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Bucarest is a unique city with lots to offer... let's not forget it was once known as the "Paris of the East". True, not all parts of Bucharest are luxurious, but the culture, welcoming people and great architecture makes it worth while.
Bucarest is a nice city that is changing rapidly (for the better). I visited in 2007 -- and was never overcharged or taken advantage of. Just make sure the taxi meter is on and do research as to what the average costs are. I stayed with Romanians in pensiunes (guesthouses) and was very happy with my trip and accommodations.
Braşov 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 Bucarest 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.
Bucarest is the ugliest, most depressing, most boring large city I have ever visited. I cannot understand how in the world anyone can call this city "the Paris of Eastern Europe" -- it's the biggest misnomer I've ever heard. There are a handful of splendid buildings in the city center around Piata Universitate but everything else in between is pure squalor. The only truly interesting sight is the big Palace, built by Romania's last dictator Ceausescu, which really impressed me by its monumental size and beautifully decorated interior. Having travelled through other eastern European countries, I found food prices in Bucharest relatively high. Inexpensive restaurants are very hard to come by. If you want to have a good time and live on a low budget, visit Sofia, which is a very charming city with a great night life and lower prices.
I urge anyone is planning to go to Bucarest to stay well away. It’s damp, smelly, thieves, beggars, insects and bad sanitation (I mean real bad).


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