May
3
2010

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Exploring Bucharest

by Tara

After sleeping in, and enjoying the morning with music playing the background (something of a revelation to us after so long on the road), Robert cooked us breakfast. He refused any help and told us the plan for the day while we ate. He had created a walking route of Bucharest, highlighting several important areas and buildings, including a tour of the Palace of Parliament!

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

Normally we don't do expensive touristy things, but Robert treated us to the excursion, saying we couldn't possibly come to Romania and not see the second largest building in the world. Of course he was right and we were grateful for it. The place was jaw-droppingly humongous.

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

Every room we visited was massive, spacious, and ornately decorated. It made Chatsworth look like a doll's house:

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

Our tour guide was cute and spunky. She filled us with the usual touristy facts like how many light bulbs there were, how many square meters each room was, and how much the chandeliers weighed (several tons). When she wasn't talking, our guide hurried us along like sheep, snapping out the lights in each room just as we were about to photograph it. An old Japanese guy thought this was pretty hilarious.

Bucharest Palace of Parliament Tour

The most interesting fact I learned was that many of the carpets in the building had to be woven in the room they were destined for. They were so large and so heavy they had to be made on site!

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

I got dizzy looking down at this one, which seemed to stretch on forever.

Palace of Parliament Carpet

I think this is the room where Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci got married…

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

Or maybe it was this one… I don't remember.

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

The final part of the tour, a trip to the balcony, boasted some great views of the city. Here is Robert posing with the silly visitor number badges we received in exchange for our passports to enter the building:

Robert at Palace of Parliament

After our visit, we walked through the city for the next destination in our tour. On the way, Rob asked us what we did do in cities, if we didn't generally visit the touristy sites. Arriving in Bucharest's quiet, pedestrian-only, "Old Town" helped us answer that question.

We go for walks, admiring the architecture…

Bucharest Old Town Bucharest Natural History Museum

…and witty graffiti.

Meaning of Life?  Deadlines.

We pet the dogs.

Bucharest Stray Dogs

And we (me especially) are amused with little things. I really liked how the letters on this financial building were crooked, creating a whimsical look…

Bucharest Financial Plazza

And how old buildings are reflected in the new ones:

Bucharest Reflections

I particularly liked this old bank building:

CEC Bank Building

…and the swanky cars out front:

Fancy Cars at CEC Bank Building

After meandering around the Old Town, we proceeded to our final destination of the day: a huge beautiful park filled with people enjoying the late afternoon. There were dudes eying pretty ladies:

Bucharest Park

And many people walking hand-in-hand down shady paths. Kids rode around on little scooters, and groups of moms pushed strollers along as they chatted.

Bucharest Park

After a peaceful exploration of the park (which had a lake and paddle-boats, fountains, bridges, ruins, lots of sculptures, and a cotton candy stand) Tyler found this black swan to photograph. We didn't even know there was such a thing!

Black Swan, White Swan

With a final moment in the park listening to an old man playing an accordion, we went home where Rob treated us to more of his mother's delicious food.

Thank you for being such a great host and tour guide, Rob!


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3 comments

What a coincidence! Just after reading your description of the peoples palace, I sat down to watch BBC's Top Gear. The three guys, Clarkeson, Hammond and Mays, were touring Romania in three exotics and arrived at the same place. They said that the palace was supposed to be the heaviest building in the world.

Always a pleasure to read your journal (the occasional sound bites are really neat). Good luck on your future travel - I suggest a good used Hummer would be the best way through Russia.
Posted by Martin - Sidney IL on May 6th, 2010 at 7:35 AM
I've just moved to Bucharest and in my first sight seeing trip I had just the same wonderful and postive impression of the architecture. There may be lots about this city that is not so pretty but the gems are there and all the more important considering the history. The park must have been Herestrau (forgive my spelling) which has been a great joy to me and my 2 sons.
Posted by Vicky on September 29th, 2010 at 6:49 PM
I feel compelled to tell you Black Swans are Australian - we're very proud of them :-)
Posted by Scot McPhie on February 28th, 2014 at 4:17 PM
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