Getting off the plane in Bucharest we felt quite lost. It was difficult to make out where we needed to go and what we needed to do, but we got some tickets for the bus to the city centre- which is conveniently where we were staying.
Only around 40% of people in Romania speak English so it was a bit of a mission trying to understand each other but just another reminder about how English people can sometimes just assume others to speak our language. We really should make more of an effort.
We knew that 10 lei was the equivalent of £2, and 100 lei was the equivalent of about £20.
The bus to the airport and back was 10 lei.
We found our hotel really easily with the help of google maps.
The city itself is incredibly easy to navigate as it’s just one big circle. It’s spacious, open, and huge.
If you have some trouble figuring out transport, all the ubers we got around the city were between £2 and £4- so between 10 lei and 20 lei.
People were easy to get on with, waiters were kind and to the point- all in all it was pretty much the same as things are back here.
The official language spoken is Romanian, which is a latin language.
We were told by a museum owner that because they have such good knowledge of latin, this means they can also speak Hungarian, ukranian, Turkish, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and a load of different languages with great ease.
It used to be a communist country, so entering the country can look quite bleak to somebody who comes from somewhere very built up and capitalist such as England or America.
That said, in the city architecture is beautiful and intricate.
I think people’s impressions of Romania would change a lot more if they actually went to visit. It’s surprising and underrated. When I left I didn’t see it the same way as when I arrived and I only stayed for three days. It’s very diverse and the culture is very eclectic.
The first day we were there we just got our bearings. We arrived in the country at 3pm their time (they are two hours ahead of the UK) and we got to the hotel at around 5. We had been travelling since 3am so we were pretty wiped out. We got some snacks from the shop on the corner, watched TV, had a drink and slept.
From the hotel window we did notice what we thought to be a couple of strays. Turns out a lot of people in Bucharest have guard dogs. There used to be a problem with strays but they clamped down on that hard a few years ago after a child got attacked. Rabies is somewhat of a concern in Romania, as it is in Turkey, but I imagine the efforts to reduce the amount of strays has lessened that.
As far as crime goes, it’s wise to have the usual precaution you would have in a city. My friend looked it up as she is a criminologist and this is an area of interest for her. Pickpocketing, graffiti, robbery, general petty crime is widespread; however organised and violent crime only accounts for about 16% of cases over there.
We did look up some things to do and noticed that there was a castle tour called the ‘Transylvania day trip’. We couldn’t manage to get tickets as you have to book way in advance in order to get a spot (much like the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam)- but it looked like a cool experience if you’re in Bucharest. It’s a tour of Dracula’s Castle. Very historic with links to Vlad the Impaler. It’s surrounded by a medieval village that you are also free to explore.
We were based in Gara De Nord. Old Town is where the bars and things are and it’s located a 20-minute walk away. We had some places we wanted to go in Old Town on day 2- a big book shop, a Van Gough café, all the main things. There are loads of restaurants, bars and clubs in old town, so if you’re in Bucharest you’ll find yourself there a lot.
It’s likely that you’ll find things as you go along and with the prices being so low it’s the perfect place to have a wander just for a spontaneous day out.
My favourite things were based in Old Town.
One being the Romanian Kitsch Museum (Kitsch meaning art that is done in bad taste).
This was just the quirkiest, most fascinating and weird place. It’s like an art gallery and a historic museum combined. They have art all from the 1920s to modern day drawing from the history of Romanian society.
The other was a place called Little Paris Museum.
This was where we went on our first day.
Entry was free, however a donation of 10 lei was ‘recommended’ if you wanted to support this place.
We walked in and it was a museum of what Romanian culture was like before communism.
There was a man in there who was incredibly attentive and informative. Everybody was very friendly and willing to recommend things for our stay.
He gave us a brief history of Romania and told us that the culture was made of things taken from many different countries. Oriental furniture, French ornaments and staircases, Italian fabrics. He did say, however, that it would take a Romanian eye to put it all together in a way that looks attractive.
We asked about the country’s religion, as we couldn’t quite figure out what it was. There were mosques and big churches, and priests dressed in all black with square hats on. Forgive my ignorance for not knowing what they’re called. Anyway we were told that about 81% of romania is christian orthodox.
That was a good place to go on our first day. As you can tell it gave us a good foundation knowledge about the country.
Also in Old Town there was a rooftop bar called ‘Closer to the Moon’, or Linea. It was a place that you would want to dress up for, but it was amazing.
If you walk up from Old Town you will find yourself close to the Palaces of Parliament. Next to this there is a huge park with an ice rink that I assume is only there during the winter seasons.
We could walk a different route to the Palaces of Parliament for 20 minutes, so to walk around the whole city I’d say it would take you about an hour.
Just outside of the Old Town, and between the Palaces of Parliament lies the city centre. In the city centre, there is a mall with a place called the Museum of Senses in it.
We got an uber here on the second day. It was such a cool experience.
It’s basically just an interactive museum of illusions. A great picture opportunity. They have a mirror maze, an upside-down room, a whole bunch of things.
Like everything else, it’s inexpensive. It took about an hour for us to get round it.
The mall itself was huge, it had an amusement park on the top floor. No joke. A rollercoaster and a set of trampolines and rides.
I forgot how much cooler stores are when you go abroad.
On the last day, we wanted some real traditional Romanian food. We are veggie, so couldn’t try Romania’s beloved mitsch- but we made our way to the Jewish district about 40 minutes away in pursuit of a meal.
Romanian stew with Polenta. Yummo. They also love a bit of boiled cabbage over there.
We also had plans to explore a holocaust museum nearby but ran out of time.
I could recommend a bunch of bars and restaurants to you but there’s only so much I can talk about how the food was peng, the drinks were flowing and the shisha was smoked.
Instead I will tell you that the history is captivating, and that you shouldn’t judge it.
I doubt you would need any longer than a few days to a week to see Bucharest, but I could stand corrected.