When I began training to become a tour guide, in 2013, I wasn’t sure this was the right career for me. Eight months later I had no doubts anymore as I understood my goal: encouraging people see Romania in a different light.
If only one of my tourists would speak highly about their trip to our country, inspiring others to come over, my mission would be accomplished. We had our share of bad publicity, so it was about time people got the accurate perspective upon Bucharest, and Romania. That was the goal I had in mind when I traded my 11 year journalism career to a brand new area of expertise.
I will never forget my first guided tour. It was in September 2014, when I was still working as a journalist. Those two hours spent with three Canadians and a Romanian who emigrated there in his childhood seemed to be the longest in my whole life. Strong memories I have also about my second tour, a day trip to Sinaia and Bran with two American ladies. The lesson I learned from those tours was that an excellent guide knows when to tell stories and when to just let people soak in the atmosphere.
Romania is still famous abroad mainly for two things, vampires and communism. Everybody knows Count Dracula was born in Transylvania and they all heard about Nicolae Ceausescu’s massive palace located in the heart of Bucharest. The biggest challenge for us is to convince people to visit Romania. The moment they set foot in our country things fall into place easily, and by the time their trip ends, those people are already in love with Romania. What wins their hearts? The stunning landscapes, amazing historical buildings with a wide variety of styles, delicious home-made like dishes, captivating stories and, not to forget, the level of education and knowledge of English Romanians have.
Surprisingly enough, even many locals do not see Bucharest as a city that should be on people’s travel lists. Why? They make a faulty comparison between Bucharest and other European cities. Indeed, Bucharest is not Paris, London or Rome, and it will never be like that due to a very simple fact. Our country has a unique history and, more important, evolved totally different compared to Western Europe. We had never enough peacefull moments through our history to have time to be creative and to build long-standing cities and towns like those in France, England, Italy or Germany. Yet, it doesn’t mean we do not have what to bring to the table in terms of tourism. Yet, more and more locals are now discovering the beauty of their city and better understand its history.
To sum up, Romania is a huge positive surprise for travelers, and people love it exactly for its surprising contrasts, for not being at all how they envisioned it to be!
From Bucharest, with love!
This text is a short and concise version of what I am saying, in Romanian of course, in the video you can watch at the beginning of this post. Thank you, Andreea Archip, for publishing this interview in Libertatea newspaper last summer.