Europa dell'Est & Russia
has the best mici (meat rolls) ever. Sarmala is also very good.
was a huge disappointment and I don't recommend this city as a tourist destination. As our first introduction to Romania, Bucharest was depressing, ugly, and we hated it. I wish we had seen more of the countryside and stayed in Brasov -- we visited for a day and liked it. If you're going to Bucharest for cheap beer, clubbing, and staying out late, you'll probably like it. Otherwise, stay away. There's no tourist information office, which means you have to go searching for a map and any other info you need. The city is dirty, sadly ugly, and the people seem beaten down. I never thought I'd miss those schlocky tourist shops, but I did -- no postcards, no souvenirs, even finding bottled water was difficult. The metro was incredibly confusing, although fast and cheap. The food was mediocre but cheap. Everything was cheap, so it's easy to stay on a budget. The stray dogs and cats wandering around, the children sleeping in the streets, the taxi drivers trying to rip you off -- it…
is a good place to visit. I've spent some time in there and it was very nice. I also visited other capitals in the eastern Europe, and though Bucharest is not as spectacular as Budapest in architecture of buildings, it has its good parts. It's not very organized and still has a few problems with the cleaning of the streets, but most certainly you don't go there to inspect the city. You go to visit and have fun. And fun you'll have. If you don't find tourist info, ask people and they'll help. Almost everyone speaks English and is very helpful. They'll tell you where you should go and what you should stay away from.
is just fantastic. A town with charm and much flair. The people are (like many Romanians) are very hospitable, nice and helpful. Explore Sinaia (Peles castle), Rasnov, the fortified churches of Prejmer and Harman. And if possible don't miss Sighisoara, the medieval town two hours from Brasov. It's great there. Or just stay in Brasov. I myself could stay there forever!
I spent time in
and other parts of Romania in the early 1970s while working there for a U.S.-based cultural exchange program. Even though under Communist rule, the city was clean, safe to walk around at all hours, with no thieves and beggars. With freedom comes responsibility -- I visited again in 1996 and was appalled at the amount of garbage in the streets and the fourfold increase in traffic. The people that I interfaced and worked with during the '70s were fantastic -- I have many good memories and mental photographs of those times.
I recommend EVERYONE to go to
, but only if you have already spent some time in Romania. Go to Bucharest last. If Bucharest is the only place you visit in Romania, you will hate it. But if you've been properly introduced to Romania, Bucharest just seems to make sense. It might not be the most aesthetically pleasing city in the world, but it is incredibly vibrant, the people are extremely nice, and the nightlife is pretty decent. But if street kids, beggars, insects or stray dogs make you scared, then perhaps it is best to stay away and begin taking package tours with 50 year old married couples.
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