In the previous post, I shared my tips on how to budget travel in Romania. To minimize our budget, we rely a big deal on people such as hitchhiking to save commute money, couchsurfing and other accommodation possibilities to save hostel/hotel money. A country’s hospitality proves to be a big factor in helping maintaining travel budget and to shaping our overall travel experience. Read the post below for my experiences with Romanian Hospitality so far and decide if you want to be the guest here or not.
When we travel to a new place, our immediate concerns are the local people. Are they kind? Will they fool us? What if I do something wrong and offend them? We all know such fears. Let’s read what happens when you are in Romania.
I am not a person with first impressions. I need to deep dive and sink in an experience to understand how I feel about it. Romanian people shouldn’t be understood with first impressions.
In my first couple of days, I was wondering if these people even smile.
Do not confuse a non-smiley face with a cold heart. Do not assume that the cold weather makes the people cold as well. The warmth in our hearts is enough to beat the coldness of the weather (it gets as low as -25 degrees in winters). Romanians are by far some of the most hospitable people I have met in my travels. The only rude, rather machine-like Romanian I have met so far is the Romanian ambassador in New Delhi. When I landed in the Airport in Bucharest, I was welcomed by the immigration officer with no difficult questions asked. (You know how it always feels when they check you in the airport and you always feel what if you are doing something wrong, what if you have something in your pockets) Instead, he said, “Welcome to Romania;” (drum rolls please)
Old People: I stayed in an apartment in Bucharest for 3 weeks traveling to a few places in between such as Bran (who will come to Romania and not meet their childhood fantasy, Dracula), Rasnov, Brasov, and Sibiu. Each time, my neighbours see me, they greet me with smiles. The old people, especially, are the cutest ever. One old woman, whenever I bump into her, she starts talking to me in Romanian and I smile back with a dumb face. All I say in the conversation is, “Scuze. Nu stiu Romana. Multumesc mult!” (excuse me, I do not speak Romanian. Thank you so much!) But she still continues.
Asking Directions: You have to pick people who speak English otherwise you will end up listening to a forgotten Romance language finding it completely unromantic at that moment when you are lost on the road. Choose young people. They will always help you with directions. If you are lucky enough like me, they will take you in their car and drop you to your destination even if they are supposed to go somewhere else. I am used to getting lost on the streets as I am very bad with directions. But in Romania, I don’t worry about the GPS. People are my saviours.
On the Road: If you are hitchhiker, you are in the paradise. Some Romanians expect a little money for picking up hitchhikers but if you tell them you are without money (say, “fara bani”), they will pick you anyway. I have never paid anyone, no one has ever refused me a ride. If you can and feel like it, you can give them 10 lei. They will be glad you did that. One truck driver didn’t have money to buy cigarettes. I gave him 10 lei in the end, not because he asked but because I wanted to give. He exclaimed, “Thank you, Coleg.” Two women picked me once for a long ride and fed me in the entire journey. Coffee, chocolate, food wasn’t enough. They also gifted me a stylish brand new pen :).
I have never paid anyone, no one has ever refused me a ride.
Police: Police here is infamous for being corrupt and asking for bribes. At least, that is what I had heard until this happened. I was hitchhiking on a highway when a police car appeared. I felt I was in trouble when they took too long to check my passport. But once they found me authentic, they picked me in their car, asked a running truck to pull over using their siren (such a feeling of being in a movie) and found me a ride. They even opened the doors for me each time I had to get in-get out from the vehicles. How much more special do you want to feel?
Couchsurfers: Two of my three couchsurfers so far have been Romanians and both were amazing hosts. They took care of me, went out hiking with me, served me and made sure I felt relaxed and at home. They were young and knowledgeable. The young here seem to understand their country and its issues very well. You will have good time talking to them to know a local’s insight on Romania.
The shopkeepers have started smiling at me as I give them stretched smiles every time I purchase something. Now all the regular shopkeepers feel happy the moment I enter their shops. It might be true that they are kinder to foreigners than within themselves but if at all that is the case, they seem to be pretty aware of the Indian saying, “Atithi Devo Bhav” (Guest is equivalent to God). Hence, the extra care for guests is understandable.
If you decide to travel in Romania, you will do a huge favor to yourself. This country has so much to offer in abundance. The people, the food, the nature; this place has it all.
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Happy travels, Drum Bun, much love,
Note: The featured image has been picked up from Google Image.