Being a tourist in Bucharest…

The great part of when friends from abroad come to visit Bucharest is that you are their guide. The bad part is that you actually have to show them around Bucharest and you’re praying that you don’t encounter situations you’re gonna be ashamed about and will have to apologize on behalf of, oh well, Romanians.

Last weekend I had a friend from Germany visiting and just for fun. I decided to play tourist along with him and speak English everywhere we went. The result was…depressing.

On Saturday we took the double-decker city tour for a few hours. Short story, the bus goes from Piața Presei Libere to Calea Victoriei and turns at Palatul Parlamentului (The Parliament). It’s the Hop On-Hop Off type of bus, that means you can get in and get out on any stop you want depending on your interest. When you buy the tickets you also get a (big) map that you can use for better orientation.

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The bus comes every 20 mins between 10AM-10PM hours and the last bus is at 9PM from Piața Presei Libere. The traveler card you get is valid for 24h from the first use and the whole tour takes about 50 mins.

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Some of the main interest points would be Piața Presei Libere – Free Press Square, Muzeul Satului – Village Museum, Arcul de Triumf – The Triumphal Arch, Muzeul Antipa – Antipa Museum, Muzeul Țăranului Român – Romanian Peasant Museum, Ateneul Român – The Romanian Atheneum, Muzeul Național de Artă – National Art Museum, Palatul Parlamentului – Palace of the Parliament.
A ticket is 25 RON ~ 5E for adults, 10 RON ~ 2,5E for kids 7-14 years old and free for under 7. You can opt for an audio guide but the only thing you’re gonna get is confusion. The audio guide plays only when it wants regardless the points of interest you are near and when it’s not playing you can only hear a blank sound that makes you think it’s not working at all. Its English is so bad you can barely understand it. And you also get a pair of headphones used and overused.

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When I was in Barcelona and enjoyed the same type of service, I at least received one-time headphones and I knew I was the only one using them.

The only really lovely things about all this experience is that you truly see Bucharest in a different way. Even I got this impression and I am in town every day. The pics below speak for themselves.

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And when it comes to the many THUMBS DOWN, they are related to people, of course. The bus tour was more than 50 mins.  The buses were later than 20 mins. No, the bus didn’t stop so that you could get off it. The bus would stop only if there were people waiting to get in. Otherwise, if you wanted off the bus but there no one to stop the bus from the street, you had to rush on the stairs (if you were upstairs). Although, the signs say you are not allowed to do that. Much more useful would’ve been a stop button that you could press and ask for the bus to stop.

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No, it wasn’t clean. In fact it was filthy dirty. And I’m not saying just on the floor. Okay, let’s say that the floor was dirty because of people throwing their trash onto it, but even that could be solved by placing two bins, one in the front and one in the back of the bus.

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But my bigger problem were the filthy seats.

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And also the dust on the stairs roof. The way you present your service to the people, that’s the exact way they will appreciate it.

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Yeah, and it was lovely that we could see the Government building… *ironic tone*

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Oh, and thank God we had free Wi-Fi. Yeah the network was there, it just didn’t work.



Many of the people on the bus were Romanians, I had enough time to meet lots of hop on-ers and hop off-ers. First time I took the bus for the whole tour just to enjoy the views. And on the second tour, I started analyzing. I left disappointed because we finally have got a good thing like you see abroad and we treat it typically Romanian-style, not caring about anything.

Anyways, that would be it about the wonder double-decker tour bus of Bucharest. I’m pretty sure the people who are amazed by it are the people who didn’t rode it.

The next day, on Sunday we went to the Botanical Garden of Bucharest, Cotroceni area. I actually was more impressed with it than I would have expected. There were many people there and still it wasn’t crowded. Yes, some of the areas of the garden could have been more taken care of and the communism buildings ruin a part of view, but oh well…

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Still, I was impressed by the fact that most of the signs had an English translation.

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And one more thing, in the garden there is a special place for people who want to enjoy some peaceful and quite time while reading or studying or working.

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Plus, they have a souvenir shop that had for sale stuff for the passionate and also just cute things like T-shirts and mugs with funny messages – ‘Plants are Friends’ and stuff.

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Of course there were wedding people coming in to take pictures by the lake – which btw, was horrible. I was joking with my friend that they made it look like that on purpose, so that people wouldn’t be tempted to take a dive.

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Either way, still. For 5 RON ~ 1E the ticket for an adult, 3 RON ~ 0.75E for a student/retired person and free entrance for school kids and veterans, the Botanical Garden is a really nice alternative to the parks in Bucharest, every day between 9AM-5PM. Especially since we’re starting our own Pont des Arts, baby steps 🙂

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At the end of the weekend, my friend told me that Bucharest is a nice city, he enjoyed it and had a great time, but without a local’s help he would’ve been lost because of the lack of signs to help tourists in their orientation. Also, he was very surprised about the high number of abandoned buildings near the city center and that could have great potential.

After the two days I spent as a tourist I can only think of the tourists that come to Bucharest. In the center, the old city and Calea Victoriei area you could see that Romanians were used to tourists and acted really friendly and even learned a bit of English. But other than that, as soon as they heard us speak English they would act like they were bothered by us and even tried to fool us when we asked for the check…

There is nothing left to say for me, except for the fact that we such fools for trying to see only our short-term interest and not think for the long run.

Photos: my fingers pressed the button of an iPhone 6, #noedit and #nofilter

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