Q. My husband and I are attending a conference in Bucharest in October. We would like to fly there and rent a car to tour the area. We'd like to spend approximately 10 days and see sights within 500 miles of the city. What would you recommend?
Ruth Owen Kerkeslager, Madison, N.J.
A. My first recommendation is that you scale back your plans. Five hundred miles is too large an area around Bucharest for 10 days in Eastern Europe. You could reach Austria or Poland, but you would be able to manage little more than the drive there and back, and it would make more sense to fly. I would also advise you to avoid driving in Bucharest itself, where the traffic is notoriously bad.
Why don't you use Bucharest as a base to see more of Romania and possibly a few cities in neighboring countries? One interesting region is Dracula's birthplace, written about by Nicholas Wood in his article "In Transylvania, a Count Invites You to His Castle" (Aug. 27, 2006). The largely bucolic region is full of picturesque hamlets that remained intact through the country's Communist era.
Bulgaria's capital, , about 250 miles from Bucharest, is full of significant sites and monuments, including the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, explored by Gregory Dicum in "An Ancient City That Wears Its History Well" (April 30, 2006). Other worthy options, though farther away, include Belgrade, Serbia, about 450 miles from Bucharest, and Istanbul, about 400 miles away.
Read more articles about Romania at www.RomaniaTourism.com/Romania-in-the-Press.html