As an open-minded traveler I tried hard to get away from stereotypes. I think that every place has something beautiful and unique, it depends only on our outlook and our desire for knowledge.
When you say you are going to Romania, people look at you with shock and horror, as if you are going to some place where there is no law and order and bandits roaming in the hills. But the reality is something quite different.
- Gyspsies strory
- Apparently, Bucharest is the capital of a Balkan country called Romania which reminds us of gypsies due to the political term Roma. But NO, there is a huge difference between Romanian and Roma (Romani) terms and the two have absolutely no relation.
- The Roma people (or gypsies) originated in Rajasthant (located in the northwest of India), migrated to Europe centuries ago and they have never identified themselve with a territory. They soon spread all around the continent, each with their own traditions, religious beliefs and languages.
- The Romania name derives from the Latin, meaning citizen of Rome, having a language which shares many features with Italian, French, Spanish an Portuguese languages. Romanian people are warm, open, happy, polite – and emotional. You got to love that Latin blood!
- So, keep in mind that not all of Romanians are gypsies, not all of the world’s gypsies come from Romania and not all gypsies are pickpockets. But I hope you already knew that one!
2. The communist terror
- Speaking about Romania without addressing the communist regime is impossible, so it’s better to get on with it right away. Living under the communist terror iT wasn’t easy and it’s an ongoing effort that will no doubt take many more generations. Romanian people understand that their best weapon against ignorance and fear is education and that’s why you can find a lot of English speakers guys and smart students. Six thousand of young people are studying at British universities.
3. Old misconception
- One of the main and old misconceptions of people that have never been to Bucharest is that this is a dirty, smoky and polluted city of two million people and one and a half million rabid dogs, a city of extreme poverty, institutionalized homophobia and nationwide discrimination against gypsies. Well, Bucharest is not a dirty, smoky and polluted city compared with more than 50% of Europe big cities. Even if stray dogs still a problem, rabies cases were isolated and many measures were taken in order to reduce the dogs number. Truth to be told? Romania is safer than most Western European countries I’ve traveled to and its capital Bucharest is a city where, despite the wealth disparity between its richest and its poorest, you can always find a bright future in the eyes of its young inhabitants who are fighting each day to improve the way their country works.
5. Cheating and threaten tourists
- I usually heard “Be wary of cheating taxi drivers, relentless men/scammers who go and threaten people’s lives if they don’t cough up the money”. This type of taxi drivers cheat and scam happens in almost every big city (and some small ones) around the world and maybe there are some tourists which want to get experience in life, learn to deal with ”scams” and betrayal, learn to save themselves from nasty situations, etc. Travelers need to take care and learn from experience even if we talk about Bucharest, Paris or Barcelona.
- As in London, if you see a group of youths walking towards you, to save any hassle, you would usually cross the road, you need to do so in Bucharest.
- Violent crime in Bucharest is among the lowest of any capital city in Europe, according to figures compiled by The UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
- The country’s economy is also growing faster than the UK and there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs, according to the British business people based there.
6. Everything is cheap
- False! Romanian food is not expensive and it is easy to find fresh organic food but it is hard to get low-budget holiday offers meanwhile the utilities and gas price are similar to Central and western Europe.
I encourage everybody to visit Bucharest and enjoy the beautiful and historical places that have survived for centruries, despite adverse times and extreme political regimes.
However, I recommend you stay away from areas like Ferentari ghetto (actually this is the only one place in Bucharest that you can call dangerous), situated at the outskirts of the city . The population living there is extremely poor, the level of education is low and the drug usage is high. These are all the ingredients you need for violence, and there’s a lot of it there. Gangs, poverty, drugs, piles of garbage and violence… they are all part of the life there.