Bucharest, Romania

This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Bucharest to Brussels:

  1. Bucharest to Brussels – Introduction and Our Route
  2. Munich, Germany
  3. All Roads Lead to Rome, Part I
  4. Bucharest, Romania
  5. Brasov and Dracula’s (Bram) Castle
  6. Smaller Cities of Transylvania
  7. Budapest part 1: Sziget Festival
  8. Budapest Part 2: Daylife
  9. Budapest Part 3: Nightlife and Food
  10. Vienna and Salzburg, Austria
  11. Berlin, Germany
  12. Beer Around Belgium
  13. Biking to the Best Beer in the World
2014-07-30 12.52.30

Room with a view?

Sara and I both arrived in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, separately after long flights from Boston and London. We were fortunate that several PointsBreaks nights at the Intercontinental opened up, which gave us a chance to unwind and beat the jet lag. Plus the hotel was in a great location in the center of town, so we’d be close to all of the sites in Bucharest (which, as you’ll see, was not many). We also had a great view of the city (which, as you can see on the right, was not much).

We came to Romania mainly to see the Transylvania region in the country’s north, so Bucharest wasn’t a big highlight for us (it was just the easiest place to get flights). We spent a day or two wandering around the city, walking through the old town (really just several touristy restaurants and shops) and visiting the main site, the Romanian parliament building.

The parliament is billed as the second biggest building in the world, although Wikipedia told us later that it is not the case (it’s the largest government building in the world, but doesn’t hold a candle to the Boeing 777 assembly building in Seattle, which we visited in February). Regardless of the exact numbers, it is a really big building, and it is one of the most opulent buildings either of us have stepped into. Construction started in the mid-1980s, when the USSR was in full swing building huge, ugly Soviet buildings (we have them to blame for the ugly look of the city). To build the parliament, they had to demolish about 1/3 of the old town, as well as hospitals, schools, and houses; needless to say the footprint it leaves on the city is massive. The inside is pretty incredible, especially if you like Soviet architecture. A lot of it felt very similar to the massive, opulent buildings we saw in North Korea (in fact, our guide mentioned the architect was inspired after visits to China and North Korea). While photos weren’t allowed except for a $10 fee (!), I snuck a couple so you could have a look:

While impressive, the whole building is kind of a sad statement about how things were during the communist times, and seems to stand as a symbol for the Romanian people about their distrust of their government for the waste and corruption they see daily.

So, on an upbeat and rather surprising note, we ate really well while we in Bucharest. Our favorite was Beca’s Kitchen, which is ran by a former investment banker turned restaurateur who was super nice and her food was delicious. The street food was also pretty good, with tasty pastries and pigs-in-a-blanket.

Regardless of the food and comfy hotel, we were really after four days to head out of town and to Brasov, the tourist center of Transylvania and the home of its most famous resident, Dracula.

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