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Posted by on Apr 18, 2015 in Articles, Countries, Romania | 48 comments

4 Myths & misconceptions about Romania (ns)

4 Myths & misconceptions about Romania (ns)

4 Myths about Romania (ns) that you should let go of.

Romania, is probably the most misunderstood country in Europe. Romanians are judged for something they’re not, because of a general lack of information about the culture, the people and the country in general.

Even I, a very well traveled Western European had no idea of what to think when I went there. But one thought stuck with me: “Romania has such a bad rep, let’s see what I will find out about this country.” It turned out that I fell in Love with Romania and I was really sad to leave.

I was positively surprised and will return for a long visit in the summer.

 

Bucharest

Me at the center having fun in Bucharest Photo by Alin Popescu

 

So I decided to ask friends, family and readers to tell me what is the first thing that comes to mind when they think about Romania. Here’s their thoughts and my replies, based on my personal experience in Bucharest.

 

All questions and pre-defined ideas expressed here are honest and have no intentions to offend.  I know some topics are sensitive and complex. If you’re Romanian, give us your feedback on the comment section bellow.

 

“I hear Romania and I think in Dracula, it is unavoidable. Nichole Optiz”

 

vlad

 

Hahaha, yes, this is probably the first thing that comes to mind, when we all think about Romania. Oddly enough, Bram Stoker, the author of the book, has never been there.

One of the reason why Stoker might have chosen the historical Count Vlad as the main character on his movie might have been the fact that before writing Dracula, Stoker spent seven years researching European folklore and stories of vampires, being most influenced by Emily Gerard’s 1885 essay, “Transylvania Superstitions”. Later he would also claim that he had a nightmare, caused by eating too much crab meat covered with mayonnaise sauce, about a “vampire king” rising from his grave. *wiki

Vlad, the Impaler is an important part of Romanian history and deeply connected to Bucharest as a capital city.

 

“Romanians are gypsies who come to Western European countries to beg and steal. They have tons of children who are forced to beg all day. Maria – Portugal”

 

gypsy

 

I’m fully aware this is probably one of the most unfortunate stereotypical images of Romanians around Europe. Let me tell you something, based on my 6 days in Bucharest:

The very tiny minority of Romanian citizens who immigrate to Western countries to beg and rob are not a representation of the Romanian people.

The very tiny minority of Romanian citizens who immigrate to Western countries to beg and rob are not a representation of the Romani people.

The Romani or simply Roma have one of the most dramatic stories in human history, but few people know their ancient tale of travel, persecution and survival. Most of the ones who live back home are, according to many Romanians I’ve talked with, honest and hard working people.

These are misconceptions people have about Romanians and should be corrected, because once I got to Bucharest, I saw none of that! I see more of these beggars in Lisbon, Spain, London, etc, than I’ve ever seen in Bucharest in 6 full days.

This is because these tiny minority of Roma people, already go to other countries with that agenda in mind. They are right on your face all day and they harass you. Because of that, they seem to be a lot, but they really aren’t. They’re a drop of water in the Ocean.

The hard working Romanians who happen to live all over Europe blend in easily and are fully integrated. Maybe that’s why you don’t even notice them. They study, work, have their families, just like anyone else.

The Romanians I met abroad, were physiotherapists, masseurs and students. Normal people living a normal life.

During my 6 days I Bucharest, I can tell you I found people to be very warm, fun and welcoming. And I’m dying to return!

 

“I think of a beautiful country with sometimes violent and dangerous cities where you have to be on your toes at all times to be safe. I would love you to prove me wrong on this. I am very much looking forward to read the post.”

 

bucharest 2

 

All capital cities tend to be more dangerous than small villages, that is a fact. I imagine Bucharest has its share of problems too. But after walking alone by myself or with friends, for 6 days and nights on the streets of Bucharest, I have to tell you I never felt any threat or danger…. or even insecurity.

I’ve also noticed the presence of police officers everywhere, way more than at any other city I’ve visited so far.

Before I traveled, someone told me to always keep my camera hidden while walking in Bucharest. I actually hold my camera on my hand for most of the time and never felt any threat.

My perception after my visit, is that Bucharest seemed to be safer than London and most American cities I’ve visited so far and at the same level of any other European capital. If safety is holding your back, then worry no more and buy your ticket to Romania!

 

“I think the Romanian countryside must be beautiful, but Bucharest somehow, gives the feeling of being dirty and ugly. Agnieszka – Poland”

 

 

bucharest

 

I’ve heard wonders about the Romanian country side. Unfortunately, I haven’t been there yet, I’m planing that for this coming summer.

I didn’t find Bucharest ugly at all. And I didn’t find it dirty neither, at least the parts of Bucharest I’ve visited, which were mostly in the city center.

 

bucharest 3

 

“Is Bucharest worth seeing at all?”

Yes it is. The city is a great door to the rest of Romania. There’s enough history, nightlife and restaurants to explore.

I was amazed with the vibe of the old town, the variety of restaurants, the cafes with nice esplanades. Bucharest is definitely recommended. Bucharest tourism is something that will grow as soon as people realize how special this place is.

I personally loved the mix of the old and the new buildings. I have a passion for Eastern Europe, so Romania and more specifically Bucharest, did tick all the boxes for me.

 

Romania is a gem if you love traveling. Because it’s still not touched by mass tourism, you can explore the beauty of the country without the crowds. People are friendly and welcoming and I’m already preparing my trip to visit the natural beauty of the smaller villages and cities.

WHICH CITIES AND VILLAGES IN ROMANIA SHOULD I VISIT NEXT? I NEED YOUR TIPS!

 #EnjoyBucharest was hosted Eventur Bucharest, spported by ARCUB, Bucharest City Hall and Intercontinental Hotel. Sponsors: Telekom RomaniaTravelportPrestige Tours and Dent Estet Clinic. Logistic Partners: Blue AirCDI Transport, The Harbour, Calif, Shoteria, Hanul lui Manuc, Palatul Noblesse, Journey Pub and Stejarii Country Club. Main media partners: Europa FM and Observator.tv.

48 Comments

  1. I’m glad you liked Bucharest and thank you for writing this post.

    It’s about time that some of these myths go to the trash bin, and hopefully in a few years’ time, as more people visit Romania, they will.

    Fact of the matter is that we have a very beautiful country, Romanian cities are among some of the safest in Europe, and the people are very friendly.

    Matador Network posted another nice article on Romania recently, it’s worth the read:
    http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/7-reasons-moving-romania-right-now/

    • I’ve had LOTS of fun in Bucharest and to be honest, I didn’t have high expectations.
      Fortunately I’ve enjoyed it so much I can’t wait to return :) And the people are simply amazing!

      • I am from Bucharest and I live in Birmingham UK for 5 years now, I can tell you Bucharest is much much safer than Birmingham, but that is a general perception in the West that the East is a dangerous place to go to…. not to mention how many times people asked me where I am from and I said I am Romanian and they went “you can’t be, you’re too white to be Romanian”… them expecting a gypsy looking guy. Glad you enjoyed Bucharest, I love my city, but there are so much more places to see if you want to in Romania.

  2. I would love to make it to Romania (though the countryside inspires me more than Bucharest, honestly). I also hear these things a lot and think it’s a shame that the whole country gets thrown under the bus because of a few people. Thanks for facing the stereotypes head on, and clearing things up!

    • I’m also more inspired to visit the country side usually and Romania is no exception. My ext trip will be all about the smaller cities and villages in Transylvania.

      I was amazed to find out none of the stereotypes about Romanians were true. I think it’s time for people to find out how great a trip to Romania can be.

  3. When you come back to Romania i incorege you to visit Brasov, Cluj- Napoca, Sibiu, Iasi, the Transfagarasanul , Maramuresul . We have a beautiful country

    • Great tips Mihaela! I’m definitely going to take a look at them. I’ve heard Brasov, Cluj-Napoca and Sibiu are very colorful.

      • I am from Sibiu and everyone I loves Sibiu to the max. We may not be impartial… 😉 but it is simply worth visiting. There is always happening something here, a festival of some sort. The most important is the International Theatre Festival, which I believe is about the same time as the Medieval Festival in Sighisoara (also a town you’ll want to visit).

        • I’ve heard wonders about Sibiu, It’s definitely on my plans :)

  4. Constanta is one of my favorite places in all of Europe. It’s beautiful, cheap, safe, and lots of fun.

  5. Very nice article. I hope there are more people know who changed their misconceptions about Romania. Good job, well done! :) Maybe this summer you will make some time to visit Constanta ( a city full of tourists in the summer because of the Black Sea and the beach) and, of course, the Danube Delta. You will forget Bucharest after this :)

    • Hahaha, I always say that Bucharest was just a warm up. The full splendor of Romania is actually away from the capital, so yes…. I’m up for the challenge!

      I should definitely visit Constanta :)

    • Thank you so much for the video! Really inspiring!

  6. Go to Brasov and Sighisoara

  7. If you come again please come in the summer and visit :
    1. Transfagarasan or Transalpina road .
    2. Brasov or Sibiu or Sighisoara ( these are though big cities )
    3. Small villages or a part of Maramures or Bucovina . You have rural zones also very close to Bucharest , there you can feel how the country runs, i was recently with 2 tourists in a rural traditional trip and they confessed ( after 10 glasses of natural wine ) that this was the highlight of their trip after they done castle tour , hiking tour , etc.
    4. Danube Delta if you like nature and wildlife, i can`t get enough of it .

  8. I liked the article, it’s a short and straight to the point story. If you (or anybody else) want to visit the small villages and feel the rural way of living, you should hurry because they are slowly disappearing. The peasants are getting old and there are more abandoned houses each year. Try to eat the tomatoes straight from the garden in the summer and the “one day” cheese with a tasty hot homemade bread from the earth oven, this is my favorite snack.
    To visit: Transalpina and Transfagarasan (in the summer), Sibiu, Cluj, Sighisoara, The Danube Delta, The Corbu Beach and Vama Veche near Constanta.

  9. Hello Yara,

    I enjoyed a lot your article (maybe also because I am Romanian).
    Besides the things people mentioned above, if I were you I would go see Rasnov. It has a really nice citadel
    I also like a lot the Peles Castle.
    They are both close to Brasov and to Bran Castle (the famous one with the Dracula legend).

    I hope you will enjoy your next visit. If you also come to Timisoara, you can text me. Maybe we can hang around a bit.

    P.S. I was in Portugal and I simply loved your country <3

    • Yes, I think less than 2 weeks won’t be enough, too many things to visit :)

  10. If you want to enjoy the beautiful romanian countryside I recommend Maramures, where you’ll find a happy graveyard, the people there are very kind and there you’ll see why we are known for our hospitality. I also recommend going to the mountains, Ceahlau and the peak Toaca which looks like a pyramid, Bucegi mountains where there is a huge rock called the Sphynx, and one of my favourites and not well known to the world is Praid in Harghita county. There is a salt mine, a salt mountain and a salt lake where you can take a bath. It is near Sovata, which is a more famous resort in Romania but Praid is better, I used to go there every summer for 6 years, every year for about two weeks, mainly for treatment but I never got bored. And if you go in august you can watch the Perseides by naked eye. :) It’s really beautiful and practical :) Oh and also near Praid, in Targu Mures county there is a restaurant where you can catch your fish and they cook it for you if you want or you can take it home and cook it :) Enjoy and I’m looking forward to more articles about other countries too.

  11. Bucharest is the cesspit of Romania and very unrepresentative of the country .If you enjoyed THAT, you must see the other areas like The Delta,Bukowina , Maramures, Apuseni Mountains. As the following replies show , people in Bucharest are rude , stuck up and consider themselves superior to any one who is not from Bucharest , even though all the capital does is thrive on anything but their own resources . Did you have a taxi ride there ?Sheesh! But then again they might be willing to ass kiss a foreigner , that’s true .

    • All capital cities have the same problems. I also heard that maybe people were so friendly to me because I was a foreigner. But then, as we know, at all European capital cities there are people from all over the country, so maybe the ultra nice and friendly people were residents in Bucharest, but from other parts of the country??!!

      Yes, I took a taxi once. The guy was quiet, didn’t say a word, which was ok. He took me and my friends where we needed to go.

      Bucharest is a gateway to Romania, and from there people can finally get to visit other parts of the country. That’s my plan for the next visit :)

  12. Great post, Yara. We think alike about many aspects of Romania! I’m an English expat writer now living in the mountains 3 hours drive from Bucharest, near Brasov and Bran (with the famous castle). I can highly recommend that you visit my village and the one next door as we are the only two villages within any Romanian national park, which is a bit special. You already have some top recommendations, but I’d add Magura to the list. Do please email me if I can help you further in planning your next trip.

  13. We adopted a gypsy boy when living in the Netherlands. We only told our close friends his true heritage because most people were very negative about Roma. It is very sad. I cant wait ti go back to Romania with my son. He has a country and heritage to be proud of.

    • The Roma people have suffered some of the most horrendous stories of discrimination, forced sterilization, torture, genocide. They were forced to settle, to lose their ways…. When we have the guts to really dig in the history of these people, how can we even deny the incredible resilience they show?

      There’s nothing to be ashamed of by being a Roma. Actually, I have the deepest respect and admiration for the Romani. I think it’s awesome you adopted a little Romani boy. I’m sure getting back to Romania to enjoy a bit of the culture will be a memorable experience.

  14. You could also go to the mountains… I can’t choose a place to tell you because all are really nice. Maybe you can see Babele and Sfinx :)

  15. Thank you for this article! I’m really glad when people go past the myths and are willing to discover the country. I know safety in Bucharest is something most people are concerned about when they come here. Being a tourist guide I’m usually asked about is it’s safe to be on the streets in the evening or if there’s any violence. The truth is Bucharest is one of the safest city’s in Europe. Of course there are places where one might not be safe but those are surely not in the city center where tourists are.
    For more info you can check this article:http://roaringromania.com/2015/03/18/is-bucharest-safe/

    Cheers and safe travels!

  16. Wow, this was a really nice article and written with solid arguments! I am really glad that you liked my home city, I love it, too and I don’t see myself living anywhere else. If you wish to visit the countryside or the provincial towns, here are a few recommendations:
    1. Sinaia – the royal summer residence where you can visit Peles castle and take some healthy lungfulls of clean mountain air.
    2. Sighisoara – the oldest medieval fortress still inhabited today in all Europe. I would recommend to visit it during the annual Medieval Festival during the last week of July.
    3. The painted monasteries of Bucovina – UNESCO treasures worth seeing, not just for themselves, but to discover the simple and deep Romanian spirituality.
    4. The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta – to prove that we do have a quirky sense of humor (while you are there, brace yourself and try a glass of “palinca” – our national plum brandy variety.
    5. The Danube Delta – a unique ecosystem in the world and a chance to discover the friendly lipoveni people – an old ethnic group of Russian origin, with their own customs and a deep understanding of sailing and fishing.

  17. You should visit Cluj – Napoca and Brasov! This cities are worth visiting too!

  18. really nice article , thank you! I am proud to be Romanian! I have been in more than 25 countries but there is no place like Romania! Romainan people are the best, we are less racist than any other country in Europe ( not all of us are gypsies) we accept other minorities also ( turks, hungarians, russians,arabs, etc) , our history is great, our geography is the best all the landforms , there is no other country to have this. I simply LOVE ROMANIA :) !

    • You SHOULD be proud to be a Romanian :) People are nice there and I haven’t been to smaller cities, so I bet I will love it even more.

  19. Hope Moldova (Rep. of) is also on your travel list!

  20. Interesting post. I was actually surprised by my first visit as well. I ended up going back last year for 6 weeks and will go this summer for 6 weeks. I love Romania. The people are so friendly and the countryside is beautiful. To be honest, Bucharest was my least favourite spot. The villages are fantastic. Visit the Carpathians. The Transfagarasan and Transalpina highways are stunning with many hiking trails. Also go up to the Painted Monasteries, explore the Danube Delta. Also explore the Saxon villages like Sighișoara.

    • Thank you for all the tips Wendi. So we both loved our experiences in Romania :) I have to confess I was not expecting such friendly people and a welcoming stay.

  21. try bed and breakfast and living with a real family vs large, expensive hotels.
    As anywhere else, watch your wallet and bags when in crowded places or public transportation. Being robbed takes a lot from your pleasure. However, that is rare and common sense precautions will protect you.
    Go to various “wine countries”, Săpânța, Transalpina, monasteries from Bucovina, Banat – tons of places. Good luck amd have fun!

    • I’d LOVE to stay with local people. I don’t usually stay at big hotels, I prefer the small family ones. When I return to explore more of Romania, I will definitely want to meet the local people and hang out with Romanians :)

  22. I don’t think you’ve read anything I’ve wrote or you don’t seem to understand my English.

    • Yes, pretty sure you didn’t understand or read the article.

      • Thank you for your article. I am from Romania and I love my country. This is the reason why I didn’t leave yet even if all my friends and most of my family already did. Romania is a very beautiful country with very beautiful people.
        What I find not so clearly explaind in your article is the origin and the difference between romanians and the gypsy (also called rromani people – it is written with two r). Romanians are one of the oldest inhabitants of Europe with a very long history. The gypsy people are nomad and they came from south-est of Asia a very long time ago and, a very sad true, they didn’t have a easy life on our lands. Sadly, neither the romanians didn’t have a very good life. Mostly because we aren’t an warrior nation and we prefered and still do to talk …..with a glass of wine in our hand and with good food on the table?.
        I think Bucharest is the least beautiful part of Romania (I know. I’m living in it), but the rest of the country it will blow your senses. In conclusion, thank you very much for your beautiful words and I hope you will feel very good next time when you’ll come.

  23. Why did you reject my comment?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 4 mituri şi concepţii greşite despre români şi România, desfiinţate de o bloggeriţă portugheză : Europa FM - […] la facultatea de medicină pentru a-şi dedica viaţa călătoritului, scrie pe site-ul său Heart of a Vagabond că „românii…
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  3. „M-am îndrăgostit de România”. 4 concepţii greşite despre români, desfiinţate de o bloggeriţă portugheză : Europa FM - […] la facultatea de medicină pentru a-şi dedica viaţa călătoritului, scrie pe site-ul său Heart of a Vagabond că „românii…

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