The Ad Campaign

I was talking with a colleague yesterday and she mentioned she was about to leave on vacation, off to visit family in Romania. That brought this post from October 2014 to mind and the great tourism video, which was influential in my decision to visit Romania. Since it was top of mind, I though a replay today was appropriate.

When we were choosing travel destinations for our month in Europe this year, deciding where to go was difficult. We had to visit family in Germany. I really wanted to go to Juno Beach, the site of the Second World War Normandy landings. Vivian said she really didn’t care, as long as we went somewhere new (well, it turned out she did care, but that’s a story for another day). Finding somewhere new made my task of planning the trip a little more challenging – Vivian has been many more places than I have.

My first thought was Ukraine. I have met many young Ukrainians involved in the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Programme who have over the years suggested I come to visit them. That made sense this time last year when I began looking at options. However, when political unrest started, I decided that probably this wasn’t the year to visit Ukraine. It seemed logical to look at Eastern Europe, since Vivian has been to very few places there, but how do you choose between former Soviet countries when you really know nothing about them?

Thanks to the British I chose Romania. It seems the British don’t like Romanians. At least that’s the impression I got from a 2013 ad campaign telling Romanians to stay home and not come to the U.K., telling them “you won’t like it here.”

It wasn’t tourists they were trying to discourage; it was Romanians moving to England in the hopes of finding work. But the campaign was extremely offensive if you are Romanian. (For the record, now that I have been to Romania I understand the British campaign, and I suspect most Romanians wouldn’t like it there – the cost of living is ridiculous!)

The Romanian pushback was what caught my eyes and ears. That was a big part in my deciding that Romania was to be our destination. A link to the video that convinced me is at the end of this post.

I can’t vouch for all the claims in the Romanian response campaign. I didn’t look to see if Prince Charles really does own a house in Romania. Nor did I take up the offer of accommodation with a Romanian family (I’m way too introverted for that). But it seems to me that everything the Romanians claimed was true.

It is a beautiful country with great scenery and friendly people. I should point out I find the British friendly too, but friendliness isn’t the most important thing when you travel. It helps if you can understand the people in the area you are visiting. The Romanian ad campaign suggests that people in Romania speak better English than anywhere in France. We did find that almost all Romanians speak English to some degree, and, forget France; their accents made them a lot easier to understand than many of the people we talked with in Britain!

As a frugal tourist I understand why people think long and hard before visiting the U.K. – the place is frightfully expensive. Romania is much more economical. For example, we stayed one night in London on this trip, in a budget hotel, and paid about the same as we did for three nights in a much nicer room in Bucharest.

As we traveled in both Romania and England I was doing some mental comparisons between the two countries. Both were very enjoyable experiences and I expect to return to both nations on future European visits. However, in terms of value for money, Romania was the clear winner when it came to food, local travel and accommodations. That’s something those of us who are budget conscious like to keep in mind. I owe a debt of thanks to whomever in the British government decided to discourage Romanian visitors!

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