All of our guides take a great deal of pride in sharing with you the very best way to experience Bucharest. Today we are planning to find out more about Emma, our local expert keen on creating amazing tour experiences. She is best known as the knowledgeable, funny, and enthusiastic guide that will give anyone the best insights into local culture, and customs.
What is like to be a native Bucharestian?
Being a native Bucharestian is quite an adventure. This city is a continuously changing organism that forces you to evolve and adapt to the new happenings around you. I grew up in the post-communist years, so the contrast between the city today and back then is quite impressive. In the city of my childhood, there was a lot of enthusiasm for everything new coming from abroad. Today, keeping up with all the festivals, new spots, and local discoveries can turn into a full-time activity. I am excited to see that the locals are ready to rediscover and promote local potential, products, and values.
How did you end up becoming a tour guide?
It was a lucky conjuncture that brought me in contact with Interesting Times Bureau. One of my friends was doing a promotional video for this website and knew that they were looking for a Spanish speaker to join the team. Knowing that I just returned from my Erasmus experience in Spain she asked me if I would be interested. The idea seemed extremely exciting to me and so it was indeed. Ever since I ended up quitting my corpo-job and focusing on tourism, which is a much more fun and rewarding activity for me.
What about Bucharest makes you proud?
I have always loved my city, with all the good, the bad and the ugly. I think the surprising contrasts at every corner are one of the things that make it so special. Also, the lively atmosphere and the colorful, energetic people give an extra charm to the places. It makes me proud every time I see the reaction of travelers discovering random facts and stories about Bucharest. I love the raw potential of this city and of its people.
How is it an average day in Bucharest spent by the locals?
People here are quite different, I wouldn’t be able to tell a routine valid for all locals, but generally, I see the tendency of more and more people to go out in their free time. It also depends on the season. Food is an important element in everyone’s routine though. It could be cooking or eating out and exploring different cuisines, but missing a meal rarely happens to a local. Sometimes I surprise my friends during lunch already thinking about what they’ll have for dinner. Maybe I just have an entourage of foodies. But despite all that, the people here are quite fit, also considering the large amount of pork meat that we eat.
Do you have any favorite local traditions?
I think we are a people of “celebraters”, we can find any possible reason to crack a bottle of beer or wine. We drink for happy times and we drink for sorrows.
I especially enjoy the spring celebrations. I am generally very happy when winter is over and I see snowdrops at every corner. This celebration is not so much about drinking but about welcoming the warm season and filling your house with flowers. I like the fact that Romanians still give away a lot of flowers for any occasion, there is a flower shop at almost every street corner in the city center.
What’s one thing people need to know about Bucharest before they visit?
It can be a crazy city that never sleeps as well as the most peaceful place on earth. Depends on where you go. Also, people here are very welcoming and will be able to help you out in English in most of the places in the city.
What’s your favorite neighborhood in Bucharest?
Can my favorite neighborhood be a park? I love the fact that Bucharest has a lot of parks with lakes in the middle, they are very feng-shui like that. Herastrau would be my number one since I live close by and I practically grew up around there.
What’s your favorite spot in Bucharest?
I enjoy exploring new places all the time, but the ones I return to the most are the hidden gardens in the summertime and the sky bars. Bucharest doesn’t have any skyscrapers so sometimes you will find a sky bar even at the second floor. Also, a very original location I always enjoy is a colorful little house with a nice garden, called Acuarela. I always feel that the child inside is free to come out and play and paint using the watercolors they place on each table.
What do you think travelers should eat and drink when in Bucharest?
My advice, coming from someone with a very prominent sweet tooth, would be to try the papanasi (king-size donut filled with soft cheese and covered with sour cream and jam.). A shot of tuica/ palinca and a glass of local wine could easily qualify for a start of an addiction.