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Vama Veche (Romania) – guidebook

The Black Sea (Romanian: Marea Neagră)

Morze Czarne, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)

Romania has access to the Black Sea, to which it is connected by 225 km of coastline. The biggest Romanian port is Constanta, a city, the history of which dates back to the ancient times. In the 6th century BC the Greeks established their colony of Tomis here, which in the 2nd century AD was the most important port of the Black Sea, called Εύξεινος Πόντος by the ancient Greeks, and Pontus Euxinus, that is the Hospitable Sea, by the Romans. I like the ancient name better. The modern one is related to the presence of sulphides colouring the water black, as well as to a low oxygen content, because of which the depths are dead.

ATTENTION! Everyone who visited Romania or is planning to go there soon is kindly invited to contribute to this guide. Any inquires regarding this matter should be referred to the editor's address redakcja@libertas.pl.

Vama Veche

Miłość w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Vama Veche (Rumunia)Kukurydza spod suszarki, Vama Veche (Rumunia)

Vama Veche lies on the Black Sea coast, in the southern Dobrudza, around two kilometres from the border with Bulgary. In 1811, a few Gagauzian families established here a little settlement – Ilanik. In 1913 , as a result of the II Balkan War, southern Dobrudza was annexed by Romania, and the name of the village was changed into Vama Veche.

At the moment of the collapse of communism in Romania, in 1989, Vama Veche was only a small fishing village (even in 2002, according to official data, it had merely 189 inhabitants). It certainly wasn't a tourist village: perhaps because of the Bulgarian border Vama Veche hadn't been developed by the authorities as much as many other seaside spots situated more towards north. In spite of that, in time of Nicolae Ceauşescu regime already, people arrived here in order to rest... no matter that they were not ordinary tourists, but mainly rebelious youth, hippis, intelectuals, shortly speaking a highly suspicious element. However, curiously enough, the system left them in peace here, and Vama Veche became an oasis of freedom for them!

After the communism collapsed, Vama Veche's popularity began to rise, and in 1996 a rock band with the same name, which generated additional publicity for the spot, and this way contributed also to a quite intensive development of the settlement, was formed. It may be that to too intensive one, since that sudden change didn't quite suit those who used to like coming to a small fishing hole of a country place. In consequence, the Save Vama Veche movement, which postulated a ban from undertaking new investments lest Vama Veche lost its character and changed into another resort with hundreds of hotels, was created. In this context, it seems to be a little unclear to me that in the frames of that campaign Stufstock Music Festival, which in 2003 drew around 10,000 people, emerged.

But further development of Vama Veche, as a metter of fact, is said to have been stopped. I have no comparison and I don't know how Vama Veche looked like even 10 years ago (certainly a lot more modest), but also nowadays it differs distinctly fom the resorts situated farther towards north, like Mamaia, Eforia, Neptun or Jupiter, to which organised transports of tourists stream. Vama Veche is not even mentioned in most guidebooks, which may also cause that random people don't reach the place.

Jeremi na motorzeVama Veche (Rumunia)Vama Veche (Rumunia)Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Vama Veche (Rumunia)Vama Veche (Rumunia)Smoke legal in Vama Veche (Rumunia)Vama Veche (Rumunia)

Stufstock music festival

Budowa sceny pod Stufstock Festival, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Koncert w Goblinie, Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Koncert w Goblinie, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Budowa sceny pod Stufstock Festival, Vama Veche (Rumunia)

The idea behind the Stufstock festival is to stop commercialisation and enlargement of Vama Veche, all that in order to save the unique character of that place, and so that the village would remain a small settlement off the beaten track of mass tourism. Frankly speaking, I am not sure whether organising a big festival is in that case a good idea; it has always seemed to me that big events kind of attract people, and it just contributes to development, since a bigger infrastructure to serve the comers is needed. When the festival took place for the first time in 2003, 10 thousand people came to take part in it! A year later, already 20 thousand, and in 2005 – 40 thousand people enjoyed themselves at the festival!

In 2010 the festival lasted from 16th to 22nd August; in that time various workshops (music, photography, film making and theatre ones), performances and projections were held. The culmination of the festival was two-day concert (on 21st and 22nd August) on a big stage set on the beach.

Bed and breakfast

Vama Veche (Rumunia)Nasz pensjonat w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)

As I have written before, Vama Veche is basically not a resort, but after the collapse of communism many new guest houses emerged and nowadays with no major problems one can find accommodation for not too exorbitant price. For example, we paid 100 lei for a night in a guest house, for a room for three (a double + a single bed); but we hadn’t looked for it too scrupulously, so I suppose that it is possible to find something cheaper, too.

If one has a tent in their disposal, then next to many guest houses there is a possibility of putting a tent and using the sanitary facilities for around 10 lei. One may also pitch a tent on the beach, but a part of the beach probably belongs to somebody and putting a tent there costs around 10 lei, too. On the remaining part of the beach you can put your tent entirely for free.

Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Vama Veche nocą (Rumunia)
Mici / Mititei z frytkami i musztardą (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Vama Veche nocą (Rumunia)Tak się robi obiad...

The place is not lacking smaller and bigger, more and less elegant eating places, where one can order beer, chips, kebab, hamburger or something more interesting, for example some local specialty such as mici (mititei).

One can also eat straight on the beach, in booths similar to the one from the photo, where the fishermen bustling about the nets are a guarantee that the fish are really fresh. Unfortunately, just in that beanery our fish was totally burnt (maybe we had bad luck); in consequence it wasn’t too tasty and later on we ate our meals in other places. I will also add that the prices in the shops in Vama Veche were fairly exorbitant, for example, the price of a big bottle of Sprite oscillated around 8 lei for the most part! For that reason, some people, in order to economize, go shopping to the spots a few kilometres away from Vama Veche.

Vama Veche Beach

Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Jeremi nad Morzem CzarnymPlaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)

The beach in Vama Veche differs considerably from the Romanian resorts such as Constanta or Neptun. Just because of these differences we felt well just here. But ATTENTION! It doesn’t mean that everybody will like the place!

Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Namiot z widokiem na Morze CzarnePlaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)

Firstly, the beach is wild to a certain degree! Of course, there are no lifeguards or suchlike inventions; I also don’t think that anybody guards, e.g., cleanliness of the beach, so in the sand one can find, for example, fag ends or an old rusty rod with a diameter of two centimetres and fifty centimetres long. Such a view may dismay those sensitive to any pollution, and mothers trembling for their kids.

Secondly, as it has been already said, fairly specific people arrive here: long-haired, colourful, with Cherokee haircuts, ear-rings, dreadlocks... If these are not your climates, then you may feel uncomfortable here. Theoretically, at the end of the beach there is the beach for the nudists, but on a quite large area nobody distinguishes that particularly, and side by side quite harmoniously rest the naturists and the textile. If you mind nakedness – don’t risk! In Vama Veche it may happen that you pitch yourself among people wearing bathing suits, and in spite of that in front of your nose a naked guy with dangling privy parts will walk by.

And in the end I will add that it is expensive in the shops, and it tends to be loud on the beach. In addition, the sun loungers don’t stand to attention and, actually, there are relatively not many of them; and on the beach some madcaps pitched their tents and nobody chases them away! If you just want to go to the seaside, then Croatia will be a better choice. To Vama Veche arrive people deeply suspicious... in every system.

The beach for nudists (naturists1)?

I didn’t use a question mark in the subheading by chance, because I am not sure at all, whether the beach in Vama Veche can be called a beach for nudists. The difference is subtle, since apparently here and there it is naked and funny, but I have the impression that it is still something different... the beach of Free People!

Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)

I think to myself that being 17 years old and by chance with a group of friends at some lake, when we feel like having a spontaneous swim, then without more ado we throw off our clothes and jump into the water! Skinny dip. There is no philosophy in it, the one that, I have the impression, some try to adapt to nakedness, of the type that life with nature or freeing oneself from the shackles imposed by the ossified society. Drop it! Swimming in clothes is simply impractical and far less pleasurable than swimming naked. Well, except when somebody is very shy, in that case it is a nude swim, of course, that would be unpleasant and stressful.

Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)

What am I aiming at? Most often on beaches, since these are public places, one cannot take off their clothes entirely (in Poland it even happens that the municipal police will give a ticket for topless sunbathing); therefore beaches for nudists, which those who prefer to sunbathe in the nude and who on ordinary beaches might be a thorn in textiles' flesh, avail themselves of. How are the beaches different from the beach in Vama Veche? As I have written before, even in the communist times Vama Veche had a specific autonomy (unofficial, of course), it abode by its own, a little different rules, so to say. People who arrive here do not constitute a cross-section of society. Visibly, the long-haired, wearing weird clothes, resembling a litlle the Woodstock company people, and rather such who are normally distinguished from the crowd, rather then those who drown in it, prevail here. Such people don’t need a beach for naturists in order to feel free! This beach wasn’t created on the basis that it was empty here, so three people came and stuck a nude beach signboard. Here simply arrived the people who being seventeen (or seventy) years old, standing at the sea coast don’t wonder whether it is or it isn’t a beach for nudists, but dive in the nude into the water (for what would they apparently put on after leaving the water?).

Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Muzykowanie na plaży w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Wędkowanie w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Morze Czarne, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)Plaża w Vama Veche (Rumunia)

That is why, in my humble opinion, the beach in Vama Veche isn’t a typical beach for nudists, like entire Vama Veche isn’t a typical seaside tourist spot. On the beach tents are pitched, and that itself is fairly unusual view. For whole five days I hadn’t heard any disco-techno mix! I had seen instead how people with guitars were sitting on the beach and playing music together. In the dives blues, folk, rock music dominated clearly...sometimes stronger, heavier one... different; anyway, no blah blah, plastic and naked vocalist girls without voice. Nowhere could be seen (anyway, I didn’t notice) tattooed girls in mini skirts and on heels. The girls were natural, practically without make-up or with not conspicuous make-up (except, maybe, the ostentatiously black and dark). Among people older than we, also long-haired gentlemen in their fifties could be found. I had once seen how at the coast a three-generation family were walking: grandma with grandpa, their daughter and two grandchildren. At a certain moment all of them threw off their clothes and dived into the water, to leave it after a couple of minutes, put their clothes on and go unhurriedly farther! Shortly speaking, an atmosphere one of its kind.

Vama Veche at night...

Bańki mydlane, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Free hugs in Vama Veche (Rumunia)Indianin w Vama Veche (Rumunia)
Vama Veche nocą (Rumunia)Zaplatanie włosów, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Zaplatanie włosów, Vama Veche (Rumunia)

At the beginning I explain that we were in Vama Veche between 16th and 20th August 2010, so in the days when the Stufstock festival was taking place, and I find it hard to say whether the evenings in Vama Veche look the same through entire holidays. Certainly not.

After the sunset Vama Veche is still vibrant with life, and on the streets it is fairly crowded. Sometimes there will happen a busker or whole orchestra that make evening walks enjoyable to the passers-by. Some young people plait the willing ones’ hair for a bargain price of 10 lei for one such decoration, selling on that occasion various trinkets and bracelets. A little farther we can even meet an Indian playing the flute and selling his music and different Indian ornaments.

Some barefoot man is entertaining kids by making huge soap bubbles and trying to teach them this – as it turns out – very difficult art. Nearby, a pretty, smiling from ear to ear little girl in a sky-blue dress is bouncing like a ball. She is holding in her hand a carton with a 'Free Hugs' notice, or hugs free of charge.

Practically, from every tavern some music is reaching us, and from one of them live one even. The tavern is called Goblin. Young bands are playing here every evening, probably. In any case, somebody was playing every time when we were passing by. I don’t know whether it is some preparation for the festival, some eliminations, or maybe random bands that are playing on that occasion. Their skills are sometimes leaving a lot to be desired, but everybody is having a great time, so maybe it is not the most important thing.

Zaplatanie włosów, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Bańki mydlane, Vama Veche (Rumunia)Witek, Maja, Jeremi i Przytulanka (Rumunia)Zaplatanie włosów, Vama Veche (Rumunia)

Vama Veche on the move

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Witold Wieszczek
Translated by Anna Sprzęczka.
  1. Some scientific elaborations...:) discriminate nudists from naturists. According to this discrimination, nudists are people who simply like to stay naked in situations when clothes constraint them: most often on the beaches, in the swimming pools or even in their beds during the sleep. On the other hand, naturists are people who adapt an ideology for it (e.g. of being closer to nature), and later on are walking in the nude down the center of a main street so that some police officer could arrest them. However called, on the beach both the former and the latter look the same, so I use these terms interchangeably.

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