Romania: Medieval Towns, Rural Culture, Natural Beauty
With a bold and cosmopolitan capital city, a plethora of quaint medieval towns, and an unexpected mix of natural and cultural gems, Romania is a photographers delight.
Romania has some uncharted majestic mountains that hide wildlife, unimaginable natural treasures and time-forgotten hamlets; and a world-famous region whose links with vampires are a far cry compared with its stunning natural beauty, let alone the fascinating age-old traditions, charming Saxon fortresses and sumptuous castles that dot the landscape.
In Bucharest the architecture throughout the city is a striking mix of eras and styles, with grand boulevards and medieval cobbled streets, Art Deco masterpieces and baroque palaces bringing life and color to the city. We will only spend one day there as the country side is what makes Romania special.
In Transylvania we will photograph cities like Sibiu – a European Cultural Capital and its fantastic Old Town; Sighisoara – a fairytale of a citadel with dazzling pastel-colored houses and a UNESCO-protected historic center; Brasov – a lively and cosmopolitan mountain city brimming with medieval treasures, bohemian cafes and wonderful street scenes
Tucked away in the northernmost corner of Romania, Maramures seems miles away from the real world. A “rural fairytale”, this remote land isolated from the rest of Romania by heavy forested mountains, stands out for its distinctive rural culture, UNESCO-protected medieval wooden churches and unspoilt bucolic charm.
Maramures, with its time-capsule villages, magical surroundings and ancient customs is a place where people still grow animals for food and use horse-drawn carts to get around, where household items and tools are still handcrafted by local artisans, and where working the land is and has always been the main occupation.
This trip is a glimpse into old Europe. We will be staying at 4 star hotels and sampling the local cuisine which is excellent. It is an active trip where much walking is required and the photography opportunities are very varied. We will really be getting a broad sampling of the country an much architectural, landscape and people in their environment photography will take place.
Day 1: Thu, June 30 – Otopeni Airport/Bucharest
Arrival in Bucharest. You’ll be transferred to your hotel where you'll receive more details about your tour. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight in Bucharest: 4-star hotel
Day 2: fri, July 1 — Bucharest/Sibiu — 270km/4h30m
In the morning you'll be transferred to the real fortress of Dracula. Located on top of a mountains (1480 steps to be climbed/30 minutes) the fortress is located in a magnificent scenery, perfect for landscape pictures. Before reaching Sibiu, you’ll be taken to a remote area with forgotten villages and dirt roads. You’ll be able to take pictures of a world which doesn’t exist anymore in other parts of Europe. From old houses to the local farmers, everything is going to be a real joy for the photographer. Sibiu is the final destination for today. You have the rest of the day at your leisure.
Overnight in Sibiu: 4-star hotel / Full Board
Day 3: Sat, July 2 – Sibiu — 100km/1h40m
Sibiu is perhaps the most beautiful city in Romania, and perhaps the
reason it was chosen as the European Cultural Capital in 2007. Built by German colonists who had been brought to Transylvania by the Hungarian kings, Sibiu is a stunning medieval city. It boasts wonderful architecture: towers, old churches, cobblestone streets and alleys, passages, staircases and cast-iron bridges. Therefore, the morning should be a wonderful occasion for some street photography. In the afternoon we’ll set off to the rural area around Sibiu. You’ll get to roam on dirt roads, to capture interesting rural scenes, and to admire a very different way of living. In the evening we’ll enjoy a photo tour in Sibiu for some night-time scenes.
Overnight in Sibiu: 4-star hotel / Full Board
Day 4: Sun, July 3 – Sibiu/Alba Iulia — 130km/1h40m
Alba Iulia is known for its fortress built in the first part of the 18th century and is one of the best preserved Vauban fortifications in Romania. You’ll enjoy a photo tour of the citadel.In the afternoon you’ll reach a hidden village located at the feet of the Carpathian Mountains, one of the best places in Romania for photographers. You’ll be taken for a photo walk around the rural area. The group can be split and those who can hike can go on the top of the mountain for great pictures over the villages.
Overnight in remote village: superior guest house, itself a great subject for photography / Full Board
Day 5: Mon, July 4 – Alba Iulia/Surdesti/Vadu Izei — 250km/4h
On the way to Maramures you’ll be taken to Bontida, once a place famous for the castle of the Banffy family, an important Hungarian noble family of which Miklos Bannfy was part. He was the Minister of the Internal Affairs of Hungary, and also the author of the famous novels known collectively as the "Transylvanian Trilogy." The ruins of the castle blend perfectly with the old history of the family. A great chance for shooting ruins. After Bontida you’ll be driven to Maramures, a place where the purity of nature blends with the beauty of the old villages, a place where the locals keep their traditions untouched, and where carved wood represents a common way of building. Further on, you’ll have your first contact with a spectacular wooden church. Built in Surdesti in 1724, this UNESCO site, made of evergreen oak beams, impresses because of its very high steeple which reaches 54 meters (177 feet). Then you’ll continue your journey through the villages of Maramures. You will walk and take many pictures of this forgotten corner of Europe. In the afternoon we’ll reach our destination, a traditional guest house where your hosts are warm and friendly, the meals are phenomenal, and the local plum brandy is . . .well, "strong" doesn't quite describe it. Just try some and you'll see!
Overnight in Vadu Izei: local guest house / Full Board
Day 6: Tue, July 5 – Vadu Izei/Sighetu Marmatiei/Sapanta/Vadu Izei — 60km/1h
There is no photo tour without an excursion to a local market and the market in Sighetu Marmatiei is one of the best. It is here that you can photograph the farmers while they sell their fresh products, and then we’ll be going to see a cemetery which is unique in the world. The Merry Cemetery, founded in the 1930s by a local carver, is a place of mourning like any other cemetery but it is also a place of very black humor. The crosses, painted in bright colors and describing the deceased in words and images (and not always complimentary), will be a great subject for your pictures. The convent of Peri is the one of the highest wooden structures in the world. Part of a large complex, the church is a great example of the local art and architecture. In the afternoon we’ll take a photo tour of a local village where you’ll be able to admire the old houses, the ancient crafts, and the daily life. In the evening, once again, you’ll be stuffed full with plenty of excellent food and plum brandy.
Overnight in Vadu Izei: local guest house
Day 7: Wed, July 6 – Vadu Izei/Barsana/Bistrita/Sighisoara — 272km/5h
Today we will leave the rural area of Maramures, but on the way you’ll get to see some other amazing sights of this part of the world.
In the village of Barsana you’ll make your last stop in Maramures. You’ll be visiting the most impressive wooden convent in Romania. Built more than 600 years ago, this religious complex was rebuilt in 1993 and during the years which followed. You’ll admire the tall and
￼￼slender silhouette of the church, the stunning wooden buildings, the fine wooden art, and the lovely gardens. Driving through the Carpathian Mountains, you’ll return to Transylvania. In Bistrita you’ll take a short photo walk in this old German city. Further on, you’ll reach the center of the Hungarian minority and in the city of Targu Mures, you’ll admire the beautiful Secession-style architecture during a driving tour of the city. In the afternoon, we will come to a remote old German village. It's a travel back in time, a heaven for the photographers.
Overnight in old Saxon village: superior traditional guest-house, Full board
Day 8: Thu, July7 – Bistrita/Biertan/Sighisoara — 150km/2h20m
Sighisoara is one of the best medieval citadels of Europe, a top UNESCO heritage site. Founded by the Germans in the 12th and 13th centuries, Sighisoara is a major tourist attraction, a prefect postcard for the Romanian tourism office. You'll climb the Clock Tower from where you'll be able to take pictures of the citadel. Sighisoara is surrounded by many remote German villages, real time capsules where it is very normal of seeing cows walking freely on dirt roads, plenty of horse-drawn carts, old houses, and stunning medieval fortified churches, several of them UNESCO sites. During this tour you’ll get the chance to photograph a genuine gypsy family. Further on you’ll admire the impressive fortified church in Biertan, another UNESCO village. The day ends with some late afternoon-early evening photos of the lovely old village
Overnight in old Saxon village: superior traditional guest-house / Full board
Day 9: Fri, July 8 – Sighisoara/Viscri/Bran — 120km/1h50m
This day is dedicated to some other remote villages. The village of Viscri became famous after Britain's Prince Charles purchased an old traditional house which has been transformed into a guest house. To this, add the beautiful village itself and one of the oldest fortified churches of Transylvania, another UNESCO site. We'll continue with another remote village. We’ll walk here for a while and we’ll photograph the people, the old houses, and the old fortified church. In the afternoon we’ll reach the town of Bran.
Overnight in Bran: 4-star hotel / Full Board
Day 10: Sat, July 9 – Bran/Brasov/Bran — 70km/1h20m
Brasov is surrounded by the beautiful peaks of the Carpathian Mountains. It is here where we can find some of the most picturesque villages in Romania. Early in the morning we’ll go for a photo session in this forgotten world. Bran Castle is by far one of the most famous tourist attractions of Romania, therefore we can’t miss it. Originally built by the Teutonic nights some 800 years ago, Bran Castle became famous especially after Bram Stoker wrote his famous novel "Dracula." After lunch we’ll take a photo tour in the superb mountain villages around Bran.
Overnight in Bran: 4-star hotel / Full Board
Day 11: Sun, July 10 – Brasov/Sinaia/Bucharest — 190km/3h
On the way back to Bucharest, we’ll pass through the Carpathian Mountains for the last time. We’ll stop in Busteni and we’ll take the longest cable-car ride in Romania. Sinaia is probably the most famous mountain resort of Romania, and it is here that Prince Carol decided to build his summer residence. The monastery of Sinaia is a fine example of Byzantine art, and is the oldest building of Sinaia. In the afternoon we’ll reach Bucharest, and in the evening, you’ll enjoy a final dinner.
Overnight in Bucharest: 4-star hotel
Day 12: Mon July 11 – Monday, June 27th – Bucharest — 40km/1h
Bucharest is a city of contrasts. It is a place where you can admire a stunning and beautifully restored 19th-century building located right next to a ruin or to a sleek new tower of glass. Bucharest has many beautiful and hidden little streets which are generally not seen by tourists, and also a hidden world of gypsies who live in shabby buildings located right in the very center of the city. To all these add the green parks, the old town, the vivid night life, the lights and the shadows…it’s everything you need for a good photo walk. The Village Museum is one of the most beautiful museums of Romania. Inaugurated in 1936, the Village Museum boasts original traditional houses from all over Romania. This living museum is like 1000 villages gathered into a single picturesque entity. It's a must for any photographer. Then it will be time for lunch. Free time till evening. We’ll meet again in the evening for a short photo tour in the center of Bucharest. It will be a good chance for some beautiful pictures at dusk. You’ll also take pictures of the impressive Romanian Parliament. It was constructed at the command of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. For this project, he had large areas of the old town completely destroyed. Today, this is the second largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon) and was certainly the most expensive.
Overnight in Bucharest: 4-star hotel / Full Board
Day 13 - Tue, July 12th – Bucharest - Otopeni Airport
Free time until your transfer to the airport depending on your flight time. End of the tour.
Photograph the UNESCO heritage site, Sighisoara which is the largest medieval citadel in Europe.
Wander the street of Sibiu and photograph the cobblestone streets and alleyways, the churches and towers. It was declared the cultural capital of Europe in 2007.
Capture images in remote Carpathian villages where the farmers still rake hay and horse carts are the mode of transport. Private model shoot with local villagers.
Photograph rural markets, hike in meadows, and shoot rural life and ancient wooden churches and houses in Sighetu Marmatiei.
Romania is a culinary delight and we will sample the regional cuisine.
June 30 - July 12, 2016
Single Supplement $600
Three meals per day