Bucharest, everything you need to knowTudor Maxim
Original Spanish article here: https://patadegatotv.com/europa/f/bucarest-todo-lo-que-necesitas-saber
We recognize it, before this trip there was little we knew about this country in Eastern Europe, much less of its capital Bucharest and, like many Americans, it is not the first option that jumps to our mind when “travel to Europe” is mentioned. However, being invited by a dynamic group of entrepreneurs whose #ExperienceBucharest initiative encouraged us to experience it in person and has left us pleasantly surprised, so we want to share our experiences so you know why you will love to include Romania in your bucketlist and Schedule it to visit as soon as possible.
The Iron Curtain
When mentioning Eastern Europe, you may think of the communist bloc, dictatorship, repression, spies, etc. Indeed it happened 30 years ago! and as you will see later, this story is very interesting and important to know, but today, Bucharest is a dynamic city with a unique combination of architectures due to its rich history, which includes spectacular French-style buildings, of course, austere buildings of the communist era and modern constructions, hotels and shopping centers at the height of any of Europe or America.
How to get.
Of course there are trains and buses that connect Bucharest with all of Europe, but for those of us who live far away, obviously Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP code) will be the best option and only has one terminal, so there is no risk of confuse you between buildings when you go back to your country. It is north of the city 20 minutes by car, taxi or Uber. The metro network is currently being expanded to reach the airport, but at the moment the only public transportation option is buses leaving the airport terminal.
Where to Stay.
Like any big city, Bucharest has hotels and hostels for all budgets. We had a wonderful experience at Hotel Caro which is close to the Aurel Vlaicu metro station just 30 minutes from downtown, in a quiet area next to Lake Tei.
The hotel is elegant but despite the name, we were not expensive for the amenities offered as a pool, gym, SPA, a delicious and varied breakfast, as well as comfortable and quiet rooms that are so modern that they no longer use dampers but instead You have a tablet that you can take to your bureau and control lighting and air conditioning from there 😱.
As you will see later, Bucharest will require you to walk a lot, so staying in a comfortable hotel like this is not an expense, but an investment for your health that will allow you to have the strength and courage to continue the adventure.
How to get around Bucharest.
Cheap, convenient and ecological.
In Bucharest we find a scooter rental service called Blinkee.city that is also economical and accessible because it is managed by an app, it gives you complete freedom of movement, very important to save time and know the different points of the city even if they are far away. But that’s not all, it’s also an ecological solution since the scooters are electric! Still, that does not take away power or reach. We used them for about two hours, we went to various parts of the city and the battery showed no signs of fatigue, so it is definitely our first option to get to know Bucharest.
As if all this were not enough, Blinkee also organizes tours of several scooters that will take you to interesting places in the city where you can have fun with your friends or make new ones within the group.
Like any major capital, Bucharest is connected by a network of buses and underground train. We do not use buses that are driven by a different company, but the subway was very comfortable and cheap! since it takes you to the most important points of the city and the round trip costs you 5 LEI, something like $ 1.25 USD 😱.
Tickets are purchased at vending machines from two trips, you can also get passes for the whole day or for several days and the machine can be configured to show you the information in several languages. They are installed at the entrance of the stations, accept cash and credit cards (another advantage).
Like any modern city of international stature, you can use your transport apps like Uber to get around or use the usual taxis (if you prefer).
The delicious moment 😋.
In this case, there are also options for all tastes and budgets, as we realized that the “bucharestenses” love eating out and nightlife, so there are many restaurants, cafes and bars, where some open all night . Here we will share the places we tried and we know that they will give you a delicious moment.
El Torito . 3 Apolodor street.
😋 Bucharest tastes like … Mexico 😱 ?! That’s right, incredible as it may seem, we found a corner of our country in the middle of Bucharest, with authentic stew tacos, sauces of various types, tequila and delicious margaritas as we have only tried them in the hotels of Cancun and Riviera Maya! If you are from Mexico, you can go not to miss and if you are from another country, you can go to try. We honestly went with our reservations about trying Mexican food in a place so far from Mexico, but Chef Julio (originally from Puebla) left us with a very good taste and calmed our nostalgia for Mexican food.
Community Market . Strada Gheorghe Polizu 28-36.
An authentic food truck parking where you can taste various dishes and drinks in a bohemian, informal and relaxed atmosphere, ideal to meet with friends for lunch or dinner and where there will surely be something for everyone. Although it is ideal for a casual meeting, there is also a work area for networking, in case you have to do a meeting and / or business from Bucharest.
Nomad Sky Bar . 2nd floor, 30 Smârdan street.
A pleasant and elegant place in the historic center of Bucharest, it is an excellent choice of international cuisine, ideal for demanding palates, since chef Tatian Aldea offers you options from several continents to choose from: from a Spanish tapas of serrano ham, a Texan burger and of course Romanian cuisine classics with beef, sausages, mushrooms, cheese and polenta. Do not forget to order the beer and the delicious cocktails they prepare here, you will love it!
Banjo Jack . Strada Iancu Căpitanu Nr. 26.
😋 Romanians are experts in meat and its cuisine is present in many of its dishes, so they have no problems preparing a delicious homemade hamburger, wings, pork ribs with their respective salads, etc. This place specializing in American food, will bring you memories of your trip to that country and even introduces a new and special touch to these well-known dishes.
Greek food . Several points of the city.
The ideal option when one goes with a tight budget, since the “gyros” allow you to have a hearty meal at a reduced price. As in other cities in Europe, they are scattered throughout the city. In some restaurants you will see a container with milky liquid in the machine of fresh drinks called “Ayran”, it is natural yogurt without flavor, or sugar that is used in the Middle East. Fresh for the stomach, but it depends on everyone’s taste if you want to accompany your meat baguette or gyro with yogurt without flavor.
How to discover Bucharest.
Did you know that Romania was the first country to pay its foreign debt? That Bucharest was called “Little Paris”? What was the first city in the world to have street lighting in 1857? That’s right, Bucharest has a lot of very interesting history and places that are worth discovering, fortunately there are also very good options to do it with an expert tour guide who will take you to these places and you can understand the history of the city, the country and even how this story has transcended in the world.
Believe it or not! These enthusiastic boys will take you on a tour of the city on foot and will tell you their history, hidden details, places to discover and answer all your questions for free! (Of course a well deserved tip at the end is always welcome). You just have to book on your page the tour or tours that interest you so that you return home being an expert.
Also free and very professional, Bucharest Free Walking Tours took us on an interesting tour from when the monarchy ruled Romania, through the communist era until its fall and contemporary Bucharest with its beautiful parks, gardens and monuments that you must visit. Although they do not require a reservation, check out their website so you know their schedules and options.
You can read books and listen to witness accounts, but nothing beats time travel and visit first-hand an authentic department that has been preserved as it was during full communism in the 80s. Everything, including the building and the neighborhood where it is located, they were built during the communist era and are inhabited to date.
Here you can see, touch, listen and even savor! How people lived in those years. You will learn more about the dreaded secret police who intrudes into everyone’s private life to locate possible enemies of the regime. You can also see how the television programs that the only available channel was broadcast, owned by the government and operated for two hours a day, but also as people did to watch foreign films on video they got on the black market! An impressive experience 😱!
You may be interested: Timisoara: art, culture and revolution .
If you take the tours, you will see the most important attractions in Bucharest and many other things, but some attractions that may not be included in the tours or you can only see from afar, but that you can not miss, are the following:
Palace of Parliament
Considered the second largest government building in the world (after the Pentagon) but the heaviest, this huge building was a “stitch” of the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu to demonstrate the greatness of his regime, but built at the cost of the sacrifice of Romanian citizens and from a fifth of the city of Bucharest that was demolished (with everything and historic buildings) so that Mr. and his wife Elena could carry out their project, which by the way, they never saw finished since they were executed during the 1989 revolution 😵.
Despite its oppressive and deranged meaning, it was terminated after the revolution, simply because it cost less to finish it than to demolish it. It is currently the seat of the Romanian federal government and is the International Conference Center of Bucharest. We do not manage to visit it from the inside, but according to what we investigate, it is made in luxury with ostentatious and gigantic rooms that are worth knowing. You can see the prices and costs to visit it by clicking here .
Monumental fountain in Unirii Square.
Following the avenue that comes from the Palace of Parliament, there is a huge fountain in Unirii Square that at night offers a multimedia show of synchronized lights with music of various genres. Due to the size of it, the builders were able to take pleasure in the power of the water jets that emit a powerful ffffftttttt! and they rise several meters above the heads of the spectators, creating a show that easily competes with the fountains of the famous Bellagio in Las Vegas. A must in the center of Bucharest.
Arch of Triumph.
Before communism, Bucharest was called “Little Paris” because of the great abundance of architecture inspired by the capital of France, including its Arc de Triomphe. The Romanian version was built to celebrate the triumph of Romania in World War I and you can access it through the eastern column and admire the view from above.
Churches, many churches.
Romania is a religious country where Orthodox Christians predominate, do not miss entering to visit their churches, learn more about their customs and admire the beautiful and highly elaborated altarpieces full of iconographies. Admission is free and as in any place of worship, you have to be very respectful of people’s beliefs and try to be as invasive as possible if you bring a camera. It is also possible that if you are a woman, you will be asked to cover your head before entering.
And to all this, is Bucharest safe?
When you walk through its streets, you will notice that there are many buildings, alleys, parks and monuments showing graffiti of all kinds. We in America related graffiti to street gangs of young people without much to do, however as one of the guides explained to us, Romania was subject to a regime of silence for decades and could not express what they thought, so it is natural that at Savor freedom, now you want to express yourself everywhere. In fact, you can also take tours to discover and appreciate this urban art.
Regardless of this logical explanation, we verify firsthand that although some tours we did alone on foot, we never had or saw any incident, in Bucharest or in any of the cities we visited, despite showing the cameras we use. In fact, we could see women alone crossing carelessly through public parks and nightfall, something unthinkable in many cities of America.
- As you will see, Bucharest has a lot of interesting and beautiful to discover. The best of all is that unlike other places, here you will not find huge groups of tourists crowding everything, a situation that we do not think will last, since Romania is very beautiful and there is great interest (especially for Romanian entrepreneurs) to give Get to know the beauties of your country, so we suggest you schedule your visit as soon as possible.
- In Romania, cell phone communications are cheap and fast. If you have a European cell phone, it is most likely that you can use it without problems or you can buy a chip to communicate.
- The currency is the LEU (means lion) and sometimes we did not understand because sometimes we saw LEI. Easy: LEU is singular and LEI is the plural 😉.
- International credit cards are welcome almost everywhere. Although we exchanged some Euros for Lei, we hardly used cash, since even souvenir shops accepted payment by card.
- The people in Romania are friendly and many speak English, so you won’t have problems if you need to ask something in the street.
- See you in Romania!