Archive for December, 2013

In the South–West of Romania, the nature is like it went nuts … from so much beauty! Either you are Romanian or foreigner it’s no way that you come here and you don’t fall in love on the spot! For some the Danube … represents the most beautiful place in Romania. And maybe it is. I, nevertheless, prefer to admit Austrians take on this, that considered in 19th century that Baile Heculane (Herculane’s Baths) to be the most beautiful resort in Europe. Others can’t take their eyes and feet from Cheile Nerei, without a doubt, one of the most enchanting places in the area, but I will remain forever in love of Cheile Corcoaiei. So many opinions and all good! The most unbelievable is that they are all in the same area, in the South-West of the country, where mighty river Danube, together with the dwarfy but strong ones Cerna and Nera, moulded a fairy-tale land, rarely seen.

I propose we start the journey through this dreamy land, cause you want it (don’t you?), from the amazing city Orsova. The city not very rich or full of touristic objectives, quite new actually, was moved here after the Iron Gates Dam was built. As still, I say it’s fantastic. I couldn’t describe it otherwise when it is so well located in the scenery. Bathing in Danube, surrounded by wooded hills, set on one of them, with steep slopes and small buildings facing the main attraction – second largest river of Europe. One morning here, in a late fall, with a croissant on the bench of Danube and mild chill it is exactly the beginning that I expect in any travel, let alone one that promises so many wonders.

The KettlesWe start slowly from this Danube’s city and we headed towards New Moldova. Now, as far as you can see amazing landscapes, that only Danube could have carved! But … what we see between Small and Big Kettles (Cazanele Mici si Mari) is not quite nature-made. We are looking at the biggest stone carved statue in Europe of the famous ancestor of Romanians, king Decebal. Back to natural marvels that accompanies us on the 100 km of modernized road, the only element that confirms that you don’t live a dream but pure reality. Caves where the access is easy only by boat, hidden in the shade of immense and beautiful stone blocks, that stretch between water surface and small vegetation, more alike Mediterranean one than Danube Continental.

From the elegant land of stone we move up North, in a land governed by other stone wonders, this time carved by Nera river. We put light but waterproof shoes, and off we start! Ahead we have many hours of exploration of a land where man could not say anything in front of nature but prolonged ‘wow’s: carved in stone tunnels, carved in rock paths where you entrust your life to cables, cascades, lakes and beautiful Nera, ‘guilty’ for everything. All these can be seen on foot or from rubber boats during rafting. The adventure is guaranteed no matter what we choose!

Cheile Nerei

Cheile Nerei

We return towards Orsova, but we salute it later, as is MANDATORY that we reach to Herculane’s Baths. The resort is placed in amazing scenery, where every rock, house and tree says a story. A delightful one of course! For me, it is the most beautiful resort in Romania, but also the one where I have to disregard some flaws, not worth mentioning here, as I am very confident they will disappear. Herculane is one of the oldest dwellings in Romania, discovered by Romans and elevated to the rank of balneal climacteric (SPA) resort by Austrians. The very fresh air from a few hundred meters here is comparable with the mountain one, and the springs and thermal baths (some of them in open air, other indoor modern facilities) are the perfect transalation of the old saying ‘youth without ageing’. Once a preferred destination for seniors, Herculane is, although many don’t know it, the perfect choice for a few days of relaxation or of intense adventure for .. young people. Hotels and guesthouses of 3* and 4* offer high class SPA & wellness services, where anyone can feel like a princess or a prince, most like the King of Austria and Princess Sissi when they felt in love in this place blessed with indecent attractive beauties. Speaking of beauties, The Herculane Baths are the pearl of Cerna, the river that carved an enchanting valey where many paths invite for long walks. I was several times here and I still have places to discover!

Baile Herculane

Baile Herculane

I propose you a tour of gazebos, a nice stroll, accessible all year long, alongside spectacular panoramas that will delight our eyes. Blue, green, yellow and red (at the highest altitude) are the colours on which you should guide yourselves in the forests around the resort, the names of gazebos will call you their way.  Just a small part of the largest national park of Romania (Domogled-Cerna), is the ‘special appetizer’ to go further. Maybe towards small villages Scarisoara și Inelet, hidden behind hills, where the only access way are some wooden stairs or towards Cheile Corcoaiei, from the edge of a remote dwelling that I like to call “the end of the world”. There would be many to be seen, but let’s take it one at the time. Herculane has an special historical center where we can meet mighty Hercules, the train station one of the most beautiful in the country, and during Easter Holidays the town offers a touching show: hundreds of torches placed on the edge of roads or beard by believers are lightning the main street of the resort write till the ex-Casino, where under a colorful pavilion, the priest are serving the religious service.

Let’s take it slowly I say, so we don’t get sick from so much beauty! Don’t forget though that the next holiday to plan it in a land governed by Danube, Nera and Cerna rivers. Come on, it’s easy to remember and put into action, so you know what to ask to Classy Romania!

By Anda Stanciulescu, our blogger partner