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Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania


Location - Bucharest, capital of Romania, lies in the south of the country close to the border with Bulgaria and the Danube river

Weather - Can be hot and humid in the summer between May and September. Temperatures can reach over 104 F (40 C). In the winter temperatures can drop to -4 F (-20 C ) and 1 to 2 metres of snow is common.

Level Of English – Most won’t speak English. Romanians in Bucharest in the main are very intelligent and most know English very well. However, their own culture of ridiculing their own if they make the slightest error in Romanian, makes them think that the same will be true if they speak English to a native English speaker. Obviously they couldn't be more wrong as English is so widely spoken, native speakers are normally extremely tolerant of any accent and make no comment on grammatical errors or words spoken that are not quite correct.

Prices – Not too bad but goods and services are a little cheaper in neighbouring countries i.e. Slovakia, Bulgaria and still cheaper than the main Western European countries such as UK, Germany and France. Cigarettes are very cheap here at more than a third of the price than in the UK. Consequently the generous EU allowances on duty free cigarettes don't apply to Romania and Bulgaria. If bringing cigarettes back to the UK or most other EU nations, you are limited to 200 i.e. 1 carton only.

Eating Out – Restaurants, are normally very good quality and reasonably priced. Romanians are very good at re-creating other international favourites to a standard often better than the country of origin. For instance, in my opinion, pizza here is better than in Italy.

Courtesy – In Bucharest, Romanians are not used to tourists as at the time of writing it is not a popular tourist destination. Their own culture towards fellow Romanians means that many can appear rude, unhelpful, selfish and arrogant. If you are lucky you might come across a Bucharestian who has been outside the country, though most stay abroad. These are usually quite helpful and polite, presumably because they have seen that the rest of the World is quite civilised.

Driving – Worse than Italy. Locals have no respect for any traffic regulations and regularly run red lights etc. They also park wherever they feel like with complete disregard for anyone else.

Public Transport - This is excellent and puts most other European nations to shame. Their metro is well thought out, quick and cheap. They also have very good and regular bus, electric trolley bus and tram services. These too are very cheap but can be crowded early in the morning and between 4 and 7 in the evening. Taxis in the main are also quite cheap though some can take advantage of the fact you are a foreigner, taking you on the scenic route or charging much more than the meter, which suddenly appears to be broken!

Bucharest Parliament Building - House Of The People

Places Of Interest/Attractions - Bucharest at the time of writing has not yet geared up to tourism on a big scale. However, that is slowly changing. I would recommend visiting the 'House Of The People' parliament building and the outdoor village museum which has re-created many examples of buildings from Romanian history. It is apparently the largest outdoor museum in Europe. If you like zoos, I highly recommend a visit to the Bucharest zoo located near Baneasa airport. It is ridiculously cheap and the animals all look in pretty good shape plus they are building new and interesting enclosures all the time.

Outside Bucharest, the Romanian scenery can be quite breath-taking, especially up in the mountains. Brasov and Sinaia are popular beauty spots and skiing is possible in the winter months.

Other Remarks - Many hotels are very, very over priced, compared with the rest of Europe but there are a few exceptions so it's a good idea to check out prices of several. There are more Mercedes here than in Germany plus you regularly see Rolls Royces, Bentleys and the elite sports cars. I would highly recommend you visit Bucharest if you are a car enthusiast as you will find all the latest, newest, most expensive models driving by every few moments.

The reason for this is that during communist times, most lived in a rented apartment or one level house (casa). After the revolution in 1989, these properties were offered for sale to their occupants at ridiculously low prices, often the price of a couple of months salary. The result was that many took advantage of this offer and some went further, buying relatives homes too and some putting granny or old auntie in the street. Now the house prices have soared and their sale to foreigners and other Romanians has meant many have huge amounts of disposable income.

Please note that the downloadable detailed free map of Bucharest previously available here since 2007, is currently being updated as Bucharest has undergone many changes in the past couple of years. Check back soon to get the latest version.

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