When I decided to go to Romania, accepting a place in the Experience Bucharest initiative, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In fact I knew nothing of the country except that it is a former communist nation but has experienced democracy since 1989. And, of course, it’s the home of Dracula. I teamed up with Experience Bucharest to discover just what this city had to offer. But before I arrived, I had many preconceived notions.
Would the people be kind and welcoming or would they be hardened by years of oppression under the communist regime?
Would I be able to relate to the people…and explore freely?
Would I be alright exploring as a gay man?
Would I be attacked in my sleep by a vampire?
When it came down to it, all of my doubts were for nothing. Bucharest is an incredible place filled with beautiful contrasts. It’s a city in transition…a transition you’ll witness across the city. On the one hand, the city has beautiful historic buildings and stark communist-era structures while on the other there are cranes everywhere with new construction happening on the daily. The city is modernizing yet it holds a certain charm which fascinates me and captured my heart. Not only is the city under a transition to work its way into today’s modern world, it’s filled with art and beautiful architecture. Experience Bucharest gave me the opportunity to explore the city’s abandoned gems, street art, and incredible monuments. Along the way, I explored many inspiring churches which you’ll miss if you don’t pay attention.
A Place Is Only As Good As Its People
Now, parks, buildings, street art, and history is great but you know what really defines a place? It’s people, of course! And the people of Bucharest are some the kindest I have met. At no point did I feel particularly threatened or unwelcome. There were plenty of moments when I needed to ask for directions and such and no one ever seemed annoyed that I approached them. Heading into a local joint to have a bite of lunch was a breeze and the staff always kept their patience when dealing with us non-Romanian speakers. Not only that, but the Bucharesti people definitely know how to party. They’ll share a shot of something alcoholic and in heartbeat you’ll be part of an amazing kiki where not everyone understands each other but everyone is having a blast.
Plenty to Explore
One thing I wasn’t really sure about was exactly what there is to see and do in Bucharest. But never fear…like any part of the world, there is always something to do or see. It’s really that simple. Experience Bucharest showed me that all I need to do is leave my hotel room, walk around, and something will present itself. The city is literally filled with parks. There’s even one which is lovingly called the Bucharest Delta…like what? Its parks are definitely worth exploring. On top of this, there are multiple companies that are eager to help you have the best time in Bucharest. Here are a few tours I highly recommend.
1) Beautiful Decay Tour
This tour is pretty amazing because it allows you to explore some of Bucharest’s abandoned places…legally. That’s right, get ready to head into some pretty cool, old places that are falling into disrepair due to the city’s communist past, legal issues, or such. You’ll start to understand the city’s history, see incredible artwork, and take part in some urban exploration. The photo opportunities are top and I really loved this tour because it’s always fun to explore old, abandoned places.
Check out the website here: https://interestingtimes.ro/beautiful-decay/
2) Tour by Bike
Slow Tours offers a pretty laid back bike tour throughout the city’s Old Town as well as some of the parks. It’s a great way to see all the major points, get a bit of exercise in, and not walk. I really enjoyed this tour because I like to ride a bike and it’s fun to zoom about the city while learning about all its major attractions.
Check out the website here: Romania Slow Tours
3) Garlic, Garlic, Garlic
If you’re like me and think there is never too much garlic in food then this tour is for you. It’s a culinary journey through history as you learn why garlic is so important to the Romanians and what role its played in the countries history. You’ll enjoy a pretty big meal of garlic themed foods so prepare your appetite! My Secret Romania also offers a plethora of other tours for any taste or activity level.
Check out the website here: http://mysecretromania.com/
4) Do It Like a Local
You know what they say: “When in Romania..” Oh wait, wrong place but my advice to any traveler is to figure out what the locals do then do it. Simple, right? Well, usually figuring this out can be a bit more difficult then you’d think. Luckily, you have a Romanian Friend waiting for you in Bucharest. That’s right, this small company caters to individual’s looking for an individualized experience at an extremely local level. I went to lunch and coffee
with the founder of the company and definitely had one of the most unassuming, authentic Romanian experiences. It as perfectly delicious! Not only that, but Romanian Friend ensures that your money is supporting the local economy no matter where you are in the country. When you visit a place, it’s nice to have a friend who will recommend the best. In Romania, you do.
Check out the website here: https://www.romanianfriend.com/
So what do you think, are your ready to Experience Bucharest yourself? Giving this Eastern European city a shot is definitely a good idea!
Disclaimer: I received product and other services as a participant in the Experience Bucharest program. Despite this, all opinions are my own!
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