Who says Romania says Transylvania, Dracula all that. I’ve always dreamed of going to Romania, ever since I read Bram Stoker’s novel 🙂 so it’s only natural that we finish our little tour of Central/Eastern Europe with Romania
Because of a contract signed with a client requiring JB to make 4 presentations in Paris, we chose to set up in Bucharest so that we could make the round trip to Paris during the day.
Looking back, I think it was a bad idea. This city isn’t representative of the real Romania. However, its central location still allowed us to spend a weekend in the mountains and another weekend by the sea.
We have chosen an apartment in the center of the old town. We believe that only our building is ugly but in fact all buildings in Bucharest are ugly. I read diagonally an article about the link between the architecture of the city and the morale of the inhabitants. And I confirm that when we see ugly buildings every day, it doesn’t make us happy 🙂 the good news is that our airbnb is recently redone and looks like the IKEA catalog. There is even a small balcony with a small table and a big tree in front. It’s so nice that we work in our airbnb and don’t even try to go to the coworking area 400m away.
The apartment is located next to a beautiful Orthodox church! And I think it’s the first time I set foot in an orthodox church. The interior is narrow, dark, with some chairs, the decoration is quite busy, but overall it’s very very nice!
There were even shows in front of the church. But several times a week, they would sing and pray with a loudspeaker and it woke me up in the morning.
Next to it is a statue of Vlad III the Impaler, the prince who inspired the novel Dracula. It stands on the ruins of the former imperial court.
All around there are plenty of restaurants, very attractive for tourists, very expensive. But in the evening the neighborhood is lively and even the locals come for dinner and nightclubbing.
Two blocks away is a shopping mall. It is a building from the communist era. We find a somewhat old-fashioned structure, stores frozen in time, neon lighting that isn’t very classy …
But ! fortunately the owner of airbnb sent us her list of the best restaurants to test, so that from time to time, we find ourselves in a too well decorated restaurant (quite expensive full of superbly dressed CSP++++) – it’s like being in Prague.
In addition, we also spotted a great Indonesian massage parlor. The owner is so happy to see me (there aren’t many Asians in Bucharest), she tells me that when she looks at me, she feels like she’s “seeing her family”: D ohhh it’s so cute!
Bucharest also has the advantage of being a train hub – you can be in Transylvania in a few hours – or leave in the other direction, towards the Black Sea, in a few hours too.
I sincerely think that the charm of Bucharest is its huge Parliament, this massive thing (2nd largest in the world, behind the Pentagon) made of marble and decorated with crystal chandeliers. We visited only 1% of this building in 1 hour. The curtains alone already weigh a hundred kilos – EACH.
Here people use Taxify, a Croatian application, instead of Uber (even Uber exists in Bucharest). The rates are lower and the drivers get a better commission. Driving here is aggressive. Sometimes there are no seatbelts in the back (or the driver doesn’t even wear one). The traffic is horrible (but not as bad as in Paris). Fortunately, the public transportation system (metro, streetcar and bus) works pretty well. You can buy metro tickets at the metro stations (par 2 or par 5), but you have to buy bus and streetcar tickets at the RATB offices (which are never open in the evenings or on weekends). There is even a bus line serving the airport for 2-3€.
Here, the drag is a bit too “straight to the point”. Men look at women too insistently. I don’t feel safe walking alone. Romanians have a too macho attitude, which consists of looking/turning around to look/stop to look at everything that moves, and getting too close – while the rest of the sidewalk is EMPTY! I feel obliged to be attentive every time, even in broad daylight. I asked a Romanian friend for advice, and she confirms that they are like that. They won’t necessarily harass physically, but they won’t hesitate to approach a girl and ask for her phone number – just like that – or to harass her in the street, verbally (like in France). Frankly, in those moments, I miss Poland GRAAAAVE !
In short, after several days of trying to write a roughly correct article about Bucharest, I realized that it was simply A WELL-PROTECTED CITY. Go your way, go to Transylvania, go to the Black Sea, but don’t stay in Bucharest!