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Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

September 12, 2010

in travel

I came to Romania to work for 3 months. Frankly speaking I wasn’t full of enthusiasm about it from the very beginning. It’s not all that exotic — same old Eastern Europe, it’s not widely known as a perfect place for tourism and vacations with great beaches and service, it’s not in the list of the most developed and advanced countries in the world that would be interesting to see. In other words, I could not find a single reason to see it.

But at the end of the day why not to use the opportunity to visit country which I would otherwise most probably miss? Wouldn’t it also be interesting to see the country that only left its Soviet past behind in 89 and already joined EU in 07? Aside from that I didn’t know much about the country to be honest. Others around me didn’t seem to know significantly more though: I was quite tired of jokes about Count Dracula long before actually going there… In fact, it appeared to be quite an interesting country to visit.

romania bucharest0 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

As one could naturally assume from its history, Romania is quite a “country of contrasts”. Sometimes you feel like you are in the Soviet Union, sometimes like you are in the European one. For example, two pictures below were taken in only about 30 meters distance from one another:

romania bucharest1 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania bucharest2 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

Are you also thinking of EuroTrip movie?

Situation with taxis is much better than the one in Moscow and this is when I was thinking of Europe. All of them are official yellow-colored with fares written clearly on cars. If you’re lucky enough taxi-driver will even understand some basic English. Not to mention prices: trip to work cost me about $1.50. And usually you don’t wait longer than 5 minutes if ordering via phone.

romania bucharest taxi Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

One of the biggest problems of Bucharest is its stray dogs. I don’t like them much even if they are domesticated. Why someone mentally healthy would like to have such a creature at home? But it’s even stranger to see them in the capital, all over the place, often in packs, up to 7. As a free bonus to railroad in 100 meters from my apartment I could enjoy barking all night long. Apparently, there is no political nor civil will to solve the problem…

romania bucharest stray dogs Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania bucharest stray dogs2 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

While the capital seems to in bad shape, compared to Russia, I was pleasantly surprised by rural areas and other towns.

romania1 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania2 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

Two main ways people prefer to spend their weekends outside Bucharest are sea side and mountains, depending on weather I suppose. These are the directions, in which one could notice most of traffic jams Friday evening, Saturday morning and Sunday evening. Mountains are beautiful of course.

romania mountains 1 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania mountains 3 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania mountains 2 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

Believe it or not but I actually went fishing. Though it’s always interesting to try something new. My colleague is a big fun, so he found a place. However, it is kind of fake fishing as trouts are actually grown just 10 meters from pond. That’s how it actually looks:

romania trout1 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania fishing1 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania fishing2 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

We traveled to sea side together with my colleagues and were more than disappointed, to be honest. Beach and water itself were so terrible that I packed my swimming goggles back quite quickly. According to locals we were just incredibly unlucky to come at the wrong time, stay at the wrong part of the beach and so on and so forth. But still surprisingly enough, beach was packed with people regardless from the very morning. All the other things were great though: sunny weather, decent restaurants with low prices, etc.

romania mamaia seaside Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania mamaia seaside2 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

Ok, just to tick the box. Of course this post would be complete without a picture of the castle where Vlad III or simply Count Dracula used to live:

romania castle Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

Haven’t been inside though, but heard that it’s nothing special…

And in some places Romania looks like this:

romania museum Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania museum2 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania museum3 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

But keep you jaws from dropping, this is just a museum showing traditional settlements few centuries ago.

Quite often you can find an exercise machines on the Bucharest streets. Idea is good of course, but in fact don’t look very usable and seem to be abandonded. I’d opt in just for a walk. Unless there is an equipment for proper squats, bench presses and pull-ups…

romania exercise machines Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

More pictures of Bucharest:

romania bucharest3 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania bucharest4 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania bucharest5 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania bucharest6 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

romania bucharest7 Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

One of the Bucharest sights is Palace of Parliament which is the largest administrative building in the world.

romania bucharest palace of parliament Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

That’s the first time I experimented with travel video to show you how it looks in reality. So, this one is delivered to you directly from Bucharest:

And this just made me smile. In of the grocery stores they actually sell… Crap!

romanian crap Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

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  • John

    CRAP! :)
    that would be a fish

  • Răzvan Sandu

    Romanian word “crap” means “common carp” in English :)

    There are some misunderstandings about Count Dracula, which is a FICTIONAL character (loosely based on the figure of Vlad Țepeș – Vlad the Impaler, a Wallachian king, 1431-1476). Vlad Țepeș was actually a very harsh, bloodthirsty king, that punished theft by impalling the offender (noble man or comoneer) with a long piece of wood in the anus. He is remembered by the Romanian nobility (“boieri”) for these harsh punishments, but has nothing to do with vampirism. His father was called Vlad Dracul (which means “Vlad the Devil”), and the family was called “Drăculești”. It is more a warrior name, meant to intimidate opponents, than a vampire connection. Probably, that’s why Bram Stoker choose this historical figure to construct the fictional Dracula character from it. Actually, placing Count Dracula in a remote, isolated castle somewhere in Romania shows the CULTURAL remoteness of Romania and UK in Bram Stoker’s time, perfectly unable to fully understand each other.

    The castle you’ve photographed, Bran Castle, is, actually, a jewel, but has nothing to do with the fictional Count Dracula. Its interior IS relevant: in 1920 the castle was presented to Queen Maria of Romania (a nephew of Queen Victoria) who decorated it it her personal style, inspired from Art Nouveau. For some period after her death, the castle was the “home” of a jewel box containing her heart.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_the_Impaler http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_of_Romania http://www.bran-castle.com

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