Back when I was younger, I really enjoyed fishing and it was one of my favorite family activities as a child. With the Danube passing near the city I grew in, Drobeta Turnu Severin, and with so many beautiful spots around, it was difficult not to love fishing.

But as I grew older, I had less and less time to enjoy this. Fortunately, I managed to take my family fishing on the Danube this year, keeping a promise I made to my son. And boy, it was so beautiful that I had to share this experience so that those who want to go fishing in Romania know that it’s really worth it!

We decided to go to a nearby village called Gruia – it’s off the beaten path, but this is what makes it so spectacular. You can find it on the map here and see that it’s positioned in a spot where three countries meet near the Danube: Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. But what makes it even better is the fact that there’s a small guest house there – Pensiunea Gruia.

Just a few minutes away from the village, this guest house offers some truly spectacular views over the Danube. It’s surprisingly well maintained, having in mind that it’s not a very touristy destination. For example, when we visited, there was just another couple spending a night over.

But the place itself looks good, it has a pool for those who want to spend some time there and a huge yard with a terrace overlooking the Danube river.

This is the terrace with amazing views

It’s also spectacular at night, when you can actually see the stars on the sky (something I haven’t seen in a long time), as well as the nicely lit streets and windows of the Serbian village across the river and various cruise ships passing by. The silence is also immensely relaxing, so you truly get to recharge your batteries when there.

View from our room

A very pleasant surprise, coming at Romanian-village costs as well: we paid 150 Lei per night for an apartment (around 32 euros), but double rooms were as low as 100 lei per night (21 Euros). No food is included in the price and there’s no restaurant on the premise, but you are welcome to bring your own food and store it in the guest house’s refrigerators or cook it in the kitchen.

There are a couple of shops in the village, while the host told us that, if we’d be spending more days, we could arrange with somebody in the village to cook some traditional Romanian food for us. That’s something we plan doing next time we visit!

Also a view from our room’s balcony

However, the main reason we went there was to go fishing. Normally, you need a permit to fish on the Danube that also must be stamped by border guards – which is something we didn’t have (and the fines are hefty, of around 10,000 Euros, so definitely not worth risking it!).

However, the guesthouse we stayed at, Pensiunea Gruia, also has two large ponds where you can get your fishing fix without the need of a permit. And that’s where we went – for a cost of 20 lei (about 5 Euros) per day, per adult.

The private pond near Gruia

We had a great time there and even though the fish is not as large as what you’d normally expect to catch fishing in the Danube, it was still good. My son really had a good time catching small fish we call “Oblete” – he caught the first one just seconds after throwing the lure:

I managed to catch slightly larger ones, like the one below, but most were usually smaller:

An advantage of fishing in this pond is that it should be (not sure it really is!) a bit less polluted than the Danube is. And this is a bonus. The fish did taste great when we cooked them back home and we still seem to be healthy, ha.

Not a bad looking place when you go fishing!

So our main goal was definitely successful: fishing near this small Romanian village, from the shades of trees, enjoying the silence and the water and actually catching fish pretty often (albeit small) was refreshing and relaxing. Something that we plan on doing again – and especially spend more than one night at that guest house in Gruia.

However, not everything is perfect there. For those with allergies – like all three members of our family have – there are fields of ambrosia growing everywhere. Here’s a photo that gives me a runny nose just by looking at it:

That thing was literally everywhere, from the Danube shores to the yard of the guest house and the forest near the ponds… The locals have no idea how bad it is and the local authorities either don’t care, don’t know or don’t have the money to try and tackle the problem.

So have this in mind if allergies are your thing and try avoiding the area (or any other place in Romania) during the Ambrosia season – or bring medicine!

Another really upsetting thing was how dirty everything was there. The village itself and buildings nearby Pensiunea Gruia seem derelict and are in a horrible shape. There is garbage everywhere, including the forest near the private ponds:

I find this unacceptable – the photo above shows just a bit of the terror there as there were actually a few large “hills” of trash thrown by people who went there in the past.

Although this is definitely something to blame on those who leave all the trash behind, making everything so disgusting, but also a big fault here stands on the shoulders of the owners. They definitely know how things look there – since they have an employee that comes to collect the fishing tax – and they do nothing. This is unacceptable in my opinion, but unfortunately the sad truth you get hit with in most places in Romania.

Next time we visit, we have plans to bring a few garbage bags and right some of the wrongs, but it takes more than just a family of three to make a difference.

But despite the trash problems and despite the fact that everything but the Pensiunea Gruia is in a pretty bad shape, nature remains impressive in those areas. And places like this one are scattered all around Romania, unfortunately too well hidden for others to know.

For example, this pension is there for 15 years and I only found out about it this year, even though I live just an hour drive away. But better late than never, right?

6 COMMENTS

  1. That pensiune looks great. Too bad about the garbage. I remember taking the train between Sighisoara and Bucharest and often we would pass piles of garbage that townspeople would just throw down the embankment next to the railroad tracks for the railway passengers to “enjoy.” I once visited Piatra Neamt with a group of Germans who were bringing charitable goods to a clinic. The doctor there was very friendly and invited us to a “gratar” on the shore of a lake. Perhaps because the wind was blowing towards us, there was literally about 10 meters of plastic PET bottles pressed up all along the lake shore! I made the mistake of commenting on the garbage and I got to see a new side of the doctor: he loudly berated me for bringing my “first world” expectations to a poor country like Romania! Imagine my outrage when I caught one of the Germans throwing garbage out the car window on the way back. He sheepishly said, “Well, the Romanians all do it!”

  2. Hey Calin,
    Your “mini-me” is growing up fast!
    I agree about the garbage. It can ruin what would be a lovely place. It’s a shame people can be so thoughtless. People should respect the place. But… are there dumpsters or trash receptacles available? I’m not excusing the trashy behavior, but in areas open to the public, refuse containers should be available.
    I know, allergies are really a bummer. (I’m sneezing as I write this!;-))
    Doesn’t seem there’s many personal watercraft on the river, or am I wrong. I think it would be a nice adventure to cruise along the river. Was there adequate rainfall this year? No spots in the river which weren’t navigable due to low water levels?
    Thanks for this nice article on your local outing,
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Hello Teil,

      You are correct – there were no trash bins anywhere and that could’ve helped a little bit. The owner of the place we stayed at told us that the garbage collectors come twice a month only and it’s very difficult for them to deal with that. Still, the people leaving all the trash behind (it was mostly bottles and cans), should still be able to take them back home and throw them in the city bins. Not pleasant to ride home with trash in your car, true… 🙂

      There were some small boats there, but the area itself is not very touristy so most of them seemed to not have been used in ages. On the Danube itself we saw many ships pass by, but they were mostly foreign. The owners told us that they’re usually coming from Budapest and go all the way to Constanta as Danube cruises, but sometimes they come from Germany as well.

      This year was rainier than usually, but the water level is still controlled by the dam built nearby, so there were never problems with areas that were not navigable – but the ships passing by are smaller in size anyway.

  3. I’ll never understand why people litter. I get so mad when l see it here, especially because there are trash cans everywhere but laziness is rampant and it makes it hard for us to walk the dogs because they are always going for food etc left by these assholes :-). What an amazing experience it must have been for all of you and l love the fact that it was so inexpensive and cool that E. got to have fun and catch fish. Nice! Allergies! That would include me..guess l would have to bring my inhaler..

    • Well, the oceans started spewing back the tons of plastic we throw in them… it is only a matter of time until nature gives back for all the trash that we randomly throw away 🙂 And yes, it was really worth going there, we’re hoping the weather will be good enough for us to visit again this year.

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