Crappy Travel Guides: Leif Pettersen of Lonely Planet

Oh mercy, now time to address the heavyweight Romanian travel writer of them all, Leif Pettersen.

My first travel guide I ever used in Romania was from the Lonely Planet and it is the one I still see most often clutched in tourists’ hands.  And it is this same Leif Pettersen who has done a large share of the writing and researching that goes into the LP guide to Romania (at least in the English version, as I’ve seen both German and French versions of the LP guide to Romania but not read them enough to see if it’s exactly the same material).

Therefore, sadly it is quite likely that this doofus is going to be the one giving the average foreign tourist his/her first glimpse into what this country is like.

I have to sigh here because honestly, he seems like a quirky, funny guy, one I’d even drink a beer with.  He’s certainly a prolific writer and I admire that heartily for its own sake (being somewhat of a writer myself).

Nonetheless, Leif Petterson is incredibly arrogant, cocky, sneering and openly lecherous, a theme that runs throughout all of his posts on this country (including here as well, not to mention this puerile joke).

From what I can puzzle together, somehow he got “stuck” in Romania and used this alongside his pitiful Romanian language skills (see here) to get hired as a Lonely Planet travel writer.

I suppose it’s a nice gig if you can get it but sadly I can think of many people who would be much better writers about Romania, including this guy, who doesn’t come here once every few years, drive pell-mell throughout the country, preen and then literally expect his ass to be kissed simply because he’s a published travel writer.

Here’s just a brief snippet of Leif Pettersen’s arrogance:

Despite stalking the streets of Bucharest holding a LP guidebook with my name and beautiful, beautiful face inside, I got very little respect. You’ve never seen a collective group of people that so desperately do not want customers.

A Canadian journalism student that shadowed me for a day was aghast at how rude some people were to me, even as I vainly tried to collect just a little information so as to make their place of business wildly successful with western visitors. I was accustomed to this, having just gone through this veritable spanking machine of insult-and-injury just two years ago.

This was a far cry from guidebook research in Tuscany, where hoteliers, restaurateurs and the like can spot a guidebook writer from blocks away, meet you in the street and verily carry you into their establishments, offering coffee, their grandmother’s handmade ravioli, Brunello wine and their first-born daughter’s hand in marriage.

Yes, my sincerest APOLOGIES on behalf of all Romanians for not being the toadying ass kissers that proprietors of certain Tuscan establishments (apparently) are.

The main photo that he uses on both his blog and on Twitter is of himself apparently getting a ticket from the Romanian police.  I don’t know what happened in this particular incident but considering the police in his hometown (Minneapolis, USA) taser unarmed men as well as lose lawsuits filed against the city for police brutality, I sincerely doubt that anything the Romanian cop did could even measure up.

Again, Leif Pettersen’s arrogance and lecherousness aside, the guy doesn’t even know the basics of Romanian culture, again mislabeling mamaliga as “polenta” (which he admits he hates), eating almost nothing but pizza and fast food while simultaneously declaring that it’s debatable whether “something called Romanian cuisine actually exists” and belittling and threatening Romanian drivers (and their “piece of shit” cars).

In fact, from here:

Anyone reading this blog from beginning to end all in one go might notice that my attitude toward Romanian drivers, authorities and postal employees is hovering dangerously close to racist. And they’d be right.

All in all, not quite a pretty picture he paints and it’s no wonder, with that attitude.  He’s consistently getting into fights, arguments and battles with authorities, taxi drivers, other drivers, hotel clerks, restaurant staff and even postal workers (while simultaneously unable to hook-up with the numerous good looking women he meets yet endlessly writing about his erections).  Clearly he never read my post on how to get good treatment in Romania!

Sadly, his online guidebook to Romania website (which is free, unlike LP), found here, starts off with the boastful phrase:

Welcome to the most complete online guide to traveling in Romania and Moldova, written and compiled by yours truly, Leif Pettersen, Lonely Planet’s resident ‘expert’ on Romania and Moldova

Yet there’s almost no information there whatsoever, including Iasi, a city where he lived for over a year (and incorrectly lists the pronunciation as “Yash”) and just a bare bones guide to Cluj-Napoca.

Therefore on behalf of all Romanians (and foreigners who live here and like it) as well as all tourists who aren’t barreling through the countryside at top speed, demanding ass-licking service and leering at the women, let me say the following:

Please stop coming to Romania and writing about it!!!

4 thoughts on “Crappy Travel Guides: Leif Pettersen of Lonely Planet

  1. His a nice guy (boastful, with a heart of gold) leave him alone :)
    I’d rather have Leifs by the dozen writing about Romania, rather than bitter idiots like the one that wrote about Cluj. There are more slums in Paris than in the whole Romania, but hey he did not dare go in there.


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