Leaving Eforie Sud
We get back on the road early, with the Radison Blu in the heart of Bucharest the target destination.
Another long boring drive before hitting the ourskirts of Bucharest. We had the excellent idea of doing some laundry.
Adventures in Bucharest
We found a well reviewed laundromat online and got off the E81 at the right point to meander our way through the Dristor district. Google maps gives you confidence.
Until it takes you down an unsealed road through what is clearly a parking lot with a fence around it. Looking at satellite view now, I’m guessing it used to connect, and Google doesn’t know much about recent changes in the area/country. I’m not quite sure how entire roads are allowed to be blocked off, but we backtracked and tried to find our way to the other side.
We eventually did, but there was no laundromat there. We give up and I do my best to navigate us to where we need to get to without causing undue stress and/or killing us. We got to drive around the immense Piața Alba Iulia and along Bulevardul Unirii (Wikipedia says: “the road is lined with socialist-realist apartment blocks of North Korean inspiration”) and a wrong turn (not my fault!) sent us around Fântâna lui Bucur.
The rest is just a collection of stresses and logistical issues with dropping off the car and walking to our hotel. The short version is that we didn’t die and are still married.
The hotel was converted from a rather decrepit looking building into one that is rather lovely (once again doing our part for gentrification).
Our air-conditioner did not work, and it was very warm, so asked for it to be fixed.
It was hot. I ate a huge burger and a coke at a Vincent van Gogh themed café.
After spending the day in the car, it made the most sense to walk about before dinner. I love the mix of classical architecture and ‘socialist-realist’. I love the bollards. Oh, those bollards.
Aren’t these bollards great? We had some dinner nearby, again, very good. Romanian food never failed to impress.
Walking back to the hotel
The bike lane in Bucharest. Like Auckland, it just awkwardly stops at an intersection with nowhere to go. Between that and all the cars parked on the footpaths, it felt just like home.
Our air-conditioner had not been fixed, so we had to ask to swap rooms. It was a Hilton but the service was not.
Got the hotel breakfast, which was once again great, before hitting the tourist sites. The old town was tourist central, with buxom young women very persistently trying to convince you that their restaurant is the one for you.
Biserica Sfântul Anton
Biserica Mănăstirii Stavropoleos
Palace of the Deposits and Consignments
One of those ‘Socialist-realist apartment blocks of North Korean inspiration’
Looking down Bulevardul Unirii towards Piața Constituției and on to Palatul Parlamentului (Palace of Parliament)
We wanted to get in to Palatul Parlamentului, so picked the south end and walked the million miles along to get to the gate.
No entry - other side. Another million miles later… again passed the Piața Constituției (a free parking lot, well done Bucharest)
We made it to the north approach of the building. It’s stupidly large and an absolute mess inside, very run down. They can’t afford to maintain the building due to the sheer scale of it - it and Bulevardul Unirii built as (very, very expensive) vanity projects of Nicolae Ceaușescu that eventually got him overthrown and put on ‘trial’ and killed shortly after.
We used their lavitories and bought something to drink before leaving.
Headed out through Parcul Izvor, aiming for some lunch in the old town.
I think we ended up having kebabs in the old town, again, great.
Walked to dinner via Cișmigiu Park.
Well, that was the plan, but Emily was intimidated by the sound of the approximately 8 million crows roosting in it.
We walked around.
Excellent (noticing a trend?) dinner at Edo Sushi, but they didn’t have the right kind of mayo for my Karaage chicken. I guess you can’t have everything.
Breakfast today was some museli/yoghurt we bought the day before. I guess that is two healthy breakfasts.
Riding the Metro
Caught the metro (exciting!) from Universitate to Aviatorilor. The station is functional but rather unloved, with literal stalactites forming on some parts of the ceiling. The Piața Romană stop has platforms that can’t be more than a meter wide, complete madness.
Anyway, we got out of the station at the wrong end of the massive Piața Charles de Gaulle roundabout, but this worked out ok as we discovered a Mikkeller (a place we sought out in Copenhagen).
We met our guide at the entrance to the huge Parcul Herăstrău and sorted out some bikes. It turns out that I’m very fussy (?!?!) and that rental bikes are all garbage. The brakes mostly worked and my back didn’t hurt too much, so off we went.
We start at Lacul Herăstrău, looking out to what is now Casa Presei Libere (House of Free Press) - originally built as the Communist Government’s printing press.
Everyone has one: The Arcul de Triumf
Made our way down the tree lined (i.e. rich people neighbourhood) Highway 1/E60, passed Parcul Kiseleff to the ridiculous empty road space known as Piaţa Victoriei.
Heading down Calea Victoriei. The pretty old buildings are from Bucharest’s successful period in the late 1800’s where people sent their kids off to Paris to be educated. They later returned with a taste for the good things in life and drove an architectural movement to mimic Paris. Hence “The Little Paris” (a term I had not heard).
Popped in to grab some baked treats on the corner of Strada Piața Amzei and Strada D. I. Mendeleev before heading to Ateneul Român
Memorialul Renașterii (Rebirth Memorial) outside where the revolution to overthrow Ceaușescu began. Ate our snacks.
The (not original) Statue of Carol I. The original went missing during the revolution.
The lovely Parcul Cișmigiu (Crow free)
Back to Palatul Parlamentului (every time I get back on a bicycle I remember how simply dreadful walking is)
Looking back up Bulevardul Unirii
Only a few sketchy spots between there and Parcul Carol, with its Memorialul Eroilor Neamului
Finally we headed into Parcul Tineretului
We dropped our bikes off here and said our thanks and goodbyes. Always good to have a local telling you things about what you are looking at. If nothing else, it forces you to consider if something is more interesting than it would have been.
Caught the metro from Tineretului to Aviatorilor (where started from) for some beer and snacks for dinner at Mikkeller.
No photos today, camera break!
Breakfast from the delicious pasty kiosk near the hotel before hopping on the metro again, this time to the Piaţa Victoriei stop. Walked from there to Muzeul Național al Țăranului Român (Museum of the Romanian Peasant) to scrounge for some legit Romanian tourist junk. Emily found a small hanging that you’ll see once we figure out how to frame.
Rooftop up some stairs
Walked from there to the cunningly named ‘Upstairs Rooftop’ bar. I was glad I read about how the entrance was hidden, as it was. Some confidence required to randomly wander through doors and buildings.
Great views, cold beer.
From there we just walked back to the hotel. Nearly there, Emily grabbed a coffee that for some reason had tonic water in it. It was not good, in fact terrible. A very bad idea that should not take off. Felt no shame wasting that drink. Looked at some Bromptons and bike accessories.
Finally at the hotel, we cleaned up, packed and caught a fancy taxi (everything is so cheap in Romania!) to the airport, leaving without issue.
A short flight had us in the very civilised Munich airport waiting for our transfer to Hong Kong. Our half of the airport was a bit weak, so we caught the shuttle to the other side to get some essentials and snacks before heading back.
The flight was delayed an hour or two, but we managed. Basically heading home at this point.