I’d like you to meet Aga, the lovely lady behind Aga Nuno Somewhere. Ever since we “met” on Twitter, we found a lot of things in common between us, including Bucharest. Read about her first impressions and thoughts on Bucharest. I hope you will enjoy this Aggy-Aga collaboration and especially Aga’s awesome writing. Read on!
Ever since I discovered Aggy’s blog and read her posts about Bucharest, I couldn’t stop comparing our experiences when living in this interesting city. This post is a way to share with you my personal story of how I ended up living in Romania for a year. I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And hope that after reading it you would consider spending few days in this city full of contrasts even if it lacks this “wow factor” that we all look for in a new city.
I would like to say that I fell in love with Bucharest from the first sight. But that would be a lie. I would like to say that I chose this city to be my city for almost a year. But that would be a lie as well… Let’s start from the beginning… I have always wanted to live abroad, but the destinations I was considering never included Romania. Life has its funny way to mess with my plans and expectations so I ended up in a city I had never been before, city I hadn’t even plan to visit. I couldn’t even ask any of my friends for recommendations and advice as I didn’t know a single person who had gone there before me. Oh, my grandfather was more than happy to tell me stories about how he had visited the city in the early seventies, but somehow I didn’t find them too helpful or reliable. Nor the old Polish-Romanian phrasebook came in handy, as I don’t believe they still use the world comrade or “do you belong to the party (communist)?“.
But Bucharest was where my boyfriend was offered a job. I decided to embrace this adventure with no expectations at all. Well, honestly, I didn’t expect to like Bucharest. And it wasn’t during the first weeks that I suddenly developed warmer feelings toward this city. I arrived in January and I strongly advise you to skip the winter in Romanian capital (you can go to the Carpathian mountains instead). The city was covered with snow, everything just looked grey and sad. It is during spring that city transforms and is likable. Just go to Lipscani (the main street in the Old Town), chose one from many bars/restaurant that have tables on the street, observe how Romanians enjoy warm days. Just relax until you get hungry and then try some delicious Romanian dish. I would recommend Caru Cu Bere (which can be translated into English as “Beer Cart“), as it is one of the best a restaurants in the city, and according to my guide: “a true legend and also one of the oldest pub in Bucharest”. I still remember how tasty and cheap meals were! I could write a whole post about Romanian food! If you would like to order my favorite dishes, order ciorba de vacuta (beef soup) as a starter (sometimes it’s served in bread), for the main dish go for sarmale – minced meat with rice, wrapped in pickled wine or cabbage leaves (I prefer wine ones), and don’t forget about dessert, tasty papanasi – you could compare it to doughnut made from a mixture of sweet cheese, eggs, and semolina, fried, served with jam and sour cream. I have a sweet tooth and papanasi is one of the things I miss the most from Romania.
I don’t know why I always end up talking about food, even before showing you some hidden gems you find when exploring this chaotic city. The initial contact with the city of Bucharest can come as a real shock, all you see are those wires hanging from everywhere, homeless dogs and post-communist buildings (but still when you google “Bucharest”, the images can do some justice as they show nice and beautiful part of Romania’s capital). It’s not only me who thinks that Bucharest’s worst enemy was Nicolae Ceausescu who during his regime demolished big part of the city, alongside churches and historical buildings, to make space for Casa Poporului, Palace of the Parliament, what is the second largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon (in surface).
What I like about the city is that you can discover nice places when you don’t expect them, as they are hidden between some uglier buildings. But what makes Bucharest almost a beautiful city are parks. They just lift your spirit and make a spring or summer day better. So don’t miss a walk in the Herastrau park (I used to organize picnics there with my friends, but be prepare that sometimes you have to share your food with dogs) or in one of many other parks in the city. Just be advised that it can get crowded, as going to a park is one of the favorite weekend’s activities for people from Bucharest.
Bucharest may not be a pretty city that you are likely to fall instantly in love with but it definitely has a personality and charm. So stay for few days and the infernal traffic, stray dogs, taxi scams, grey buildings won’t be all you will have time to get to know. There’s another city hidden, just be patient to notice it. I was and it was worth it! After 9 months I left knowing that living in Bucharest was a unique experience and I wouldn’t have changed my first expat destination.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aga is a Polish girl trying to find her place in the world. She followed her Portuguese boyfriend to three different countries (from Poland she moved to Bucharest, then to Barcelona and is currently living in Galway, Ireland). As a punishment, she drags Nuno to every festival and curious event she is able to discover! She loves not only travelling to new places but also discovering new tastes.