. I think the guidebook said during construction it was something like 70% of the GDP of Romania. Good ol communist waste. I didn't think it was much to look at. In the same vein, Ceausescu leveled much of the city to make room for other grand schemes that were equally dumb, such as a huge street in front of the Parliament building that was intentionally built just wider than the Champs Elysees. As far as I'm concerned they could have just introduced these facts as evidence in the trial where he was executed and that would have been sufficient. Overall Bucharest struck me as a lively city. One of the most striking things was the amount of construction...everywhere. I think this is a good sign. They even have an underground metro which is not common in the bloc. Overall I'd say they've done well to come this far in less than 20 years after the overthrow of one of the worst regimes of the communist era. Oh, and again last night had a conversation with an obsessive anti-american. This conversation went much better and ended up very friendly despite our differences on this issue. Interestingly she had the opinion that all wars were wrong including the intervention in Yugoslavia and even vs. Germany in WWII! How do you argue with people like this? Well, like I said we moved on to other things and surprisingly ended up having a pleasant conversation.
Once again the 89 revolution and weird currency were prominent themes in Bucharest. This is definitely a poor country, but Romania has personality and personality goes a long way. In Bucharest the poverty was more evident than in Timisoara with many children in the streets and not sure why but many elderly ladies standing outside of busy places not always begging but hoping for something. When I sat down next to a church to eat some cheese and crackers an elderly lady came up to me and was saying cheese over and over again in Romanian. I told her I didn't speak Romanian but her only response was "Da" (yes). I got the point and offered her some cheese and she took it. How can you not give food to an old lady? Anyway, I didn't really mind that part of the city and instead I liked it even though it was not that impressive visually. The biggest sight seeing attraction is this huge Parliament building that Ceausescu built like an idiot. It's the second biggest building in the world (Pentagon) but is still plenty vacant