I belong to several cities thanks to my destiny of choice of a wanderer. Maybe a native skill is that I feel at home in many places. But I never experienced the feeling living in Bucureşti – belonging, that I could easily fit in, but still be free and on a journey.
Bucharest has the most toxic sunsets in all seasons. It’s hard to stay alone, do not fall in love in such a city where the sun is melting away with so much nostalgia”Mircea Eliade, Wedding in Heaven
This capital is loud and dynamic, with grey traces from the past. Some parts lack structure, are unpolished and still in construction but nevertheless, the city is full of charm and history. From the start, I must admit that I will be optimist and subjective as usual.
You haven’t really been to Bucharest if you don’t visit some buildings, squares and parks. Palace of Parliament in Piața Constituției, Calea Victoriei (Victory avenue), Piața Revoluției (Revolution Square), or Piața Unirii (Union Square), just to name a few.
You can tell from the name they are related to historical events, social repression, the Revolution, the fall of communism and beginning of freedom. From Monarchy and Kings, to earthquake, huge protests and political dramas. Imagine! This city has seen it all, as most cities.
The Palace of Parliament
During the communism decades, the Palace of Parliament was called “House of the people” and some still like to refer to it this way.
Most locals dislike it or pretend it does not exist. Difficult to ignore it, since is huge and only the biggest administrative building in Europe, and second in the world, after the Pentagon.
I guess we can say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, right? Well, I personally like it and enjoyed visiting it several times.
Tours are organized in English, and I remember amused that after a couple of hours visiting, our tour guide told us we only saw 1%. The building hosts also events and the Contemporary Art Museum.
The repression years of communism can be better understood by locals and tourists alike while visiting other sites, such as the “Spring Palace” or “Ceaușescu Mansion”, home of former dictator, now a museum, offering tours in English and Romanian.
The Old Center
The old town Centrul vechi – starts with Lipsani street, that evolves in a mix of charming little streets and the occasional kitsch, with the usual nostalgy from the past. The combination of old and new is present there and everywhere in the city.
When Art Nouveau and books meet
Cărturești Carusel is a pretty new place on Lispcani, one of a kind and an Instagram wonderland for those of you who like hashtags and to #travelwithbooks as much as I do.
At the last floor you can have a coffee, lunch or just read and enjoy the view.
Time to eat. In the old town, Grand Café Van Gogh is a great option. But on Stravopoleous street, my favorite restaurant to rediscover traditional tasty food is at the century old Caru’ cu bere (The Beer Wagon). I recommend going for dinner and making a reservation because every evening you have also traditional music and dances. And one time for lunch I attended a violin concert. What a gem!
The city is keeping up, so many vegetarian options are available, as well as fine dining restaurants, such as “the ARTIST”. And a market for farmers fruits and vegetables is “Obor”.
This part of the city is also the party district with many bars and clubs in one place.
📌 Grand Café Van Gogh: Strada Smârdan, 9 (across the National Bank of Romania)
📌 Caru’ cu Bere: Strada Stavropoleos 5, +40726282373
Never a tourist
When you exit “Caru’ cu Bere” restaurant, on the other side on your left is the Stavropoleos Monastery. On your right, at the end of the street you can spot yet another Art Nouveau wonder, CEC Palace.
Please don’t forget you are now in the heart of the city. These walks through the heart of Bucharest have been deeply imprinted in my mind and I can’t help missing them. I remember I would walk the entire Calea Victoriei, a path as pretty as its name until I would reach Piața Victoriei.
On your way you will pass by a piece of history with elegant shops, boutique hotels, Casa Capșa coffee house, many theaters, Art Nouveau “George Enescu” Museum and Bucharest Telephone Palace in Art Deco.
Music. Magic exists
Continue walking straight until you reach Revolutionary square. On your left is Kretulescu church, concert hall “Sala Palatului” and the Palace of Culture. Which is the Museum of Art. On your right you have the Carol I Library and further down – my favorite building – the concert hall Romanian Atheneum.
More decisions & coffee breaks
To be continued.
Write me if you have any question or you plan to visit. Talking about Bucharest is a favorite topic of mine. Is pretty amazing, right?