For most of us, Romania is a spot on the map we haven’t visited yet and most aren’t even thinking about to do so. When I planned my this year’s vacations and decided to visit some place I never visited before, I figured on Romania as it is easily accessible from the airports in our region, not too expensive and there’s a lot to see in this country.
In the end I decided to fly to Craiova, the biggest city in the Lesser Wallachia region in the southwest of Romania as the city offers some sights and an interesting history.
My trip started on Saturday with a direct flight from Dortmund Airport to Craiova Airport on Wizzair. A low budget flight but good enough for a little more than two hours of flight time and actually the only airline flying regular services to this airport.
I arrived in Craiova around noon, took a taxi from the airport directly to my hotel and checked-in to drop my things in the room and start into the day. I chose the “Casa Cu Tei”, a four star hotel in a quite central location near the Botanical Garden, but I would choose another hotel if I should return here one day. You will read why 😉
I consulted my guide book (I used the “Rumänien” guide book published by the well-known “Baedeker Verlag” in German) to decide where to go first. As it was a Saturday and in most parts of Europe shops are closed on Sundays I decided to walk over to the Calea Unirii, which partly is a pedestrian zone and one of the main shopping streets in Craiova. On my way there I also passed the first sights of the city: The St. Anton Church and the Museum of Arts. The Museum of Arts is an impressive historical building in all white color and really good condition on the outside as it was restored in the past years.
A few meters up the street I arrived at the pedestrian zone. It was crowded and a few stalls on the side offered good such as decoration, arts and gifts. The massive building of the County Prefecture is enthroned on the left hand side and a park on the right.
I decided to explore the small park first. As there was some snow lying on the grounds but clear sky and sunny weather the park was a welcome recreational area for the people of Craiova: most benches where occupied, kids were playing and people were taking their dogs for a walk. As the park is not too big I ended up on the other end of it soon. A small church marks the end of the park and the last guests of a marriage were just leaving and taking some last pictures.
Opposite of the church I found the Opera building of Craiova, an Art Noveau building dated to the last but one end of the century and also in that condition in some parts.
I turned around, went back to the pedestrian zone, walked through a small shopping mall but didn’t find anything interesting and further down the street to the magnificent building of the Hotel Minerva, built in the Gotic Revival style during the Art Noveau era. It was a hotel and casino once and is now home to a really good restaurant.
As I was up very early in the morning I decided to return to the hotel to read some pages and go to bed than as I wanted to enjoy the breakfast early next morning to have the whole day to explore the city. Unfortunately I had to notice that the restaurant in the hotel was rented for a party that night and my room was really noisy due to the loud music and people walking in and out of the hotel as it was near the staircase. When I complained they told me that it was only happening that day, none of the others but the loud music would go on until midnight and offered me another room in the back of the hotel for the night where I actually had some good sleep afterwards. I’ve actually never experienced that before in any other hotel I stayed in yet.
The next stay started with some small breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Instantly I wanted to visit the Museum of Arts that should’ve been open, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I strolled through the city again, took a left turn into the Strada Alexandru, passed the prefecture and visited the “William Shakespeare Place”. The place is home to the National Theater where a performance was taking place. Right next to this the huge building of the University of Craiova is located right between Strade Alexandru and Calea Bucuresti. The University in Craiova is one of the biggest in Romania and a lot of students from all over the world are studying here.
This time I took two right turns into the Strada Lyon. A few abandoned houses are lining the street right next to residential buildings and stores. The street leads back to the small park “Alexandru I. Cruza” opposite of the city hall.
A little bit down the street I was back at the Opera building and decided to walk down to the Historical Museum. It is located in a small building across the street from the Madona Dudu church. The church is built in honor of the eponymous miraculous icon. Just a short walk up the street I found the St. Demetrius Church which is located next to the Ethnographic Museum of Craiova.
I walked back to the Calea Bucuresti into the direction of the University Building. This street is really characteristic for the city. On its side it’s surrounded by old postwar and Soviet built rundown concrete buildings, the renovated art noveau University building, a 1950s style National theater and some modern office buildings. But on many places in the city one sees undergoing restoration works, road works and construction sites for new, modern buildings.
Me myself I decided that all the walking was enough for that day, had some snacks on the way back and stayed at the hotel for the rest of the day for some reading, writing and to sort out the pictures I had yet taken.
On my third and last day I decided to walk over to the Botanical Garden. As the days are cold and snowy at this time of the year I was aware of that I wouldn’t see superb floristics but I thought a walk through the park and some nature within the city life couldn’t harm. When I arrived at the gardens and started a walk around it, I noticed how noisy the city life is. The park itself was covered with snow and ice, some of the ponts were frozen and the trees were leafless but it was quite and calm, birds were tweeting and a small creek was dabbling through the park. The noise of the near streets was sounding like far away and the many benches in the park are inviting to sit down and relax. During spring and summer when all the plants and flowers are blooming this must be a real oasis within Craiova (for what it actually received the gold medal during the World Expo in Paris 1900). I walked all around the park, passing the greenhouse with lots of exotic plants and some dogs roaming around (stray dogs are part of the street scene here) and left the park, noticing that I’m back in all that noisy atmosphere again.
I stood on the Bulevardul Nicolae Titulescu and went along it until it transits into the Calea Bucuresti. Walking down this street once again until I reached the casino right opposite of an unfinished tower building. I walked back along the University building through the city center once again (which is much more crowded during week days), bought something to drink at a small supermarket and went back to the hotel.
After some relaxing I left the hotel again just two hours later to have something to eat and walk a last round through the busy city of Craiova.
After return to the hotel I went to sleep as I had to leave at 3:30 am to catch my flight back home.
If you want to check out Craiova some day, I would recommend that two full days are enough to see all the sights and everything interesting in the city, what also makes it perfect as a stop over on a round trip in the region. If you want to go here, you might ask yourself:
How to get to Craiova?
Craiova has a small airport (Airport Code: CRA) with only one airline offering scheduled non-stop services here: Wizzair offers flights from Spain (Barcelona), Italy (Rome-Ciampino, Milan Bergamo, Bologna), Germany (Dortmund) and the UK (London Luton). You can book the flights through http://www.wizzair.com . If you are not living near those airports, the best way to come here by plane is to fly to Bucharest on one of the many connections from all over Europe. If you come from abroad you can for sure use transit flights as there is no direct long-haul connections (through London, Frankfurt and Moscow for example). If you are in Bucharest, there is a train connection to Craiova which takes about three hours.
If you are on a round trip, Craiova is the traffic center of the Lesser Wallachia, what makes it easily accessible by car or train.
Where to stay?
How to travel through the city?
As the city center is not too big, you can reach most things by foot if you have a hotel in or near the center. Otherwise there are a lot of taxis available for cheap prices and public busses are available too.
I hope I was able on giving you some insight on my trip and maybe some inspiration for your next one. As always, you can contact us by commenting below or just dropping an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org in case you have any questions or suggestions.
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