The following is a guest post by Karl Barth, who recently returned from his first international tripto Romania! If you have a travel story you want to share on Go Backpacking, please read our submission guidelines.
The lack of space in the small Bucharest apartments certainly did not impede the preparation of an absolutely amazing homemade meal given to me on my first night in Bucharest. Here are a few of my observations of life in Romania.
Romanians adore fresh fruit and vegetables, and non-processed foods. Almost everything is prepared by hand, and does not come from a box or out of the freezer. The vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions are the freshest most pure and amazing vegetables I have ever had. It seems that many fruits and vegetables in the US are imported, processed, or genetically modified to make them big and shiny, yet the natural taste has been diluted out of them.
My first meal consisted of a tomato, cucumber, and onion salad with red wine vinegar, a freshly made yellow bean soup, red peppers stuffed with a mixture of rice, sausage, and spices along with a freshly made crusty artisan bread.
After a good nights sleep I was off to explore Bucharest. There are four ways to get around Bucharest. You can either walk, take a taxi, take a bus, or take a subway. I partook in all four methods.
Obviously, walking close distances is the easiest and cheapest means. There were plenty of sidewalks and the city felt very safe and comfortable. Never did I feel endangered. Judging by how thin the Romanian people are, I would guess they also do a lot of walking.
The next cheapest means is the bus. A bus ride to anywhere along its route costs $0.30 US. You purchase a ticket at ticket dispensers throughout the city and hop on a bus. The buses were all very modern and clean, however most did lack air conditioning, so on a hot August day in a crowded bus, it could get pretty steamy in there.
The subway system in Bucharest is extensive and modern and can take you from one side of the city the other. The subways also seemed very safe and I didn’t observe any shady characters loitering in the subway areas. One trip on the subway cost about $0.50.
And the final way is the taxi. These are prevalent in most areas and are easily accessible. The taxi drivers seemed to have limited English speaking abilities but that also varied widely. A word of caution, the price per kilometer is clearly posted on every yellow cabs door, and this can vary from $0.50/km to $1.50/km. Always look for the taxis that charge 1.4 Leu/km (~$0.50/km).
Before I discuss the details of my trip, I would like to talk about the people of Romania. I found the people of Romania to be generally thin and attractive. The Romanian people seem to be taller than the world average and predominantly brunette.
But more importantly, was the kindness and extreme generosity of every single person I met on my two week adventure. People who never met me before would take me into the their homes and welcome me as a member of their own family. Since I spoke no Romanian, and many Romanians have at least some English ability, they would attempt to speak English whenever possible to make me feel more comfortable.
And finally, the Romanians are an extremely proud people. They are proud of their country, proud of their history, proud of their place in the world and everything they have achieved. I really enjoyed meeting new people and creating new friends in a faraway land.
Next week, the city of Bucharest…..
About the Author: Karl is a physicist and avid photographer who only recently decided to set out and explore the world with his camera. Catch more of his adventures at http://www.facebook.com/kbarth