Inspirations of Romania ~ From Transylvania to Communism

Tour Intro

A Photo Exploration Sponsored by Houston Audubon

Romania - Why would you visit Romania? It offers amazing landscape, people and cultural photographic opportunities. The country has the largest number of self-sufficient farmers in all of Europe. Many still practice farming like they did centuries ago, keeping their traditions alive. It will make you feel like you are stepping back in time. Romania’s history is as rich as any other European country, with wonderful medieval towns, fortifications, and churches, all of which are not being overrun by tourists. This is a special time of year in Romania where the countryside is alive with color, and the farmers are active harvesting their crops – it is truly a spectacular time to be here.

Experience a range of incredible photographic locations and experiment with a variety of photography techniques on this 10-day tour where you will travel in a small group, stay in well-chosen quality accommodation and be guided and assisted by a local Romanian tour guide and photographer.

What to expect: This tour is outdoor oriented and there will be a moderate amount of walking involved. The highest altitude 5000’, you should be prepared to walk for extended period of time at this altitude. Some of the paths are off-track and we recommend waterproof walking shoes. There may be a limited amount of uphill walking. If clients have health issues they should tell us in advance so we can plan activities for them with an easier level of walking. Romania is a very safe country, and you will find the people very welcoming. The days will be long in the field, with photo discussions and lectures in the evening when given time.

 

Tour Highlights

  • Limited to twelve tour participants.
  • Travel with photography instructor and a local Romanian tour guide.
  • Photograph the fall color of the Carpathian Mountain landscape and villages.
  • Bucovina self-sustaining farms, local farmers, and traditional art & craft workers provide excellent opportunity for portrait photography.
  • Diverse architecture from Bucharest Palace of Parliament, Unesco World Heritage fortified churches of Transylvania, and medieval citadel of Sighisoara.
  • Discover the warmth and charm of Maramures with its wooden churches and preserved villages.
  • A donation will be made on your behalf to the Houston Audubon Society.

Tour Itinerary

September 30: Home
Biertan Romania

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Romania

Your journey begins with your overnight flight to the Cluj, Romania (CLJ). (meals on plane)
PLEASE NOTE: Your international flight will be multi-city, flying in to Cluj and home from Bucharest (OTP).

October 1: Cluj
Viscri Romania

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Romania

Welcome to Romania! You are in for a treat of great people photography, charming medieval fortifications, wonderful nature, and captivating legends. The first day is a day to rest and get over jet lag. We suggest landing prior to 4PM as there will be an introductory meeting (time to be announced), followed by a welcome dinner. There will also be a photo walk of this charming city with your first shoot in the historic center during sunset and blue hour. You may consider flying in a day early if your airline of choice lands later in the day. Overnight Beyfin Hotel (D)

October 2-3: Ieud-Maramures Region
Hay Harvest

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Romania

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning or a photography walk with your photo leader in the quaint neighborhood of your hotel. Then travel by bus approximately three and half hours to Maramures Region.

Here most people still work on subsistence farms, have a few chickens, a cow or two, raise a pig, which they slaughter for Christmas, mow and pile hay by hand and transport it by horse cart. It is a region we advise visiting now as it is rapidly changing and the old and traditional is replaced by the modern and comfortable, the contrast is already striking which makes it the more interesting. Still, probably the best word to describe it is “bucolic” and you will have almost two days to see this for yourself.

Given time and weather conditions the next day you maybe able to stop at a local market to get to know the locals and learn about their culture. Continue to the intriguing Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, where the funeral crosses are painted lively with poems about the life of the deceased, some of them quite funny so it will be a very insightful experience. You will also meet the only craftsman who makes these crosses and see him at work. Visits such as this throughout your tour will offer great opportunities for environmental portraits. The region is also home to the best museum dedicated to Communism located in a former prison, you will visit and learn more about the impact communism had on the country and even how it still influences the culture more than 25 years after the regime has changed. (B, L, D; B, D) Overnight Casa Traditiilor, Maramures Region

October 4-5: Vama-Bucovina Region
Decorated Eggs

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Romania

Climb a hillside this morning for sunrise photography of a beautiful wooden monastery, the grounds surrounding it, and visit a historical church, which are very typical of this region, one of which dates back to 1364. From Maramures cross the mountains to another traditional region of Romania: Bucovina. As we travel through the countryside we will have a few stops in traditional villages to photograph the traditional architecture but also locals working in the field or traveling by horse and cart. Check into your lovely home for the next two evenings, overlooking the village of Vama, and the beautiful mountains as a backdrop.

Begin another day with a highlight, a true wonder of Romania, the painted monastery of Sucevita, an UNESCO site. Sucevita monastery impresses with its setting, a valley with mountains and deciduous forest as a backdrop, which makes for great compositions even when it is raining. The day will surely provide interesting encounters with locals as the road takes you through the countryside. One planned stop will be at an egg-painting workshop, a craft specific to this region. Meet a true artist and see her at work dressed in traditional clothes. Overnight Bucovina Lodge (B, D both days)

October 6-7: Sighisoara-Transylvania Region
Gypsy

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Romania

There will be photo stops on your way to visit a local winery producing excellent white and red wines. In the evening you will be in the medieval citadel of Sighisoara, a great place for blue hour photography in Romania as it has nicely lit narrow cobbled streets, imposing defensive towers, and fascinating historic buildings and squares.
Transylvania will uncover more of its beauty and charm by visiting one of the most beautiful fortified churches, an UNESCO World Heritage site. In reality they are true fortresses and this is how locals call them as they’ve been built to shelter them from attacks throughout the last 700 years. The fortification in Viscri is famous for its white color and it is one of the favorites of HRH Prince Charles of Wales who visits the village almost yearly. Viscri itself is an attraction as it is a well-preserved quaint medieval village so having a walk around it will bring you back in time some 200 years. Given the right conditions there may be another organized blue hour photography session this evening.

Given a local families availability you will also have an interesting people encounter with a local blacksmith belonging to the Roma minority. He will show us how he makes horse shoes and nails, a true fire and iron show which is very challenging to be captured on camera but if you get it right the pictures will be outstanding. Overnight Sighisoara, Transylvania region (B, L both days)

October 9-8: Sibiu-Transylvania
Barn

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Romania

If the weather cooperates the group will rise very early so you can catch the sunrise in one of the best locations in Romania: above a valley in which the imposing Biertan fortified church sits above the town. After breakfast, you will be welcomed in to a Romanian Gypsy family home, where you will learn, see, and photograph what it takes to make beautiful household items out of copper. Photograph the family as they go about their daily lives. Continue on the road to Sibiu where you will look for farmers working the fields, and photograph their hard work with traditional farm equipment, and iconic haystacks of the region. Be prepared to learn something new, meet some intriguing people and hone your skills on taking some great people pictures. Overnight Casa Luxemburg (B, L)

October 9: Bran-Transylvania
Haystacks Snow

Photo By: Jacque Boehm Steedle

Photo Location: Romania

Your next adventure will begin as you depart for Bran castle, which is usually associated with Dracula. Take pictures outside with a mountain backdrop, it’s a wonderful time of year with deciduous forests, glowing with warm yellow, brown, and red hues, which will make your pictures truly wonderful. The countryside around Bran is really wonderful; spend the rest of the day exploring it and trying to create compositions with the towering nearby mountains, picturesque chalets, and farmers working the fields, haystacks, and sheep. Conclude the day with a sunset shoot at about 4000-foot altitude, capturing the surrounding area during the warm and spectacular dusk light. Overnight Inn Balaban (B, D)

October 10: Bucharest
Bran Hillside Farms

Photo By: Jacque Boehm Steedle

Photo Location: Romania

There will be another early morning sunrise photography session on foot from our lovely accommodations. Leave Bran after a late breakfast, and continue back towards Bucharest, with photo ops along the way. After checking in to the hotel you will have time on your own to wander, relax and re-pack for your flight home tomorrow. Dinner is on your own at the hotel or any of the restaurants in the local neighborhood. Europa (B, L)

October 11: Bucharest-Home
Market Scarves

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Romania

If your flight schedule allows there will be time for photography this morning. Everyone will be transferred to the airport at the appropriate time for flights. (B)

Photo Leader

Kathy Adams Clark
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Kathy Adams Clark

Kathy Adams Clark is a professional nature photographer and owner of a stock agency representing thirteen photographers. Her work has been published in a variety of national and regional publications including National Geographic Books, The New York Times, and Sierra. Kathy teaches over fifty photography workshops and classes each year. Her work may be viewed weekly in the Houston Chronicle's “Wonders of Nature” column, written by her husband, Gary.

Kathy enjoys traveling with people new to photography as well as with folks with advanced skills. She has an ability to explain complicated photographic terms in easy-to-understand language. She likes to teach those hungry for new information but also understands that photography can be a solitary task. Each person traveling with Kathy is treated as an individual, but the group always has fun.

Kathy is an accomplished naturalist as well as a photographer, skilled in 35mm film and digital cameras. She is very passionate about nature, birdlife, and wildlife. Gary Clark who is an acclaimed naturalist guide in his own right will co-lead some trips each year with her.

A lifelong naturalist, Gary Clark has studied birds, mammals, and butterflies in North, Central, and South America and in East Africa.  He is an award winning professional writer whose column “Nature” appears weekly in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News.  He has authored feature articles in state and national magazines and has written six books that include photographs from his wife, Kathy.  He frequently conducts birding workshops and leads birding tours.  He is founder of the Piney Woods Wildlife Society of Texas, former president of the Houston Audubon Society, and former vice-president of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.  Gary is a full professor at Lone Star College.

Because of both Kathy & Gary's love of nature, and the work they do, Strabo Tours is proud to make a donation to the Houston Audubon Society for each trip they take part in.

This was the trip of a lifetime for me. I was challenging myself to learn all sorts of new things, photography, a new culture, and was immersed in it. It surpassed my expectations and I met so many beautiful souls along the way. Kathy was fantastic, I give her a 10++!!!

D. Whitney

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 9 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 6-8 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

Accommodations We have chosen all locations with the most important thing in mind – getting to the right location at the right time. Clients literally just walk out of your lodge and start taking photos. Due to the regions included in the itinerary the lodges outside of Bucharest do NOT have elevators. Each participant will need to be prepared to handle his or her own luggage, and camera gear. They will range from 3* to a 4 in Cluj & Bucharest.

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