Memories of being drugged and robbed in Bucharest – it’s kind of a strange title considering what happened. The truth is, I can’t remember what happened at all. Not about the important things, anyway.
My memories of the aftermath begin on the last Sunday I spent in Bucharest. I came around in a taxi. It was well into the morning. The sun was shining. It was a lovely day.
There was a young girl in a fur coat sitting next to me in the back seat. She kept calling me baby. I had no idea who she was.
Nor did I know how much money I’d lost during the previous hours.
I’m publishing this blog post several years after the event. I was going through some old files and found a partial draft I’d written but never finished and had somehow forgotten.
I thought I may as well finish telling the story and publish it. It would be nice to think doing so may help other travellers avoid having the same experience. However, it’s more likely that most people who find this post via the search engines may have already have been drugged and/or robbed in Bucharest and be trying to find out if other people have gone through the same thing.
The events I am going to share with you happened three weeks into my stay in the Romanian capital city. I was living solo in a tiny house. I’d paid for a four-week stay but left early after my bad experience in Bucharest Old City.
The Old City is very lively at night. I used to travel there via the metro on Saturday nights and then drink until dawn.
The metro stops running before midnight but even at 7 am on Sunday mornings there are still plenty of bars open and the metro is running again by then.
When you are in Bucharest and want to enjoy the nightlife, the Old City is the best place to go. However, if you are planning on enjoying the nightlife in Bucharest, it’s safer to go out in a group.
As I already mentioned, I don’t remember much about what happened to me. It’s as if my memory has been wiped clean, but my last night out in Bucharest turned out to be the most expensive night of my life.
This is not an easy blog post for me to write. When something like this happens it makes you feel stupid and gullible. I am neither of these things, but I still feel that way.
And, even though I stand over six feet tall and am a strong guy, with tons of martial arts experience and trophies to prove it, my experience in Bucharest made me very nervous about going out at night. For several months a small part of me felt vulnerable inside. I still went out but it took me a long time to get my confidence back.
In my state of not knowing what was happening to me or being able to think straight, I would not have been able to defend myself anyway. All those years of training would have been useless. Anything could have happened to me. Anything at all. I lost seven hours of my life. Possibly a little more.
Before I go any further, I want to point out I met a lot of very nice Romanian people. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, there will always be a mix of good and bad and, in my opinion, the amount of good generally far outweighs the bad.
I like Romania, but there are a lot of scams in Bucharest and, although I don’t know how it works for women, if you are a guy on your own in the Old City, you become a target for a lot of unwanted attention.
I’m an experienced traveller. I’m also very independent. I spend a lot of time alone, but I know how to take care of myself.
For example, if I’m drinking alone or with someone I don’t know very well, I never leave my drink when I go to the toilet. I always drink it before I “go”. If you leave your drink unattended it may get spiked. I never take the risk. This is one of the reasons why I’m so amazed about what happened to me in Bucharest.
The other thing worth mentioning is I can drink a lot. I handle alcohol well and don’t usually feel much in the way of ill effects the next day. Very rarely I may wake up with a headache, but my memory is always intact.
After my last Saturday night out in Bucharest, I spent most of the following Sunday sleeping. Most of Monday as well. I woke up occasionally and tried to eat a little food, to build my strength up, but then went back to sleep. It was pretty late on the Monday evening before I felt well enough to try and do any work.
When I was feeling better, I did some research about date-rate drugs because I’m sure it must have been a drug of this nature that was used.
The date rate drug is used in the Argentinian Black Widow Scam. I saw a video about it. The guy was setting the girl up though. He’d rigged his room with hidden cameras, had friends in the next room, and got her to confess how the system works.
Obviously, in my case, the situation was a little different but it was probably a similar drug.
My last memory was of leaving a bar I’d been to before. I was in the street and intended to go to a bar around the corner. Did I get there okay? I’ll never know.
What I do know is this: my drink must have been spiked by someone working behind a bar. Either the bar I remember leaving or the one I was planning to visit next.
After the street, my next memory is of the girl in the fur coat and a taxi driver that kept saying I owed him money. I have a vague half memory of the girl taking me to an ATM though and of taking out some money. I think I’d probably already paid him. Possibly more than once. I think he and the girl were working together.
Obviously, the staff working in some of the bars must have been in on it as well. Not just in the bar where my drink got spiked either.
When I pulled up my credit card statement online, I learned I’d spent nearly €1000 in a bar. It was spread over several transactions with only around 20-40 minutes between each one.
My credit card statement also told me the name of the bar. I did some online searches and pulled up a picture of the front of the bar. I recognized it and although I had walked past it several times. I’d never wanted to go inside. It was a cocktail bar. Not my kind of place at all.
There’s a quote I remember from the film Conan the Barbarian. It’s actually by the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche but I first encountered it while I was watching the film. Here it is: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
That’s one of my favourite quotes. There’s a lot of truth in it too and I believe getting drugged in Bucharest has made me stronger.
I used to be a bit too cocky and self-confident. Even though I have got my self-confidence back now, whenever I go out in strange cities, I am extra careful because I realize what happened once could happen again.
My experience in Bucharest also encouraged me to do some research about the scams travellers can fall victim to. By encouraging me to be less cocky and learn more about the scams you can encounter while travelling, my bad experience in Bucharest has helped me to stay safe.
Here’s another quote: Every cloud has a silver lining.
That’s one of my favourites too.
If reading this blog post helps you to stay safe while travelling, I’m glad. If you are reading it because you have already had a bad experience and were wondering how many people are in the same boat, I’m sorry. I also hope whatever happened helps you to become stronger too.
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