One of the most empowering parts of expat life is exploring the way locals do. While working in Bucharest, I strolled through Christmas Markets, kicked back at Therme Spa, and hiked through the Carpathians.
However, when an opportunity came along to crash a group tour of Prahova, Romania, I seized it! The idea of spending the day exploring castles and wine brings a new meaning to Sunday funday. At Pure Wander, we find that the best way to absorb a new culture is through the eyes of a local. The folks at My Secret Romania planned the perfect day trip to experience the unique culture of the Romanian countryside.
Views from the top of Cantacuzino Castle
Our first stop was a charming castle in Busteni, just a few minutes north of the famous Peles Castle. Cantacuzino castle was erected in 1911 for two-time mayor of Bucharest and prime minister of Romania Gheorge ‘Nabob’ Cantacuzino. The Neo-Romanian style includes intricate wall and ceiling paintings, similar to what is found in the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.
For twenty lei ($5), you can stroll through the castle and imagine a life in the clouds. Unfortunately, my crew didn’t have time to take advantage of the beautiful art exhibition on the second floor. However, if you happen to find yourself in Prahova, Romania explore the gallery to make the most of your experience.
Soak in the fresh air and views of Prahova, Romania
While the castle itself was impressive, the highlight of our day trip to Prahova, Romania was the view! After hoofing it up the top of the hill, I quickly realized the sweat was worth it.
On a clear day, a breathtaking view of the mountains inside Bucegi Natural Park emerges from the clouds. The view could easily be mistaken for the Alps. Romania continues to surprise me with every adventure I take. Make a point to snap a selfie, but make sure you soak in all this beautiful country has to offer.
Romainan Traffic Jams
When exploring beyond Bucharest, keep in mind the road infrastructure in Romania is not the same as the western hemisphere. A twenty-mile trip may take thirty minutes on an interstate highway in the US. Meanwhile, that same distance can take multiple hours on ‘Romanian time!’
I was dreading the ride when we boarded the van that we would call home at 8AM. I was fully aware I was crashing a group traveling together from Finland for the weekend. The hours in the van flew by as I learned all about Finnish culture and their work as horticulture experts.
As the day wore on and wine was consumed, the conversation became colorful and filled with laughter. This was a simple reminder that traveling is all about being open to new experiences, especially the surprising ones!
Castles and Wine: Exploring Lacerta Winery
Enough about the castles in the countryside, let’s get to the good stuff! One of the greatest well known secrets about this eastern European nation is the thriving local wine market. Prahova, Romania is located in the Dealu Mare Region. The rich soil is known to produce some of the best Cabernets and Pino Noirs in the region.
Once we managed to drive past the herd of sheep, we arrived at LacertA Winery. Greeted by many warm and friendly members of the staff, we took a moment to soak in the breathtaking landscape. Afterwards, we headed inside to take a tour and learn more about how the wine is produced.
While we did enjoy the tour, we were very excited to learn first hand what the wine tasted like. Needless to say, I did not arrive back in Bucharest empty handed! I highly recommend the Curvee IX Red blend.
After a long day exploring all the castles and wine Prahova, Romania has to offer, we climbed back into the tour bus. After a short ‘cat-nap’ we arrived back in Bucharest with plenty of breathtaking snapshots and local wines to enjoy.
Have you ever visited Prahova, Romania? Tasted the local Dealu Mare wine? What parts of Romania would you like to explore?