Dear Bucharest

I belong to several cities thanks to my destiny of choice of a wanderer. Or vagabond :). 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.

Palace of Parliament during the Bucharest Marathon
Herăstrău Park. And Nostalgia

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 “(M. Eliade, Wedding in Heaven)

Destination Bucharest

This capital is loud and dynamic, still in construction, unpolished, with grey traces from the past. Some parts lack structure, 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.

Romance. Piața Unirii

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.

Communism

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.

Romanian Food

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 menu at Caru’ cu bere. If you wonder, 46.5 Lei is around 10 eur. A bargain

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

📌 the Artist: Calea Victoriei 147, +40728318871

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.

Stavropoleous Monastery. Credit: Dana Stefanescu.m
CEC Palace. Credit: Jeni Mateescu

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.

Romanian Rhapsody

The Festival George Enescu at the Atheneum lasts a month every 2 years in September and is without doubt the biggest cultural manifestation that Bucharest has at the moment.

Romanian Atheneum. Photo credit Festival George Enescu

I associate Bucharest with the feeling of nostalgia and with the music of composer George Enescu because when I moved the Festival was in full bloom, with concerts in front the Atheneum, inside the metro stations and in mobile stages in the city center. The theme used to be “Magic exists”.

More decisions

At Aviatorilor stop, stay for a visit at National Village Museum – an open air museum where you can pretend for a minute to be in other regions of Romania like Maramureș, Bucovina or Dobrogea.

Traditional blouse, tunic and pattern

Coffee breaks

Coffee at Origo, one of the first specialty coffee shops, now also a co-working space, and Simbio for coffee and cake or brunch.

Last December Georgiana, my best friend from University, took me to “Beans & dots”, a café and a concept store in a former print shop. Tip – nearby is beautiful Cismigiu Gardens, a little oasis in the urban landscape.

New places are in town since I moved. My friends with good taste in coffee seem to be raving about Artichoke.

📌 Origo: Strada Liscani 9

📌 Simbio: Strada Negustori 26

📌 Beans & dots: Strada Ion Brezoianu 27

📌 Artichoke: Calea Victorie 45

For a sweet tooth, I woukd go to Chocolat, historical Casa Capșa and French Recolution.

📌 Chocolat: Strada Episcopiei 6

📌 Casa Capșa: Calea Victoriei 36

📌 French Revolution: Strada Constantin Esarcu 1

To Beans & dots

Transportation

In the city center is best to walk, but definitely hop on the subway when in Bucharest. The city is very big and the metro is an affordable and convenient alternative, as long as you avoid the early morning and 18 o’clock.

Universitate metro stop (University), Unirea and Piața Victoriei will be your friends and main go to stations.

Accommodation

InterContinental Hotel at Universitate is the first skyscraper in the city. Also, to be based between the Ateneum or Cișmigiu Gradens is a good idea.

And if you want to choose an AirBnB, the most chic neighborhoods are Parcul Carol, Grădina Icoanei and Dorobanți, all 3 in proximity to the city center, still with a charmingly local feeling.

One last thought. I can’t imagine living a different life than the one I live today, but I can’t help to wonder. How would my life have been if I stayed? Is a conforting feeling to know Bucharest will alway be there.

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?

Mulțumesc x Aida