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Quick Tour of Bucharest

Adventure travel tales in Eastern Europe:
Vilnius, Lithuania
Prague, Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov, Bohemia
Brasov, Romania
St Petersburg, Russia
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Budapest, Hungary
Other European Tales:
Oktoberfest, Munich
Peloponnese, Greece
Venice, City of Water
Ruins of Pompeii, Italy
Cappadocia, Turkey

Ceausescu's ugly Palace of Parliament

Bucharest is Romania’s capital, and played an important role in modern history. It is where the communist dictator Ceausescu built his palace and wanted to create a majestic city. After the revolution, we wonder what is left of this, and whether the city is doing well or became a prey of corruption and poverty.

Around noon we arrive at railway station North of Romania’s capital. We are warned not to take offers from people at the platform, so we ignore the young man who approaches us. We only plan to stay one night, so we book a room in a hotel just around the corner of the railway station.

For a quick tour of the city we take the subway. It takes a while for us to figure out which one to take, and after starting off in the wrong direction, we change trains and are on our way. A quarter of an hour later we arrive at the other side of the city.

Ceausescu’s ugly Palace

When we step out is a huge empty terrain. Romania’s former dictator Ceausescu had big plans for this, but the revolution came too early for those. What he did accomplish we can see on the other side of the field: Ceausescu’s Palace of the Parliament. It’s a huge, ugly, concrete structure in Soviet style. After the Pentagon, it is the largest building on the planet. We walk along the gate around it, and amaze ourselves about the huge square in front of it. There is not much going on here, and the traffic only needs a small part of the square. With no more military parades, this square has lost its purpose.

We walk on via the main, wide boulevard, with trees and soviet flats on the sides. Because of this kind of boulevards, Bucharest is sometimes seen as the Paris of eastern Europe, but we think that’s a bit exaggerated. Although they even have a kind of Arc the Triomphe, which we will not visit.

The oldest Orthodox Church in BucharestAt the end of the boulevard, we enter the old city. First point of interest is the old courtyard of our good friend Vlad Tepes. But there is not much left of that, so we turn to the oldest church in Bucharest beside it. Here is a crowd, people are walking past the statues on the side, and get some kind of blessing from a priest. A strange ceremony, which we watch for a while.

Moving further in the old town we see more large eastern European buildings, with many statues. After a while we have seen enough of those and decide to search for a restaurant. Unfortunately, we cannot find a nice center with restaurants to choose from, but in the end we do find what looks like a nice place. There are musicians playing at the tables, and the food is quite nice. The deception comes when the prices on our cheque do not correspond with those on the menu. But we have heard worse stories from other travellers in Bucharest, so we do not complain.

We go back to our hotel, where we have a rough sleep because of the noise in neighbouring rooms. The next morning there is a cold wind. We do some shopping and eat something at the railway station before we get into the train to Bulgaria. Bucharest is not as bad as we thought it would be, it was interesting to have visited it, but we think it is not a place to stay very long.

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