Introductions to Brasov and Bucharest

As we mentioned last week, a new issue of Brasov In Your Pocket is in the works. In fact, it is done and dusted and probably rolling off a printing press as we type.

The cover, should anyone be interested, is this autumnal scene of the canal (yes, it is a canal) which runs alongside Aleea Dupa Ziduri:

Brasov In Your Pocket
Brasov In Your Pocket, Autumn 2011

The Foreword, for those of you who will not get to see the print version, kicks off as follows:

Usually, we at In Your Pocket have to take a fair bit of criticism from people (usually locals) who think that we are a bit too harsh on the cities we cover. It is an occupational hazard. Last month, however, we faced a new situation, a real first: we had to take a fair bit of stick from a reader who was angry that we were too kind about Brasov.

Oh yes. The fact that we said it was the best town in Romania to visit was a bit too much for this reader to take, who insisted that Brasov is in fact just as ugly a city as Bucharest.

At the same time, however, we have changed a little the introduction on the Bucharest homepage at the In Your Pocket website.

Partially reproducing an old post from these pages, we now direct our anger (and angst!) at travellers who are disappointed by the fact that Bucharest is not as awful as they had hoped. It now reads:

Bucharest is a vibrant, modern city which – while it has its problems – is increasingly like any other European capital. The young (and the not so young) enjoy going out in its cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants, clubs, discos and live music venues, much as their counterparts do in almost every other city in the developed world.

So it is disconcerting when journalists from liberal newspapers in Western Europe describe Bucharest’s rejuvenated Old Town – the buzzing entertainment area increasingly serving as the heart of Romania’s capital – as ‘all a bit homogenous and uninteresting.’

The presence of designer stores is seen as further evidence of Bucharest’s soullessness.

We have always been stunned by how some travellers (not just to Romania) can be genuinely disappointed to find that people in traditionally poorer countries actually have the same aspirations (and a desire to enjoy the same kind of nightlife) as they do.

For they are missing the point.

The fact that Bucharest is increasingly affluent, increasingly modern and increasingly just like every other European capital is something to be celebrated. Compare Bucharest now with the Bucharest of 20 years ago. Then ask locals – and only locals, for nobody else’s opinion (including ours) is of any relevance – what they prefer: the austerity of then or the abundance of now? The nights when the lights went off at 8pm or the 24-hour city we have today?

We are fairly confident we know the answer.


  • Introductions to Brasov and Bucharest – Bucharest Life

  • Crae

    Craig, can you and In Your Pocket do a rundown of the new joints in the Lipscani area? They all sort of look the same. Which are better and which are just tout joints?

    Bucharest seems to be at some sort of tipping point — a lot of improvements on the one hand but increased decrepitude on the other.

    • I remain an optimist and hope that it will tip the right way…

      If you download the PDF version of the guide you will find a whole section devoted to Lipscani. We can’t list all places anymore, so take it as read that those we do are generally OK. There will be an even bigger cull of places that have gone off the boil ahead of the new issue (ready next Monday).

  • Parmalat
  • elvetianca nebuna

    Well I know I’m not strictly speaking a local, but I do miss the antique shops and the “mici” terrasse on Lispcani, as well as the art galleries in Hanul cu Tei… And I know a lot of people, including young people and locals, who miss them too.

    • Mr Rearguard

      If you ever see a gorgeous man walking around Romania butt naked with his equally beautiful expensive clothes folded up neatly under his arm then that will be me. I can’t stand the smell of bloody rotten mici!!! I will not have that horrible mici smell upon my clothes!!!

      • Parmalat

        They’re not rotten, they’re roasted.

        Next time when you smell mici – do send us a picture 😀

  • Mr Rearguard

    “The fact that Bucharest is increasingly affluent, increasingly modern and increasingly just like every other European capital is something to be celebrated. ”

    Err are you sure about that statement? I’ve been all over Europe and I can not recall ever being chased and bitten by dogs. Been almost run down whilst walking along the sidewalk. Had park keepers shouting “Keep off the grass” Had fellow passengers on all public transports telling me “Curent” and had hotel, restaurant and bar staff telling me “Imediat” and never to be seen again!

    • Parmalat

      I think dogs bite foreigners because they don’t understand what they’re saying 😀

      You should learn some Romanian, man… then talk to the dogs, sometimes they’re reasonable =))

    • Do note I say ‘increasingly’ before each statement… I am not saying it is affluent, it is modern etc.

      I was referring more to the fact that people here have the same aspirations as everybody else in the world. To come here as a foreigner and to declare that it is boring because it is just like anywhere else is as wrong as saying the place is perfect.

  • Ayce

    BIYP: Fair?
    Me: Yep.