Romania: Letter To The Editor; Miami Herald


Miami, Florida
September 29, 2001

To the Editor, Miami Herald, Focus Section - Sunday, August 26, 2001

Dear Sir,

I read your article “A Romanian Journey” with great interest and disappointment.

This past summer I traveled in The Balkans for five weeks. I spent two weeks in Romania.

Mind you, I don’t disagree with John Dorschner’s appraisal. Romania is poor and bureaucratic. It took me two hours to mail a small package home. But the article mentioned only that Romania is poor and bureaucratic.

Unfortunately your article may just contribute to the continuing poverty of the country. Dorschner’s article is terribly unbalanced. Romania is just wonderful for tourists, especially budget tourists like myself. And I met several tourists who were traveling first-class and staying in an expensive hotel using Bucharest as a jumping off place for their river barge trip up The Danube.

While Bucharest is a bit drab compared to Paris or Prague (well, what city isn’t?), prices are low, there are many good hotels and restaurants and fascinating tourist attractions. I attended a wonderful piano recital in The Ateneul Roman, a gem of a concert hall, for 50,000 Lei. (30,000 Lei = $1.00!)

Dorschner failed to mention the charming, really beautiful old Transylvanian towns and cities: Brasov, Sinaia, Sibiu and Sighisoara. The Peles Castle in Sinaia is nothing short of stupendous. It is filled with the most extensive and priceless examples of weaponry, furniture, and furnishings from all over the world – collected by King Carol I and Queen Elisabeta. This one spot is worth the trip to Romania. Of course, there is the Bran Castle, the home of Vlad Tepes, the purported model for Count Dracula.

What about the beautiful Transylvanian Mountains, The Carpathians, and The Maramures in the north? In Sighetu-Maramatiei I spent the night at a charming motel, had dinner, breakfast and a room with a great view, and a large hot bath for a grand total of $14.00.

Finally, the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. When I showed my photographs of the monasteries to my well-traveled and educated friends, they were astounded at the shapes and colors and size of those sites. The Painted Monasteries are on the “must see” list of many Japanese tour groups.

But enough. Please send for some travel brochures. That’s what motivated me to go. The brochures are accurate.

Romanians and Romania are wonderful. Yes, they are a bit depressed right now. Prospects are not good. But the young people are well educated and curious. We can help by visiting.

By the way, I bought a lovely small hand woven woolen rug for about $30.00, the first of three small rugs I purchased as I continued my adventure in The Balkans.

Ask me about Bulgaria and Northern Greece!

Yours truly,

Jan Polatschek

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