An American in Romania: “This country is severely underrated.”

Michelle was one of our amazing volunteer members of staff at Pura Vida Hostels în Bucharest. She’s a well traveled and talented girl who we loved having with us. Read her story below.


Michelle, how did you get to Romania and how long have you been here?

Michelle: I left on my sixth month journey abroad in May 2014. I didn’t bother to get a visa so I had to get out of the EU area for 90 days before going back in. Romania wasn’t on the top of my bucket list of places I wanted to visit, but then I saw a preview for the new Dracula movie coming out and thought how cool would it be to say that I’ve been there! So it was settled I bought a ticket for Bordeaux, France to Bucharest, Romania and it turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I’ve made on this trip. So I stayed for two months.

What have you seen until now and what did you like most in Romania?

Michelle: I’ve been to the Black Sea, and my first nude beach and saw more than I wanted to see if you catch my drift. I visited the unimpressive Bran castle, and the unexpected grandeur of Peles castle. I was dwarfed by the monstrous Parliament building. And logically challenged by the Escape Rooms.


Me eating Ciorba Soup. Then I found a heart in it and freaked out a little.

What was your opinion about Romania before coming here and what’s your opinion now?

Michelle:  If you asked me what I thought of Romania before I visited I would think of three things: Gypsies, vampires, and rabid stray dogs. I can’t tell you enough how scared I was thinking about how I might have to get a rabies shot while I was there. I would have nightmares about packs of dogs chasing me down a mountain. Or gypsies taking all my money, or taxi drivers driving me into the middle of nowhere to steal all my money. Fortunately all those stereotypes were wrong. After visiting Romania, it now holds a very special place in my heart. It’s a land full of culture and friendly people. They have good food, and cheap too. They even do KFC better than America does KFC and that’s saying much considering how popular we’ve made junk food.

If you asked me what I thought of Romania before I visited I would think of three things: Gypsies, vampires, and rabid stray dogs.


Remember those ‘rabid stray dogs’ I was so scared of… Turns out they’re just cute little dogs that are misunderstood.

How is it to be an American living and traveling in Romania?

Michelle:  As an American traveling in Romania I’ve learned that this country is severely underrated. This is a wonderful place to travel and get lost in. I’m fascinated in all the history and culture that surrounds this place. The public transportation is difficult to try and figure it and it’s a nightmare to figure out how to actually pay for it. I learned quickly to stop overthinking it and just hop on and to cross yourself three times every time the tran passes a church, I blended right in.


The tour group I went on with Peles Castle in the background.

You are very talented and we really love how you’ve painted the walls in our hostels. How did you learn to paint? What’s your story?

Michelle: I loved painting the walls in Little Bucharest. It was my way of giving something back and leaving behind my own mark. Painting was only a recent development. I started painting a couple years ago and since it has evolved into a creative hunger inside of me. I tend to look at things longer and think how can I replicate this image with paint? Which colors do I paint first? What colors do I have to mix to get that exact shade? I went to university to study Broadcast Journalism, but I graduated with a desire to simply be an artist. If that means I’ll be a poor that’s alright, I’ve come to terms with the importance of doing what you love means more than than a paycheck.


Me painting my first mural at Little Bucharest Old Town Hostel

You were a volunteer at Hostel Peaches in Bucharest. What do you think about it? You have also been at our Little Bucharest Old Town Hostel. How was it?

Michelle: I love Hostel Peaches. Love. It’s the perfect little getaway from all the noise of the city and parties. It reminded me of my home growing up. It’s quiet and peaceful. I loved working with Irina. She showed me this fabulous little bakery called Alice, and I would look forward to the Alice days when we would go there together and I would squeal with excitement over the dainty tarts, and decadent cakes. I would buy a whole box full of goodies thinking they soul last me for a while, but I would get back to the hostel and just stuff my face. They didn’t last 10 minutes. I ate them all before I even thought about Instagraming them. Little Bucharest is a different kind of hostel from peaches. I think it’s perfect for backpackers looking to explore Bucharest for the time being. It’s location is right in the heart of the city. I loved looking out the balcony and watching the sunset over the copper roofs. I miss the violin music from the old man that plays in the square. But most of all I miss the people who worked there.

Where do you plan to go next?

Michelle: Right now I’m in Tel Aviv, Israel but soon to leave to go to Athens, Greece to continue my adventure. Overall this has been a great experience and I’m glad Romania has played an important role in that.

What does “Living la Vida Pura” mean for you?

Michelle:  “Living la Vida Pura” brings back all the memories I’ve had in Romania. When I hear those words I think back to all the good times I’ve had staying in each of their hostels. To me ‘living la Vida Pura’ means living life always.


Me being dory among the roses at the botanical gardens.


Thank you, Michelle, for working with us and have a great adventure! We hope we will see you again in Romania!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *