12 things that surprised me about Bucharest
After spending a month exploring Kerala in India, I was invited to attend Romanian Digital Travel Conference and thus spend a few days in Bucharest. It was my first time in Romania and I had no expectations. Not only because I had absolutely no time to check out anything online about Bucharest before my trip but also because recently I’ve noticed that if I don’t know what to expect at a destination, it always turns out to be better.
6 days in the Romanian capital passed quicker than I imagined but at least I am pretty surre I will revisit the city in the future.
Bucharest name comes from the word bucurie which means ”joy” and ”happiness” in Romanian.
12 things that surprised me about Bucharest:
1. Bucharest is the city of contrasts and extremes.
At least that’s my honest opinion. You can find here both old way of thinking and old communist buildings next to modern ones and very new trends. Romania in general is the country of paradoxes. It might not have the best economy but on the other hand many expensive and stylish things and buildings stand out. The contrast can be very big.
2. Second biggest administrative building in the world is located in Bucharest.
Right, I am talking about the Parliament which after the Pentagon is the world 2nd Government building when it comes to size. I will tell you more about the Bucharest Parliament soon in a separate article.
3. It’s safe.
It did seem like a pretty safe city to me but we only walked around the city centre and not in the neigbourhoods so I should not speak about those. However, at no point whatsoever I felt unsafe. No one was staring at me in a weird way, no hard feelings, no stalkers 🙂
4. Good spas.
Doing Adventure and Spa project around the world for 2 years already, you must know I LOVE spas. And Bucharest has a few that are pretty great.
I was lucky enough to visit two very different ones – Stejarii Country Club and Orhideea Spa. Stejarii is the only country club in Romania. Clients come here with families and friends, even for business meetings. The building is built in a futuristic design and the facilities for sure meet international standards. They prepared a treasure hunt for us when we had to go through a few sports activities, such as gym, tennis or zumba and then answer some questions and repeat the same with a different activity. Only after all this we could relax in the very stylish spa. I enjoyed the pools there and most of all the oxygen therapy.
Orhideea Spa is completely different to Stejarii, it’s smaller, more cozy and better for smaller groups such as families, partners or single persons like me. They offer a variety of spa treatments to choose from. My favorite one was a tropical fruit body scrub followed by a full-body massage when during more than an hour I could relax completely. After the treatments I could get a cup of tea or snacks, such as fruit, seeds or nuts and lie down on a bed in the relaxing area.
5. Stylish restaurants and bars.
The design of some bars truly amazed me. My favorite ones were restaurants The Harbour designed like the name suggests (really great food), Manuc’s Inn situated in an old building (good food) and Journey Pub (travel design better than food.)
Now the oldest used building in Bucharest is the Hanol Manuc built in 1808. It was used as a stable and market. Manuc was originally from Turkey and built an Inn in here which is now a restored restaurant. The plan is to convert part of it into a hotel, too.
6. Beautiful architecture.
This is what surprised me probably the most about Bucharest. I expected mostly old kind of communist buildings everywhere but more of them are built in a completely different, and newer European style. No wonder Bucharest is called Little Paris. At times, it made me feel like I was somewhere in France, Spain or Italy.
7. Very friendly people with good English.
I have already heard from other travelers and bloggers that the Romanians are super friendly and I have to say they were all right. Not even one person I met during 6 days in Romania was rude or not helpful. Please, stay this way! Thumbs up 🙂
8. International brands.
When my Blue Air flight landed in Bucharest, I was so cold after coming from the 40 Celsius degrees in India, that straight after the CDI transportation left me at the Intercontinental Hotel Bucharest, I dropped my luggage in my room and ran outside. I so needed to buy a jacket. Shivering was not so much fun, let me tell you! I was surprised to see many shops like in any other European city, such as Zara, H&M, Mango etc. In a way it was easier to find what I needed as I know already where to go.
9. The coolest bookstore.
I’ve ever seen is situated in the heart Bucharest. From the outside Carturesti bookstore looks like a normal building and if you don’t know about, you might not even notice it among all the shops. But it’s huge inside, all decorated in white and to me it looked more like a palace than a bookstore.
Billboards are very similar to those in other countries and many people can understand what they say. It is because the Romanian laguage is very similar to many other languages, such as Italian, a bit of Spanish, Portuguese. The most surprising thing is that the Romanian language is indeed mostly a Latin language, and not Slavic.
11. Great night life.
I am not a party person no matter how many people guess from the name of my blog that I am crazy drinking with guys and dancing on tables (check out other secrets about me.) But, all my friends in Bucharest were saying it’s a pretty awesome party place. And from their faces every morning I can only confirm it 😀 Check out for example Shoteria.
12. Dental tourism.
Dental tourism is very famous in Bucharest and rest of Romania. We had a chance to visit Dent Estet clinic. All the dentists and other employees at the clinic really prove their motto which says the world with a smile. I wish I had a smile like that! Many tourists come here for even 70% discounts for modern dental treatments. I would also love to go to a dentist where everything is designed in pink and flowers. So sweet for ladies! The Dent Estet clinic we visited is one out of seven clinics from the same company in there. In 2014 they had more than 100 foreigners. Three doctors told us more about esthetic dentistry, fluorescent light and tooth implants. I even had a check to see if no cancerous cells are in my mouth around my teeth.