April in Bucharest – Locked Down

bucharest clock

I last left our story of Bucharest on 31st March.  Do you remember?  We were locked down in the Old Town in Bucharest, waiting patiently for 4th April so we could move into a new apartment – one that wasn’t so small, and that wasn’t in the centre of the city.

Although not much has happened since then, apart from moving, I received an email from Rita asking me ‘When are you going to let us know about April in Bucharest?’.

So, here I am.  This post is all about April in Bucharest.

From 1st to 4th, we were still in our studio in the Old Town.  Nothing much happened in those 4 days.  Daily walks, internet, sleep, eat.

Going to the new apartment

And then, on 4th, we packed our stuff and left the little studio apartment.  We walked across the road to the hotel that we stayed in on the first night.  Although hotels are currently forbidden to take new guests, their reception was still open, and we’d asked them the day before if they could order us a taxi the next day, to take us to the new place.

So I popped inside and the kind guy at reception called a taxi for us.  It arrived within 3 minutes and we were on our way to our new apartment.

I’d already checked on a map how to get to our new place, so I was sure that I could follow how the taxi was going to get there.  It was basically going along two big streets, not far, then a couple of smaller ones.  However, I suspect that he took these two useless tourists on a bit of a trip, the long way, because he took a very strange route, and it took a long time to get there compared with what it should have been (according to my calculations).

Never mind, despite that it still wasn’t expensive – less than the price to just get into a taxi in Australia!  So, I’m not complaining.

We went inside the building, took the key from the letterbox, and went up some stairs to the first floor.  It’s an old building, the kind I love because they’ve got history and feeling and emotion, unlike new, modern buildings.

The new apartment

We unlocked and opened the door.  It seemed like a palace!  I was overwhelmed, it was huge, and clean and wonderful!  Isn’t it amazing how something so simple like appropriate housing can make you feel so grateful?

We put down our suitcases and backpacks, and took a trip around the apartment.  By the time we got to the bathroom, I was in tears.  Just the emotion and the relief to have a big flat, with a separate bedroom, living room and kitchen, a washing machine that worked, and two balconies – it was unbelievable.   

born in a car living room bucharest
The living room, with balcony
living room bucharest
born in a car bedroom bucharest
The bedroom – with balcony
born in a car bathroom bucharest
The bathroom
born in a car kitchen bucharest
The kitchen
born in a car kitchen bucharest
Also the kitchen
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The entrance

Although we liked the studio in the Old Town when we first arrived, it would have been impossible to stay there long term.  Already the two weeks we stayed there were more than enough.

This new apartment is big enough for us to each have our own space.  It’s clean and has big windows to let in the light, and if we have to stay in Bucharest longer than we planned, this is where we want to stay.

When we’d arrived in the taxi, the driver asked us why we were staying here, so we told him that it was too expensive in the centre.  He said it’s not a good area, and to be careful. Well, it looks like a ‘normal’ residential area to me, and although it could be unsafe at night in normal times, with a 10pm curfew and nothing open I’m not sure there’s any risk to us staying here!

Another person from Bucharest told me that this area has a bad reputation. However, someone else said that it’s a nice place, and that we’re lucky because there will be local people and families around, so we won’t feel so alone, as we did in the deserted Old Town.

born in a car street bucharest
One of the streets near our building
born in a car apartment bucharest
Our building. Our apartment is the one with the dish on the balcony, near the middle of the photo
born in a car apartment street bucharest
The street behind our building
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A kind of lane near our apartment

There are supermarkets within walking distance, and other small shops, which are now starting to re-open (as I’m writing this, it’s the end of April).

So, I don’t know if it’s dangerous.  A lot of people say that Moscow is dangerous, but I never felt that while I was there.

Settling in

We settled into our new apartment quickly. The owner (it’s an Airbnb apartment) lives upstairs on the second floor, and is a very nice, young guy who is ready to help us with whatever we’ve asked for (so far only a mop and some air freshener spray for his spraying devices).

We’re ready to stay here as long as we have to, it’s very comfortable.  Oh, plus there were a couple of discounts on the price of the apartment.  A discount for booking more than a month, and a special discount because of these hard times. 

We initially booked 6 weeks. After being here a few days, we decided that it probably wouldn’t be long enough, so we booked another 4 weeks.  So we’ve paid up to 15th June.  We may even have to stay here longer if we’re going to have problems travelling to another country.

Our routine is pretty much as it was in the Old Town.  Sleeping late, cooking and eating healthy food (I’m still on no processed sugar, sweets, biscuits, cakes, or chocolate), a daily walk (which includes sitting at the bus stop for 10 minutes to get some sun) or shopping, exercises in the living room (I can touch my toes now!!).  And a lot of time online, or reading, or watching films.

born in a car healthy food bucharest
Healthy food!

We’ve taught ourselves a few words of Romanian for communicating in the shops.  ‘We don’t speak Romanian’ is probably the most useful, although ‘thank you’ is a big help too.  We’ve also learnt how to count to 20, and we count in Romanian while we’re exercising, which is fun.

Easter came and went – both of them!  Here it’s mainly Orthodox, so Easter is at the same time as in Russia.  I managed to resist the Easter chocolates in the supermarket.

Visa issues

I was worried about being stuck here longer than the 90 days visa free that I’m allowed as an Australian passport holder.  There aren’t a lot of options for travelling at the moment, even if I wanted to go back ‘home’ to Australia. 

There was a woman in a Facebook group I’m in, for expats in Bucharest, who is in the same position as me, although she’s Canadian.  Anyway, she connected me with some other women all in the same situation, and over the last few days one of the woman has received a reply from border control, saying that none of the days during the ‘state of emergency’ will be counted towards our 90 day stay. 

Which is great news, because it’s been a ‘state of emergency’ the whole time I’ve been here!  So that means, that when the ‘state of emergency’ is lifted, I’ll still have 90 days here, to visit a bit, but also to wait until the flights open up again and we can find somewhere else to go. No need to panic.

The end of lock down

Our lock down ends on 15th May, however there will still be a lot of restrictions.  Basically, as far as I can understand it, we will no longer need a permission slip to go out, we’ll be able to go a little further for shopping, and other shops will re-open.  But restaurants will still be closed, as well as bars and cafes, and we won’t be able to travel to other towns without a good reason.

We won’t be able to be outside in groups bigger than 3 people, and we’ll have to wear masks in enclosed public spaces and public transport.  I’m sure that there will be other restrictions, but it will be nice to be able to go for a walk further than around the block.

But it’s a start.  And hopefully we’ll be able to visit some other towns before we have to leave Romania.

So, basically, that’s what April in Bucharest looks like.  I hope that May will be a little different.

born in a car balcony bucharest
The view from one of our balconies – this is Bucharest in April

What was your April like?  All the days pretty much the same, or did you have some variety?  Let me know, I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences in your part of the world.

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

14 thoughts on “April in Bucharest – Locked Down”

  1. Cheryl, I loved this! Thank you! First, weren’t you afraid when the driver took you the long way? I think I would have been extremely stressed about that! The apartment is nice…not crazy about that yellow but everything else looks quite nice. What were the veggies with the eggs? I see what I think is onion, tomato and cabbage….Love your blog!

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    1. Hi Rita, actually, I’m no longer afraid of anything life dishes out to me! In the taxi I was just trying to understand where he was going, I didn’t consider anything dangerous might happen! The yellow kitchen isn’t actually too bad once you get used to it. I spend all my time in it, and Olivier is in the lovely living room all day. And we eat together in the kitchen. The veggies were carrot, onion, tomato, red pepper, Chinese cabbage, cucumber and some canned tuna. We just throw everything together and eat the result! Thanks for your nice words, and thanks for reading my blog. 🙂 x

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  2. Hi Cheryl – I’m glad Rita inspired you to write about your ongoing adventure. The apartment looks great – I’d be happy to live there – light and sunny and more than big enough for the two of you. Nice that you’re getting some exercise and sunshine and that you don’t have to worry about being deported any time soon.
    You saw my April post so you know all my news – life goes on in these crazy times – feeling safe is a big part of handling it all with grace and a degree of acceptance.
    Keep us posted on your weeks ahead x

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    1. Hi Leanne, I’m glad Rita inspired me too. I’m doing nothing much at all lately so I’m losing some motivation to write. Yes, it’s lovely here, the living room is big enough for dancing as well! I think we’re all doing rather well dealing with this situation, let’s hope we continue to deal with it calmly and that we soon get back some freedoms. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂 x

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  3. Hi Cheryl. I’m so glad you are in a nice, new apartment, and I’m jealous that you have an oven. It’s hard to get those in apartments here. We are definitely buying a nice range for our apartment, with plenty of good cooking equipment, all the things I missed when staying in some Airbnbs’. We had the same issues with some of the cab drivers in Bucharest. We started asking how much the ride would be before we got in the cab. I don’t think there is a bad part of town in Bucharest. We really enjoyed our stay there, especially that time of year, when everything is in bloom. We enjoyed the Museum of Ethnicity because it is outdoors. I hope you get a chance to see it. I always enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing. Talk with you soon. xx

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    1. Hi Christina, this oven is brilliant! Much better than our oven in Moscow. I wish I was still making bread, I think this oven would bake bread perfectly. A well-equipped kitchen is a must! No microwave here, which I’m ok with, I prefer to live without. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a bad part of town, I think it’s just some people’s perception. Anyway, for the next two weeks we’re inside more than outside, so it will be a little while before we can really see what it’s like here. Looking forward to getting out and about, and spring is a great time of year to do that! I’ll take a look at that museum, thanks for the recommendation! 🙂 x

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  4. I love your new appartment. I am in England and we are likely to be in lock down until the beginning of June. I am lucky we have a garden and can go for walks. We had lovely weather in April which helped.

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    1. Hi, thank you! It’s really a great place, which is good because we’re spending almost 24 hours a day in it! 🙂 I’m a bit jealous of those people with a garden, especially with the great weather you’ve been having. Thanks for stopping by and reading Born in a Car, hope to see you again soon. 🙂

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    1. Hi Dee, yes, we have, we’re very comfortable here. We consider that we’re in a better position than a lot of people in the world right now, so can’t complain! 🙂

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  5. Hi Cheryl, I’m in Toronto, Canada. Our lock down started mid-March and just last week, my province slowly allowed some seasonal businesses to re-open and more to open this week. We’re advised to continue with physical/ social distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, etc. I’ll back track to read your blog to see what happened. Last time I read you were in Moscow. Your apartment looks great! I hope the restrictions will be lifted soon so you’ll get to explore Bucharest and maybe other places in Romania. I had planned to visit Bulgaria and Romania this year and had to postpone the trip. Now I can learn more about Bucharest via your updates. Take care, stay safe and well.

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    1. Hi Natalie, it’s interesting to learn about how other places around the world are handling the situation. Hopefully everywhere will start opening up again in the next week or two. Yes, we had to leave Moscow in a hurry due to my husband’s employer. The story starts here https://borninacar.com/the-plan-for-2020/ and I’ve written several posts since then. It was a very exciting time, but now we’re more or less settled temporarily in Bucharest, hoping to get out and see some of the city when our lock down finishes on Friday. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and commenting, it’s nice to see you here again. Take care, too. 🙂 x

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  6. It was interesting to read about your travels. I’m going to go back in the blog a bit to learn more. Strange times, it sounds like you will have a better May. 🙂

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    1. Hi Jeanne, thanks for visiting Born in a Car! It’s been a very exciting life that’s for sure! May is indeed shaping up to be a little calmer, and as lock down is over as of today, we’ll be able to get out and about for some more adventure! Thanks again for stopping by. 🙂

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