Bucharest Warnings Or Dangers Tips by Romanian_Bat Top 5 Page for this destination
Bucharest Warnings and Dangers: 70 reviews and 67 photos
Taking life at a slow pace, Calea Grivitei
There has been already a lot of debate on this subject; if only the dogs could benefit from this advertising campaign, they would be well fed at least. There are many dogs in Bucharest indeed. When Traian Basescu (n. actual President of Romania) was Mayor of Bucharest, he began a campaign of collecting the stray dogs and euthanasiating them. This campaign was stopped when several NGOs intervened debating in favour of the dogs. If coming to Bucharest, you will certainly notice these dogs. Some people love and feed them, some others despise them, while others pass by without looking at them. Fact is that, if you look around and do not stir or scare them, you will not have any problem. I am saying this as someone that - not paying attention to where I was walking - I almost stepped on a dog and got bit, beating the path to the anti-rabies section of a hospital afterwards. Every now and then I for one like to play with them; it does not hurt to be human in the end of the day. After all, so much unlike the Bucharest Driver (TM), dogs bring colour, life and a bit of joy to the city. And I like that.
There are three kinds of taxis in Bucharest:
- Taxis belonging to reputable companies, that charge an average fare per kilometer and use smaller Dacia or, more and more often, Skoda and Renault cars. The companies I would list here are Leone, Cobalcescu, Meridian, CrisTaxi, Rodell, Apolodor, Taxi 2000, Mondial. They will charge about RON 1.40 - 1.90 / km. plus the starting, which is RON 1.00-2.00. In the situation where you notice one of these drivers is trying to cheat in any way (it usually does not happen), keep in mind the 4 digit phone number of their company and their registration number / company assigned number and inform the company of that. They have strict rules about that generally speaking (and usually fire the driver instantly provided you prove to be right) and you will help other travelers.
- Taxis belonging to expensive companies, that charge more, have bigger / better cars or simply have the same type of cars with the ones above, but charge more. I would list here Taxi Grand and Fly Taxi. They charge up to RON 3.50 / km.
- Taxis that will cheat you. As simple as that, and the ways they will attempt to do so are various. Some of them imitate the logos of reputable companies. Others will write 7.50 RON / km. on their door, with the "7" so narrow that it looks like a 1. Others will simply do something to the meter, so that it indicates more than it should. They will come to you at Bucuresti Nord railway station, saying the subway no longer runs, that they want to go home anyway and will give you a big discount (I have heard this so often that I wonder who it works with), that they know a shortcut, there is no other taxi and they are your last chance on earth. Avoid them. Not being careful here can end with paying even 100 lei for a ride, and the stupid part of is that in some cases this might be legal (if they are licensed to charge RON 7.50 / km. and Buddha knows how much for starting).
Is this car mine?Or that one?Maybe the third one?
In one winter when President Basescu was Mayor of Bucharest, he put it the best way: "you know, winter is not like summer". Indeed, both seasons might make it uncomfortable for visiting the city unless one is used to frost and heat. Temperatures can go up to 40C (or lightly above that occasionally) in July or August, respectively as low as -10C or -15C in December - January. Even though the last years saw little or no snow during the winter, the 2007/2008 winter has been kind to us, and we had half a meter of snow fallen in one night. It lasted for a few days and it was like a memory from childhood; I for one enjoyed it greatly. January 3, 2008 saw the main railway station, the two airports, as well as several avenues in the city closed for a few hours, until they managed to clear them out.
On the other hand, I admit it was sadistically fun to see the otherwise all mighty Bucharest Driver (see my special tip about traffic, also in Dangers and Warnings) struggling in the snow, not being able to do his/her typical ego show, trying to take illegal turns just to end with the car slipping into a heap of snow, or having to walk for a change, not being able to start the car covered in a thick layer of snow. Praised be thy name, Nanak, for justice has been done!
Car parked on cycling lane, Calea Victoriei
If you come to Bucharest by bike, you might have got some practical advice on the way, in form of direct life experience. However - as someone cycling through this city, either to the office or just for fun every now and then - I am listing here some of my experience.
After the City Hall came with the great idea of forbidding cycling through the city, a cyclists' meeting, joined by protests and - a key factor - a notification coming from Brussels, things went back to "normal". "Normal" stands for the following in Bucharest (and generally in Romania for that matter), when one rides a bicycle:
- Drivers will never respect you, you do not exist for them, or, in the best scenario, you are a nuisance them
- They will next to never give you the way, unless they are afraid you will scratch their shiny car when they hit you
- Riding the bicycle aggressively (just like their driving) is not a solution, as this is very dangerous in a city where respect is the last thing anyone thinks of
- Yes, finally, they have assigned cycling lanes across the city; these ones generally go along the sidewalk, but do not expect anyone to step aside; pedestrians are not used to them
- If there is a cycling lane and there are no pedestrians, there can be various other obstacles: cars parked on the cycling lane, fences, trees and even the odd dog (see the pictures for a few examples)
- Dogs can be a problem when cycling, as there are still many of them; better slow down when you see one and try not to scare him; generally speaking they are not aggressive unless scared or stirred
- Many guards at various office buildings and institutions won't like your parking / chaining the bike in front of "their" institution; avoid ruining your day and wasting time with Mr. No Brains by chaining the bike in a place where it does not bother his sight and narrow mind
- You've guessed it right, there are almost no institutions at all with a bike stand
In Piata Universitatii
The more expensive the car, the less they know (or pretend to know) of the traffic rules. A BMW never uses lights when turning to the right or left. A Mercedes never slows down, the others have to go away. Anything that is smaller than one's car has to disappear, or it will be horned, flashed, cursed or thrown things at. Pedestrians? What is that? What? They don't afford a car? To hell with'em. Cyclists? Bastards jeopardizing traffic. Other drivers? They aren't in the same rush like our Bucharest Driver (TM). One way streets (I happen to live on one)? The Bucharest Driver (TM) MUST drive in the opposite direction to prove he/she is a good driver. When approaching a crossing with traffic lights, the Bucharest Driver (TM) MUST speed up and go on yellow or even red; otherwise, if he stops at the traffic light, he/she must be the first to start when it is still red, loudly engaging and horning, then rush in the crossing, horn and curse all drivers there. The others? There we go again: the others do not count, they are not in a rush, they have smaller and cheaper cars. So they can go to hell.
That is the Bucharest Driver's way of thinking (or rather lack of brains), so beware of traffic in this city and in this country generally. Therefore, I have a message for all Bucharest drivers (for, be them academicians, doctors, merchants, bankers or whatever, they all, without a single exception, behave similarly when in traffic, and they are 'never' the guilty ones):
"Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match."
Parking manners: in the street, on the sidewalk...
Forget Ionesco, when it comes to traffic and parking, Bucharest is your absurd theatre stage. The number of cars in Bucharest has gone way over the parking capacity of the city, with only a couple of underground parking lots and very little parking space for old communist apartment buildings. As if this was not enough, the Bucharest Driver (TM) makes it all worse. If someone needs to go to the post office or to a shop, you can bet he/she will park the car in front of the very door. Isn't there any parking space? So what? Is there already a car parked? No problem, the Bucharest Driver (TM) will park his/her car in the street. The other cars passing down the street? "To hell with'em, they can pass by me, let the City Hall build more parking places!" And if, when he/she returns to the car, he finds an illegal parking bill, hell will come down on earth. Everyone, from the president, to the cleaning lady will be guilty, but not our Bucharest Driver (TM).
But there is more to it. A few multistorey parking lots have been built in the last few years, but they have the inconvenient of not being located right in front of the post office or bank our Bucharest Driver needs to go. In an attempt to settle things down, the City Hall assigned many parking lots to as private company, Dalli, and you will see their staff, dressed in blue, charging a fee (1.50 lei per hour). But, as above, there is more to it. Parking places not assigned to any company were quickly "taken over" by smart ad hoc antrepreneurs. You will see them near Bucuresti Nord railway station, on Splaiul Independentei, near University Square or on various streets where parking is possible and the demand is high. They will show you where to park, even tell you how much you can reverse, a bit more, yes, straight on, OK, stop! And then they will expect (actually ask for) money. Illegal? Yes, it is.
Police. Police officers always wear official outfits when on duty. If asked to provide your documents by someone, do ask for his / her ID and make sure it is not an ordinary plastic ID everybody has in Romania. Police officers must have a badge and a cardboard legitimation with a picture saying “Politia Romana”. If in doubt, ask to be led to the police station and refuse to produce any ID.
Passports and valuables. As real police officers are entitled at any hour to ask for ID and, in your case, the only accepted one is your passport (or ID card for EU citizens), you could consider leaving it in the hostel or hotel and bearing on you a copy.
Exchange. Never, but never even think about changing money in the street, it is both illegal and stupid, as there are so many exchange offices around. When changing in such an office, look at the rates very well, as some of them charge an outrageous 6-8% commission. Look out of “0% comision” posts. Banks are always trustworthy for changing money and their rates are good.
Environmental fee. Romanians are among the last people on earth to care about the environment. So, obviously, there is no environmental fee to be paid in Bucuresti Nord Station. Those asking for you to pay that are going to fool you. This scam is rare nowadays, but it is better to know about it.
Representatives. No hotel or hostel in the city has people welcoming tourists in the station unless someone has booked a transfer. People working for the information office in Bucuresti Nord Station lie only inside their office.
General. If you are approached by someone which is bugging you with useless questions or pretends to be something he / she is not, simply shout “politzia!”. Most of the scammers in Bucharest being just little children compared to others, they will vanish like the wind.
Taxi near Unirea Square
A few pieces of advice regarding taxis in Bucharest:
- They all should have an oval license on their door, issued by the City Hall
- The price per kilometer should be written on the front door, as well as the price for starting (Ro. pornire)
- They should start the meter immediately when they start, or as soon as you get in the car (whichever happens first)
- In the end they have to give you a receipt indicating the total amount you have to pay
- When you go to the airport (especially to Bucharest Henri Coanda OTP, which is way out of the city), some of them (not TaxiFly, the cars of which are allowed to park there) will ask for "return money"; this happens because of the fact that TaxiFly is the only company allowed to have cars waiting in front of Bucharest OTP Airport; the others have to wait in the parking lot (far from the place where people come out of the terminal) or to simply leave the airport without customers. So this is up to you, and you should settle this with the driver before starting, whether you pay something extra, and if so, how much (10-15 RON should be a maximal amount, if ever).
- In Bucharest there is no "FIFO" rule for taxis. So, if there are 5 cars in a line in front of your hotel, choose the one you prefer, according to the company you want to use the services of, or simply to the driver you sympathize with.
- Tipping is customary, but not compulsory. If you appreciate the service, a 10% tip is enough.
- Have money ready in small bills, to avoid the driver's pretending he does not have change or running across the city to find ATMs and shop attendants to change your big bills.
- According to the law, the driver should not smoke in the car or play manele (turbofolk) when driving with customers. This is not always enforced, but you should know about it.
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