About Who I am, Why, and How I Became a Private Guide

The story started in 2013,

when my second child was born and I decided that it is time for serious changes in my life.

At that point I've founded a small company in the field of web services and online advertising which I am still managing today ( https://wiweb.ro/ ).

By the way, formally I am an engineer, graduated the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca in 2005, experienced corporate life at Electrolux as a lab engineer (2005-2009, they have a factory in Satu Mare) and then at Autonet Group, the largest supplier of auto parts across Romania, as the project manager of technical training activities. I'm grateful for both of these companies, I've met so many good quality people which contributed a lot to who I am today. It was great, but as the years passed I've become to realize that somehow the corporate suit doesn't fit me at all.

So, in 2013 I became a little entrepreneur,

and began to create websites, online advertising campaigns and so on.

It happened that my first client was a local company operating transfer shuttles from Baia Mare and Satu Mare to Budapest Airport ( https://janositrans.ro/en/ ) and shortly after that followed Ali Baba Trans ( https://alibabatrans.ro/en/ , also transfer services to Budapest Airport ) and Stefi Trans ( https://stefitrans.ro/ , offering transfer services to Cluj Napoca Airport ). None of them are well prepared when it comes to speak in English, to handle foreign customers in need of a transfer.

As a local service provider I am maintaining a close relationship to my costumer and offer support whenever it is possible. Long story short, I ended up handling costumer care issues once in a while with their English speaking customers. I was more than happy to have the chance to refresh my English (didn't really have to speak in English since I left the multinationals and turned to local services),

being so I had ears and I was open to the actual needs of the people visiting Transylvania via Budapest or Cluj Airport.

At the beginning I was acting somehow as an interpret or translator, then occasionally as a private driver for a few American, and Korean groups. Being passionate about history, having a solid background with travelling and multicultural environments, and of course more that happy to speak in English, I had a lot to say. People where always curious to find out about real stories, about why things are, or look in a certain way, why people in many cases speak Hungarian or Ukrainian as much as Romanian, generally answers to many questions that come to mind for those who are not familiar with our culture, heritage, sites, society and how it developed in the last decades and centuries.

Every time, at some point, I was asked: "Are you really a driver?"

It must have been a surprise for my passengers to have the minibus handled in Romania by a driver which speaks fluent English, native Hungarian and Romanian, and "ein bisschen Deutsch". I was once travelling with a taxi in Sweden and had a similar feeling when I realized that the driver was speaking a better English then most of the English teachers in Romania.  Well, obviously Sweden is not Romania, and I had to explain to avoid misleading. 

This was happening during the summer of 2015,

the transfer company got very nice feedback, I've got plenty of encouragement.

In April 2016 I've got in contact, more or less in the same way, with a nice American couple (Joe and Mary McKay from California) who was going to visit Romania in June for a short family tree tour. They had about 5 or 6 photos taken by their parents, who visited Romania during the 80', a few addresses dating back also to the 80', and the draft of a family tree. The intention was to visit their ancestral village (Vetis, right near Satu Mare), and to look up and find at least one or two of the relatives present in the draft of the family tree so they can confirm it's accuracy. Little input, high hopes, and an optimistic approach considering that we had only two days for it.

We've discussed all this by mail a few weeks before the arrival. Having some basic information I did some research prior to the trip just to improve our odds in achieving as much as possible in the short time we had at disposal. Based on my research, at the time we've met I had already a list of 6 persons from the family tree and the updated addresses. It turned out to be a very good starting point because we managed to visit all the places and people involved during the first day. It was interesting, me acting as an interpreter, everybody surprised and eager to share stories from the family background. We've met the right people, explored a bit the places where the family lived before and still got almost a full day for sightseeing and wonder around the city of Satu Mare. I remember that the 2016 European Footbal Championship was ongoing with both Romania and Hungary being qualified, we had a large screen mounted in the city center and lots of people enjoying the games. The weather was superb, the atmosphere the same, Joe and Mary had the chance to experience some of Transylvania's specific features on field (different ethnic groups speaking different languages, all leaving in harmony).

By the way, if you ask me, late May and June is the best time to visit Romania - usually very nice weather, green nature, not too crowded, in general the best views of nature and society with active people in the best mood.

After this short and intense experience I got enthusiastic, I was feeling like I just discovered my knew hobby.

I was enjoying it a lot, everybody was happy with the outcome, met a bunch of very nice people, and even got a decent honorarium - couldn't get any better than that.

I realized that even if I don't have the formal education of a guide I possess most of the necessary ingredients to be one - I've already visited most of the interesting places in Transylvania, Romania, and Hungary to; reading and watching history is one of my favorite activities to relax; I am an accredited trainer with a professionally wide background; I speak a decent English; and I have the networking and possibilities to cover all the needs when it comes to logistics, transportation, and even additional services as car rental, accommodation or business related issues.

Being so, I became more confident and observant with those I've got in contact in the following period (2016-2017).

Somehow naturally I found myself guiding tourists in the area Maramures, Cluj, and Brasov (2016 - 2017) - I had sightseeing tours, tours of the classical objectives, a back to the roots research, a private guided heritage tour, a group guided heritage tour and a family tree tour.

Acting as a travel guide just seasonally with limited availability I decided to position myself as a private guide. This concept is also more appropriate to my approach when it comes to traveling. One might like to explore nature more, others might prefer city break style tours, or combine both, some might have business interest in the area of Transylvania ... so I prefer and promote tailor made services, individual offers based on discussions rather than a template style commercial approach.

Hope to meet in Transylvania!

One of the safest places is Europe these days ;)

Why Choose Us?

We are native Romanian and Hungarian speakers, fluent in English, and can get along with Hebrew, Italian, French and German.

We are not geniuses, just went to school, pay a bit of attention, and have some good connections. Probably also helped the fact that Transylvania is a multiethnic region, nowadays with roughly ~ 60% ethnically Romanian people, ~ 20% Hungarian (Magyar, Székely), ~ 8 German (Schwabian, Saxon, Zipser), ~10% Gypsy, and under 5% Ukrainian, Serb, and other ethnical groups.

The situation was a bit different during the 18’Th and 19’Th century, when probably it was something like: ~ 40% ethnically Romanian, ~ 25% Hungarian, ~ 15% German, ~ 10% Gypsy, ~ 5% Jew and under 5% Ukrainians, Serbs.

I can personally say, as long as I know, that I am something like 25% German, 25% Romanian, 25% Hungarian, and not sure about the rest because one of my grandpa’s was born somewhere in Galicia (present day Ukraine) and there the situation was even more complicated .

We offer mainly custom services / custom packages which are basically a combination of multiple single services tailor made to the traveler’s needs.

It can be a complete package as a sightseeing tour, a guided heritage tour or a family tree tour, even airport to airport tours, but we offer also, as we call it, single services like:

  • Airport transfers from or to Budapest, Cluj Napoca, Debrecen, Timisoara Airports
  • Services of a private driver or other transportation services
  • Car rentals from local, flexible companies
  • Organization services
  • Training and team building type activities
  • Translations and interpreting
  • Research, representation or just consultancy

We call a service, a package or a tour as airport to airport all-inclusive when we plan the whole trip and organize for our travelers all the needed services from landing at a specific airport to taking off from the same or another airport.

In these cases we expect and meet our travelers at the airport terminal and say goodbye in the same place. “All-inclusive” usually includes:

  • Planning and creating a custom tour – itinerary, sites, objectives etc
  • All the necessary reservations
  • Airport transfers and all the needed transportation services
  • Guiding and interpreting
  • Assistance throughout the whole period of stay

In this way we can spare a lot of time and money and gain more comfort and safety.

We are flexible and always deliver considering your wishes. For example, a specific place or area might catch your attention and decide to stick around more than it was planned, we are flexible enough and can easily adapt to such situations or even more than that.

We prefer to guide and deliver information towards your curiosity and interests rather then follow a specific, memorized program.

As small business owners with several years spent also in multinational corporations we learned to value time.

Being passionate about history and with a rich experience in travelling across Romania and Europe we can promise that if you are interested we are able to widen your knowledge about our regions and about Eastern Europe in general.