Bucharest Warnings and Dangers

  • Warnings and Dangers
    by yvgr
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    by Vanity666
  • Warnings and Dangers
    by Vanity666

Most Recent Warnings and Dangers in Bucharest

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    Climate - "Iarna nu-i ca vara"

    by Romanian_Bat Updated Jan 4, 2008

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    Is this car mine?Or that one?Maybe the third one?
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    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!

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    Cycling through Bucharest

    by Romanian_Bat Updated Jan 4, 2008

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    Car parked on cycling lane, Calea Victoriei
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    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

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    The Bucharest Driver (TM) - Lawless Traffic

    by Romanian_Bat Updated Jan 4, 2008

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    In Piata Universitatii
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    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."
    (Karl Kraus)

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    The Bucharest Driver (TM) - Parking

    by Romanian_Bat Updated Jan 4, 2008

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    Parking manners: in the street, on the sidewalk...
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    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.

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    Miscellaneous

    by Romanian_Bat Written Jan 2, 2008

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    Police car
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    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.

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    Taxis in Bucharest - General Advice

    by Romanian_Bat Written Jan 2, 2008

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    Taxi near Unirea Square
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    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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    Traffic

    by iwys Updated Dec 15, 2007

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    Bucharest's traffic congestion is not only a problem for motorists, it also makes life difficult for pedestrians. The city has almost no public car parks so drivers just park their cars on the pavements, forcing pedestrians to walk in the busy roads. I walk to work and back every day and weave a path through parked cars, pot holes, puddles, rubbish and yapping dogs that leap out at you from every other yard. The dogs are not that dangerous- only one tourist has ever been killed by one - but they can make you jump when they leap up at a gate, barking wildly, just as you are trying to squeeze past the line of parked cars.

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  • Evil taxi drivers!

    by extourguide Written Dec 14, 2007

    Taxi drivers can be evil. In one sad experience that I had, one got violent with me, and just for the record, i'm an average sized female.
    So, wherever possible, get your hotel to book a taxi for you.
    If there is no meter, sort out a price before you get there.
    Even if there is a meter, ask how much it is roughly before you get going. Expect that no matter what they say, it will be at least 5 lei more expensive.
    If you come out of gara du nord DO NOT get one of the official taxis there. They kick their metres up to 8lei/km. Instead, turn left and walk round the building to the taxi rank round the side. They have more realistic rates. If you get a proper booked taxi from gara du nord, it should cost about 7 lei to University Square. if you get one from the front, you;re looking at 35-40lei. Take your pick.
    Romanians yell a lot to intimidate you, and feel free to yell back, but if a taxi driver is starting to get agitated and anxious to run away, do not physically put yourself in his path. You will be bruised.
    If a taxi driver is urgently telling you to get in your taxi because you are about to be mugged by gypsies, and there are indeed a suspicious group of gypsies moving toward you, you can bet your life the driver is working with them. Don;t be hassled into the taxi - move into a group of tourists.

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    Don't rely on bicycle paths

    by yumyum Written Oct 27, 2007

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    blocked path
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    There are some great bicycle paths along the river. But in places motorists don't care about cyclists at all and just park on the bicycle paths. I can't tell whether it's different during the weekend.

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    Hanul Manuc

    by yumyum Written Oct 27, 2007

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    Hanul Manuc
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    This old rebuilt kavanserei (inn) is currently closed until sometime in 2008 for renovation. It features a restaurant and a hotel. They may let you take a peek through the door at the yard, otherwise you just have to be patient.

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    High value notes and paying in Euro

    by morgenhund Written Aug 27, 2007

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    Romanian 10 new Lei banknote

    If you are jumping in a taxi, you may have problems with using notes of RON 50 or RON 100 (about EUR 16 and EUR 32 respectively), for short distance taxi rides. It is therefore recommendable to keep a few RON 10 and RON 5 notes in reserve just in case - especially as many cabs won't take credit card or debit cards. Some cab drivers might also take Euro but you would be advised to stick to RON - you will otherwise probably expose yourself to being ripped off (e.g. an airport taxi told me EUR 30 or RON 60 - RON 60 is about EUR 20).

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    Beware of the pickpockets and scam artists!

    by tpk2 Written Aug 5, 2007

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    Like in any other Romanian town, beware of people who stop you on the street for any reason! The only locals that were interested in talking with us on the streets where the ones who were trying to steel or beg money.

    Sad as it may sound, according to my personal one-week experience in Romania, that’s how it is..

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    Supermarkets!

    by GhostBoobs Written Jun 16, 2007

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    We were staying in one of the, er, less savoury areas of Bucharest and were often treated with deep suspicion whenever we ventured into a shop or supermarket; security guards would blatantly follow us around the shop as if we were going to steal that 2-litre bottle of coke, and we'd get filthy, mistrustful looks if we lingered for more than 5 or 10 minutes in an aisle.
    Notably, in a supermarket called "Angst", a member of staff angrily followed us around the store, growling at us in Romanian, then stopping to gesture and glare at us while talking to another member of staff, eventually yelling at us while we looked on completely bewildered...an English-speaking worker explained that he wanted to take us around the shop, and that he'd demand a large fee at the end. Basically be careful; this was completely alien to us and it looked like it could have turned sour if we hadn't escaped at that point.

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    Watch your step

    by rambling_rose Written Dec 12, 2006

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    Look where you're going in Bucharest's pot-holed streets. A colleague of mine twisted his ankle in September, putting him out of action for weeks, and now in December he's done the same thing again! Don't let it spoil your holiday - watch your step....

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    Bucharest - Check your taxi rate!

    by rambling_rose Updated Dec 12, 2006

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    Taxis in Bucharest are notorious for A) the suicidal driving style and B) ripping off unsuspecting clients. The latter is not strictly speaking true as there are a variety of meter rates for taxis and it's really up to you to check the rate before you get in. Having said that, there are rip-off merchants waiting for you too, so beware!

    Before you get in, check the rate printed on the front passenger door. The standard rate is 1.4RON/km and 0.9 or 1 RON pornirea. Avoid anything else!! Check the driver starts the meter, by asking 'Aveti ceas?' (have you got a meter?)
    The usual tip is 1lei plus the change eg for a 6.30RON ride, you'd round it up to 8 RON.

    Most Romanians I know advise ringing to order a taxi - try Meridian or Fly, which will be more expensive than the above advice, but reliable and safe. If you do get a taxi on the street, check the rate and avoid getting taxis outside the big hotels as they'll definitely be the most expensive!

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