What to Avoid When Visiting Eastern-European Countries

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In general, when tourists or foreigners coming to Romania in business vacations land on an airport or arrive by car in some grand city center, they are easily spotted either by very insistent beggars, either by people that seem to be good-intended but don’t tell you the reason why they want to “help”.

Broadly speaking, you can avoid dodgy people simply by figuring out their intentions by means of their facial expression. If a person looks at your bags, specifically at the smaller ones you carry attached to your body (and in which it is most likely that you keep your values) and afterwards tries to make contact with you, try to refuse him nicely and promptly, preferably in Romanian. It would be best if you learned to hastily but cheerfully say “Nu, nu” (i.e. “no, no…” in English) and afterwards avoid eye contact even if the person replies back, so that he will not figure out that you don’t understand what he’s saying.

Taxi-drivers may often seem violent, especially in Romania’s district city, Bucharest. They count on overcharging old people, foreigners or people that are generally not from Bucharest and in order to do that they will leave their cars and come towards you asking if you need a cab. It is wise to refuse them and look for cars that bear the logos of certified taxi-companies, which you can find in advance on-line. Also, the drivers of these cars will not try to force you to ride with them, as they are on a fixed payroll.

Romanians are very poor marketers, lacking the ability to make efficient use of their resources. That is why, when you visit Transylvania, for example, you may find a lot of souvenirs concerning Dracula, but most of them at an exaggerated price. Merchants count on foreigners’ naivety and boost their prices immensely. Show yourself circumspect about what they offer and feel free to negotiate. Offer a smaller price, one that may seem ridiculously small even to you, but offer it in U.S. dollars or Euros, and you may well be surprised of the bargain you’ll reach. The same applies in other areas, such as the Danube Delta, where locals argue that they serve unique species of cooked fish, whereas in fact they only serve common fish such as carp but cooked using very awkward spices.

If you need medical attendance during your stay in Romania, do not resort to the public health system. There are many private medical centers that offer their services and at which you can turn to if in need. Romanians themselves prefer to make use of their services because they practice fixed and stable fees and everything is carried out professionally, whereas in public hospitals there is a very high chance of contracting infections and diseases you did not have and no doctor will wish to examine you if you do not slip him an “unofficial” envelope with a few hundred dollars or Euros.

The most picturesque areas in Romania are its Carpathian Mountains, which I strongly recommend you visit. Try to stay as little as possible at the populated basis of a mountain and climb it when you get the chance. Because of the fact that thugs do not hang out on mountain crests, these areas of Romania are “safe”. However, be advised that you should book your places at crest resorts beforehand, otherwise you may find some of the Romanian hospitality quite staggering, when you will be forced to sleep in a cottage hall because “you did not book!”.

The seaside resorts have degraded very much in the last twenty years; I for one do not recommend a holiday on the eastern coast of the country. If you want to bath in the renowned Black Sea, you should visit the eastern coast of Bulgaria and the seaside resorts over there. It is cheaper and more stylish, mainly because of the lack of the “cocalari” phenomenon, which is quite present in Romania.

I hope this has been of some help. Leave a comment beneath this post to additionally discuss on the subject matter.


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