by Adriana Dinu
I’ve been living here for two years now and I am getting more excited about this city day by day, even if minor setbacks come up in my liking of it.
From my point of view, Bucharest is a city of contrasts. At first, I was amazed how easily the background is changing. On the right side, you have a multinational’s holding, while on the left you can see the remains of communism; old and new, lively and comfy, romantic and chaotic, steps from one another, but this can get tiring at some point, so what I’m planning to highlight in this article are the real pros and cons of this city, with tips and pieces of advice which could be helpful for a first timer in Bucharest.
It’s cool that in Bucharest…
… we have the most amazing people! Most of Romania’s young people speak English (and not only) fluently, so you have the first tool at your disposal to understand how welcoming we are of foreigners. We love you. Due to being a communist country for so long, Romanians are more open to socialize with tourists. Most of us are kind and warm, so do not hesitate to ask us anything, when in doubt.
… you can find many attractive people. I am not joking. Take advantage of the fact that we, Romanians, enjoy the presence of foreigners.
… there is a whole lot to do. From amazing nightlife to astonishing scenery in the middle of the town, you always find something to do here, especially if you travel in groups. Visiting, drinking, eating (these are a great deal more special if you experience them here firsthand) or taking unconventional tours of the city, there is plenty to do.
… are many tourists, actually. The Old Town Center echoes, especially during the weekend, all sorts of languages. I myself find it refreshing – new, interesting people and opportunities around each corner.
… talented people are everywhere! From street performers to professional live painting sessions, for instance, Romanians are really gifted and you can come experience all sorts of artsy moments in Bucharest.
… tradition mixes quite nicely with everything . Tourists can eat sarmale and drink ţuică or palincă in the middle of Bucharest. Here we also have a museum dedicated to the peasant’s life, which is displayed in a hilarious manner.
… is crowded at night. It might seem like a downside, but remember it’s crowded with these awesome people!
… life is really cheap. You have a great deal of activities to try even if you’re on a budget.
All in all, you will find great architecture and wonderful sights, pleasant atmosphere and, best of all, the people I kept bragging about.
On the other hand…
… some people are more opportunist, let’s call them that, and will try to get more money out of you. I am talking about cab drivers in particular. Some of them can be really nice, but not all are to be trusted. My advice would be, when you get at the airport, download or upgrade the Uber App (yeah, we do have Uber) or simply take the bus. This way, you get to see and understand the common Romanian. If the circumstances demand that a cab is to be taken, then try learning from a map the fastest route, be confident and lead the way. Also, learn a bit about the Romanian currency, LEI/RON. It’s easy, the bills are colored differently and the numbers in the corners are big enough to be noticed, so if you pay the minimum of attention, you shouldn’t pay anything extra.
… the beggars might be upsetting sometimes, but none of them are aggressive. Just do not give them the attention they seek. There are less and less on the streets, though, and they seem to have upgraded from begging to actually doing something in exchange for money. But you don’t have to worry, though, because they have disappeared from the main areas tourists go to. You might meet a Romani woman trying to sell you roses in the Old Town Centre, but she’ll get discouraged if you don’t speak Romanian.
… Romanians will get upset if you confuse minor details regarding sensible subjects, such as: Bucharest, not Budapest; Romanian, not Romani (for this we might get angry); welcoming and open-minded people, not thieves. If you do not want to be perceived as an ignorant, learn these differences!
To sum up, Bucharest is quite safe for visitors, with a quick research beforehand.
Of course, everything written here is supposed to be the “heads up” for Bucharest, but let’s not forget that the whole country has breathtaking sceneries. Don’t believe me? Then click here:
For those who have been here before, what’s your favorite memory from Romania?