Hey guys, Shir here! As you may know, I’m currently living in Tel Aviv. My family decided to take a short weekend trip to Bucharest, as it is only a two and a half hour long flight! I just want to start off this post by saying that Romania is the most underrated country I’ve ever been to. Many call Bucharest the “Paris of Eastern Europe” because some parts of the city are modeled after the Romantic City. The signs on the street are designed the same way, some buildings are constructed similarly, and there is even an Arc de Triumph!
The people are sweet and hard-working; the country is beautiful and cheap; the culture is thriving and evidently recovering from its past “political fall”; and best of all, shopping is cheap and EVERYONE LOVES ISRAEL (they even speak a little bit and some places translate signs to Hebrew because of the influx of Israelis who go to visit!). It’s so underrated for us Americans, but for Israelis it’s actually a popular tourist destination!
I’m going to keep this post short & sweet because I vlogged (video blogged) my entire trip and you’ll be able to see for yourself on our Youtube Channel why I had the best time in Romania.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, I recommend any hotel on Victoria Street. Overall, the city is small compared to most European cities I’ve been to and cabs are cheap, so you can’t really go wrong. I stayed at the Golden Tulip and we had friends who stayed at the Radisson.
Speaking of the Radisson… it is mini Israel. I met so many Israelis (whom I had many mutual friends with) on my trip. There are so many Israelis who come to Bucharest, that many instructions are translated to Hebrew and Romanians know how to hold a basic conversation in it as well!
Like many European countries, especially those in Eastern Europe, there is an Old City Centre. Even though it may be touristy, I love the atmosphere and the cobble stone streets filled with vibrant restaurants, bars, and people. I heard that Shoteria is a fun bar to hit up before a night out with friends. This was more of a family trip, so I don’t have as many nightlife recommendations as I usually do!
We checked out Interbelic, which was really cool! We then realized it wasn’t the place to take my great aunt and uncle at 11:00p.m., so we headed to the casino instead (a popular casino is the one attached to the Radisson Hotel).
If you’re looking for an adventurous day, book a tour guide and reserve a day for a trip to Brashav and Transylvania… yes, Dracula’s home. Or, you can take the train for under $10 and go see the town and castle for yourself. Bern (Dracula’s) Castle, is pretty much just as you expect it to be; grungy, filled with secret staircases, and an overall eerie elegance to it. The town it is in has a cute shuk (outdoor market) where you could buy souvenirs. On the way to the castle, we stopped by another city, Sinaia. Many people come here to ski and visit Penes Castle. Let me just say, if you want a good photo op, here is where to have it. It may as well be a green screen – that’s how picture perfect the scenery is.
Another place you must visit is the Palace of the Parliament. It’s the second largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon! There are people working inside 24 hours a day; there are 3 sets of 700 architects and 2,000 workers working inside the building at all times. There are 1,000 rooms and it took 11 years to build. They rent out some of the ballrooms for events, but you know, it only costs between $5,000-$25,000 …no biggie!
Our last full day on the trip was one of the most relaxing and unforgettable days of my life: SPA DAY AT THE THERME. I’m not kidding, this was one of (if not is) the best spa I have ever been to. It’s a theme park for adults and kids. With over 9 pools, 10 saunas, and 16 water slides, this is a go-to spot for people of all ages! The best part about it all for me, was the outdoor heated pool in the snow… something you can’t even put into words! To top it all off? A full-day pass is under $40 and if you want food or a massage you pay extra inside.
All in all, I loved Romania and Bucharest is a beautiful, clean, and lively city. Unfortunately, it’s still considered a third-world country. Romania is extremely poor (hence why everything was so cheap) and was freed from communism not that long ago. When we explored other cities and villages, I saw what Romania really looked like; it opened my eyes to what’s really going on. Many people are still living without bathrooms in their own homes, running water isn’t accessible to everyone, and many Romanians working in Bucharest live in surrounding towns because Bucharest is too expensive for them. I spoke to many locals to get an idea of life in Romania and many gave me different opinions about the current political situation after the fall of its communist government (some are pro and some are against). There was a governmental protest going on during my stay.
It’s also evident how less integrated Romania is to the Western world by how few people speak English. While travelling, you just assume everyone speaks English, but this was the first time I had to ask, “Hi, do you speak English?” before asking a question or starting a conversation. All of the Romanians I had full conversations with in English were those who had told me they learned in school; either additional English education or University-educated. I met a Romanian couple who moved to London to work after graduating from University because they said how difficult it was to make money in Romania. Many countries have this issue and thankfully due to globalization and the advancements in technology the world is making great progress.
- Eat at one of Joseph Hadad’s restaurants: Joseph (fine dining) or CAJU (casual dining brasserie)
- Eat at Arôme: cute, vegetarian restaurant
- Visit Bran (Dracula’s) Castle
- Visit the Palace of the Parliament
- Grab a drink (or dinner too) at Entourage
- Shop at AFI Palace Cotroceni Shopping Mall
- Enjoy a relaxing spa day at Therme Bucaresti
***For all of you asking: Coat is from Mackage 😉