Romanian Survival Book

March 4, 2008

Romania: What the hell happened??

Filed under: Uncategorized — darian @ 11:49 am

Anthony Bourdain is a chef/traveler and he keeps a blog about his experiences across the globe. Apparently the Government of Romania, through the Tourism Ministry got involved with more than 20.000 USD (according with Cotidianul They followed Bourdain around telling him and his team what & where to shot. No surprise they took him the most boring, communist style old restaurants, so that the poor man had no chance to actually see Romania and Bucharest for what it is, with good and bad and ugly. The infamous obedience towards foreigners, which is manifested through huge dinner parties, cutting off the throat of a pork or sheep or whatever to please the guest with our ‘traditions’ of hospitality goes in the same mentality of submissively ‘offer’ things Romanian. I wonder if they didn’t arrange a girls’ party too …that’s Romanian hospitality too. While behaving so ‘nicely’, our outdated high bureaucrats then take offence when the guests don’t appreciate this type of ‘hospitality’. My advice, if I may, for people like Bourdain is to never go official, if they want a taste of the real life. Just go into a nice café and pick up a local as your guiding tour. If not happy, take another, you’ll surely find some interesting spots. Such a pity! As for the Bran castle (the so called Dracula’s land), I’m afraid it’s exactly as described by Bourdain…I have had the same experience when I took there some foreign friends….and I’m Romanian, so I should have known better.

If you want to read Bourdain’s program as made by the Tourism Ministry, go bellow:

You can read all 875 comments (the highes number of comments on his blog)


 (photo: Bela Lugosi, the original cinematic Dracula, who is said to be Romanian).
| | Comments (875)
Predictably, a lot of people either hated–or were deeply offended by–the Romania show. Most, I gather, are either Romanian or have traveled to Romania and had a better time there than I did. Quite understandably, no one wants to see the host of a travel show having a bad time of it in their country, griping miserably about how things went wrong–and how utterly fucked up things were.
But the fact is:
Things WERE fucked up. My Russian pal, Zamir, who had helped make such good shows in Russia and Uzbekistan, was definitely NOT a good choice to show me around Romania. I think, if nothing else, we made that explicitly clear.
The “Motel Dracula” was, in fact, just as bad a time as it looked. Maybe we fucked up picking that spot as something to cover. Though it’s certainly representative of a resurgent, Dracula-based tourist industry. What we DID show you, at least, was exactly how awful it was–and how unhappy I was to be part of such a bogus scene.
The scene at Vlad The Impaler’s statue in Bucharest was not atypical of the kind of “cooperation” and last-minute shakedowns we found whenever we tried to shoot at a “typical” everyday restaurant.Even WITHOUT cameras, looking just for a relaxed meal, we’d often enter a near empty restaurant, ask if a table was available–and have the waiter tell us “No” in the surliest of terms. WITH cameras–asking if we could shoot was an invitation to either an instinctive “NO” or an invitation to gouging. As waiters and hosts it seems, work on salary–rather than tips, no one really seemed to care about more business, promoting their business or even making more money. People are still uncomfortable in general about being filmed. Understandable, given Romania’s history that many would be reluctant to have their picture taken–as this rarely led to anything good back in the bad old days.But to describe Romania as particularly friendly? Not really. I’ve been all over the world. Over 50 countries. On the friendly scale? Romania not exactly in the top 40. The food–on camera, off camera? Didn’t matter. It was mostly pretty primitive. Soups may taste good–but they don’t make interesting television. I could lie. But I ain’t gonna.
Which is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Should I–when faced with a show that’s clearly going wrong–as far as depicting good times and good food–do my best to LIE about it? Put on my best, tightest smile and slog through an hour, yammering a lot of utter bullshit about what a great time I’m having and how good the food is and how friendly the people? You can see that on every other travel and food show. Or get it straight from the tap–at the Tourist Board. This show never pretended to have any responsibility to show the “best” of any place–or the “top ten” of anything. Or to even be diplomatic. I, me, Anthony Bourdain went to Romania. I made some bad decisions. And this is the show I came back with. At the end of the day? That’s what happened. That’s what it felt like. Period. Frankly? I think it’s a pretty funny show.


  1. Oh yeah, Boudrain! The pretentious and freaking chain smoker, with barely one taste bud left is able to determine whether or not the romanian dishes are worth is attention. Give me a break! Let’s ask Jamie Oliver or someone of his calibre their opinion.
    Shut the fuck up you jaded, boring motha fucka. Hey put that on his mother fucking blog.

    Comment by pappy — March 24, 2008 @ 6:48 am | Reply

  2. What an awful programme. I have now made a mental note on never to waste my life watching one of his programmes again.

    Comment by emmamykytyn — April 3, 2008 @ 3:17 am | Reply


    Comment by BOOZER — November 4, 2008 @ 3:23 am | Reply


    Comment by BOOZER — November 4, 2008 @ 3:24 am | Reply

  5. BOOZER,

    you sure stutter, bud. stay off the booze – just say NO

    Comment by pappy — November 5, 2008 @ 4:50 am | Reply

  6. Happy new year to you

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  10. Awesome! I had another good read.

    Comment by bushmaster — June 10, 2011 @ 11:22 am | Reply

  11. Great blog, really enjoyed reading through it, I do think however, you can’t go far wrong with a good bowl of soup which ever country you live in.

    Comment by Berlin culture — August 1, 2011 @ 11:03 am | Reply

  12. I also have travelled throughout the world, and have to say that one of the friendliest places I have stayed has to be Malta, whether this is because I am from England, I am not sure, but they are so so friendly towards us Brits, I think it is something to do with the goings on in the war.

    Comment by Oliver — August 6, 2011 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  13. I have recently returned from a trip to America, and have to say that they absolutely adore the English, the American’s are well friendly and fascinated by the way in which we talk. Brilliant place, have booked already to go out there next year.

    Comment by Jo — August 9, 2011 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  14. I like reading your viewpoint.

    Comment by myrnajacobs — November 6, 2011 @ 11:11 am | Reply

  15. The Romania i know is the best place to live in europe, in my opinion, but then again, i spend my weekdays in Brasov & my weekends in Predelut, near Bran, so i’m spoiled! In addition to providing the most friendly Property management in romania, we can also find you places to stay in the nicer parts of Romania, to judge for yourself. I have shown literally hundreds of people around Romania & never heard a complaint. But they need to be shown, because tourist info is as prevalent as street violence & drunken clubbers, almost totally non existent in most places.

    Comment by whitemountain2008 — April 1, 2012 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  16. Anthony is yet another sold out, living in a myopic world of ease starlet. He has little compassion for those who lead harder lives than his lavish lifestyle, though he attempts to portray himself as someone who has been through hard times. Really? You are flown first class,driven around, offered free food and drinks and basically have your a#$ wiped, but you’re disappointed? Typical liberal. It was disgraceful how he mocked the Russian man who he claimed was his friend, in his Romania episode. The poor Russian was drunk on his birthday because he was feeling so much pressure from American crews to please the King Anthony. Anthony acted like he was so put out by the Romainan people, yet here we have people all over the world dying of hunger and Anthony is complaining about his food and drink. It was also disgusting to see him salivate over a killed pig in the Romaina episode. Me thinks Anthony is a big pussy who needs a serious reality check on how to be grateful for what he has. It must be so easy for American crews to waltz into another country, especially a country that is poor, like Romania, and think that he can use all the people there for his big shot show, and if they don’t live up to his standards, well then, they are mocked.

    Comment by Jack R — June 23, 2012 @ 9:42 am | Reply

  17. The reality is Romanian food is pretty bad. Bland, fatty, uninteresting. I’ve eaten it for 20 years since I was a child and NEVER want to eat it again.

    Comment by Mihai — January 16, 2013 @ 5:40 am | Reply

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