The majority of people outside of Europe have not heard about the protests in Romania known as the “Revolution of Light.” Citizens of Romania are protesting against their political leaders, who as of January 31st, eliminated penalties for corruption and abuse of office as long as the amount did not exceed $62000 USD. For those who do not know, the currency used in Romania is lei, and the exchange rate is approximately 4.5 lei for every 1 USD. People began protesting, wanting the government to resign.
My journey to Romania involved two large cities: Timisoara and Bucharest. From February 6, 2017 to February 10, 2017, I got to see some of the above protests. I also had the opportunity to see Dracula’s castle and some villages. This post will specifically focus on Bucharest, the capital.
I arrived to Bucharest by plane. I flew with a company known as RyanAir (a post about this wonderful, life saving site later). When I arrived I immediately took a taxi to the city center. My taxi driver pointed out where the protests were taking place. Already, around eleven in the morning, there were people gathered.
What amazed me as my cab drove was how beautiful the city was. Although my friends had told me Romania was beautiful and this wonderful country, I took their word for granted. The city was full of churches (both apparent and hidden due) as well as communist-era and postmodern style buildings.
As I usually do, I scheduled a tour. It was an Alternative Tour of Bucharest and my tour guide, Elena, was brilliant. It was cold, 28F/-2C, and snowing, but the tour went on. Luckily, I had my handy hat and gloves. The tour lasted three hours and we focused half the time on street art (trust me it’s different than graffiti, as Elena explained to me) while the other half centered on the history of the city and protests. I was continually appalled at how much Romania’s history was filled with corruption.
One my tour ended, I went to find the AirBnB apartment I booked. It was a homey choice. Inside, it was spacious and it was conveniently located in Old Town.
Because of the protests, a few things were going on: all of the state run museums were closed and the ability to order alcohol after 3pm was banned for restaurants close to the protest site. It was fascinating to see how the protests were affecting my day-to-day life as a tourist. I could only imagine what it was like as someone who actually resides there.
I did manage to visit their natural museum—basically an artificial zoo. It was actually dope. It had exhibits that went into detail about the multiple climates of Romania as well as ones that went described what animals lived there. I would highly recommend the museum.
As a present to myself I went to this indoor spa about thirty minutes outside of Bucharest called Therme. It is the largest wellness center in Europe based on thermal waters. Holy crap it was amazing! I had a ticket for three and a half hours and had access to both the pools and over five different themed saunas—my favorite being the one that was kept at 70F (it was intense). While there, I got a quality, one-hour massage for $30 USD! If you have time in Bucharest, I highly suggest this attraction.
To end this post, I have a few notes. Both nights I spent in Bucharest involved peaceful protests with over 10000 people. Although I never took part, every taxi driver, waiter, and person I seemed to encounter said they would when they had the opportunity. The other note is that driving in Romania is CRAZY! They don’t follow any rules of the road. The majority of the time I was grabbing my seat because the taxi driver was all over the place.
This ends part one of my post from Romania. As always, thanks again for taking the time to read. A few things—please, please, please subscribe to the newsletter! It means the world. Also like our Facebook and Instagram page. Finally feel free to comment, like, or share as well as provide your own stories for future posts.
Alternative Tour Bucharest—http://opendoorstravel.com/wp/?page_id=46
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