Romanians don’t really have a good reputation in France, at least in Paris. Just to make sure for those who suck in geography, Bucharest is in Romania… Anyway, when we say “Romanian” in Paris, people think about those women with tanned complexion, baby in their arms, begging for money in the subway. Or those teens or even kids, barely 5-6 years old, who pick people’s pockets in the streets, or in the subway again (learn how to avoid those scams!). And play cat and mouse with the police. We also think about those men, tanned complexion and dirty skin, who act like they’re handicapped. One arm or one of their legs is missing, so people will feel sorry for them and give them some money.
Assuming a whole country of 20 million inhabitants, as big as the United Kingdom, only consists of deceitful people who only look after your money, is purely stupid and very reductive. But… I was talking with a Romanian girl during my stay in Bucharest. She’s been living in Paris for 10 years, and she speaks french very well. Very cute, she was (modestly) explaining to me that men often chat her up in the streets in Paris, and she could clearly see the disappointment in their faces as soon as she reveals being from Romania.
I was told before going to Bucharest that Romanian is a latin language, and it’s true! I don’t speak Romanian at all, but when people where talking in Romanian around me, I could get some words or even small parts in a sentence. Actually, Romanian is very similar to Italian, but speaking French helps a lot, some words are the same! I was also told that French is the foreign language people speak the most in Romania. Don’t think so… As soon as I got there, I kept asking people “Do you speak french?“, and I never heard “Yes“, not even once! Like most cities, people mostly speak English, but a lot of people speak Spanish, too! And some of them speak German.
When I arrived in Bucharest, the first thing that surprised me, is the way they drive! They drive like crazy, they don’t wear their seatbelts, they overtake other cars haphazardly… I took a taxi (so cheap!) and the guy told me “From what I heard, in France you can get a fine for not wearing your seatbelt IN THE BACKSEAT!? Hahahaha bullshit!” And as usual, I like to see how people have fun, how they party… I went to a bar on a Tuesday (control club). It’s an indoor and outdoor bar, and it was packed! A Tuesday!
And of course, just like Belgrade and other cities in Eastern Europe, since there are very few black guys, I don’t pass unnoticed. I’m peacefully walking around, and people honk at me, say “Hiiiiii!“, or I hear “Wassup bro?” with a big smile and a high five. And when two black guys bump into each other, we just greet each other “Hey! How you doin?” I also noticed that Romanian tend to look a lot at people’s shoes. I don’t know why (and forgot to ask…). If anybody knows…?
What to see in Bucharest?
The world’s second largest administrative building after the Pentagon, the Palace of the Parliament. Originally called the People’s House, the palace was supposed to be the residence of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian dictator. He died before the end of the building, and today it’s possible to visit the palace. Check out the article I wrote about the palace of the parliament.
Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall opened in 1889. It’s possible to get inside, unless there are rehearsals going on, which was the case when I went there… The entrance is well hidden, it’s a discreet small door on the side of the building.
Located about 12 miles away from Bucharest, you can check Therme Bucuresti and spend the day there to relax. Indoor pools, outdoor pools, saunas, spas, hammam, deckchairs, things to eat and to drink… Perfect to spend a day with your friends! For more details, check out the article about Therme Bucuresti!
Bucharest, it’s also a lot of outdoor bars and cafés. You can’t miss them, they’re all over the place! I’m thinking about Gradina Eden, well hidden but with good cocktails. I’m also thinking about Macca Vilacrosse passage and its cafés, or Pizza Colosseum and its umbrellas permanently taken in picture by the tourists (including myself!). And oddly, it’s possible to “visit” bookstores. Carturesti Verona, or Carturesti Carusel are popular bookstores among tourists. Of course, you can buy books, but it’s also possible to have a drink on the top floor of Carturesti Carusel. The icing on the cake? There are great Romanian souvenirs you can bring back home.
So… Yeah I think Bucharest is a city you have to see. Bucharest is not a popular capital city (yet), everything is cheap, and people are nice. Think about it!
Info to visit Bucharest
- Are you going to Bucharest? Do not leave home without a travel insurance!
- I stayed at the Book-a-Rest Hostel, and I really liked it. Otherwise there are plenty of options. Take some time to compare the hotel rates on HotelsCombined.
- Wanna go to the beach in Romania? Here are 11 things to do in Constanta.
- Check the activities in Bucharest and if needed, get a guide.
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