When I (we) first came to Bucharest it was like being in a completely different Universe. It wasn’t and isn’t your typical European city. In some ways it is even more “exotic” for lack of a better word than the remote areas of the Caribbean or far reaching Asian cities. From the mix of drastically different government systems, ways of being, old versus new, lawlessness versus authority, and “east meets west”, Bucharest, Romania captured our interest in many ways. As a foreigner living in Bucharest, or a traveler now here for the very first time, we can all agree that there are elements that we love about Bucharest, and keep us hungry for more.
Although the mane boulevard, Blvd. Unirii is lined with gaudy fountains framed by hideous communist-era buildings and the rest of the city features “ghetto-esque” blocs as far as the eye can see, there is a certain element of intrigue to the architectural style of Bucharest. Walking down the sidewalks (if you can meander your way through all the improperly parked cars) you’ll notice many architectural gems untouched by Ceasescu’s regime. Does the excitement of finding a diamond in the rough make Bucharest’s architecture that much more enjoyable? Who knows… but it is something we love.
When you first step foot in to a car here you know you’ve entered the realm of impossibility: your very own real-life video game. I don’t mean this in a “dangerous” sense but come on, let’s face it… a very small percentage of people here obey the traffic laws. Not only do they disobey the traffic laws, but the seem to spit in the face of general laws of physics. Oh… the stripes in the road? Forget about ’em. If you’ve tried for any prolonged period of time to actually “obey” the traffic laws, or for that matter drive as you are accustomed to then you know what I mean. So what do you do when vehicles on your right hand side turn left in front of you at intersections? What do you do when someone pulls there car 90% into oncoming traffic (your lane) just to see if you slow down to let them cut you off? What do you do when someone proceeds to change lanes in an attempt to occupy the same physical space you currently occupy? Well you do absolutely nothing other than laugh and enjoy it. Imagine if you will that your car is one big virtual reality headset and your steering wheel is a video game controller! Have fun. Drive safe. You gotta love the fact the traffic laws can be whatever you make them. The golden rule? Don’t hit anyone. Period. Cause no harm. What else do we love about driving here? The Police of course! As a foreigner who “happens” to not speak Romanian when getting pulled over, the most one can do is shrug your shoulder and say “I don’t understand” when asked for your “documents”. The worst case? A bribe. Try that in your home country.
The Women in Bucharest are amazingly beautiful, especially after arriving from the US. Many foreigners come here to meet that “special someone”, of course in whatever way shape or form that may take. The women were a surprise to me when coming here for the first time. You catch yourself saying “boy I wish so-and-so” could come see this. (Apologies here to the women that are reading this, but the Romanian guys just are NOT something we love here). We secretly love (although in a way hate) to watch the zombie-like migration to the KFC’s, McDonalds’ and Starbuck’s of Bucharest. Yep, the materialistic western world is coming forth at break-neck speed!
The dance clubs here are said to rival many in the World. Alright, so now is a great time to tell you how shocked we were the first time we visited Romania, and a trip to the coast was complete with coffee shops featuring dancing girls in lingerie on little wicker podiums. Of course… why can’t they do this in the US? Must be some thing called legislating morality. Darn.
Nowhere in Europe is there any other city that features so many high end and exotic cars. From McLarens to Phantoms, and Veyrons to Murcielagos you’ll see some of the most expensive cars in the World right here in Bucharest! Never mind the fact that the black Rolls-Royce sitting next to you used to belong to some poor unsuspecting victim of overseas car theft (must be nice to find a 500k car for 100k) or that the Aston Martins in Dorobanti probably belong to someone who lives in a 35 square meter studio flat in the industrial zones… a sacrifice that many Romanian guys must make in order to flash the size of their… umm… you get the point. Hah! Where else can you see this kind of stuff! Yet another reason why we love Bucharest.
Have you ever looked deeper in to the history of Bucharest, the “why” and the progression of the way things are the way they are here? It is intriguing and full of little “rabbit holes” and insights into the psychology and mindsets of people caught between two worlds. In studying the rich history of Romania you begin to love the culture even more.
From the entertaining driving style, to the wide variety of things to do, the late night strolls in old town Lipscani, to the weekend drives to the Carpathian Mountains there are many things we love about Romania… what’s your story you would love to share with our readers?