- Series: Blue Guides
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Blue Guide (September 17, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393320154
- ISBN-13: 978-0393320152
- Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,189,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Blue Guide Romania (Blue Guides) Paperback – September 17, 2000
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The maps in the Blue Guide are ok. They often show only the center/downtown areas of popular cities, but they do that very well. The only map of the country, however, is on the inside cover of the book and it is split down the middle - half on the inside front cover, half on the inside back cover. This proves to be very annoying when you want to find something.
My suggestion: Buy the Blue Guide as well as a basic Romania map to go with it.
Far from displaying an "ignorance of Romanian culture," Caroline Juler describes places in the cultural and geographical landscape of Romania which you will most likely miss without the help of this book. From Moldavian church iconography to road trip tips and mentions or mini-portraits of (Romanian, Hungarian, German, Armenian, Jewish, etc.) writers, architects, artists and other figures of historical importance in the history of Romania, Caroline paints an intricate, deep but accessible, portrait of Romania, and it does so with care, love, a discerning eye, and an informed appreciation of Romanian history and culture.
Relying on English-language publications and the field notes of six years of research, Caroline Juler's book also benefits greatly from the author's training as an art historian. You will not find a better guide book introduction to the frescoes of the painted monasteries in Bucovina, to the architecture of Romanian Orthodox churches, or to the architectural landmarks of Bucharest than this Blue Guide. While it's true that some of the Romanian words could use a second edition of this Blue Guide, the lively account of the arts and the well-considered, informed yet digestible weaving of historical facts highly recommend Caroline Juler's book as the best guide book introduction to the arts and culture of the whole of Romania.
Caroline Juler has written a romantic story about Romania. Her book is about her passion for the country and its people. There are very few long lists about what to do and what not to do. Instead, she paints a colorful picture of the countries huge diversities from the horrors of the Carbon Plant in Copsa Mica to the glory of the Sucevita Monastery. She describes Copsa Mica as "...... a graveyard of rusting industrial plants" while the mural at Sucevita "........is filled with hosts of angels flying in formation like a Busby Berkeley swimming team." . The reader is immediately excited about arranging a trip to see as many of her favorite things.
We arrived in Bucharest with a normal level of concern. Caroline Juler reminded us that a recent guide book described it as "that Gotham from Hell", but she was quick to calm us that it's really "a mixture of things that will delight and annoy, horrify, stimulate and comfort you...".There's an excellent map of Bucharest and pages of interesting details from serious art- history to walking tours and always interspersed with charming anecdotes. In the underground stories of Ceausescu's "derided landmark" is the "....access to an electric light railway in case the dictator should need to escape in a hurry. " She is however not completely enthusiastic about Bucharest and in fact the preface does not even mention it. For her "...one of the most beautiful of all the countries of southeast Europe" is the Maramures, northern Moldavia, the Saxon towns and many other even more rural locations. She enticed us to leave Bucharest and to follow her footsteps with the Blue Guide constantly in our hands. The art-history, the walking tours and the anecdotes became even more detailed and more interesting. We were driven on by her enthusiasm and as we limped back to the Otopeni Airport at the end of our trip we felt that we had been truly rewarded by the excellent preparation that she had offered us.
The Guide has some other excellent features that are worth mentioning. First of all it is written as a book with no crowded columns ; it can be read in the dim light of a café. It is visually appealing and easy to read. There are many maps and they are suitably magnified and simplified. The pen and ink drawings are charming. One criticism, however, is that the index could have been more inclusive. There were many interesting places in the text that didn't appear in the index. Perhaps that was the limitation of it being a good book rather than just another guide.
It's now been three months since our week in Romania and I look back as though Caroline had been our partner in this adventure. If one reads the guide carefully it is even possible to meet some of her friends. We met a hotel- keeper friend whose hotel had unfortunately had a setback, but that introduction was well compensated by the telephone number to another Romanian who opened up many special doors for us and has also become one of our friends. We highly recommend the Blue Guide to Romania.
Philippe Bieler, London, February 1st 2001