Skye Class interviewed by Yvette Larsson
If I have understood correctly you have decided to stay in Romania over the summer. Please let me know if it is your first time to Romania and why you choose to stay there for some time now.
I actually plan to stay in Romania until the end of the year. After going through 35 countries in my first year of travel, I decided I needed to start establishing some home bases. I spent 7 months in Scotland last year, and at the end of that I decided that Thailand, and then Romania, would be my next two home bases. There were several reasons for these two countries, the low cost of living being primary.
In 2015, I visited Timisoara and Resita in Romania, and completely fell in love with the country for several reasons. The scenery was amazing, the food was delicious and the people were really friendly. Since then I learned that Romania has the fastest internet in Europe, and its central location makes it the perfect departure destination for flights around Europe.
In which ways do you think that Bucharest is a surprising capital?
Bucharest is so unique, while at the same time having so much in common with other capitals. Whether it tried to emulate Paris, Berlin, Barcelona or North Korea, there’s a little bit of everything here. I call it the architectural melting pot of Europe. I also love how quickly it’s getting it’s face-lift. I see it becoming the next big tourist destination in Europe in no time at all.
What are the strengths of Romania, as a travel destination, in your view?
Romania is about as close as you can get to a perfect travel destination. It has attractions and accommodations to cater to every budget. It has amazing food. The countryside and villages are absolutely stunning, and are rich with history. Best of all, especially for Europeans, it’s centrally located and flights to the country are dirt-cheap.
What is needed to boost incoming tourism to Romania? What are the weaker points?
There are a few points I’ve seen. One is the level of hospitality. A few locals told me when I arrived told me that Romanian hospitality was horrible. Unfortunately I’ve had this proven to me too many times, whether by ladies in Mega Image throwing things at myself and other customers, the waiter at Caru’ cu Bere criminally manipulating the order for the group I was with, attendants at my hotel ignoring me, etc.
Another point is the infrastructure for international tourism. It’s great that the metro will be built to the airport in the next few years, but none of the international buses or trains have access to Romania. Budget airlines are great, but with the baggage restriction, it encourages people to only come for a couple days at a time.
Basically, it would be a matter of Romania partnering up with the big tourism companies of Europe, and really promoting based on surveys to find out what people want. There’s a huge potential for the city, but only if it’s made known to the general public.
Which places have come to be your hang outs , where you like to sit and work for example? Where they serve good food and where the ambiance is great? Why these places?
To be honest, I’m still really looking for my favorite spot. I frequent The Fire Club often, simply because they are so cheap in their happy hour.
I can also usually be found at the Carturesti Carusel bookstore, but they are a little expensive and I feel awkward working there for 8 hours on a single cup of coffee.
I tried Ted’s Coffee but they didn’t have AC or protection from mosquitoes; Origo doesn’t allow laptops; The Coffee Shop only has a couple seats. There are some other fantastic places around Bucharest, but at a distance from the Old Town. Perhaps I’ll start using the libraries.
Otherwise, I end up just staying at the Pura Vida Hostel to work, but it loud with the Old Town violinist performing the same three songs day after day, and the AC doesn’t work.
There is a new Co-Working Cafe opening in the Old Town, but I talked with the owner last week and he wants to charge 9 Lei an hour, or something like 250 Euro a month. I can get my own great studio to work and live at for that price.
Why does travel makes the world a better place?
Travel pushes people out of their comfort zone and connects them to the rest of the world. All conflict stems from the believe that others “over there” are different. A wise man once said that on the day we can fully trust each other, there will be peace on Earth. When you meet people around the world and find that they are an individual similar to you, bonds are made and hostilities are forgotten.
Also, too many people rely on the media and “authority figures” to give them “facts.” I think people should find out the truth of things for themselves. Granted, as a travel writer, I become an intermediary for the information of a destination, but all I’m trying to do is encourage people to visit and experience destinations first hand.
Please share with us the story of how you got your name!
Ha. There’s a bit of controversy on that. I get a different story from whomever I ask, and unfortunately all three people who have their opinions don’t have the best memory. My mom insists she named me after something that had no limits (a consistent element to every story, and supposedly the spelling somehow was influenced by the Isle of Skye. I’m certainly happy about that, since the Isle of Skye is my favorite place in the world.
What is going on in Bucharest this summer? What interesting festivals and events can a traveler attend?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. But I do know that there have been several festivals every weekend I’ve been here. A couple weeks ago, there were a dozen festivals all coinciding, including a Burger Fest and several others. Last weekend was a food festival, and this weekend is a music concert in the park across from the Palace of the Parliament, as well as a Kings of Leon concert. There’s also currently some kind of a classical music stage set up in the old Town outside the Pura Vida Hostel, playing for 15 days this month.
Did you travel in other parts of the country? If yes, what did you see and do? Impressions?
I actually just came back from a weekend trip to Brasov and beyond. I was looking at tiny homes with Tudor Maxim, and we stopped by a gem of a lake a couple hours north of Brasov.
The whole countryside was crazy gorgeous. I’ve also loved all the little Romanian villages I’ve passed through. Two years ago I was in Timisoara and Resita, and got a tour to the countryside outside Resita. That’s when I fell in love with the country, and I know there are so many more places I need to explore. I have a big tour coming up in August, and another in November, when I plan to see the rest of the country. The rest of the year I have plans to travel all around Europe.
If Bucharest was a film, what kind of film would it be?
What a great question. It’s funny, but the first answer I get is a Drama, and I’m not the biggest fan of that genre. Obviously, you could make a historical biography of the city, showing how it passed through all its stages of development. Or you could make a suspense/thriller based on some of the more nefarious aspects of the city.
Perhaps the best analogy would be an underdog film (a la Eddie the Eagle), as its a city virtually rising from the ashes of failed empires and crazy regimes, on its way to become the next big thing in Europe.
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All photos in this article are published with the courtesy of the photographer Skye Class.