by Douglas Williams, Publisher
It’s official, Bucharest is going gangbusters. The Romanian capital is hurtling along with business boom boom booming, this city is going like a train and I for one can’t help but feel we’re headed towards a cracking summer. Yes, you heard it here first, Bucharest is going to be the place to be this coming summer.
Everywhere you look luxury new apartments are being thrown up, fancy brand new cars are everywhere. Beautiful people are dressed chiquely, malls packed to the rafters. New bars and restaurants are opening all over the place and what is going on with coffee shops – how many coffee shops does one city need! Like mushrooms overnight!
Somebody has switched on the money tap, it’s clear.
Meantime Henri Coanda airport is receiving an ever increasing number of arrivals from an ever increasing number of cities and countries, tour operators can barely cope, and during your average visit to Lidl or Mega you’re likely to overhear a bewildering array of languages. Folks are flocking here cause the word is out – Romania Rocks! It happened elsewhere, now it’s finally Bucharest and Romania’s turn.
Even just one year ago the genius (and free!) language learning app Duolingo had a fairly limited Romanian offering, now it’s far from limited, in fact it’s more than a little daunting! The world has clearly switched on to Romania – films and series are being made here, Romania even figures in Harry Potter! And how cool is “Killing Eve” with its Bucharest filmed Moscow?
It’s going gangbusters but the question is how you want your city, your country to develop? How is this new found prosperity going to manifest in meaningful, worthwhile, genuinely beneficial ways beyond a gridlocked city with flash cars bumper to bumper? The authorities have finally woken to the traffic nightmare that’s clear and thank goodness – new buses have been purchased and junctions are awash with cops waving people through on green and advising people to stop on red… err I think most of us had grasped that concept. Intensely annoying bibbed parking dudes and dudettes leap out to demand 10 lei all over but they merely shift the parking problem around without fixing it. But, credit where it’s due, these moves are a start.
There must be a chance, however, that these cosmetic touches morph into proper infrastructural changes with actual organised parking (solid gold investment opportunity, hello!!!); public awareness campaigns to promote the existing excellent public transport (why not make it free like in Estonia’s Talinn). A fully joined up and systematically expanding cycling network with bike-sharing would be great especially through summer in this flat as a clatita city and might I be so bold as to suggest pedestrianisation? How lovely would that be! Just like the exquisite Slovenian capital Ljubliana (where they are raking in the tourist euros btw). Calea Victorei through Piata Revolution for a start? On a more serious note, traffic calming measures, especially around schools, are long overdue and much needed. Cars are great, I love my Dacia dearly, but they require managing otherwise they take over.
On May 26th, there are the elections for the European Parliament and these are crucial on many levels but the most crucial thing is that everyone actually votes. We’re all living with the consequences of voter complacency and low turnout – from the poor ol’ befuddled and Disunited Kingdom, to the equally fractious formerly United States, some might even place our own dear Romania on the list. Register and vote, you may live to regret it if you don’t.
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