We are used to call Bucharest, a city of contrasts. I’ll have to say that flea markets are not an exception. Here, everything starts to contrast, from the products and people to the way that goods are arranged.
After you've entered the market, the definition of chaos might click in your head, but I promise you, this will last several minutes as you’ll accustom to the charming way the market flows.
I’m going to sum up a few things about the biggest flea market in Bucharest, called Targul Vitan, which describes the three types of sellers and their offering:
1. The ones who bring goods from outside of Romania, the range that includes sweets from Germany or shoes from Turkey.
2. The ones that are crafting their own goods. At their tables you'll find origami flowers, home-made wines, wooden spoons or just some cute and fluffy pillows.
I have to warn you, those things aren’t made by some artisanal hipsterish guys, they’re just as authentic as you can imagine. Sellers can insist to taste the wine or to touch the pillows, yes, touch the pillows!
3. And my favorite type of sellers are those who’ll bring stuff from their homes that they’re not using anymore. This kind of sellers are the majority of the market: they’ll put their goods carefully on some flourished blankets, without forgetting to bring their folding chair.
They’re selling everything they gathered for years in their homes. Their blankets are like the internet, your eyes can spot used lipstick, silver cups, a 100-year old mirror, coins, an African playing instrument, vinyl records or the well known Nokia 3310.
When you pass by all those colorful blankets, you feel like diving into the last 100 years of Romanian history, starting with an interwar period, followed by the communist path and ending in capitalism.
All these people create something magical in the air. Once you enter the market, you start to deepen in the story, you’ll walk slowly as everyone else does. Listening to all the shouting of different offers: "Come here young man, I have the best pants for your beloved one!" or "I have a still working typewriter!” All this is happening while in the background, from opened cars, you hear manele, a popular Romanian music style.
The last thing you have to know about flea markets in Bucharest, is that everything lying on a blanket or table is negotiable. All this is part of the story.
A: "Hey, that’s the last time I’m telling you, I can give you 20 Lei for this watch and if you don’t give it to me I’ll walk away!”
B: "Just walk away man, I’m not gonna give it to you for this price!” And the man walks away, a bit nervous, whispering something between the lips.
Wait, did I say that everything that’s on the table and blankets is negotiable? Well, I meant everything that passes the market’s gates is negotiable, as I was asked 4 times how much I’m giving my camera for. So, take care and try to value your stuff suitable.
The biggest flea market in town is held every Sunday, and it starts at 8 AM. You can get there by the metro line M3, station Mihai Bravu and then walk about 20 minutes to the market. The entrance is 3.5 Lei, which is less than 1 Euro.
So, in case you’re planning your next trip to Bucharest, don’t hesitate to pass by this treasure of the city, there you’ll have the chance to experience the folk, culture and history of Romania. And don’t forget, always negotiate!
- Mihai -