Bucharest Travel Tips: Communism, Churches, & Sour Soup

Bucharest is a fascinating city which sort of came out of nowhere for me. I learned about the city as well as the opportunity to visit and experience it while I explored Israel. As soon as I learned of the opportunity, I jumped on it and boy was that the right idea. I went into this adventure with no idea how things might go or what I should expect. All I really knew of Bucharest is the city is the capital of Romania and located in Eastern Europe. I expected to hop off my plane to a dilapidated and crumbling city with a less-than-friendly populace due to their tumultuous past. But I know more now and have some great travel tips for ya!

Statue of King Carol I
Statue of King Carol I

In reality, I encountered a city on the rise. Yes, there are quite a few abandoned buildings slowly crumbling into nothing. But, at the same time, there is so much construction and renewal happening everywhere in Bucharest. No matter where you look, there are enterprising people and a beautiful revitalization is in the air. There is so much to explore in this capital city from parks to historic buildings, museums, coffee shops, breweries, casinos, tasty restaurants, and we can’t forget about the abandoned buildings. On top of this, Bucharesti people are welcoming and pretty open-minded when it comes to the rest of the world. They want us to visit and explore the city in which they take great pride!

MAJOR TRAVEL TIP: Always talk and interact with local people. 

As you might imagine, there is a lot to take in during a visit to Bucharest. Lucky for me, I had some pretty awesome people showing me around and now I’m here to share some Bucharest travel tips I learned while I explored the city. There are a lot of pretty obvious things you’ll learn while you adventure around Bucharest but these are some pretty good travel tips I picked up from the locals!

Travel Tips 1: Deep History

One thing I definitely took note of was the deep history of Bucharest. The locals are rather proud of their history. The good parts are great sources of pride and making it through the tough times to become the city of today is also a source of pride. From the Roman conquest to Vlad the Impaler to their German Kings and Communist era, all of these things,  in combination with so much more, creates the Bucharesti identity. And, in all honesty, the history of Bucharest is the history of Romania.

Travel Tips 2: Hidden Churches

Stavropoleos Monastery . My Normal Gay Life Blog.

The churches of Bucharest are very important to the locals for many reasons. Of course, there is the religious aspect of their churches. But these churches, in many ways, represent much more than just religion. During the Communist era, many churches were destroyed by the regime for their messages of resistance and because they posed a challenge to authority. Obviously, the regime could not destroy all of the churches because it would cause upheaval. Therefore, the churches were moved and hidden between buildings. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. But that’s not exactly the case. Instead they became symbols of pride and they still are today having survived war, natural disasters, and Communism. The most famous of these pictured here is Stavropoleos Church in the Old City.

Trip Tips 3: Jaywalking

If you’re from the US or other Western Countries, you might feel obliged to wait for the cross walk light to change before you cross the street. But in Bucharest, you don’t need to wait nor should you. One local actually told me we would cross the street the Bucharesti way which means you just go. But go quickly and hope you make it. In other words, jaywalking is totally permissible in the city and will be the quickest way to cross the street.

 

Bucharest Travel Tips: Communism, Churches, & Sour Soup. My Normal Gay Life Blog
Ciorbă makes my me smile!
Trip Tips 4: Soup for Days

Soup is definitely the name of the game. Romania, in general, is known for its sour soups or Ciorbă. Visiting Bucharest and not experiencing the magic that is Ciorbă means you’ve seriously missed out. Ciorbă is basically a soup made of vegetables and meats with the addition of an acidic ingredient causing it to be a bit sour. That can include sauerkraut, vinegar, or lemons. There are a plethora of different types of Ciorbă but my favorite is made of meatballs or chicken. Add a side of Zacuscă (eggplant, tomato, and pepper paste) with bread and you’ve got the makings of a wonderful meal. It’s Romanian comfort food at its best!

Travel Tips 5: Taxi Taxi! 

Taxis in Bucharest can be a bit tricky and frustrating. My advice is use Uber as much as possible. Even during peak pricing, I paid only about 10$ for a 15 minute ride. It’s a great deal. But if you decide to use a taxi you should bear a few things in mind.

  • Only use licensed taxis. You can ensure you always use a licensed taxi by ordering one over the phone or using the app.
  • Look for the prices on the door of the taxi. Prices should range from RON 1.39-1.65. Avoid anything that’s priced higher than this.
  • Make sure the meter is running before you get in the car. Ask the driver if he or she is running the meter. Do not accept a set price as it will be substantially higher. If they refuse to turn the meter, get out of the taxi.
  • Have exact change. Some taxi drivers will scam you by saying they don’t have any change.
  • Know this number for the police if all else fails…it’s 112.

So that’s that! These Bucharest travel tips will certainly help make your experience even better!


Have you been to Bucharest? What tips would you suggest? Comment below. 

J Harvey

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Bucharest Travel Tips: Communism, Churches, & Sour Soup. My Normal Gay Life Blog

J. Harvey

J Harvey is a travel writer based in North Carolina. With two masters degrees, he decided to forget working a normal 9-5 job and instead create a travel blog focusing on travel for a more inclusive community. He hopes to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry while inspiring others to travel in whatever capacity.

mynormalgaylifegmail-com has 87 posts and counting.See all posts by mynormalgaylifegmail-com

17 thoughts on “Bucharest Travel Tips: Communism, Churches, & Sour Soup

  • August 8, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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    Really valuable tips. Esp the taxi one. Taxi drivers are the first locals you meet after you land and it is better to know how to deal with them.

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    • August 14, 2017 at 3:09 pm
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      I’m always worried about how to handle taxi drivers so it’s one of the first bits of advice I look for before I travel.

      Reply
  • August 6, 2017 at 8:31 am
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    Bucharest looks beautiful! I would love to visit now especially after reading this article. You have included some great tips too, thank you for sharing.

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    • August 14, 2017 at 3:10 pm
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      Absolutely! I’m sure you’ll love the city as much as I did. I’m happy you enjoyed the article!

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  • August 6, 2017 at 7:57 am
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    Thanks for the cool post. I was there last week, but unfortunate I was not very impressed by the city. We visited several locations but especially old-town was a changed into a real party area only. I enjoyed my time in Transylvania more, but those are just my thoughts. 🙂 Romania is wel known for it’s nature, so I would be spending most of my time exploring the countryside 🙂 Food was great everywhere.

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    • August 14, 2017 at 3:11 pm
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      Just like anywhere we visit, it isn’t always for everyone. I’m heading back in October to explore the rest of the country. It should be a great time!

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  • August 5, 2017 at 9:59 pm
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    Bucharest for me was just a passing city and wasnt a big fan of the place but I loved the rest of the country. I remember the sour soup there, it tasted weird but still ate it all. 😀 Bit too bitter for me. But I didnt love the variety of wine in offer in this city 🙂

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    • August 5, 2017 at 10:06 pm
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      Aw, that’s too bad. I’m not sure how long ago you were there but the city is fantastic.

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  • August 5, 2017 at 4:29 pm
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    I have fond memories of going to Bucharest to see The Killers in concert. It was outdoors and it poured with rain but still fun! We didn’t get time to see the churches as we headed out to Transylvania fairly quickly. I want to go back to see inside the infamous People’s Palace as it was closed when we were there – will try that soup if I do!

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    • August 5, 2017 at 10:09 pm
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      Oh yeah, the People’s Palace is pretty amazing. It’s actually one of the largest buildings in the world!

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    • August 5, 2017 at 10:11 pm
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      The city is quite awesome though it can be different at times. You have to have an open mind…and then the adventure will reveal itself to you! Do it!

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    • August 5, 2017 at 10:11 pm
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      It’s basically one of my favorite places on Earth at this point! I think the people really make the place so be sure to hang out with some locals!

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  • August 5, 2017 at 7:17 am
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    Sounds like you had a great experience in Bucharest. I’ve visited once but was many decades ago and I’d like to go again to see how it’s being renewed. Like you I loved the history, it’s one of the topics I’m very interested in. But I didn’t develop a taste for the sour soup!

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    • August 5, 2017 at 10:12 pm
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      Aw, why thank you! It’s growing bigger and bigger! You’d be surprised! I know a few vegetarian/vegan bloggers who only focus on vegetarian/vegan foods while they travel and they had no problem in Bucharest. We were all there together and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

      Reply
  • August 5, 2017 at 7:15 am
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    I love this blog! How have I not seen it before? Anywho, I’d love to visit Bucharest someday merely for the architecture, but I’m super intrigued by the idea of the popularity of soups. I am a big fan of soup, although I think it might be hard to find vegetarian-friendly food in Romania.

    Reply

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