Even though I’ve been in Romania for nearly a year now, I really hadn’t visited Bucharest before. I’d spent a few hours here once while waiting for a train to Belgrade, but the short wander around the sights that that visit allowed was not really very interesting and nor did it make me want to come back that much. It just felt like a large, not particularly attractive, dirty city. This time however, I came for a couple of days (which turned into 4 eventually for reasons which I’ll go into later) and got the chance to see a little bit more of it.
I think the reason I didn’t like it much before was because I had limited time, I stuck to the main streets as I walked around, unwilling to get lost or just to go off course in any way. I did walk around the run-down Lipcsani district which is the one part of the old quarter that Ceausescu didn’t bulldoze, and which all the guidebooks point you towards, but aside from that I stuck to the main thoroughfares and frankly the modern buildings in downtown Bucharest are for the most part hideously ugly. One of the city’s most famous landmarks is the Intercontinental Hotel on Piata Universitarii, which I’m sure is nice on the inside, but on the outside is a monument to unsightliness. This time however, I not only had time, but I also had meetings to go to in various parts of the middle of the city which forced me (and Cezar my friend, colleague and guide) to take back streets and walk around. Now, then, I like it. Not the big buildings, not the main drags, but the smaller backstreets. There are so many trees, it’s just like walking round leafy suburbs at times. The area which we crisscrossed at length (between the British Council, the US Cultural Centre, and the Ministry of Education) is certainly like this, and was extremely pleasant to wander around. Later, after meetings were over, I wandered further afield on my own, and discovered that most areas through the curtain of high buildings lining the main strips were like this, villas rather than tower blocks, trees everywhere. Most agreeable.
Also, the metro system must be the cheapest in Europe. I bought a 10 trip ticket for 60,000 lei. That’s about a quid. Less than €2. About $2. Just over 10p a trip. You can’t buy one ticket on the tube for that kind of money let alone 10. It’s fantastic. The trains on the main M2 line are very modern and clean and nice too. (Not so in my limited experience of the M1 line that comes out of the station). The only downside is the lack of information about where you are going. You really have to have studied a map before you go into the station and work out where the end of the line is and which route you need to take, because maps in the stations are non-existent. And it’s one of these systems like Paris in which you have to choose the platform which is labelled with the terminus of the line (rather than the “eastbound” approach of London). This system works fine as long as there are maps on which you can work out if you want to go in the direction of Pipera or Dep IMGB. But there aren’t. I guess at 10p a ticket they can’t afford to put any up.
More to come…
Vadim Tudor in honesty shock
Extreme right wing racist scum bag, Cornelius Vadim Tudor of the “Greater Romania Party” retired himself after the last election and allowed his party to attempt to rebrand itself in order to be somewhat more internationally acceptable. The party’s name changed from PRM to PPRM (“Greater Romania People’s Party”). Now Vadim Tudor has returned to the fold and attempted to take “his party” back from the people currently running it and forced it to change its name back. The reason he gave for this? That voters will have difficulty recognising the name of the new party. Thus finally admitting what has been obvious all along, that he knows full well that his voters are complete and utter imbeciles.