Overtom's weblog

BEWILDERING BUCHAREST 2  (26 march 2004)

On 7th February I described a few features of Romania's capital, Bucharest.

One aspect I didn't mention was crime . Many tourists who don't go in organized groups (and even some who do) are faced with petty crime and lose money, passport, credit cards or other possessions.

In February 2002, I visited Bucharest for the first time. I had rented an apartment at the Boulevard Nicolae Balcescu, close to the hotel Intercontinental.

  Hotel Intercontinental

One afternoon, I was waiting to meet a friend near the hotel Intercontinental, when a young man came up to me.

He asked me if I could tell him the way to the railway station. He told me he was from Bulgaria.

As far as the railway station was concerned, I couldn't help him. I had never been there myself. But we started talking. He asked me where I came from - so I told him a little bit about the Netherlands.

Suddenly two men came up to us. They identified themselves as police and stated they suspected the Bulgarian and I were involved in trafficking drugs.

The Bulgarian allowed the policemen to search him. But when they had finished searching him, they turned to me. 

On the Internet I had read about phoney policemen who pretended they searched tourists, but really robbed them.

The 'policemen' obviously intended to close in on me  and get me into a corner that was invisible from the street. I ran backwards into open space, shouting Nu, nu  (No, no). The men first tried to intimidate me. When they realized I was too much in the open to be attacked, they soon gave up.

Afterwards I realized the Bulgarian must have been part of the plot. The fact that he so willingly allowed the 'policemen' to search him had been meant to persuade me to follow his example.

I had quite some money, my passport and a creditcard with me. Needless to say I had been lucky it ended like this.

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