Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bucharest Romania

An interesting experience, it is hard to know where to begin. I kept saying to myself just keep it moving.
It has been raining and cold since I arrived.
Arrival Day-Excellent instructions from the apartment owner. Customs, passport control went smoothly without incident. Nice modern airport. Follow the signs, found ATM machine and taxi kiosk without problems, cab within 5 minutes.
About a 30 minute ride into city. Arrival to apartment, climb 4 flights of stairs to wrong apartment. 
Back downstairs. I find there are 2 apartment buildings with same number. Do a second climb finally to correct apartment. Very gloomy stairs and hallways. Pick up apartment keys from an elderly couple.
He shows me the apartment. Apartment is clean and updated, studio that has everything I need including a washing machine. The man only spoke Romanian but we communicated reasonably well. A few laughs and a hug and kiss on both cheeks. I can call him if I need anything. 
American shows on TV with Romanian subtitles. 

Out to explore the neighborhood a little and first item on the agenda was food. Walked in the wrong direction for restaurants however did find a very nice Mediterranian restaurant. I did not realize how tired I was but there were a couple of steps down into the restaurant, I am glad I stopped because I was not seeing the steps but knew there was something wrong. The waiter came to help and I am so glad he did because I would have taken a tumble. Ordered gazpacho soup and a Mediterranean pasta dish. Both were quite good. Felt much better and back to the apartment to get settled and unpack a little. 

I had read that Bucharest and Romania are safe however watch out for the gypsies, pickpockets and scam artists. As I venture out the first day, I knew that I needed to look like I knew where I was going.

At first glance, I did not like Bucharest at all. There is graffiti, everywhere, soviet era buildings. Where was the little Paris I heard about? My only objective for today was to go to one area on the tourist route and get some food in. Along the Blvd., I discover a lovely local crafts show. Spoke to a couple of young crafts people and find they are very friendly and willing to talk about their crafts. The first told me that it is tradition on the Ides of March to give a small gifts usually from a man to women he loves. Flowers must be given also because many people were carrying flowers. The second girl I spoke with was from Constanta and sold crafts to put herself through college. We spoke a little about the economics situation in Romania. Poor country, her grandmother lives on the equivalent of 150 USD per month but lives in the country and has chickens and eggs to sell. The young girl plans on moving to Asia so she can make moneybags an architect. 
Never did make it to my destination but stopped at a excellent Italian trattoria. 
Eating in restaurants here is inexpensive but today's was 39 USD, which was the most expensive. 
Today, I was happy I made it to the first Piata which is a very large circular round about. Probably a 30 to 45 minute walk from the apartment.
Plan on being back to the apartment before dark until I feel more comfortable in my surroundings.
No camera today, it took all my brain power to find my way and be aware of my surroundings. 

Day 2, I am trying for same destination that I did not make the day before. I am finding the restaurant choices awesome. Spanish restaurant today which was excellent. As I leave the apartment, I find a very large produce and flower market within a 3 minute walk from the apartment.

Day 3, My only pursuit today is search for a paper map. There is a tourist office in the metro which was a challenge to find and they are closed but I did find a map in one of the hotels.

Day 4, My first museum visit to the Museum of the Romanian Peasant. Google maps takes me through a lovely park. The Museum has mixed reviews however did receive an award in1996 for the best European exhibit. I did the audio tour which took about 3 hours and it was so worthwhile. Does a very nice commentary on peasant folklife and traditions. It was filled with crosses, housing displays, peasant costumes and bric a brac. Interesting they charge to take photos so I plan on returning for photos and may do the audio tour again.
Today, I ate at a Romanian restaurant. It was as good as home cooking. Vegetable soup, cabbage rolls, bread right out of the oven and wine for 15 USD.

Public transportation is very good however I have not figured it out yet. There are trams, metros and buses. Taxies are everywhere. I will walk as much as I can.

I am going to post a few photos which are most reflective of the first impressions. 
In general the people are nice and many of the young speak English.
This is the look of the Boulivard I am staying on.

This is the large Piata round about.

A mural on one of the side streets

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