Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Guide people in such a way that they feel they are visiting their Romanian friends"

Those are the kind comments our guests Katharine Vary-Belanger and James Belanger (US), whom we had the pleasure to guide and accommodate in the period November 24-30, 2008, wrote about their first trip to Romania:

"My husband and I decided to go to Romania on a whim. We found excellent airfare, and a friend had recently been there and spoke glowingly of a private guide she had found to help her to research her family's history there. Though neither of us has any genealogical ties to Romania, our sense of adventure drove us to contact this guide, Fernando, and arrange a trip. Fernando's philosophy is simple - guide people through the country in such a way that they feel they are visiting their Romanian friends. We saw many of the major sites, such as Bran Castle and the painted monasteries of Bucovina, but far more interesting and exciting was the insight we gained by getting to know Romanians. Fernando's wife, Elena, and her brother, Marinel, were our primary guides, and we had many wonderful moments of telling stories, trying new foods, getting drunk, and laughing. I can't tell all the stories which made this trip extraordinary: there was the emergency snow-boot purchase, the drinking of too much champagne and giggling like little girls in the back seat of the car with Elena, the visit to Elena's parents' house, being rude to the statue of Lenin... the list could go on for a much longer time than a one-week trip would normally merit. We were sad to find, at the end of our visit, that we had to return to our daily lives. Everything far exceeded our expectations, and the warmth and hospitality we experienced made this the best, most enjoyable, and most enlightening trip that my husband and I have taken together. I hope that, someday, we will be able to return to Romania; when we do, we will certainly contact Fernando and Elena, in the hopes that we may see more of their beautiful country."

Picture: Bran Castle, Transylvania, by Katharine Vary-Belanger