Stray dog in Romania

The Wild Streets of Bucharest

A big part of the reason I’ve been so eager to get to Romania is the extent to which fellow travelers – and more specifically, travel bloggers – have raved about the country. But when it came to the the capital Bucharest, I hadn’t heard a lot.

Plan any trip to Romania

Well, not a lot of good stuff, anyway. “Watch out for the packs of wild dogs in the streets,” one reader warned me, when I posted that I would soon be traveling to Bucharest on my Facebook fan page. “Yes,” another echoed, “very dangerous.”


I knew, from having paid marginal attention in European history class, that Soviet influence would be strong in the city, and probably not just architecturally. I also remembered something about a triumphal arch not unlike the one in Paris.

Just about everything else I experienced upon getting off the 17-hour train from Budapest on Sunday afternoon, however, was a complete surprise.


Romania is a complete mix of cultures: Linguistically and ethnically Latin, the country has been part of the Austrian, Russian and Ottoman empires throughout its history. Visually speaking, the Russian element is the most omnipresent in Bucharest, from Communist-era housing blocs to Orthodox churches.

The Latin part of the Romanian character manifests itself mostly in behavior, from the insane traffic in just about every part of Bucharest, to the tendency of locals to give poor directions and arrive extremely late (if at all) to planned meetings: The 6 p.m. walking tour I’d booked my first night never happened.


I did my own tour instead, and while I saw plenty of churches and housing blogs, I wouldn’t come across my first dog until after I made a full circle through the city center. Neither the behavior of the dog nor his solitude suggested anything wild or pack-like, although I don’t doubt that such dogs exist in Bucharest.

I knelt down to his level, but at a distance, given that my feeling RE: his non-threatening nature was just a feeling. My heart broke when I noticed how oblivious the people around him seemed to his being there – it was the same coldhearted indifference Bucharest locals seemed to be projecting toward me.


I spent my second day in Bucharest with the lovely Alina, from the Travel Tweaks blog, who brought me first to the triumphal arch I’d heard so much about, then to Cismigiu Gardens, the city’s most beautiful park. We finished with a stroll through the city center, where I explained to Alina what I’d seen the day before.

I would be lying if I said I was completely sold on Bucharest or Romania after my first couple days in the country, or even really certain about how I felt about them at all. You might actually say I felt uncomfortable, which I won’t be able to judge as positive or negative until I fly to Tel Aviv next week.

Leave Your Daily Hell   Filed under: Romania

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is the author of 746 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Christina September 13, 2013 at 10:11 am

After three weeks in South America, stray dogs seem so normal to me. It is sad when they look disheartened though. Thanks for this post – I’m curious to hear whether you got to partake in any crazy Balkan music events while you were there!

Lindsay September 14, 2013 at 9:21 am

We’re in Sarajevo where they also have stray dogs roaming the streets. At first I nervously regretted not getting the rabies vaccine series, but noticed that many of the dogs have tags in their ears. So I suppose there is some system in place to treat the issue. One little guy followed us several meters like he wanted to go home with us. If I was home in the US I may have considered it.

Happy travels!
Lindsay (

tudorescu karina daniela October 27, 2013 at 9:50 am

By saying that the Russian element is the MOST omnipresent in Bucharest it denotes a serious lack of knowledge and a huge indifference towards culture in general. By the way, omnipresent is already a superlative adjective, something can be omnipresent or not. Greece is also an Orthodox country and it has many orthodox churches. Does this make the country Russian? USA is mainly protestant, does this make the country German?
The architectural style of Romanian orthodox churches is different from the Russian style. It’s like Canada and USA, they might look the same but they are two different things.

As for the architecture of the blocks I wouldn’t say it’s Russian. It’s just communist! You also find this kind of architecture in Cuba, Germany or China. Also in some West European capitals, Madrid to put an example, in a more colorfull style, however, they still remain blocks and have nothing Russian in it.

Bull Winkle April 4, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Karina… Your comment says more about you than Bucharest or the author. Bless your heart. …Having a bad day? 😉

Robert Schrader April 6, 2015 at 11:02 am


Karina May 29, 2015 at 8:02 am

I know you’re desperate for some female contact but no thanks. You and your hand make a perfect couple!

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