It took me almost two months, but I did it. I finally went on a solo trip and I stayed in my first hostel. I loved it.
You may be wondering, why Bucharest? It’s not exactly a well-known, top destination in Europe. Well there is a local airline in Europe, called RyanAir. I checked for some cheap flights for last weekend and they had a one way flight to Bucharest for 9.99 euros ($11.07). I figured hey, why not. Hostels in Bucharest are also very inexpensive so it was a win win.
Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania. There’s a good chance that for the majority of Americans, Romania does not exactly bring good, happy thoughts to your mind. And rightfully so. They were under communist regime for 42 years, and it was only overthrown in 1989. I found it incredibly intriguing to be somewhere that was so recently removed from communism. On the bus ride from the airport into the city, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the buildings looked communist. Large apartment and office buildings, many looking so similar. However, there are beautiful parts to Bucharest, and I saw as much as I could on my short trip. It’s a lovely city, and it was a great place for me to take my first solo trip.
Friday night was rainy and cold, but I thankfully found my hostel with no problems. To anyone looking to travel to Bucharest, I would highly recommend the Midland Hostel. The people working there were SO friendly and welcoming! They recommended places to go and marked them on the free city map they gave me. Friday evening I went out for drinks with a few new-found friends from the hostel, but then headed to bed because I knew I’d have a big day Saturday.
When traveling, if possible, stay somewhere that has a kitchen. It will save you money if you can eat in for atleast one meal a day. After making breakfast at the hostel, I headed out to explore the city of Bucharest. Towards the center, there is the “Old Town,” a pedestrian area filled with little shops, bookstores, cafe’s, and a killer nightlife. Per recommendation, I stopped at this bookstore on the way to Old Town. I was so happy that I did! It was an old house turned into a bookstore, with different genres in each room. A few rooms even had clothes along with painted mugs. The attic held records, movies, and a few comfy chairs. I even found English books spread throughout the house.
After leaving there I found another bookstore titled “American Bookstore.” It was two small rooms and I was not thrilled. I continued my walk to Old Town. It’s interesting traveling alone. Suddenly, if you want to change your agenda, you can do just that and there are no other opinions to consider but your own. So if you want to spend a little too much of your day visiting bookstores, there is no one there to rush you or judge you for it.
Soon after arriving in Old Town, I decided on a place to eat lunch. I saw a sign for Waffles and I was sold. First, coffee. Always coffee.
Eating at a restaurant alone can be a little daunting, let’s be honest. This one had a nice bar along the window facing the street. Not only that, but it had magazines (in English!!!!) that I could flip through while I waited for my order. Oh, and free Wi-Fi. That’s a must when you’re traveling in another country.
After lunch I walked around some more. Explored all the little corners and streets of Old Town. I found another bookstore. One that I could have spent way too much time and money in. It’s called Carturesti. If this is Bucharest’s version of Barnes and Nobles, Bucharest wins. Hands down.
When I finally pulled myself from this book heaven, I strolled the streets some more. At 3 o’clock there was a free walking tour taking place. They are common throughout most of Europe, but this was my first one. On my way to the walking tour, I spied a Starbucks on the edge of Old Town. We do not have any Starbucks in Italy (fun fact: Italian cafes were actually the inspiration behind Starbucks). Italian coffee is better than Starbucks, but Starbucks still feels a tad like home. And I’m a proud collector of the Starbucks’ city mugs. Anyways, I went in and after getting out of line once (I can be indecisive) I found myself back in line and behind three AMERICANS. Not only that, but they were studying abroad in ITALY. Like WHAT. Take note, if I would have been with friends I probably would not have even noticed the American accents and the guy talking to the barista about where they were visiting from. We were all heading to the same free walking tour starting at Unirii Park where a local took us through Old Town and more streets. He made stops at historic churches, talked about old restaurants, and followed the steps of where the marches took place that lead up to the final revolution. It was great getting to learn all about Bucharest’s interesting history from a local. The tour ended at Revolution Square.
After the tour, the four of us grabbed dinner and drinks in the Old Town. We may have ordered the most American meal in the history of American meals while abroad (sorry not sorry). It really was a great weekend, though short, and I’m so thankful I was able to go. Two things that I did not do that I probably should have; 1 I did not have any typical Romania dishes, 2 I did not go and see the Palace of Parliament. Looks like I’ll just have to go again. There are worst things.