I can't say I was thrilled with the variety and quality of souvenirs in Romania. This was a bit surprising for a country with such rich folklore. Wooden crafts (but unfortunately not in the artistic perfection found in Maramures), painted icons (if you like naive iconography this can be great), carpets, tableclothes etc. I wouldn't like to mention the Drakula parafrenalia which were all very kitsch!
The only exclusion was a young artist I found in Sighisoara whose woodcarving work was perfect but alas a bit expensive
The Gift Shop at the Peasant Museum in Bucharest has a lot of great things to bring back home: check out the handpainted folk tiles, and the genuine high quality (secondhand donated, I assume) folk costume articles.
Near the cash register is a big basket of intricately hand decorated Easter eggs in great designs (a bit more $ than at the painted monasteries - see below)
What to buy: You can buy packages of a dozen intricately decorated Easter eggs (Ukranian-style) very reasonably at the gift shops at the painted monasteries in Bucovina. I think I paid 20 RON for a dozen, and considering the careful craftwork involved, these are little gems.
Pack them carefully, & you'll get them back home unbroken -- I brought back 18 of them without too much worry.
As I usually stop by local crafts, I did so in Romania and I got enchanted with colours and patterns i saw- my favourite stuff are traditional colours and patterns of carpets.
What to pay: As you are buying -don't forget to haggle-the beginning price of the carpet I wanted to buy was 3600000 leu (approx.100 euro then) and it ended at 1200000 which was also touristy I think.
What to buy:
Prices are quite cheap in Romania, it's about £1 for 20 cigarettes, less than £2 for a bottle of wine and, the food is also excellent value. Imported goods, on the other hand, are not so cheap, expect to pay western prices for these. It also pays to haggle if you're buying from the markets.
Romanian wine is excellent, you must buy some!
Yes it's a kitschy tourist trap, but you have to appreciate the variety of swords, wood-carved scary-masks and Dracula t-shirts the vendors at Bran Castle offer. Upstairs in the Dracula Club (I don't know if it's really called that) there's lots of weapon replicas, hand-painted stemware (which I don't think is local, but may be) and less traditional crafts, but these are higher priced.
What to buy: This is a great place to buy keychains, t-shirts and small souvenirs to bring home for friends and family. You don't have to tell them your rich experience visiting a centuries-old fortress complete with an original village had nothing to do with Dracula.
What to pay: The local crafts are inexpensive, but inside the bar the prices escalate considerably. But it's a different quality and type of souvenir.
Coming into Herzei, one of the towns known for its ceramics, you'll drive past a group of about six or seven little roadside shops selling ceramics. One actually makes the pieces on-site and are happy to share their craft with visitors.
Each shop bears the work of an artist, each with their own designs and unique brand of art. Most have some version of a rooster painted on some dishes, which is considered this area's sign for the edge of town. (at least, that's what we were told. We were also told the polizia directing traffic was Prince Charles :)
What to buy: In this area, ceramic items range from dishes and bowls to decorative items suitable for hanging or dressing a table. Hand-painted vases and planters sold there will be hard to ship home, but there's a FedEx at the Otopeni Airport. Get a receipt if you want insurance when shipping.
What to pay: You'll find the exact same ceramics in Bucharest at five times the price you pay in the regions where the products are made. In Herzei, I loaded up two big boxes stuffed full of souvenirs, plates, tiny cups, whistling birds and vases and spent about $60 usd. We also got a great deal on an antique clock in the shop where you can watch the ceramics being made.
What to buy:
look around in rural areas for carved wooden objects and pottery, also wild boar skins make an unusual souvenir that can legally be taken out of the country.
What to pay: A wild boar skin shouldn't be much more than €40 - 60
Don't laugh - there used to be a Dracula listed in the New York telephone book. He probably moved there because he wouldn't look out of place in a crowd of New Yorkers. Nowadays, Dracula tours are big business in Romania. They take you around the spooky Transylvanian countryside and show you castles supposedly associated with Vlad the Impaler, whose reputation makes poor Dracula quite angelic by comparison. If you are stuck for souvenirs to take home, they sell Dracula tee-shirts at Bucharest Airport.
I know it's a tricky subject but I must say: the fur on sale as coats and hats is simply incredible. Of course you wouldn't buy and one would certainly not be able to import it to their own country but still...... it is very very impressive.
market and events venue
What to buy: Chimney cakes
Leavened sweet dough, baked on charcoal.
Initially, a thin frosting on it. Is flavored with cinnamon, cocoa and nuts.
What to buy:
Rahat - the delicious fruit sugar
Cut cake into small pieces is also an excellent decorative element.
What to buy:
Stuff from the local markets. We brought back honey, nuts, jams, dried peppers. To much to carry!
Italian clothes and shoes at knock down prices.
What to pay: Made in Italy linen summer jacket £25.00
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