JOIN ME IN AN INTERVIEW WITH IULIA VLASCEANU FROM BUCHAREST, ROMANIA !
Iulia is a software engineer living in Bucharest, with a passion for travel and books. She wasn’t born in the Romanian capital, but she arrived here for her university studies and ever since it has become her adoptive city. She started her own travel journal in the form of a travel blog an year and a half back, where she writes about the places she has seen and the experiences she has lived across the globe with her life partner, a curious mind just like herself 🙂
Which is the best month to visit Bucharest and why?
Romania has a temperate-continental climate and this means that our summers are hot, our winters are really cold, but Spring and Autumn have mild and enjoyable temperatures. During these last two months you’ll have the best time visiting the bustling metropolis of Bucharest, when flowers are blooming or when autumnal colors add a charming note to the city. However, I’m not scaring you off with Summer and Winter. Christmas markets in Bucharest are becoming better with each year and in Summer time, the city is less crowded when the students return to their home towns and the residents go on holidays.
Which is the most convenient and favoured transport of Bucharest?
As locals, we mostly use the subway to go to work or to move around the city during weekends. It’s cheap and it’s fast, and because our metro lines are quite new comparing to other European capitals, they are all clean and in good shape. The local taxi and Uber services are also affordable, but keep in mind that the traffic in Bucharest is kind of crazy. For visitors, I would advise to also try Bucharest Hop-on/Hop-off Sightseeing Bus.
Which are the top 3 must visit places in Bucharest?
Everything related to communist times intrigues and fascinates the visitors. Palace of the Parliament is probably the most famous landmark from Bucharest. Built by Ceausescu, our last communist leader, it was back then called People’s House and it’s a mastodon, the second largest administrative building in the world topped only by the Pentagon. Famous among visitors, but infamous for the Romanians, because it was erected with incredible financial efforts for the population. Only a very small part of it is in use today.
The Old Town is the heart and soul of the city and consists of a few pedestrian streets that become really animated in the evenings. It’s only a fraction from what Bucharest Historic centre used to be. So much of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1977, but even more was then leveled by Ceausescu to build the People’s House and Unirii Boulevard (Union Boulevard) that was supposed to be longer and wider than the Champs Elysee in Paris.
Herastrau Park is the largest park we have in Bucharest, a green oasis in this concrete city. While here, make sure to also visit the Village Museum where you explore Romanian village life in a tour of the rural houses, utensils and traditional costumes. The entrance is only 10 lei (2.5 EUR).
Which is the most celebrated holiday in Bucharest?
December is certainly the most festive month. On the 1st of December, we celebrate all over the country the National Union Day and the military parade from Bucharest is the most impressive. From this day on, the city is also getting decorated for the Christmas Holidays and the boulevards and parks get illuminated by coloured lights. Santa Claus Village or the Christmas Markets open their doors for locals and tourists. We end up this jolly month with the New Years Eve party. Many open air concerts are running in the main squares of the city, and the fireworks show from midnight is the largest from the entire year.
Which is the most happening area in your city and why?
The Old Town and the area around it are the most animated in Bucharest. On weekends, you must wait for the “Light and Water show” in Unirii Square, an impressive fountain display that lasts about an hour: light, fire, water and holographic dancers come together to the rythm of famous international songs to create a unique multimedia attraction.
Where can one find amazing street food in Bucharest?
We have a few street food festivals during the year, usually taking place in the northern area of the City, close to Herastrau Park, in an exhibition arena called Romexpo.
Otherwise, I don’t think there is yet a street food culture in Bucharest. You can find some kind of food trucks here and there in the Old Town or in the parks across the city.
Where to head for affordable shopping?
Didn’t I already tell you about The Old Town, where you find everything under the sun? Well then, between taking pictures to a beautiful historic building, visiting a church and dining at a restaurant, you can also do some shopping around here, at very decent prices. Otherwise, there are so many Malls in Bucharest today (a lot more than parks that’s for sure) where you can stop for a good shopping spree.
Which is the most loved local food in Bucharest?
I’ll start with sweets, because they are my guilty pleasure:).
I don’t know of any traditional foods specific to Bucharest only, but there are a few famous and delicious ones that we recommend for the tourists all over the country. So, while visiting any part of Romania, you need to try Papanasi: round and fluffy donuts, served with fresh cream and jam or melted chocolate. A childhood favourite of mine were also the plum dumplings.
For savory foods, you need to taste our tripe soups, they’re so delicious! Also traditional are the Sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls) and Mititei (grilled minced meat rolls). A perfect restaurant where you can taste traditional Romanian cuisine is Caru cu Bere, from the Old Town. Not only the food is really tasty but the building is amazing on the inside, looking more like a palace hall. I always saw it like a mixture between a cabaret and a restaurant, because in the evenings, when the music plays, dancers perform beautiful shows. Some of them will invite you to join their beautiful choreography. Are you up for the challenge?Another restaurant with tasty traditional food that I can recommend is called Zexe.
Which side of the road does your city drive on? Is it a cycle friendly city?
We drive on the right side of the road in Bucharest and in the rest of the country. Sadly, Bucharest is not a bike friendly city.
They have made some efforts to build a few bike lanes, but they are insufficient. Actually let’s keep it real, the cycling infrastructure is almost non-existent!
Would you recommend any popular local apps to tourists for transport, food and hidden gems in Bucharest?
To help your visiting process, you can download the Bucharest City App that informs about the most important tourist attractions, events happening in Bucharest and best places for foodies.
You can also install Questo app, when you have seen the obvious and you want to explore the “hidden gems” in the Romanian Capital.