I hate Sibiu. It's officially my least favourite place in Transylvania, and possibly Romania. This is not because it is ugly - it is in fact very beautiful (or it will be when they finish messing with it).
There are 4 very good reasons to hate it:
1. It is constantly under construction. Because next year it is the European Capital of Culture it is just always being dug up. The main square Piata Mare has now been more or less finished (last year it was a total state), aside from a few buildings that are still being done up. The nearby Piata Mica, on the other hand, was a mess last year and is still a total mess now. Streets are closed, staircases blocked off, there is mud and sand and rubble everywhere. I'll be shocked if it is done by the turn of the year.
2. Connected to the above, it is a pain in the arse to drive in. There are no signs, roads are constantly being closed or blocked off, road junctions are chaotic, and basically getting from A to B can take you months.
3. It is by far and away the most expensive city in Transylvania. I suspect this is in preparation for next year when presumably the tourists are expected to flood in. "Why wait, fleece them now", seems to be the motto.
4. I got ripped off at a change place. This actually is quite important for people visiting Romania to know so I'll put in a few tag phrases in the hope that gogglers might find this info. Advice for tourists in Romania. Warning regarding money exchange in Romania. So, in Romania there are two places in which you can change money - the banks and these little change offices. The banks are pretty good, but it can take a lot of queueing and there is a bit more form filling involved in changing money there. The change places are quick easy and you usually get a similar rate to the banks. So many people use them (me included). In Csikszereda, and everywhere else I've done it, I have never had a problem and have found the system fairly easy and unstressful. However in Sibiu (and I have since learned that this practice is becoming more widespread) I was the victim of a scam. Outside the change office is a big notice with the exchange rate. In Romanian and English it says the rate at which they buy Euros/Dollars/Pounds/Forints etc and the rate at which they sell those currencies. All quite normal. However, look closely. There may also be a third column, or some smallprint which tells you a third rate. This one is not translated into any language other than Romanian. If that column says "Valute" on it, it is the rate at which they will exchange cash. The big-print rate is the travellers cheque rate and that only. Needless to say, the smallprint rate is terrible, and although there'll be a big sign saying "No Commission" you will be screwed. Big time. Be careful. If in doubt, change at a bank. They at least have to abide by a code of practice and will not try and screw you. I'm mad at myself for being scammed, and mad at the bloke who scammed me, but I know now it is becoming increasingly common in Romania to try and trick tourists this way. Don't make the mistake I did.
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