In rural Romania you can experience a way of life which vanished from the west nearly a century ago. Traditional occupations such as shepherding, weaving and carpentry are still very much alive in its attractive little villages, where painting icons on glass and colouring eggs provide an attractive contrast to 21st century activities.You can see much that you cannot easily experience elsewhere: ploughing with horses, cutting hay with a scythe, milking a cow, making a horseshoe by hand at the forge. Food in rural Transylvania is frequently organic and, surprisingly to the Western visitor, full of flavour.
Romanian folklore is probably the most varied and traditional in the whole of Europe, so many experts say. You will be captivated by the beauty of the regional costumes which you may see passing through villages near Sibiu, in the Apuseni Mountains or Maramures, Bucovina.
Transylvanian folk music and dancing is well known abroad. The 'Doina', a distinctively ballad, gives expression to a wide variety of feelings whereas dances like 'Invartita' or 'Fecioresti' demand great virtuosity.
Romanians are said to be one of the most welcoming and friendliest people in the world. When you first meet them, you may find them formal by Western standards. This may take the form of old-fashioned behaviour such as a man kissing a woman's hand when they meet. Men usually greet each other with a hand shake and it is not unusual for friends, both men and women, to kiss on both cheeks. In rural areas, it is usual to greet people individually and even to greet strangers! Traditionally, first names are used only by friends and relatives and by adults when they are addressing children.
It is likely that you will be offered a glass of 'palinca' and a four meal dinner regardless of the time of day. If you do not want to drink it, or the food served is overwhelming, however, refuse politely. You may find that your host insists that you accept. This is a traditional offer purely out of friendship and courtesy and a polite refusal will be accepted. Sociable, interested in open and pragmatic ideas, it is easy to find something to talk about with Romanian people. Current events are very popular and sport is a popular interest. Politics and Romanian history are acceptable topics among older men and will be hotly debated by them. People will most certainly talk about Ceausescu and communism and many of them will have amazing stories to tell.
Romanians are, cheerful, happy people, always ready for guests and celebration. Any shyness will quickly change if you are friendly and interested. You will be surprised at the ability of many Romanians to speak other languages, including English. Should you be invited to the home of a Romanian, you may find that you are the guest of honour or at least the centre of attention. Hosts appreciate it when a dinner guest brings flowers or another gift. Make sure that you stay for a few hours, talk to everyone present and eat as much as you can!