The list of countries close by (ergo cheap) not yet visited is getting smaller, so a long weekend in Bucharest was added to the itinerary.
As always, a short stay in a capital is in no way representative of the entire country, but it was the best I could manage.
But what’s this?
Arc de Triomphe? Charles de Gaulle? I was fairly sure I’d just got on the plane in Paris to go further afield. The reason for the statue at least was explained whilst walking round the monstrosity that is Caucescu’s Palace.
Tours can be taken around this place, allow about three hours I think. All tours are guided and you are unlikely to be able to turn up and get on a tour, which was of course the mistake I made. So, after having walked to the Palace and made my reservation, I went back the following day for the tour itself.
It’s ugly. Man its ugly. To paraphrase a large eared unemployed pensioner, “it really is a monstrous carbuncle.”
Not all of the place is open on your tour, the vast majority is now used as the nations parliament, a decision taken by the people after Caucescu’s infamous departure. And the reason for the statue of CDG? I asked our guide and she told me it was because “he visited here once.” I then enquired if the only criteria was a visit, would there be one of me put up fairly soon. I was laughed out of town.
There are plenty of things to do in Romania, a lot of them outside Bucharest. Short on time, I chose the Palace, the National Museum:
To give an idea of scale, that isn’t a dolls house door there, its a proper full sized human adult door. This piece of column is immense. I love museums, and this one didn’t let me down. It also coincided with the only grim day weather wise I had in my short visit. Easily three hours spent moseying around, loved it.
The History Museum
and a wander round the Old Town. Yes this really is The Old Town, Bucharest.
I was really pleased to see that the oldest part of Bucharest had kept its soul intact.
As much as the touristy things are good to see, my favourite part of any new city is to put the map in my pocket and lose myself for a while.
I came across a little flea market off one of the main high streets, and the church behind reminded me very much of the old side of Budapest (never remember now which side is which). I sat on the seats you see here and had a coffee and what looked very much like a rectangular doughnut. It came on a plate, I picked it up. It had the outer appearance of a doughnut. It was slightly crispy, and had grains of sugar (definitely sugar, I checked) on the outside. Yum yum, I bit in. First impressions are rarely wrong. This was a doughnut. I felt the familiar crack of the fried dough, tasted the sugar and then ……. WHAT THE F*** IS THAT????? Inside this beautifully crafted looking doughnut was something, I still dont know what, absolutely disgusting. One of the most horrific things I’ve ever eaten. Or in fact, not eaten, as it came back up forthwith. I have no photo of the offending article sadly, as the café owner had seen my face and rushed out, laughing, to take it away and replace it with something sweet.
Just be very aware of things that look like doughnuts!!
The second best highlight of the trip though, (which I wasn’t even aware of at the time) was this:
Just a road with people on it, you may think. And indeed, this is what it was. The day I chose for my walk here, coincided with a “cars off the road, only non motorised transport allowed” kind of a day. Which was pretty cool. Loads of families enjoying the long open road for having a bit of quality time together. The next morning though, telly on in my hotel room, I saw the very road, saw some people walking up and down, on their bikes, skateboards, roller-skates etc etc. And saw me, walking along with my camera in my hand.
The highlight of the trip …. will be in another post.
Loved Bucharest, didn’t have enough time to see it all, but really enjoyed what I saw. People were really friendly, food is cheap, good and plentiful, beer is cheap too. Honestly, whats not to like?