While searching for cheap flights, which I post on the blog’s Facebook page (if you haven't liked it yet, it's time), I found a flight to Craiova for 235 NIS per couple for a weekend.
Craiova is the fifth largest city in Romania, located in Western Romania.
I phoned my mother in law who wanted to go on a family holiday and suggested they joined. Within half an hour we ordered 8 plane tickets. We bought 8 tickets for less than 1000 NIS.
Then I started planning the trip. The general plan was to rent a car and drive along the Danube.
We rented a car via Rental car. A representative of the company waited for us at the airport and got the cars for us. We ordered a mini car from the least expensive category, but got an upgrade to a new car with GPS, reverse detectors and an audio system.
When you rent a car it's important to read the small print well and check if the price you pay includes towing, insurance, cleaning and gas – to avoid additional charges when you collect the car.
Western Romania has a border with Serbia, part of which goes through the Danube, a river the crosses 10 countries in Europe and is about 2860 km in length.
The route was planned as a drive along the views of the river and attractions in the area.
Friday: Decebalus, a Danube boat trip, pizza and entering a cave.
We drove for about 3 hours to a town called Orșova.
Along the way, we stopped a few times to get some food, stretch our legs and do some shopping.
The landscape is gorgeous along the road with a wide river, picturesque villages, endless green patches and many nervous drivers that overtook is wildly. Driving in Romania was quite scary.
The first attraction we stopped at was Decebalus (Google Maps location). The stature is 40 m high and on the rocky bank of the Danube.
There are some souvenir and food stalls, as well as boats offering a boat trip in the area.
We took a trip in a small motor boat for 6 people for 150 leu.
The boat trip was magical, with stunning views. We stopped at two magical caves. The first is Veterani cave, that costs 6 leu but when we got there there was nobody at the reception, so we went inside.
In the second and larger cave you can walk inside on foot, but since we arrived late, we didn't have time to walk inside.
Moreover, as the kids were hungry, we stopped in the city nearby to have an excellent pizza at a place called Pizzeria Philadelphia Dubova. The pizza was really great! You can reach it not only on the boat trip, but also by driving there.
The boat trip goes by a beautiful monastery – Mraconia.
We reached the apartment only at 10 pm and looked for a place to have dinner. We found out that all the restaurants in the town were already closed. There was only one restaurant open, that hardly had any food left. There is no nightlife in this town.
In general, the town is very beautiful, but neglected. There's a lot of rubbish on the streets, the parks are not taken care of but the locals are kind and happy to help, even though most of them don't speak English.
At least we found out that the supermarket in the town is open till midnight (as opposed to 10pm as it says on Google Maps) so we supplemented our dinner at the supermarket and bought groceries for breakfast.
Saturday: Bigar Waterfall, Corn Mills and Lots of Views
After breakfast at the apartment we went to Eftimie Murgu village, for a route on the river with about 10 mills on the Rudăria River (location on Google Maps).
The road leading to the village is problematic, with many pits and narrow areas, yet it is worth the drive.
There are several mills, active at different times. When we visited only one of them was active. The owner explained to me in Romanian (though I don't speak it) how the mill works and showed us the process of milling the corn into cornmeal for mamaliga.
On the main road there were a few locals selling corn, honey and fruit.
We continued drinking on the road and reached a small cave that you can cross from one side to the other. It's a 10 minute walk.
After driving for a few more minutes we reached a car park with picnic tables, where you can stop , have a dip in the frozen water and have a picnic.
After stopping at the car park, we started driving towards Bigar Waterfall.
I read about Bigar Waterfall a long time ago, while planning our honeymoon in Eastern Europe. When I looked at the list of the most beautiful waterfalls in Europe.
After about an hour's drive from the mills, we reached the waterfall (Google Maps link).
About 5 minute walk from the waterfalls there is a car park (free parking) with souvenir stands, a coffee shop and food stalls.
There were quite a few people there, who stopped there to take photos of the waterfall.
Apart from the waterfall you can enter a nature reserve, costing 5 leu per person for a 10 minute walk along the river. At the end of the walk you reach a small cave. The walking route is about 200 m going up. If you've already reached the waterfall, I recommend taking that walk (it's in the shade and going up the steps is easy).
We planned on going to the hot baths in Herculane as well, but the family was tired from the ride, so we decided to go back to Orșova for dinner at the apartment and a good night's sleep before our last day.
Sunday: the way back to Craiova
We woke up in the morning and after a walk along the promenade in Orșova, We packed our bags and went out in the direction of Craiova.
The view was beautiful, but the promenade is rather neglected.
We wanted to get to Craiova early, because the girls wanted to spend time at the mall (that's what it's like when you fly with 4 more girls).
First stop – Drobeta-Turnu Severin
On the way, we stopped at Drobeta-Turnu Severin. During a short walk on the promenade we discovered that apart from a boat trip there are no other attractions, like shops, sups etc.
From there we drove to the city center, where it felt more lively. There was a fruit and vegetable market in the center of the city, many shops and coffee shops. We were there on a Sunday, and at 2 pm most of the shops were closing down.
There is a beautiful water tower in the city center, that was turned into a museum. It is not fully operational yet, and only the 4th and 1st floors are active at the moment.
On the 1st floor there was a comic book exhibition. On the 4th floor there was an amazing panoramic view of the city. The city rooftops were magical.
We came at a stage when the place was not fully operational, so entry was free.
A tip for dog owners!!
There are many pet shops in the city and the prices are very cheap.
We bought Neska (our dog) bravecto (anti flea capsules)
It cost us 70 NIS, while in Israel it costs 250 NIS
Second stop – Craiova
For me it was not the first time in Craiova. Me and my husband went there for a weekend before our previous trip to Romania – Read about it in my post: A short weekend in Craiova.
The first thing I did when we arrived in Craiova was keep my promise and go to the mall.
The building itself is neglected, there is no air conditioning, it has free parking and a huge Decathlon store nearby. The mall has shops like Zara, H&M, and other fashion chains. There is a huge cheap supermarket.
For the mall website click here.
The City Center:
After doing some shopping, we drove to the city center to take a walk in the beautiful pedestrian zone. We saw a movie at the cinema in the mall in the city center/ The movie was in English with Romanian subtitles.
The price for a 3D movie for two, including glasses was 52 leu.
For the cinema website click here.
We went to the apartment we rented through Booking, took a shower, got ready and drove to the airport.
Our flight back to Israel was on Monday at 6am.
The airport in Craiova is very small, it has one coffee shop and a small duty free shop.
I recommend getting there only 1.5 hours in advance.
Tired but satisfied we went back to our routine.