Last year, we arrived at the seaside just in time for the „Folk You!” music festival in Vama Veche. We flew low-cost from Cluj-Napoca to Bucharest (45 min. flight) and then took a BlaBlaCar to the littoral. After the classic traffic jam on the north beltway of the capital, we circulated quite good on the highway and were able to get to the sea after sunset. After arrival, we went for a walk on the beach to salute the moon reflecting in the water, ate a kebab and went to rest and build-up some energy for the vacation ahead of us.
We chose to stay in 2 Mai. It is a former fishermen`s village, between the Mangalia Shipyard and Vama Veche, which now is starting to become a small resort. In our opinion, it is the best choice for accommodation on the Romanian littoral: it`s within walking distance from Vama Vache (about 45 min.), the price is significantly lower, the conditions are good and it`s not crowded. Our pension was at the southern exit of 2 Mai towards Vama Veche, but on the opposite side of the sea, within a 15 minute walk from the beach. The construction was relatively new and had a beautiful garden where we enjoyed the shade and that we could eat outside, in nature. The area is quite rustically-looking, just part of the roads are asphalted.
The inhabitants of 2 Mai are Romanians, Lipovans, and Tatars. It`s an interesting mix of cultures, that reflects in local gastronomy too – we especially enjoyed the Russian food served in restaurants owned by Lipovans. As a matter of fact, our host was a Lipovan too. It was also a graveyard nearby, were Christian and Muslim graves coexisted peacefully. The mosque beside the graveyard is not very frequented anymore, as the number of Muslim believers is reducing.
The beach in 2 Mai is well-kept, the water was warm and there weren`t too many algae. The entrance in the water is a little steeper than in other places, but this doesn`t affect the nice and easy bathing, there are sandy areas with a few stones. The sunrise on the beach was a special moment, even if we were very sleepy that early in the morning. 🙂
Like anywhere else on the Romanian seaside, there are all kinds of food shops, shaorma places, terraces and restaurants. It is a small resort, the options are limited, but people who come here are kind of reminding you about the former visitors of Vama Veche. We were at a terrace with live folk music and enjoyed some beer, anchovies and good music.
We also had a little boat trip on the water on a small boat, which was quite dissatisfying, due to the short duration of about 15 minutes. Another weirdness was a pizza place located in the yard of a pension, with a dubious owner who was bragging that he has the best food in the Universe, said that the clients are morons who don`t appreciate ”real” pizza and he also had unjustifiably high prices.
You can get from 2 Mai to Vama Veche in a few minutes by car or walking along a bike trail constructed using EU funds and already a little degraded with no bikes circulating on it. In Vama Veche, we liked the folk festival even if the huge crowd of people on the beach made things a little uncomfortable, you literally had to stop and plan your next step among people. We ate a lot of junk food there, and would especially recommend the pancakes with outpouring filling that gets you all dirty and sticky. 🙂
Another thing that delighted us was a open mic bar for those who wanted to sing folk or old school rock ballads and a local amateur band that had a recital. Another awesome moment was a morning at ”Papa la Șoni”, with goulash cooked on open fire, ice-cold lemonade and young and talented Alina Manole in concert. But, what we enjoyed the most, were the legendary ”Vama Veche nights”, on the beach, with good music in the background, the barely audible sound of the sea in front of us, and the ”square moon” in the sky watching over us…
One of the days, we had a quick ”city break” in Constanța, to see the evolution of the city in the last years. It`s worth mentioning that we don`t visit the Romanian littoral too often. We had mixed impressions about the most important port at the Black Sea. The city center looks better than in the past, after renovation and closing of some streets for pedestrians. The ”Modern” beach was expanded and nicely renovated, we were surprised it wasn`t crowded, it`s weird and hard to understand why everyone is herding in Mamaia.
The piers weren`t designed in the best way possible, it would`ve been much nicer to build some ”belvedere” spots on them for those who like to admire the sea or… take selfies without breaking their legs on the rocks. Constanța is quite dirty and Luna Amusement Park is like an exhibition of kitsch. The Tăbăcăriei lake is really filthy though the area is quite beautiful and many tourists would come here if they cleaned it up.
Mamaia is expensive and praised in vain. There is`t much to see in the touristic port. The century-old streets could be nicely renovated, but the cosmopolitan houses are uncared-for, among them are appearing new constructions with completely different architecture. The Casino – symbol of the city, is in decay.
The train station is modest, with dubious people around. The salespeople were impolite, seeming deranged by the travelers, as if they don`t make a living on tourists money. You can get from Constanța to Mangalia by train or by the minibus, in about an hour. That is, if the road isn`t blocked or it`s not too hot for the railway. When we were there, they were working on Agigea bridge over the Danube – Black Sea Canal, and we waited a lot in traffic.
From Mangalia, just in front of train station, there are minibuses to any resort. The trip to 2 Mai takes only several minutes. There are also illegal ”sharks” that offer to take you with their car ant trying to fool you with their abberant prices. There is also a minibus from Mangalia to Constanța passing through the resorts, but it takes a lot to get there as it has to circulate amid tourists that are walking on the streets.
After almost a week, we said good bye to the sea and left for Cluj. We didn`t find a convenient flight from Bucharest, so we traveled on the ground. We split the distance in two in order to avoid to get tired unnecessarily and to have one more day of vacation. On the first day, we traveled from Constanța to Sinaia, in an incredibly fast train for Romanian standards – 130km/h on some portions.
In Sinaia, we stayed in an old interwar villa, on the top of a hill, with a superb view over the whole area. Sinaia was beautifully renovated in the last years, the city center looks like in a Central-European town. It`s a pity though that the industrial and the railway areas are spoiling the charm. Anyway, from all the mountain resorts in Romania, it`s one of the best-kept.
The old aristocratic mansions and coquettish pensions, the dense forest, fresh air and the glorious mountains on the horizon made as very happy tourists. We didn`t climb the mountains this time, because the queues at the cable cars were too long. But we took a tour with the touristic train, drawn by a tractor, in the most important places of the town. Then, we walked around the Peleș Castle and Sinaia Monastery, took photos, ate good food and enjoyed a dose of mountains, so shortly after enjoying the sea.
The next day, we found that road links to Cluj were bad, and the train does a lot, the railway being under reconstruction for many years now. We took another BlaBlaCar and after a crazy run with an irresponsible driver, we arrived in our soul-city, late in the evening.
It was an awesome vacation, with sun, sea, sand, good music, lots of ice-cream, peaches and coffee on the beach, walks on the pier, relaxation at the terraces, a short escapade in the mountains, interesting people, old buildings, sudoku solved on the road, moon rays, sea waves caresses, mountain rain, love for life. We want more!!! <3