I landed in Bucharest about two weeks ago and settled into my cosy new home on a bunk bed in an old hostel. It's my first time in Romania, Bucharest being a place of mystery. Not one person I've met on my travels has been here. No one had any recommendations, nor warnings. But hey, I had a place to stay and it was open to Australian passports.
My first few nights in this hostel are eventful, to say the least. My mattress is concrete hard, the showers spray in every direction, and the lounge is resident to an old London man, who's been here for six years. He's kind of like The Grinch, emerging only to grumble at everyone, complain about the guests, clean up the mess, and retreat back to his cave.
With barely any security and a push to have the reception open 24 hours a day, I laid on my bottom floor bunk, jumping at everything that moved. The first few nights we had 3 different groups of middle-aged men move in and a man who got discharged from hospital with nowhere to go. My final straw was when the hooker returned (twice in one night), showing us a printed piece of paper to try and stay the night with a suitor.
I have been lucky enough to have a great schoolfriend who recommended me to a Luxury Magazine. We cracked on together, finding a hotel. I held out hope, tossing and turning under my destroyed itchy wool duvet every night. Finally - SUCCESS - a stay in Old Town. The bustling city centre with nightclubs, restaurants, and all night Jacuzzi Bars (yes, those types). It was just the break I needed to feel like all this shit I go through is worth it.
I checked in and received a somewhat icy receptionist, handing over a 'barter/influencer' contract and stating the rules of the stay. I've seen my friends receive this treatment before. I'm not trying to be an influencer here, I was reviewing the hotel for a magazine. It was interesting to be on the receiving end.
It was a bit of a negative start to the weekend, but alas. I tried to remain positive.
(A small side note: social media and influencers, despite being ridiculed, are the new ways of marketing in 2021. Instagram was revolutionary when it came out, and now, the focus is moving to Tik Tok and video content. If a person can study these trends and release constant engaging content to their fans, therefore selling, they are skilled in marketing. Simple as don't hate the player, hate the game)
I spent the weekend feeling absolutely positively hot-shit. I took a million photos of the place. I dressed up and went out. I laughed really loud. Obnoxiously loud. I slept with my mouth opened and snored so the street could probably hear me. In the mornings, I got free breakfasts and I spent hours mixing cereals - like a kid again.
On my final morning in the hotel I sit in the lobby whilst I in meetings with my other clients, discussing marketing strategies. It's a little R-rated and I thank the heavens half the people around me can't speak English. I pack up at 2pm and wander into the city. There's a few places around on my list. Romania is the type of place where you should just try whatever the blogs write about. Trust me. Don't go walking by the river trying to find a sushi restaurant you saw on Google. It doesn't exist.
My first official review went live today - and you can find it on Cha Siu Papers Times website. My colleague and I are back on the proposal front, and this is hopefully the start of a beautiful future collaboration. <3