With a few free hours I had this morning, I started to sort files on my laptop, most of which are related to my wonderful job as a tour guide.Very quickly, everything turned into a walk down memory lane.
In the summer of 2015, my life turned upside down… well, I turned it upside down when I ended my 11 year career as a journalist. I was 33 at the time, an age when people are not supposed to make huge changes in their lives. My heart was telling me for years that being a journalist was not my dream job nor my passion. However, I am quite rational and I have bills to pay so I kind of ignored it. In that summer of 2015, a voice grew stronger that I should take a leap of faith and become a tour guide for travelers visiting Romania. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, yet the most thrilling and exciting one. My heart was jumping for joy, while my head was paralyzed by fear.
Why a tour guide? Why delivering only private tailor made tours to foreign tourists? Well… not an easy answer, so bear with me until the end 🙂 I knew Romania wasn’t a top three European travel destination. On the contrary many were avoiding us because they thought we were a third world country. For decades, Romania hit the headlines with scandals related to stray dogs, homeless people, petty thieves and beggars, very low salaries, corruption at the highest political levels, (and the curse of Count Dracula). Our reputation was far from being an attractive one for tourism.
Things started to change five or six years ago, and now Romania is frequently featured in many travel websites, magazines and newspapers as one of Europe’s best kept secret. I wanted to be part of that, to raise the public awareness of our country’s rich history, stunning landscapes and delicious food. How? By taking visitors who ventured here into a-once- in-a-life-time holiday, creating strong positive memories for them which will, at some point, motivate them to recommend a visit to Romania.
My friends and family were shocked by my decision, some thinking I went crazy to leave a career with a reliable monthly salary for one with a seasonal income, and to trade the comforts of an office for the streets of Bucharest and the roads of Romania. However, they started to understand my reasons when they saw the passion in my eyes when I spoke about my tours and the travelers I met. Some of those tourists are now my pen friends or fervent followers on my Social Media accounts. It’s a wonderful feeling to get a Christmas postcard from US, or a birthday wish from India, not to mention people asking for your guided services because their friends recommended me. These are my rewards. And, although my working days as a tour guide are anything but a walk in the park, they are fulfilling and exciting for me.
From Bucharest, with love!
To be continued… 🙂