To answer that question quickly.. YES!
Romania is a safe place to travel to and I have a little story to help convince you..
The mess Aaron and I got ourselves in when we arrived in Romania at one in the morning was borderline risky and borderline stupid. Probably both but it all worked out.
We did every big “no no” you could think of upon arriving in the Eastern European airport after a long tiring flight from Rome.
First off- we arrived totally unprepared. We didn’t get directions to our hostel or look at any trains or buses or cabs leaving from the airport to get to our hostel so when we got off the plane at 1 in the morning we both started scrambling on what to do.
See we had emailed the hostel lady about their airport pickup the night before but she hadn’t gotten back to us yet. We were hoping she would have replied by the time our plane landed but when we checked for her replay we were left with nothing. She was our golden ticket so when she didn’t reply to our email we both realized how dumb we were and how we should have been more prepared.
But, after some food and waiting around, we found a weird ticket booth where a cab stand was and made our way over there. It seemed safe enough and this way we weren’t getting in a random cab, we would be getting in a dispatched cab.
Then came the second blunder.. When we got to the hostel (sketchy looking I may add) we found out it was fully booked. The man at reception said they weren’t expecting us till the next day and started making phone calls for us. We couldn’t understand a word.
Soon a man in his early twenties came and told us to follow him. I don’t think we even asked “where?” we were so tired. All we wanted was a bed. By this time it was almost 3 in the morning.
At night Bucharest isn’t the most safe looking place around. Broken buildings, barking dogs, dodgy streets.. then a random man we knew nothing about leading us around in the night. I will admit I thought “This is it. I’m going to get kidnapped.”
My tired travel exhausted brain started imaging the worst case scenarios. Was he going to lead us to a murder shed? We were going to be that couple who went missing in Romania? Why were we following a strange man who barely spoke to us in this sketchy place?
After walking for about 20 mins through narrow streets and collapsing houses we arrived at a steel gate and a barred window house and a buzzer went off. He led us through the gate and we found ourselves in a foyer facing a bathroom door and then one door on either side of us.
Out popped a friendly middle aged Romanian woman behind us who turned out to be the hostel owner and we were in her home. The man leading us around turned out to be her son. He and his girlfriend were having a few drinks when they got the call two Canadians showed up.
She apologized profusely about the confusion and lead us to the door on the left where we had a large bed and a chair waiting for us. Apparently they were just in renovation and were going to open us this section of the house as a B&B. It was all fine and a warm welcome but then it got weird. Since this wasn’t a guest house yet there were no locks on the door. Instead she braced a chair up to the door that was adjacent to our room, to the right of the bathroom, and said that that was their space behind it. She gave us a key to the front foyer door and walked around, outside, to the other side of the chaired door where there was a separate door she could get into so she could still get into her space. Make sense?
I stood there in the foyer and looked at the chair propped up against the door to my right and then looked to our bedroom with bars on the window to our left. “Yup, I’m going to die.”
At that point I was so tied I didn’t care if it was a tourist trap I saw a bed and went for it.
Then we had the added bonus of the next door neighbours dog from hell barking at all hours of the day and night. I am not kidding you. Every second of everyday he barked. And then when you’d think he’d stop barking the motion censored porch light would flash on and then he’d start barking again. I don’t know what bothered me more- the dog barking or who he was barking at outside our windows?
You’re probably thinking “This doesn’t sound like a positive story..” – It is.
I was scared, tired, hungry, confused and panicky and after a few days I realized I’m a spazz and that everyone is scared of what they don’t know so they project their fears into you and suddenly you become scared. Before I booked the Romanian trip I was fearless. Then people started being scared for me and I didn’t realize it had gotten to me until we were stranded in the middle of the night.
We trained to Brasov for the day out of Bucharest and hopped into a random cab and ended up staying with him for the day. Again, usually a big “no-no” to getting in random cabs but as it turned out he spoke perfect English and was extremely friendly. We paid him $40 including tip and he drove us all around Brasov and waited for us at the castle.
After a fun day of food and walking we headed to the train station, which was delayed by an hour, and made our way to Bucharest. When we arrived in Bucharest it was dark outside and the streets began their creepiness again but we never ran into any trouble and walked the 20 mins from the train station to our hostesses house hassle free.
So to answer your question of “Is Romania safe?” Absolutely. Romania is a safe place to travel. One thing I always try to remember is no matter where you are in the world people are living their day to day lives just like you are. Just play it safe and be prepared and make sure you have the countries cabs number just incase you miss a bus or find yourself lost. Don’t get into random cabs and order them over the phone. Make sure people know where you are going as well for added safeness.
It’s easy to get scared because people like to talk about things they know nothing about. Romania is a beautiful place with really friendly people. I can’t wait to go back to the Transylvanian Mountains!