After ten months in the Middle East, I am very happy to have once again arrived in Europe. I knew I missed Europe, but I didn’t even realize how badly until I arrived in Bucharest and there was relative piece and order. People were actually stopping at stop lights, and no cars were honking, no one was dragging me to their trinket stand. I instantly realized how sick I was of every single vehicle in Egypt constantly honking their horn. I love you Europe.
I am in Europe to do a big rail journey with my Eurail pass, to a lot of places I havn’t been yet. My plan is to hit as many new countries and cities as I can, and enjoy Europe by rail, which I’ve always wanted to do.
People always ask me what my favorite countries and cities are. I always tell them that it’s impossible to answer, because there isn’t one that I’ve disliked. It’s like having to name your one favorite movie. There’s just too many awesome ones!
But if I really had to nail it down, Romania would definitely be in the top 10, and more specifically Bucharest. It’s a wonderful place with something for everyone, and that’s what keeps me coming back. For even more information check out this guide to Bucharest!
7 Reasons why I love Bucharest
1. It’s cheap!
I always knew it was cheap from previous visits, but this time around I flew in from a very expensive Israel, making it feel even more so. 10 euro hostels, 3 euro (great) meals, 2 euro or less for a beer. It doesn’t get much cheaper in Europe. Lots of times cheaper means worse quality, and that simply isn’t the case here. The cost of living in Rome compared to Bucharest is huge, yet things like the metro and buses and trains are the same quality or even better in Bucharest, and I stayed at an awesome place called Little Bucharest Hostel, in the very center of the beautiful Old Town, which would have costed a fortune in Berlin or Rome.
2. Active student city.
Bucharest has a large student population and is a young city. And it seems like the current generation is active in the city’s affairs. It seems like each time I go there there are nonviolent student demonstrations and protests going on. The last time I was there there were two a week: one about a new gold mining law and another about the policy on how to handle stray dogs. A large student community probably has direct effect on my next reason…
3. Beautiful women.
Another thing people ask me is where are the most beautiful women in the world. THIS question I can answer for sure. To start with, I’ve been to almost 70 countries and 6 out of 7 continents, and seen all types. But when it comes to the most beautiful, I always say Eastern Europe. And if I had to narrow it down even more, it’s a tie between Romania and Estonia. The women are amazing here, and the percent of amazingly beautiful women is huge in each. There can’t be a higher number of beautiful ladies per capita anywhere in the world. The thing Romania has over Estonia is that the population of Bucharest ALONE is more than all of Estonia. That makes it awesome.
4. Educated people.
Higher education is world-class in the universities of Romania, and Romanians go for free. So with a pretty bad economy, great universities and free tuition, many, if not most Romanians attend. They also average about 3 languages per person, since they not only have to learn at least one other language in school, but most movies and tv is in English and they hear it their whole lives. Since the economy is low, it’s not uncommon to have young people with masters degrees working at McDonald’s and other minimum wage jobs, which is different than I’m use to.
5. Tons of history.
One of the times I visited Bucharest I went on a walking tour of the areas with a dark history (it was around Halloween). There is so many layers of incredibly interesting history here, that it could keep you busy a long time. From ancient Romans to Ottomans to Vlad The Impaler (Dracula) to 2 world wars, a Cold War, communism and much more, it’s never ending. Romanians have been through a ton of hardships in their long history, and it’s a real eye opener discovering it all at ground-zero.
6. The Gothic architecture.
Lots of Bucharest was destroyed by communist rule and Comesque during a dark time. Whole blocks were razed as thousands displaced (not to mention the economy drained), to build the huge parliament building, now the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. Soviet block style buildings were built up everywhere, but in the Old Town of Bucharest, amazing architecture survived. Cobbled stone roads, blocked to car access, marble and granite, medieval style buildings. Gargoyle and Dragon statues. Throw in some great street art and you have a beautiful place.
7. Largely overlooked and un-touristy
Bucharest doesn’t get it’s fair shack when it comes to the amount of tourists it gets each year. That’s especially apparent when you noticed how uncrowned the beautiful sites are. Bucharest rests in what I would call a closing circle of popular tourist destinations. Surrounding it are the ultra touristy Budapest, Croatia, Greece and Istanbul, Budapest being it’s direct neighbor. Once people discover that Bucharest is just as great, or maybe even greater than these others, word will spread and the crowds will come. For now it’s nice to be, at least somewhat, off the tourist track.
There you have it, those are my main 7 reason why I love Bucharest. I really love the Old Town the most, because it’s so beautiful. Little Bucharest Hostel really does reside in the very center of Old Town, and in my opinion, the best location in Bucharest. Just down the street from there, still on Smardn street, is a really cheap and good place to eat called Chicken Staff. You can get a huge chicken sandwich for 10 Lai.
Next up on my Eurail journey, I leave Eastern Europe and head to Ljubljana, Slovenia, with quick stops in Budapest and Vienna.