. And the beautiful palace disappeared. She started crying and her tears grew into a stream then a lake. The fireplace of the fairy is heating it from below.” (From

And, of course, I must make time for all of the beautiful castles throughout the country:

Huniazilor (Hunyad) Castle

Făgăraş Castle

Karolyi Castle

Cantacuzino Palace

Fortified church of Viscri

Want to play along?
I’ll be posting these “virtual vacation spots” on Fridays through the end of June. So come up with your own list of dream vacation spots and be prepared to tell us where you’re going for your virtual vacation, one locale each week. Can’t wait to see where in the world we end up!

So, what’s your first stop on your virtual summer vacation?

  1. Audry permalink
    Friday, May 20, 2011 8:51 am

    Wow, I don’t need to think one up for myself – I’ll take your trip, just as you planned it!


  2. Friday, May 20, 2011 9:46 am

    I would love to go to Ireland. I’ve heard the countryside there is beautiful and to see the sea and old castles…dream, dream


  3. Friday, May 20, 2011 9:47 am

    Since I have no connection to Romania, I’ve never learned ANYTHING about it – but it’s beautiful! What a place to start on your virtual vacation! Hmmmm . . . no vacation for us this year, either. I may have to come up with a virtual one, too!

    On chapter 18 of “The Art of Romance.” L O V I N G it!!!!! 😀


  4. Charmaine Gossett permalink
    Friday, May 20, 2011 5:37 pm

    Such a nice trip, and you have done your homework to know everythng about it thus enjoying it to the utmost.
    I would like to spend a year at the Grand Canyon. See it in all seasons. Celebrate Christmas there. Ride a donkey down into the canyon and stay a few days at the lodge there. Fly in a helicopter along the Colorado River. Since this is a fantasy, I will take a rubber raft down the Colorado River. Just sit on the patio of the hotel and enjoy the view as the sun moves across the sky, and the stars come out at night. No light polution there and I can see them all. Walk the trails in the rain.


  5. Friday, May 20, 2011 6:28 pm

    That’s very interesting about your name origins. And I’m with Regina. I knew nothing about Romania until today. My maiden name traces all the way back to John, and his son. 🙂 Sometimes I like to pretend it’s really the Gaelic version, and call myself MacIain-Benton.

    My first virtual vacation (since that may be all I get this year too), is much closer to home. At least I don’t need a passport to get there, if I really did go there. I want to visit the Mohawk Valley in New York, and the Adirondacks. Partly for book research, partly because I’ve always wanted to see that part of the country and foolishly neglected to do so when I lived on the east coast. I’ve been to New York City (bleh, they can keep it) and the mountains of Pennsylvania, but never further north than that, east of the lakes (been nigh to Canada west of the lakes).

    But gone are the days when jumping in the car and driving for thousands of miles didn’t require one to spend one’s life savings. Gone too are the days when one could fly without intrusive scans, pat-downs, and strip searches.

    Horse-and-wagon is beginning to look almost reasonable again….


  6. Daphne Webb permalink
    Friday, May 20, 2011 6:55 pm

    I would fly into Glasgow, Scotland. Rent a car and drive until I view Loch Katrine. There I would explore the lands of my ancestors, before they were so rudely outlawed in 1777. They couldn’t help it that they would not give up their lands to the Campbells and the Buchanans.
    Then I would explore the quaint countryside until I arrive at Oban. There I would take the ferry ride through the Sound of Mull to Fishmish and travel to Isle of Iona. Of course, you can’t drive on it, but you can view it. Then back to the mainland. With no purpose in mind, other than reaching Perth. From Perth, I would travel the highlands to Inverness. After exploring this ancient city, I would visit the Shetland Islands and take a view of the North Sea, a very very very cold sea. Then back to Inverness, then to Perth, then to Glasgow to fly home. Of course, time permitting I might take the ferry from Stranraer to Belfast, Ireland.


    • Friday, May 20, 2011 7:56 pm

      Oh didn’t know there was a Perth in Scotland. I love Perth in Australia


  7. Friday, May 20, 2011 7:23 pm

    Of course, my first stop will be St. Petersburg, Russia. White Nights is coming up. 😀

    I will NOT be driving, but will walk, ride the Metro and possibly have a private guide. That’s the way to see Russia.

    The Hermitage is a must visit, as are Peterhof and the Catherine Palace. The Church on the Spilled Blood, shopping on Nevsky Prospekt, the Yussupovs palace, some on-location research for The Epic, The Fortress of Peter and Paul. A boat tour on the Neva.


  8. Friday, May 20, 2011 7:55 pm

    Being an aussie my virtual trip would be to Canada and the west coast seeing the area near whistler where a friend is then onto the rocky mountains and into Alberta actually may start in Alberta and come back to over to the west coast and then down to Seattle to hope a cruise to Alaska.
    My other dream vacation (now remember im an aussie) is to go to Georgia to see a friend then do a tour of some of the battle fields including Shiloh in Tn. and of course I have to go to Gettysburg.


  9. Friday, May 20, 2011 8:03 pm

    Romania…I never knew how lovely it is! Thank you for this treat.
    I long to go to Sweden the home of my paternal grandparents. Scotland too as I have several ancestors from there. And just for fun…the island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic).


  10. laura vezeteu permalink
    Saturday, June 4, 2011 3:41 pm

    Hello there.I’m very pleased to see that there are people interested in my beautiful country.I was looking for some articles about series novels and I end up looking through your website.I am amazed of how well prepared your journey is and maybe someday you will realy be able to come to see it with your own eyes.Because if not you will miss a lot. I know that I can’t give a better recommendation about the roads, or most of the parks , but the beauties of nature are in their kingdoom here. Bless the people who didn’t spoiled them yet! (i’m quite sorry about my English , I have many things to learn , but the instant I read about your virtual journey I couldn’t help myself to thank you for making my country known)! Have a wonderful time through out your virtual vacation and may that this will cheer your day ! You made me smile !


    • Saturday, June 4, 2011 4:16 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Laura! Making a trip to Romania is definitely going on my “Forty things to do in my forties” list, so within the next ten years, I should be making this trip!



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