In early March, the southern coastline of the Romanian Black Sea looks like a set from a horror movie: desolate and grim, with run-down hotels and beaches strewn with garbage. Also, if one dares to take a longer walk, you will surely come across packs of stray dogs ready to tear people apart, the ziare.com news portal wrote in a recent article.
The seaside hotels on the southern coast were very nice and comfortable back in the 1970s when they were built, but decades have passed since then, and the buildings have lost their former glamour, as they have never been significantly refurbished.
“Just as we’ve started our stroll on the beach, we have come across a weird looking well. It was very much like the one the main character in The Ring crawled out of; just a little further ahead, a lone car tire admired the sea, in the company of various kinds of bottles, boxes and insecticide cans,” ziare.com wrote.
The reporters did indeed spot a few workers here and there who have begun some reparations, yet – as they noted – the most common image was of the workers digging up sewers and breaking the sidewalks.
“Here and there, passersby can spot some hotels in which the owners have invested, but these can be counted on one hand. Unfortunately, one flower makes no garland,” noted a local tourism consultant, Traian Badulescu. As the travel agent pointed out to ziare.com, the authorities of the coastal city of Mangalia are to blame for the regrettable situation because the resorts of the southern coastline are under its administration.
In the once-so-famous seaside resorts of Saturn, Jupiter, Cape Aurore, Venus, Neptune and Olympus, the only investments made in recent years have come from the private sector. However, even though some hotels have been refurbished, the roads around the resorts “have become like plowed land of cement and bitumen.” On top of that, the electricity infrastructure isn’t the best either. “At nighttime, after a certain hour, some might be frightened to leave their hotels, as the coastline gets completely covered in darkness,” noted the travel consultant.
According to him, even though hotels here are cheaper than those located on the northern part of the coastline, they still do not attract as many tourists. “In the 1990s, Neptune was the pearl of the Romanian coast, but then it was overtaken by the northern resort of Mamaia, as it had a mayor who invested considerable amounts of public money. Although many of his actions were reprehensible (editor’s note: tainted by corruption charges), Mazăre did do something for the development of Mamaia. On the other hand, the resorts belonging to the southernmost city of the coastline, Mangalia, were left in ruins, the travel agent detailed.
“A simple drive through the resorts of the southern coastline gives you the impression that you are on the set of a horror movie or in a post-apocalyptic world. Weeds have grown over the once landscaped and quite beautiful green areas, and the 2- and 3-star hotels now resemble blocks of flats in Pripiat (editor’s note: a town near Chernobyl),” detailed Badulescu.
He also noted that in the resorts belonging to Mangalia, people can enjoy a refreshing combination of forested areas and nice beaches. Furthermore, the spa resorts on the southern coastline of the Black Sea were the Romanian equivalent of the Bulgarian resort of Albena because they were more family-friendly, unlike Mamaia or Vama Veche, as these two resorts attract mostly young people with parties and effervescent nightlife, said the tourism consultant.
According to him, until the authorities get involved, this part of the Romanian coast has no chance of being competitive, even if travel agencies and hoteliers keep trying to attract tourists.
Here are a few lines cited by ziare.com of what the Mangalia City Hall wrote about each resort on its website:
Saturn’s main points of attraction are its variety of bars and nice beaches, especially the one that separates it from Venus; it also has various possibilities of accommodation at 2-, 3- and 4-star hotels. The health center in the complex “Hora” and the amusement parks can be enjoyed by ages as well.
Venus fully deserves its name, inspired by the goddess of love and beauty. Around a central lake, dozens of villas and holiday homes are arranged in an atmosphere of peace and intimacy. Another characteristic of the resort is the feminine names of the hotels: Carmen, Raluca, Irina, Corina, Anca, Dana. As for the vegetation, it is so rich that the resort is like a botanical garden.
Cape Aurore is the youngest resort, situated on a strip of land about 250 meters wide and about 1 kilometer long, between the resort of Jupiter to the north and Venus to the south. Hotels in Cape Aurore are named after gemstones, as they are all buildings with an original and refined architectural design; several are built like small amphitheaters, with gradually decreasing levels, the lowest being the beach level. All have restaurants of their own and easy access to the beach.
Jupiter has tall seaside hotels with high accommodation capacity, arranged perpendicularly to the shoreline, and low-rise buildings in the central area of the resort. It offers 8,500 accommodation places in 2-star hotels.
Neptune is located between a strip of beach separating the sea from two lakes available for recreational activities and the Comorova forest. Its 2- and 3-star hotels, villas, restaurants and bars are located in an area with rich vegetation. The resort also has a permanent spa, called “Doina,” and it generally attracts over 50,000 Romanian and foreign tourists annually.
Built in a Western fashion, Olympus resort has 8,500 rooms in 2- and 3-star hotels. The ensemble “Amphitheater, Panoramic, Belvedere” is the largest and the most beautiful tourist complex on the Romanian coast. The other hotels bear the names of the Romanian historical provinces: Moldova, Transylvania, Oltenia and Muntenia.
Title image: If one takes a longer walk along the southern coast filled with trash, you will most likely encounter rather unfriendly stray dogs too. The image is an illustration