Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bucharest

After the delayed journey into Bucharest,  we again needed to rearrange what we had planned to do.  We decided we deserved some nice Romanian wine and a good dinner.  So we headed off to find a nearby wine specialist; Abel's Wine Bar.  We tried some very nice hearty reds (and brought a few bottles of Romanian and Austrian wines back to Laos)


Drinks to sooth the stresses of the travelling day accomplished, next it was off to fill the tummies.  A local beer-hall style restaurant popular with travellers and locals alike, was just around the corner. It was early and certainly not full but Caru' cu Bere  managed to find us a table "as long as we would be finished within two hours."  With just the 2 of us that seemed pretty achievable. 

Andrew had a small misunderstanding with the English menu and ordered the traditional Pork Knuckle and I had another dish.  On arrival it was enormous.  On reading the menu again it turns out it was described as being for 2 hungry people :-) He made a valiant attempt to eat it all, but the knuckle won in the end.


The new day dawned with heavy snow showers.  We needed to walk about 15 minutes to the National art gallery.  It was not a great day for looking at the streets as we trudged along, heads down.  It was a relief to get inside the buildings.  There was a very impressive collection of Romanian art and some good international galleries.


The destination for the afternoon was the Cotroceni Palace Museum.  Bucharest has a number of palaces, many with strong ties to the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu & his wife, and their excessive expenditures.  We chose the Cotroceni because it wasn't quite so over the top.  We walked and rode the metro to get there, stopping off for a quick kebab for lunch.  

The Cotrocheni Palace is the official residence of the Romanian President and we had to go through some security screening entering the building and were not allowed to take photos of the structures outside. Inside was interesting.




We walked up the Palace of the Parliament, a Ceaușescu structure that Bucharest is famous for.  The guide books regularly describe the building as the largest administrative building in the world with an area of 365,000m2 & 1100 rooms.  They also say it costs USD $6,000,000 a year for electricity and heating.  We didn't do the available tour here, because a lot of people have commented on TripAdvisor that it is really badly organised, and you can only take in so many rooms.  So we just looked from the outside.


The next day had no snow falling so we actually retraced some of the route from yesterday, but this time we could actually see the streets and buildings.  Bucharest has a reputation as being somewhere you should plan to leave as quickly as possible.  But I think that attitude is changing and the city is reinventing itself.  There are numerous stately buildings.  The historic city however has been over-developed and there are tourist restaurant after tourist restaurant lining the streets in that area.  If we had had a little more time we could have explored another couple of days.



Through the country there has been a strong religious presence.  This ranged from people crossing themselves on buses as they past churches, to large numbers of churches and plenty of people going into them.

We manged to eat well in Bucharest.  For a brief moment pre-trip Andrew had been concerned because friends who had visited there in the 80's had struggled to find any food to eat.  This was not a problem for us this visit. 

Near our hotel was the recently restored Hanul Lui Manuc restaurant. This building had been a trading post/coaching inn in the past. We had a good warming set lunch there including local specialties of sour soup and polenta and cheese.  And a good dinner nearby at the city grill with a shared large platter of sausages.  Afterwards we found that beer hall, the city grill and Hanul Lui Manuc were all part of the same chain.


And then it was back to the airport to reverse the journey back to Asia.  Romania in winter, was a good destination but with the delays we experienced with flights and trains, I think we merely we pleased to have visited, and perhaps could not say we had loved the experience.

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