The city of cars and cars and cars
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
99Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
In finding my hostel, I had to walk through a construction site. Once I found the hostel, I dropped my bags and went back to a kebab shop I spotted. A chicken kebab, delicious and dripping with sauces. I'm still keeping to cheap food and avoiding restaurants.
When I was growing up, there were always dark and disturbing reports coming out of Romania. Remember when Challenge Anneka went to Romania? So sad and all because of one man, Nicolae Ceausescu. He was executed by firing squad on Christmas day 1989 and their first democratic elections were held in 1990. I enter with an open mind and look forward to exploring the city.
The edge of the city is filled with communist style blocks of housing and the city centre has large stand out government buildings. There are wide boulevards and century old buildings. After inspiration from North Korea, and while his country was starving, Ceausescu ripped up a large area of historic buildings to create B-dul Unirii, Romania's equivalent of Champs Elysees. A 3.2km boulevard, resembling more a car park with the dense traffic. The western point of the boulevard is the Palace of Parliament. The second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon. The boulevard is lined with some pretty cool fountains and there are benches along the walk to stop and reflect, eat your lunch etc.
The city was very busy. Businessman walking by on their mobile phones, everyone dressed to impress and little cafe and deli's are scattered everywhere. What I did notice, more than anything else, was the volume of cars. Cars, cars and more cars. They were everywhere. It kind of reminded to a little of Hanoi and the number of motorcycles in that city.
Lunch on my first day came from a cute little deli that weighs what you buy. I got a few chicken wings and some mouth watering roasted vegetables. All for less than a quid. Not bad.
The part of the city I enjoyed most was the Historic Quarter. Beautiful buildings, cobbled paths, small markets scattered around and cafes spilling out onto the cobbles. A relaxing area to walk around and you really forget where you are.
I walked around for around seven hours on the first day in Bucharest, so I was knackered. Dinner, consisted of a cup of soup and some 10p bread from a shop. The first evening, as I had a plug socket next to my bunk, I spent 5 hours listening to podcasts from Ricky Gervais and giggling myself to sleep. Great stuff! There were some lads who went out drinking, but I declined.
The next day was supposed to be an early start and head to Brasov in Transylvania. But, I overslept and when I did get to the train station, I figured out I would miss my sleeper train to Moldova. Nevermind, I'll see Transylvania another time.
I walked back into the city and explored a little more, bought myself an ice cream and spent some time in the park. The park reminded me of Boston, there were people peddling away on little boats, young children running around and many people sat reading and relaxing. A great way to avoid the car chaos in the centre.
I'm travelling at a slow pace at the moment. I'm enjoying the downtime and am slowly making my way to Helsinki. It's not quite the speed of travel I undertook in South America, but I think I am slowly warming up.
I've been very unsociable on my trip as well, but that all changed before I left Romania. I boarded a sleeper train to Chisinau and met Daniel, a musician from Portugal. We chatted some before we met Patrick from Ireland, who lives in Moldova and has US citizenship. We chewed the fat over various topics. Two great guys. The train was like a sauna when we entered. It had been sat in the baking sun for hours and my four bed cabin was roasting. There were meant to be 4 passengers in their but two others found an empty cabin.
The train moved along into the darkness of the night towards the Moldovan border.
Next stop Chisinau, Moldova.