Q & A with Diana Condrea, Founder, Uncover Romania Tours – Bucharest, Romania
“Introducing authentic Romania to individuals and small groups through tailor-made tours highlighting culture, history, and nature.”
WHAT BRINGS TRAVELERS TO ROMANIA?
It's important to differentiate between Bucharest, the capital, and the rest of the country. Bucharest is the most visited city in Romania and the main reason is usually business. Most tourists who come for leisure to Romania have an image about the destination that changes completely for the best after their visit. This is due to the fact that Romania has a falsified negative image in most Western countries. This is gradually changing due to positive travels reviews and more people are inspired to visit regions like Transylvania that enjoys a very good promotion in the foreign media.
SO IS PART OF YOUR MISSION TO GUIDE TOURISTS BEYOND BUCHAREST?
We mainly design tailor-made tours based on responsible tourism practices. If, for example, a tourist would like to spend four days in Bucharest we'll create a personalized itinerary based on a combination of the four tours we have available for this city. Generally we recommend only two days in Bucharest and we insist on having at least one day tour away from the capital. As destinations, Bucharest and the rest of the country are very different, and we'd like visitors to have the chance to experience both.
WHERE DO YOUR CLIENTS COME FROM?
Mainly from Europe. In the near future we hope to add travelers from the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India, China]. These countries are growing economically, so more people from there will be able to travel. Maybe they won’t include Romania in their first trip to Europe. But for the second trip, we can be on the list.
I enjoy hiking in the Carpathians [mountains] and exploring lesser known traditional villages. I would say Retezat, Cozia, Călimani and Piatra Craiului are some of my favorite National Parks to hike.
DO YOU OFFER BIRD-WATCHING OR NATURE TOURS IN THE NATIONAL PARKS?
We don't focus on bird watching, but we do have the know-how for wildlife tours. We estimate this will be a growing and important part of future tours.
WHERE DO YOUR GROUPS STAY OVERNIGHT?
Except for Bucharest, we mainly use local guest houses. This is part of our responsible tourism principle; we give our customers a quality and authentic experience, and at the same time we’re giving back to the visited communities.
Romanian food is very diverse and tasty, and many travelers are definitely surprised when they see the abundance of fresh and natural ingredients used. The large portions are also surprising - Western tourists tend to eat less than Romanian people. The traditional 'sarmale' and 'mici' appetizers are popular. Our cuisine is rather meat heavy, but most restaurants today offer vegetarian choices for those people who don’t eat meat.
THE COUNTRY LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL – ARE PEOPLE THERE INTO ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES?
I do think most young people have an increasing awareness and concern for the environment. It’s more difficult to convince the older generations – they have a more utilitarian and fixed perspective on nature. The government could do much more to support educational campaigns and improve conditions.
IN SUMMARY WHAT SHOULD TRAVELERS EXPECT FROM YOUR TOURS?
We introduce individuals and small groups to locations hand-picked for their authenticity and beauty. We don't promote the tourist traps or pretend that Romanians still live as they did hundreds of years ago. We don’t say visit ' the castle of Dracula.’ That kind of advertising is irresponsible and false. We want to provide a modern view of Romania – and we will be doing the same for many years to come!
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