Bucharest... where Ceausescu loved his marble...

by - Tuesday, April 09, 2013

My days in Bucharest were fairly quiet... and it was nice. As much as I want to see everything while I'm on vacation, most place's sights can be seen in a day (and I know I'm missing out on stuff, but if it's not on the "essential" list of sights, I figure I can come back and see them another day).

I took another free walking tour... my guide was Simona, and she was great.  She explained the history, and was very quick to point out that some of the events were her opinions on how they happened.  Bucharest has some great sights, but much like Sofia, it is really just becoming a tourist destination having escaped Communism less than 25 years ago.

Much of the tour focused on Ceausescu's rule and the Communist regime.  The man was a bit of a nutbar. He had churches moved up to 250m (I'm thinking it would've made for some great episodes of Massive Moves!) just so that he could hide them behind blocks of Communist apartment buildings. The Palace of the Parliament that he built is the second largest building in the world next to the Pentagon.  He wanted the boulevard leading to the Palace of the Parliament to be the widest in the world, so he sent people off to measure the Champs-Élysées and then had his boulevard built 1.5m wider.  Really? I guess he was trying to prove to the world how awesome Communism was.  He didn't end up doing that great of a job!

That afternoon I headed back to the Palace of the Parliament for a tour.  I had to hand in my passport (luckily I have two if the Romanian government decided to steal mine), and go on a mandatory walking tour.  My tour guide was kind of a beeyatch... apparently you were supposed to pay extra to be able to take pictures and she sure let everyone on the tour know that time and time again!  The tour guide spews off tonnes of "facts"... there is blah, blah, blah amount of marble, this is the world's largest carpet, there are 6 billion zillion crystals in the chandelier... I mean, it's all cool, but we pretty much ran room to room to see things.  I (like I've done many times before) took pictures when I wasn't supposed to - I mean, there was a lot of marble to oogle at!

I went for a "traditional Romanian meal" that night... and it had nothing on my Turkish and Bulgarian meals.  It was at a place that was recommended by the hostel - and it was gross.  Maybe just my food choices were gross, but honestly it seemed like my meal was microwaved.  And it was the most expensive meal I've had - and wasn't worth it at all.  Don't eat at La Mamas if you ever head to Romania - you'd be better off with a Big Mac and free wifi at McDonalds.

The hostel that I stayed at was pretty good... there were some tarts from Canada giving us a bad name (one conversation they were having was whether or not they should wear bras out to the bar or not).  I was in a room of all guys (including an Italian with a freaky long rat tail braid), but they were pretty good about being quiet, which was appreciated.  I'm loving the free wifi that is at the hostels - it allows me to hang out in my room when I want some down time and watch TV shows and such.  I haven't been watching any hockey because I like my sleep too much though!

My second day in Bucharest was kind of marred by rain - I walked up to the mini Romanian Arc du Triumph, and visited the Museum of the Peasants (where once again, you can't take pictures... but I did).  I thought about going and taking some pictures of the Palace of the Parliament at night, but ended up just hanging at the hostel and chatting with the hostel hosts and a couple of guys from the Netherlands.

That pretty much sums up Bucharest... I'm in Krakow now, and after spending the day on two walking tours and a visit to the Oskar Schindler Factory, I'm pretty much hating on the Nazis right now.  If today ignited rage in me, I'm not sure what Auschwitz will be like tomorrow.  I'm thinking I'll probably just cry at what happened.

Oh - and I've decided that going on a backpack vacation of Europe is the best way to lose weight.  I'm walking on average 10km (more often more) a day, and my pants are getting loose! Booyah!

I'm going to try and post pictures soon... I don't really trust the hostel computers not to erase my memory cards, so we'll see what I can do.

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  1. Hooray for loose pants! Your adventure sounds amazing!
    Can't wait to see pictures.