A place of unspoiled beauty, Romania also has a wealth of castles, fortresses, exquisite wooden churches, and painted monasteries.It is a country with a fascinating history and cultural traditions—vampirism aside. Illustrated with maps
A Review of the Blue Guide of Romania
By Philippe Bieler on Feb 14, 2001
A REVIEW OF THE BLUE GUIDE TO ROMANIA Caroline Juler has written a romantic story about Romania. Her book is about her passion for the country and its people. There are very few long lists about what to do and what not to do. Instead, she paints a colorful picture of the countries huge diversities from the horrors of the Carbon Plant in Copsa Mica to the glory of the Sucevita Monastery. She describes Copsa Mica as "...... a graveyard of rusting industrial plants" while the mural at Sucevita "........is filled with hosts of angels flying in formation like a Busby Berkeley swimming team." . The reader is immediately excited about arranging a trip to see as many of her favorite things. We arrived in Bucharest with a normal level of concern. Caroline Juler reminded us that a recent guide book described it as "that Gotham from Hell", but she was quick to calm us that it's really "a mixture of things that will delight and annoy, horrify, stimulate and comfort you...".There's an excellent map of Bucharest and pages of interesting details from serious art- history to walking tours and always interspersed with charming anecdotes. In the underground stories of Ceausescu's "derided landmark" is the "....access to an electric light railway in case the dictator should need to escape in a hurry. " She is however not completely enthusiastic about Bucharest and in fact the preface does not even mention it. For her "...one of the most beautiful of all the countries of southeast Europe" is the Maramures, northern Moldavia, the Saxon towns and many other even more rural locations. She enticed us to leave Bucharest and to follow her footsteps with the Blue Guide constantly in our hands. The art-history, the walking tours and the anecdotes became even more detailed and more interesting. We were driven on by her enthusiasm and as we limped back to the Otopeni Airport at the end of our trip we felt that we had been truly rewarded by the excellent preparation that she had offered us. The Guide has some other excellent features that are worth mentioning. First of all it is written as a book with no crowded columns ; it can be read in the dim light of a café. It is visually appealing and easy to read. There are many maps and they are suitably magnified and simplified. The pen and ink drawings are charming. One criticism, however, is that the index could have been more inclusive. There were many interesting places in the text that didn't appear in the index. Perhaps that was the limitation of it being a good book rather than just another guide. It's now been three months since our week in Romania and I look back as though Caroline had been our partner in this adventure. If one reads the guide carefully it is even possible to meet some of her friends. We met a hotel- keeper friend whose hotel had unfortunately had a setback, but that introduction was well compensated by the telephone number to another Romanian who opened up many special doors for us and has also become one of our friends. We highly recommend the Blue Guide to Romania. Philippe Bieler, London, February 1st 2001 .
The Blue Guide Romania is a valuable resource
By A. J. Greep on Sep 18, 2003
I've recently moved to Romania and think I made the right decision in buying the Blue Guide over Lonely Planet and others. The difference between the Blue Guide and Lonely Planet is that the Blue Guide offers much more information in the way of history and culture. Whereas the Lonely Planet guide remains on the surface of everything, simply listing available hotels and restaurants, the Blue Guide goes into depth giving much historical background and other cultural information about each city/site as well. The introduction to the Blue Guide alone gives an in-depth look at Romania's history. The maps in the Blue Guide are ok. They often show only the center/downtown areas of popular cities, but they do that very well. The only map of the country, however, is on the inside cover of the book and it is split down the middle - half on the inside front cover, half on the inside back cover. This proves to be very annoying when you want to find something. My suggestion: Buy the Blue Guide as well as a basic Romania map to go with it.
The best guide book introduction to the arts and culture of Romania
By Alda on Jul 31, 2005
I cannot see how, from any standpoint, this book can be construed as "misleading and a danger," "disturbing," or "badly written"! Quite the contrary is true. Far from displaying an "ignorance of Romanian culture," Caroline Juler describes places in the cultural and geographical landscape of Romania which you will most likely miss without the help of this book. From Moldavian church iconography to road trip tips and mentions or mini-portraits of (Romanian, Hungarian, German, Armenian, Jewish, etc.) writers, architects, artists and other figures of historical importance in the history of Romania, Caroline paints an intricate, deep but accessible, portrait of Romania, and it does so with care, love, a discerning eye, and an informed appreciation of Romanian history and culture. Relying on English-language publications and the field notes of six years of research, Caroline Juler's book also benefits greatly from the author's training as an art historian. You will not find a better guide book introduction to the frescoes of the painted monasteries in Bucovina, to the architecture of Romanian Orthodox churches, or to the architectural landmarks of Bucharest than this Blue Guide. While it's true that some of the Romanian words could use a second edition of this Blue Guide, the lively account of the arts and the well-considered, informed yet digestible weaving of historical facts highly recommend Caroline Juler's book as the best guide book introduction to the arts and culture of the whole of Romania.
By Pvew on Aug 27, 2005
After almost 7 years living in Romania I finally got round to reading this book and was bowled over by it. In many ways it is a better introduction to Romania that reading a conventional history of the country. Very informative and so much condensed so well. Lively and stimulating. Of course there are occasional inaccuracies and Romanians would detect more but it vastly outclasses the other guide books. Every visitor to Romania should read this book. But one caveat. The index is so disgraceful that whoever compiled it should immediately find another career
There Are Better Books Out There
By Josie on Jan 29, 2006
I was disappointed with this book. I found it to be mostly out of date and very dry and difficult to get through. It also is missing a key part of any guide book: a map. I thought the illustrations were very poorly done... just childish line drawings where photographs would've been much better. I'd say skip this one and get the lonely planet one instead.
By Sycamore Calvert on Aug 12, 2013
The authors makes at every turn in this book attempts to prove ancient Romanian settlement of the present lands within the borders of Romania. The author makes many rude and false comments reguarding the native, long settled German and Hungarian populations. Romania wasn''t even a country until 1862 and then it had another name. There is no evidence that the 200 year rule by Rome has any connection to the Slavic Wallachs we call Romanians today.
Misleading and a Danger to an Unsuspecting Traveller
By Elisabeta Ioana on Dec 02, 2004
I bought this book in good faith before I ever set a foot in Romania. I read it earnestly from cover to cover as I anxiously awaited the trip. Little did I know then the extent to which I was being mislead. Looking back now, after several years of living each day in Romania, absorbing the culture, the language and the enchanting landscape, I see clearly that having no guide at all is infinitely preferrable to having one as badly written as this. My complaints about this book begin with its startlingly incorrect language tips which, if followed, are in some instances unintentionally humorous and in others risk badly offending the person you would be speaking to. But perhaps more disturbing is the author's apparent ignorance of Romanian culture which leads her to repeatedly fall back on discussing the outside influences (Hungarian, German, etc.) with which she seems far more familiar and comfortable. In addition, I detected a dose of condescension in the way that she hardly ever misses a chance to complain or to insert adjectives like "absurd". The historic background she provides seems thorough enough at first glance, though closer inspection reveals it to be a gathering of theories and suppositions presented as unimpeachable facts combined with a dry recapitulation of information from other texts. Her accounts of recent events in Romania again reflect the influence of outside (non-Romanian) opinions leading me to believe that much of her information was gathered through her Hungarian friends whom she quotes on the first page as saying "Romania is not Europe". The nuts and bolts of the book, suggestions on places to stay, eat and tour, are long out of date and therefore, in many cases utterly useless. I have had several of my Romanian friends read this book so that I could learn their opinion of it and they each responded with a mixture of shock and disappointment. If you are planning to travel to Romania, especially if it is your first visit there, do yourself a favor and pass right on by this book. Just pick up a good phrase book and memorize a few key sentences. Then let go of things you have read or heard about the country and just experience it for yourself. This is a culture with deep passion and feeling. Listen to the music. Eat the food. Look around you. And forget everything else.