Putting the Rest in Bucharest

Trip Start Jul 08, 2013
1
23
Trip End Aug 06, 2013


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Flag of Romania  , Bucuresti,
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Paula Abdul's Opposites Attract plays on Romanian MTV in this Bucharest apartment. I'm lounging on the same Ikea couch I have in SF, still recovering from the plane trip. I always forget how intense jet lag can be and am still groggy from my nap. Is it a nap if it's 4 hours long?

I was met at the airport by Stelian, Romania's Ray Romano, who drove me through town to a block of a gray building ringed in Coca Cola ads. The front door is tucked behind a phone booth-sized convenience store - conveniently open 24 hours. We squeezed into the elevator that stops between floors and I was left here to dream Ikea dreams.

I walked around this crumbling bustling city today, trying not to be too obvious with my guidebook. Why do I do that? Nobody's fooling anyone with this backpack and camera. The Romanians streets are shy in this town, frequently reluctant to reveal themselves with street signs. There are a number of signs pointing to squares nearby or points of interest. Within a couple of hours I was clutching my guidebook like a Mormon on a mission.

Stelian told me yesterday that Bucharest used to be known as "Little Paris". During the second half of the 19th century, a neoclassical style dominated the architecture and the city thrived. Much of the city was damaged in WWII. Under communism, the city continued to grow, in huge plain block dwellings. Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu destroyed even more of the historical the city, including 30,000 homes and about 30 churches and synagogues to build an immense opulent extravaganza known as the Palace of the Parliament. Ceausescu intended this place to be a personal residence as well as a government building.

Our tour guide Francisco said this is the world's second largest government building, second only to the Pentagon. Built in 1983 - 1984, the palace has 1100 rooms, and millions of chandeliers in each! Francisco was hilarious and very patient with the rude Americans on our tour: "I am being mysterious about answering your questions.'' The tour, by the way, costs 10 lei to get in and 35 lei more to bring a camera. I brought a camera.

More getting lost and finding my way. I worked up the courage to buy a peach from a fruit stand. It takes me a few days to enjoy not knowing what I'm doing as I just try to live my life. 
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Comments

Jean on

Glad you are starting this blog (again).

Batman on

I can just see you writing your commentary! And I know that toiletry bag hanging by the shower all too well! How's the currency exchange? Is Erin coaching you? Glad you're there safely. Have fun.

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