Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lonely Planet Romania (Country Travel Guide)

Nobody knows Romania like Lonely Planet. With our 5th edition you can discover the gruesome truth about the 'real' Dracula at Poienari Citadel, escape to Marmures where horse-drawn carts transport you to villages steeped in local customs, or experience the spectacle of mass migration on a Danube Delta bird-watching tour.

Lonely Planet guides are written by experts who get to the heart of every destination they visit. This fully updated edition is packed with accurate, practical and honest advice, designed to give you the information you need to make the most of your trip.

In This Guide:

Essential color highlights show you the very best of Romania
Dedicated activities chapter pinpoints the top hiking, skiing and cycling spots
Unique Green Index to help make your travels ecofriendly

In 2003, Leif Pettersen was 'Kramered' by an unbalanced friend into abandoning an idiot-proof career with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and embarking on an odyssey of travel writing. He has since visited over 40 countries and lived in Spain, Romania and Italy. (He speaks all three languages in descending order of fluency). Leif's Lonely Planet work has appeared in Romania 5, Tuscany and Umbria 6, Eastern Europe 10, Italy 8, The Europe Book, Bluelist '07 and the features section. Leif writes an almost award-winning, "slightly caustic" blog,, read by literally tens of people each month, where he dishes on travel writing, Romania, Italian internet, his grammar deficiencies, Berlin, the Baby Jebus and his remarkable-gift-for-hyphenation.

Most helpful customer reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
By a reader
Lonely Planet, why have you foresaken us (inquiring- and budget-minded travelers)? The guidebooks seem to be trending towards mediocre, and this is the worst one I've come across. It's short on both practical info. and historical/cultural context.

The maps are largely useless. I would say that on average, about half of the streets go unnamed (not even in the tiny print). Another failing is the pronunciation guide, i.e., there is none for the consonants. One can infer a rule for the sound of, e.g., the letter "c" before the different vowels (s- or ch-sound) by looking at the phonetic spellings given, but there is no reason to make the reader do so much work.

It would have been helpful to know more about business hours ("orar" or "program" in Romanian). LP says that "'Western-style' supermarkets and shopping malls are common in much of Romania". Well, if they say so; such are not common in the pedestrianised city centers where tourists otherwise have the most reason to be. I found that "non stop" convenience stores are abundant, so it is much easier to pick up necessities at odd hours than in, say, Germany or France. But it would have been very helpful to know that, e.g., there is a supermarket (Carrefour) in the Orchideea mall in Bucharest that stays open late. More generally, this LP has virtually nothing to say about what the old LP's called "self-catering". It would have been useful to know, e.g., that the "Angst" chain stores in Bucharest are groceries (wouldn't have guessed that from the name). And I wish I'd known sooner that Piata Amzei in Bucharest is the site of a nice produce market.

It would be useful for vegetarians to know whether the ubiquitous ciorba (soup) is made with meat stock. (I'm guessing it is.)

LP tells you that one can buy train tickets at the stations or at CFR offices, but doesn't specify where you can use a credit card to pay for them (not everyplace, I've learned). Also, trips on the line from Bucharest north to Brasov take about 2 hours longer than the times listed due to construction that's been underway since at least the summer of 2010.

The introductory sections failed to answer some basic questions. For instance, who was Nicolae Balcescu, namesake of so many streets? (Leader of the 1848 Wallachian Revolution, according to Wikipedia.) Under the heading "Women in Romania", we are told about domestic violence and rape laws. Those are certainly important. But there is nothing about abortion policies, about which those of us are curious who have seen the film "4 mos., 3 wks. and 2 days" or who are old enough to remember the Romanian orphan crisis of the 1900s.

But I bet we're not the market for this book. In place of information like this, we get a comparison between Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) and Dracula on such parameters as "Bi-curious" (apparently Vlad's "handlebar moustache" is a giveaway) and "Legend has it that Iasi's street system was plotted by a blindfolded, three-legged donkey. OK, we made that up, but look at the map--it's plausible". Not a great use of space, in my opinion.

My irritation with this volume only increased when I read that a co-author's "weakness for pretty girls brought him to Romania in 2004". (The most generous interpretation I can put on this is that it is an obscure reference to the legend that the Romans stayed in Dacia because they found the Dacian women beautiful.) I guess obtaining useful information wasn't his priority in chatting up the locals.

Post scriptum: I found the Rough Guide to Romania much more useful, although also more bulky and heavier.

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
2If I could see the small print
By travelingbesties
I bought this book for $16.00 and it might be a good book if I could actually see the tiny tiny print and no color maps and tiny maps as well save your money..If you want to carry a magnifying glass with you when you travel this is for you.Do yourself a favor and check out your libary before buying this book..

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5A must for travelers to Romania.
By Janet W.
Well written and full of necessary information for Romania.

See all 5 customer reviews...

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