October 20th - 31st, 2014
Romania – it’s a land of intricately painted monasteries and the home of Dracula. It’s Belle Époque buildings and the Arc de Triumph in Bucharest. It’s pastoral countrysides, Balkan cuisine, and the Carpathian Mountains. The brilliant fall foliage is the perfect backdrop for a wealth of castles, fortified churches, and centuries-old houses.
Join us as we explore the many facets of Romania on this autumn excursion. We’ll follow Dracula’s trail and explore Romania’s history, culture and scenic beauty.
2014 Romania Autumn Photography Tour II Travel Plans
Monday, October 20
Travel from US/Canada to Romania.
Tuesday, October 21
Welcome to Eastern Europe! Today we arrive in Bucharest and check into the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel. Private transfers from the airport to the hotel provided.
Depending on arrival time, there is a lot to do and see in Romania’s capital. You may want to take a Hop On/Hop Off sightseeing bus tour to check out the wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings, and other highlights of the city known as “Little Paris” in the 1900s. You’ll get familiar with the city’s central neighborhoods and places of interest.
Bucharest is packed with museums such as the National Art Museum, Bucharest History & Arts Museum, Natural History Museum, Cotroceni Palace and Museum, and Museum of the Romanian Peasant, featuring the richest folk art collection in the country.
Wednesday, October 22 (B, L, D)
We’ll spend a day exploring fascinating Bucharest with our guide and shooting photos of some of its most interesting architecture and landmarks. We’ll drop by the Palace of Parliament (the second largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon, built by Communist Party leader Nicolae Ceausescu), Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse (a fork-shaped, yellow, glass-covered arcaded street), the Arc de Triumph, and historic buildings and churches in the old part of town.
Lunch and dinner in the city give us an opportunity to sample some of Romania’s Balkan cuisine. After dinner, we depart for the airport and fly to Maramures.
In Maramures we step back in time to experience the rural heritage of Romania’s past. Chickens cluck, cows roam unspoiled pastures, and hillsides abound in poplar, beech, and flowering ash. Overnight stay at the Gothic-style Hotel Diafan
Thursday, October 23 (B, L, D)
Go back in time…We’ll wander the historic region of Maramures this morning, photographing and enjoying the many traditional wooden houses, brandy distilleries (the distilling takes place in October!), and people who have preserved the rural culture and crafts of their Dacian ancestors.
Maramures villages are distinguished by their unique wooden churches with tall spires and shingled roofs. Many locals still use horse-drawn carts and cut their hay by hand.
Lunch at a family run guesthouse will give us a literal taste of the culture. For those who like to drink their culture, too, we can taste the local plum and apple brandies.
After lunch we’ll tour the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance in Sighetu Marmatiei. The restoration of the prison building was completed in 2000. Each prison cell became a museum room, which together presents the chronology of the totalitarian system in Communist Romania.
Wine tasting in the hotel’s 600-year-old wine cellar 🙂 Overnight Hotel Diafan
Friday, October 24 (B, L, D)
The day starts with a visit to a local potter who specializes in Dacian pottery. We’ll get to watch him work and even have the chance to make our own pottery objects.
From Maramures we drive five or six hours through the pastoral countryside to Bucovina and have lunch along the way. Overnight at Bucovina Lodge for three nights
Saturday, October 25 (B, L, D)
Exploring Bucovina is on the agenda for today. We’ll take in the picturesque painted monasteries: Sucevița, Moldovița, and Voroneț. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. We’ll also see painting in progress when we check in with local women elaborately painting eggs.
We’ll have lunch at a family run guesthouse and visit the Lucina Horse Farm, one of Romania’s twelve national stud farms.
At dinner we’ll enjoy traditional music and traditional dishes at Inima Bucovinei. For an authentic taste of Bucovina culture, we’ll dine on lamb, polenta, pickles, and a local dessert. There is also a chicken option for those who don’t eat lamb.
Sunday, October 26 (B, L, D)
Early morning departure for a day trip to Ukraine takes us to the cultural capital of Chernivtsi. As western Ukraine’s center of culture, education, and architecture, Chernivtsi has been dubbed both “Little Vienna” and “Jerusalem on the Prut.” The Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.
We’ll take a city tour to get to know this photogenic and historical city better.
After a traditional Ukranian lunch we’ll explore more of Chernivtsi before heading back to our hotel in Bucovina.
Monday, October 27 (B, L, D)
We say goodbye to Bucovina today and take a picturesque drive to Sighisoara. One of the most spectacular drives in the country, the road runs through the Bicaz Gorge with steep cliffs on one side of the road and deep drops on the other. We’ll keep an eye out for the wallcreeper, an uncommon cliff-dwelling bird, on this five to six hour trip.
There will be time to look around the medieval town of Sighisoara in the historic region of Transylvania. The city played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighiṣoara became one of the most important cities of Transylvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement.
Tonight we stay at Casa Georgius Krauss. We’ll dine under the arches of stone and brick in the hotel’s fine restaurant and taste Romanian wines certified by the Sommeliers Association of Romania.
Tuesday, October 28 (B, L, D)
It’s an early morning as we rise in time to shoot the sunrise at the fortified church in Biertan. We’ll snap away as the sun illuminates the Gothic-style building sitting on a low hill. This Saxon village has one of the most important fortified churches in Transylvania, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It was the seat of the Lutheran Evangelical Bishop in Transylvania between 1572 and 1867.
With the sun high in the sky, we’ll move on to visit a charcoal maker and a blacksmith. As we learn about these age-old crafts, we’ll have an opportunity to take interesting cultural photos.
From Biertan, we drive to Bran to see Bran Castle. This fortress is most associated with Dracula. He was imprisoned here and it is where the vampire stories were spawned, but it’s really a cozy fairytale castle decorated by Queen Marie 90 years ago.
We’ll spend two nights in Bran at the Inn on Balaban where we’ll discover Transylvania’s dramatic and calming mountainscape beauty.
Wednesday, October 29 (B, L, D)
A full day of photography is on tap in a landscape dominated by mountains, forests, quaint villages, and flocks of sheep. We’ll see the terrain and towns where Vlad the Impaler, better known as Dracula, lived, fought battles, and inspired the vampire legend.
We’ll enjoy our Romanian dinner while appreciating the locals in traditional clothing and indigenous music. Overnight at Inn on Balaban
Thursday, October 30 (B, L, D)
We’ll take a morning drive from Bran to Bucharest, stopping along the way to photograph the sights. The drive takes about three hours not including any stops. Then it’s time to head home; our flights leave in the evening.
Friday, October 31
We arrive home today. Happy Halloween! You can tell your friends and family all about visiting Dracula’s castle.
8 Guests Maximum
$4800 based on double occupancy
Single Supplement: $450
$500 Per person due at time of booking
Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover, or check accepted
Deposits are non-refundable. If cancellations are necessary, we require this request in writing. We will do our best to resell your space. Only if we can resell your space, we will refund (minus deposit and discounts given to sell your space). No partial refunds are possible for unused services.
January 1, 2014: $2000 First Installment Due
June 1, 2014: Final Payment
Check only for first installment and final payment. Please make check payable to Natural Exposures and mail to:
810 N. Wallace, Suite E
Bozeman, MT 59715
- Private small group travel with professional photographer Daniel J. Cox
- Transfers in Bucharest on arrival and departure days of itinerary
- Internal domestic flight
- Entrance fees for various locations visited
- Accommodations for 10 nights at 4 and 5 star hotels
- Private 19 seater coach for travel
- Local guide and coach driver
- Meals where indicated (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Bottled water throughout tour
- Non-alcoholic and wine/beer beverages where indicated
- International airfares
- Transfers pre/post tour itinerary
- Laundry, misc. expenses, Internet charges, some beverages not included
- Any attractions/optional activities not listed in itinerary
- Travel insurance/Medivac Insurance
- Gratuities for guide/bus driver
Flights to Book
October 21, 2014
Arrive in Bucharest (OTP) any time of day
Group welcome dinner this evening
October 30, 2014
Depart Bucharest (OTP) on an evening flight and arrive home October 31
We suggest a late day departure as we’ll be driving from Bran to Bucharest this day
Travel/emergency evacuation insurance is not required for this photo tour, but we always recommend purchasing it for any trip. We recommend one or more of the following, depending on your needs:
Allianz Global Assistance
(use travel agency ID F203564)
Terms & Conditions
Natural Exposures cannot control nor is responsible for abnormal weather, natural disasters, or any other disaster that might affect the trip. Travel insurance should be purchased to cover any missed flights or medical problems that may affect/delay your travel. National Parks have the right to change our itinerary.
By booking a trip with Natural Exposures, you agree to the following CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY POLICY
Accommodations for 2014 Romania Autumn Photography Tour II
Accommodations will vary, but we’ll be staying in the nicest hotels available in the areas we’ll be at. Some are boutique hotels, others are standard “Best Western” types.
October 21, 1 Night
JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel, Bucharest
JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel is grand in every way and surrounds you with elegance befitting the chosen hotel of European royalty and international dignitaries. Recently redesigned exquisite lobby, for a more comfortable and intimate experience, offering unlimited free wireless internet in all public areas and restaurants. Prestigiously located next to the stunning Parliament Palace, our Bucharest hotel is its own “city within a city”, complete with a luxury shopping gallery, The Grand Avenue, casino, state-of-the-art fitness club, World Class Health Academy and six fine restaurants and bars. Featuring the largest suites offered by any of the hotels in Bucharest, the JW features exquisite bedding with down comforters, cotton-rich linens and plush pillows.
October 22-23, 2 Nights
Hotel Diafan, Maramures
Hotel Diafan is close to the airport, features a 600-year-old wine cellar stocked with Romanian wines, has modern, spacious rooms, and it is just a short walk from Stephen’s Tower. In other words, it has everything we need wrapped up in a charming, historic building.
October 24-26, 3 Nights
Bucovina Lodge, Bucovina
”Bucovina Lodge” is not just an accommodating place. Its service and its people reflect the Moldavian way of life: great respect for traditions, enormous attention to detail, warmth and hospitality offered in modern comfort.
October 27, 1 Night
Casa Georgius Krauss, Sighisoara
This boutique-hotel was the house of chronicler and historian Georg Krauss. Original fresco, medieval-style furniture, and hand carved decorations are apropos for the medieval citadel of Sighisoara.
October 28-29, 2 Nights
Inn on Balaban, Bran
From its hilltop location, you’ll enjoy the inn’s local home cooking, the best of Romanian wines, and television-free quiet (wi-fi is available). In the Inn’s three hand-crafted houses, antique furniture, traditional peasant-styled architecture, and local folklore take you back to the heart of old Romania.
Helpful Information for 2014 Romania Autumn Photography Tour II
Foreign visitors consider Romanians among the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world. Romanians are by nature fun-loving, warm, and playful with an innate sense of humor. Romania is considered one of the safest European countries to visit.
- This trip will be low to moderate activity level.
- Food varies from pizza to schnitzel – there is a wide variety of options.
- Romania is seven hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.
- Day time highs in October/November are 45 – 55 °F.
We’ll be flying north from Bucharest and working our way down the country on a private 19-seater vehicle. The drive from Maramures to Bucovina is a bit longer than the others, as we’ll travel five to six hours each way, however, there will bathroom breaks and photo stops. This is the only way to see some of the remote areas – it is worth the drive! We are able to experience true Romania by traveling with a smaller group.
Romania is situated in the southeastern part of Central Europe and shares borders with Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, Bulgaria to the south, the Black Sea to the southeast, Ukraine to the east and north and the Republic of Moldova to the east. Roughly the size of Oregon, Romania is the second largest country in the area, after Poland.
No visa needed to enter Romania for residents of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most European countries.
Romania’s currency is Leu (plural “Lei” – pronunciation: lay).
ATM machines are available at main banks, airports and shopping centers. There are very few ATMs in remote areas or villages. ATMs that have symbols for international networks such as STAR and PLUS will accept US/ Canadian banking cards.
Major credit cards including American Express, Mastercard and Visa are accepted in large hotels, car rental companies and stores in the main cities, however, credit cards are unlikely to prove useful in small towns or away from tourist areas.
Contrary to practice in the United States, a PIN is usually required to make credit card purchases. Many American banks allow cardholders to establish such a PIN prior to travel, in case one is needed. Regardless, you should notify your bank of your international travel, and the potential legitimate use of your card abroad, prior to leaving the U.S.
Cash (US Dollars) can be easily exchanged at any bank or Currency Exchange Office (Casa de Schimb).
Please note that exchange rates offered by the exchange offices at the
airport are quite bad (10% to 25% less than the official rate).
US Dollars are as good and popular as the Euro; you do not need to buy Euros before you leave the USA as you will have to change the Euros into Lei anyways.
Electricity: 230v – dual round European plug
SALES TAX / VAT
VAT – A sales tax of 24 % is added to all retail sales, hotel stays and meals served in restaurants. It is usually included in the prices posted in stores, hotels and restaurants.
Testimonials from Natural Exposures' Explorers
"If you ever want to travel to another country and you want to go first class, travel with Natural Exposures. They are number one in showing their guests the best time ever in the classiest way. I would recommend Natural Exposures Tours to everyone. If you want to go in style, go with NE!"
Michelle Duggan, Massachusetts
"Tanya and Dan’s logistic skills provide a seamless photo tour where one can truly enjoy the experience. With unlimited photographic opportunities Dan’s instruction has taken my photography to a higher level."
Linda Henry, Oregon
"What a trip
What a group
What a fabulous everything
To our next encounters with nature"
Maud and Leon Soriano, Florida
"I just wanted to again thank you for a wonderful week of photography and relaxation away from the office. It was a really a good group."
Sue Wolfe, Texas