Finally here we go! Yesterday in the morning I left Barcelona, my wonderful home base. This is my first long distance travel since covid appeared, I’ve been dreaming about it for months while preparing the biggest guide I’ve prepared to date, more than 100 pages of Bucharest info found everywhere organized into a single Notability note using my new Ipad Pro for my travel pleasure 😍
How I chose the destination
When I realized I was being vaccinated and I’d be able to travel I run to the skyscanner covid map that tells you which countries have less restrictions for your origin country, you can select any you want. After a preliminary research between the green ones Romania quickly standed out, there are several direct and cheap flights with Barcelona and there is also plenty of good quality/price airbnb appartments in Bucharest city center, so I booked the flights and the airbnb and I was ready.
First day, July 8th 2021, From Barcelona to Bucharest
My flight was scheduled for 10am, so I jumped in the aerobus at 7am. The aerobus is the most effective transport to get from Barcelona city centre to the Airport if you don’t want to pay a more expensive taxi. It puts you from Barcelona to Airport in around 30 minutes for ~6€, just 2/3 stops total and you are there at almost the same price as the metro special airport ticket (and much simpler).
After arriving to the airport, the first thing I noticed was that now all the external entrance doors are closed and there’s only one available to enter. Apart of this and the fact that the airport is almost empty compared to pre-covid, there were not too many changes, only the usual mandatory use of masks and so on.
The security control was like any other, just less people. Special mention to the person that planned the queues asking people to mantain at least 1.5m of separation but they put the queue lines without any space (can’t post pictures as taking pictures is not allowed in security control zone).
I booked my flight with Blue Air, a romanian low cost airline, because the departure time was reasonable enough (10:10 am); the years pass and I don’t like to get that middle of the night flights anymore 👴 it also had a good price, around 100€ Barcelona-Bucharest with 2 carry-on pieces and priority on boarding.
When the boarding time arrived (with a delay of 30/40 minutes), everything went as normal, no covid things here and no one checking sizes of bags, nobody asked for anything covid related. The flight went well, about 3 hours and I could taste the first piece of Romania, a big can of “Ursus” beer. After a relatively violent landing I was in Romania for the first time.
At arrival to Bucharest airport it was pretty the same, just passport control. Also Bucharest airport rules were quite different from Barcelona airport, there wasn’t any problem for anyone to enter the building.
I wanted to take the bus to go to the city center and it was quite easy, there were several signs pointing you in the right direction.
As I had read on internet, you can buy a ticket on a machine outside of the arrivals building or on a desk just a few meters from the machine. I chose the desk and bought a blue card and asked the woman to top it with two rides, this was 1.80€ total. Although I discovered some time later that you can just use your credit card directly in the bus and is even cheaper than buying the card.
The bus to the city centre is the express line 783 that has around 15 minutes of waiting time between buses. When I arrived the bus was already there and it was for several minutes. To use your card you just need to approach your bus card to the yellow box in the bus that says Validati cardul and wait for the green light. I also noticed that some people use directly their credit card with the yellow box, I don’t know which price is this way. Montes from the future: It’s just 0.27€ using the credit card!!!
The bus ride was my first contact with the city… and the first traffic jam. The last part of the way, near the last stop where my airbnb apartment was (at Caleia Victoriei), took a bit more than expected because of traffic. My first impression from what I was seeing from the bus reminded me my days in Budapest.
So I was already here, time to walk to the flat and just ater getting off the bus I was surprised by a young man that saw my trolley and started yelling at me in romanian, I would say asking me for money, I went on my way without even looking at him and he got tired pretty fast. 4 minutes later and I found my airbnb building, I entered and the doorman asked me which flat number I was searching for and gave me the keys that were waiting for me in the letter box, he didn’t asked me my name or any other data, I just pointed my flat number and he gave me my keys.
I entered the elevator that is at least 100 years old I would say (the “ascensorul”)
and in no time I was in the sixth floor entering the door of my appartment, a modern renovated appartment in an old romanian building. Air conditioning, balcony, kitchen, washing machine, decent wifi, clean… I think 600€ was a fair price for 22 days in this appartment.
It was already 4pm and I hadn’t eat anything from my breakfast in Barcelona’s airport at 9am in the Burger King 🙊 so I thank it was a good idea to go to eat my first romanian food. I remembered the Caru’ Cu Bere had a daily lunch menu until 6pm so I went for it. The restaurant is near the appartment so it took me no time to arrive. I asked the waiter for the menu and she sat me at the table at the terrace, this restaurant has a huge exterior terrace. I quickly noticed that she had given me two drinks menu and no food menu at all. I told her and she gave me the food menu, but I still needed to ask again for the daily lunch menu one (the cheapest option).
I ordered a tomato soup and a schnitzel with polenta, all included with the 23.90 lei daily menu (around 5€). I also ordered a dessert (childhood cake) that costs an additional 8 lei. Also a 400ml beer to drink (12 lei). They brought 2 beers, I asked why and they told me that if you order a beer before 6pm the give you twice 🤷♂️
The soup was delicious, but the schnitzel with the polenta was too much for me and I couldn’t finish it. I wanted to try the polenta and now I can say I don’t think I’m trying it again. I asked the waiter to cancel the dessert but he told me that it was not possible 🤷♂️ it’s an extra outside the menu, I don’t understand why, we finally agreed on having it put in a box to bring it home. I paid with credit card but they expect you to pay 10% in cash and I didn’t have any cash, they told me it was ok. I left the place feeling a bit pressured to spend more (too touristy maybe…).
Finally first day impression: Too many cars everywhere and too many noise from cars and bars that have loud speakers in the exterior, in some places there seems to be a competition between them. In the positive side, Bucharest is much prettier than what I was expecting.
Second day, July 9th, first night in Bucharest
Despite listening to the noise of the cars burningout and the noise of their horns from my 6th floor appartment, and the springs of the mattress hitting my back, I managed to sleep wonderfully, also probably thanks to how tired I was.
It was friday morning and I wasn’t working so it was time to try a romanian breakfast, my favourite food of the day. I chose “ivy”, a small cafe near my apartment, the pictures on internet looked very well. When I arrived I didn’t see any english language menu, that was a good sign, maybe no more pressure for tourists to spend! and I was right, nice waiters and nice food and coffee, a very good experience. I ate a sandwich and a latte. I was the only person sitting there, but there were many people ordering food to go while I was there. Highly recommended!
After eating the breakfast it seemed like a good idea to fill the appartment’s fridge and I went to the big Carrefour in the city center. It’s a 2 floor store pretty big and plenty of everything you can need for home, mostly food but also things like shampoo. I ended with a surprising 284 lei ticket, as I didn’t pay much attention to the prices and I bought quite a lot things including expensive organic food.
After filling the fridge with groceries from carrefour I went for lunch at “cafe la mahala” which apparently used to have a daily menu but not anymore so it was time to start trying romanian typical dishes from the normal menu. I decided to start with one of the most famous, the tripe soup, and highly unexpectedly it was delicious! a really good soup. I also ordered a red ale beer (Vlad’s beer 🧛♂️). I paid 39 lei for everything included the 10% service, around 8€. Oh and they bring bread I didn’t ask for and I didn’t touch but it was in the bill in the end… 🥺
Another walk around Bucharest and now I chose a coffee at grand café Van Gogh to write this lines and drink a 14.50 lei café latte (around 3€). I must say that it’s really hard to have cash to pay all the tips, because even if you pay in cash they almost never give you small bills or coins and then you don’t have it for the next 10% 😒
Before going back to the appartment I visited the Pasajul Vilacrosse, a wonderful covered street unfortunately full of bars competing to see who can play the loudest music.
Third day, July 10th, breakfast, parks and mall
This morning I went to Trofic Ion Brezoianu for my breakfast, the waiters were very nice, but the food wasn’t so good.
Looking at google maps I saw I was just some meters away from “Cismigiu Park” so I went for it, and I loved it, it’s an old fashioned park, with tooooons of chairs and full of life, young and old people enjoying the day. And some things I didn’t expected like orange juice machines, the ones that make the actual juice for you, in the middle of the park. It also has a couple of bars and a restaurant (and a lake!).
I ended my visit to Cismigiu and after some walk I ended in another park, Izvor Park, nothing to do with Cismigiu, almost no one was here and there wasn’t much to see, a part from the views of the Parliament.
It was 2pm and saturday and it came to my mind the need of seeing how romanian malls are, so I searched through google maps for the largest one in Bucharest, Băneasa Shopping City, and went for the bus it told me, I discovered that the romanian bus stops are not easy to find if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. And that paying the bus with your credit card is only 0.27€! so I don’t see the need for buying a bus card.
The bus leaves you right in the parking, the mall is big, Carrefour, Ikea, maany clothing brands and some restaurants like Burger King, KFC and so, nothing impressive. I ate a salad (quite bad) and ended running out bored after 2 hours, not my type of shops here.
Fourth day, July 11th, best restaurant in Bucharest
Today I wasn’t in the mood of waking up early, so I started the day out of the appartment at 1pm, I decided to go to another restaurant of my list, Hanu Berarilor In Casa Soare and soon I saw this was the best to date, an awesome outside terrace in a garden, very nice and professional waiters and spectacular food, my favorite so far. Oh and I ate the best hummus I’ve ate in my life! Not the cheapest restaurant in Bucharest, but they didn’t try to get more money than what was fair, I didn’t feel so like a tourist as in the previous ones.
It was a sunny day, but suddenly and without prior notice it started to rain like hell, after sheltering from the rain I ended my day walk in a small coffee shop, Camera din fata, nice coffee.
I ended the day listening to some street music just in front of my appartment, this street and some more are closed to traffic on weekends.
Monday, July 12th, I start to work
The first four days in Bucharest I didn’t have to work, but on Monday I already started working in the mornings so I wouldn’t have as much time as the first days, since from now on I will spend the mornings working in the apartment (yes this is digital nomadism, not permanent holidays! 😥).
This day I tried the Bucharest metro for the first time, at first glance it’s an old and big metro, but with relatively modern trains and a mixture of very new and old ticketing system. You can buy a cardboard magnetic ticket or you can just use your touchless credit card to enter. This is the first time I see this system and is really convenient, you don’t need to buy anything or try to understand any machine, just pass your credit card and you’re done. The price is also something I’ve never seen before, 0.50€ no matter what paying system you use.
Tuesday, July 13th, just walking the city and buy some groceries
After work I found some nice/curious buildings and the Unirea Shopping Center that is in city center but is half empty.
Wednesday, July 14th, romanian souvenirs searching
Time to think about what gifts to take back homebase, I visited some souvenirs shops. Some typical things you can buy in Romania:
- Wooden spoons
- Anything dracula related
- Painted easter eggs
- Glass painted icons
- “ROM” Chocolate
- Romanian blouses
Be careful with souvenirs shops, some things like Gerovital creams are much much cheaper in supermarkets like Carrefour.
This day I also visited the famous Carturesti Book Shop, I was expecting something more.
Thursday, July 15th, Hanu Lui Manuc restaurant
This day I tried the Hanu Lui Manuc, another Bucharest famous restaurant, I ate the weekly lunch menu at 24.9 lei (around 5€). I went for the meatball soup and the Schnitzel.
It was 35 lei including the beer, around 7€, average food, the soup was yummy.
More Bucharest walking to see the Piata Unirii,
the Bulevard Unirii (a Ceausescu imitation of Paris’ Champs Elysees),
Dealul Mitropoliei, that it seems to be something like the center of Romanian Orthodoxy
and Carol Park / Parcul Carol, another romanian park, love that they have so many parks
and of course it also had its own lake.
After Carol Park, I continued walking the neighborhood and I found Dracula street!
and the Bucuresti Mall
and when I couldn’t take it anymore I took the very cheap bus (0.27€!!) back home.
Friday, July 16th, another park and more romanian food tasting
Today I chose one of the City Grill restaurants in Bucharest to try more typical romanian dishes, this time I tried hummus as starter and Mici (or Mititei) that’s grilled ground meat rolls in cylindrical shape made from a mixture of beef, lamb with spices. I chose one that was supposed to be spicy but it wasn’t at all, not bad but just normal food. Nice waiters by the way.
Total of 71 lei (around 15€) with three drinks (sooooooooo sunnny and hot!)
After lunch I headed to yet another romanian park, King Mihai I Park (Parcul Regele Mihai I).
and of course with its own (BIG) lake
after a walk in the park I jump in the metro back to the center and ready to try an afternoon snack at Chocolat Ateneu
Éclairs are apparently very popular in Romania and specially in this place, so that’s what I tried with a chocolate, both were really good.
Saturday, July 17th, worst burger and some work
I woke up a little late and lazy today so I left the apartment a little late. I went for a brunch to Stadio Restaurant, also quite famous here. I arrived at 12pm but it was empty, I was the only one here a part of the waiters. I ordered a burger and it was very bad, no taste and very bad meat. It looks much better in the picture than how the experience was! 😅
And it was 41.40 lei (more than 8€ with a coke)
And time to do some work in Starbucks
After some hours working, I headed to buy a croissant to eat at home and found some people doing romanian typical dancing on the street
And I passed in front of my favorite building in Bucharest
And this is the croissant I bought at Pain Plaisir Kiseleff, nope, it wasn’t very good! it seems they do it better with bread.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday July 18th - 22nd, resting and the best ice cream
After many intense days of work and walking long distances in Bucharest I badly needed some rest so that was what I did, some work in the mornings and rest in the evenings, some netflix, small walks and tried what they say it’s the best ice cream in Bucharest at Emilia Cremeria (Gioelia).
Friday, July 23rd, worst pizza, ugly umbrellas street and walking and trying coffee shops
I started the day wanting to try Dianei 4 that apparently is a nice place to eat breakfast, but unfortunately it was under some renovation work. Then I went to a pizza shop (buoni e bravi) that I saw on my way to Dianei where there was a big queue at the front door. It seemed delicious pizza, I chose two pieces and asked for a coke, the guy looked at me as I’ve just ordered two *fresh human heads** “no, we don’t have it!” (?), wait some time for more information but he didn’t say anything more so I asked again, “what do you have then?” “we have this one” (cherry cola), “ok no problem give me that one”. Went out to my table (the waiter helped me to carry the food) and tried my pizza, but I didn’t like it, the pepperoni was hard and the meat in the other piece was chewing gum 😪 I threw away what I could not eat and went on my way.
This is the more or less famous Bucharest umbrellas street, it doesn’t deserve a visit in my opinion.
Today I wanted to try a Coffee Shop that is in some top lists of world coffee shops to work, Beans & Dots, it was near the first park I visited, in fact I took some pictures of the outside when I was at Cismigiu Park but it din’t seem that special to me, and it didn’t today, nice place but no plugs, no wifi… how can it be one of the best?
As there weren’t plugs and I’m using my old Macbook Pro 15 2021 these days (I sold my 16” in the wait for the new M1X/M2), my battery quickly became almost empty and forced me to move on.
So despite as much I wanted to try some local coffee shop, I ended again in a Starbucks, full o plugs, wifi and good views and a decent closing time; this one at Piata Unirii closes at 9pm, that’s quite late for the average around here.
Saturday, July 24th, wonderful Piata Obor
Today I was in the mood for a bit of a change of food type and headed to Beca’s Kitchen, a healthy food restaurant that was on my way to my main visit for the day.
It wasn’t bad food, but I was expecting more, specially considering it was a bit high priced for the average here.
It was 78 lei, around 16€ for two dishes and a bottle of water.
Yes, yet another park:
And I finally arrived to my destination of the day, the Piata Obor (Obor Market) and very soon I began to see that this was not just another Bucharest market, this was something much bigger, with different buildings to sell different kinds of things.
This one was like a bazaar, quite big:
This wooden stores were on the way to the market itself (the older I think):
And this is the old market, I liked it a lot! they had tons of biscuits!
And a few steps further is the newest building that is huge, here are all the farmers on the first floor and on the second floor the meat and cheese stores.
For the end of the day I wanted to try the other supposed best Eclairs of Bucharest, at French Revolution, both Coffee and Eclair really good!
Sunday, July 25th, wonderful Piata Obor
Today I woke up very early on the morning because I wanted to visit the two largest Flea Markets of Bucharest. They were both far away from my appartment and also far away between them so today I would make an intensive use of public transportation. I went to the smaller one first, the Flea Market of Valea Cascadelor or Bazarul cu Amintiri:
I liked it a lot, lots of curious things to see, although I didn’t buy anything. After a couple of hours, I ran to the other flea market, which was an hour away by subway.
This is the largest one in Bucharest, Târgul Vitan flea market at Splaiul Unirii 450, it’s a mixture of stores with brand new products and flea market, also any small restaurant. I forgot to mention that you must to pay to enter in both (around 4 lei / under 1€).
After all that walking I thought I deserved a prize 🤩 so I took the bus to my favorite restaurant, Hanu Berarilor In Casa Soare. I ate wonderful food as the previous time.
I spent 116.90 lei, my most expensive food bill in Bucharest (around 23€).
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (26th - 28th July) rest and work
These days I was again working in the mornings and resting in the evenings playing games or watching netflix/youtube.
The wednesday I went to eat to Zexe, another popular chain in Bucharest. I tried the beef salad and the Patricieni Sausage, I didn’t like either of them 🙈 (the salad tasteless, the chip fries tooooooo salty and he didn’t warn me it was chips, the sausage was burnt…)
Everything with a beer for 92 lei (around 18€), bad and expensive 😒
Thursday 29th July, last day before departure
This was the last day before my flight to Barcelona so I spent it buying gifts for friends and family, my advice is that you buy most possible in Supermarkets like Carrefour, where things are way much cheaper than Souvenir stores.
I bought a bunch of “ROM” chocolate, some Gerovital creams, some funny Dracula/Vlad stuff and ceramic, nothing exagerated as I travel only with hand luggage.
After doing all my shopping I went to eat to Caru Cu Bere again to give it a second chance, it didn’t work, it went even worse than the first time, the place is wonderful but the food isn’t that good, they are all the time trying to get money from you and they even are a bit rude. Don’t like this place.
It was 78.50 lei, around 16€ for sausages, french fries, and two beers when I only wanted one beer and I even asked if they would bring 2 or 1 and they told me it would be 1…
Friday 30th July, bye bye Bucharest 😢
Time to leave, I’ve liked Bucharest a lot, I’ve enjoyed this month in Bucharest and I’m sad to leave!
I packed my suitcase, cleaned my apartment, threw out the garbage and at 10am I went to the starbucks for a coffee before catching the bus to the airport.
Oh this is where you through the garbage in this building, garbage thing is different in every country!