Sonntag, 9. November 2008
Romanian Architecture
Today I received this powerpoint presentation with all kinds of "funny" pictures about Romania making fun of the country. This one reminded me of I saw in Montenegro this summer.

Lamp. (photographer unknown)

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Dienstag, 17. April 2007
Bucharest's Streetart
Bucharest shows a large variety of streetart. A free open air exhibition. Haven't seen that many pieces of art in one place for a while.

Streetart Bucharest. (novala)
Streetart Bucharest. (novala)Streetart Bucharest. (novala)
Streetart Bucharest. (novala)Streetart Bucharest. (novala)
Streetart Bucharest. (novala)
Streetart Bucharest. (novala)Streetart Bucharest. (novala)
Streetart Bucharest. (novala)Streetart Bucharest. (novala)
Streetart Bucharest. (novala)Streetart Bucharest. (novala)

Streetart. (novala)

International Streetart

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Montag, 16. April 2007
Bucharest: Where and What to Eat
In Bucharest there is a chocolate place. It's like a coffee place where you can indulge in sweets. Can be a bit crowded there, but it's worth waiting. Lara: what was the name of that place?

Chocolate cake. (novala)

This is kind of a yeast bread/cake with nuts (?) in it. Looks like the typical Austrian Easter Bread.

Cake. (novala)

In another place (also forgot the name - Laaara, help!) the waiter doesn't give you a menu booklet, but places the entire signboard in front of your nose.

Typical Romania food is Sarmale - cabbage rolls stuffed with meat or sometimes vegetables for the vegetarians. With it you eat Mamaliga, which is Polenta. At another place Lara introduced me to Ciorba, kind of sour soup. The closest we get in Western Europe to this is Soljanka.

Menu. (novala)
No, Muschi is not what you think. No.
For desert take Papanasi. Kind of triple fried donut with yogurt (?) sauce and jam on top. Delicious!

Two houses away from the chocolate place you find the beer place Carv cu Bere.

Bererie. (novala)

If you don't want to stay have at least a look inside.
Bererie. (novala)

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Sonntag, 15. April 2007
Bucharest in Sepia
"Everything looks good in sepia", Lara said. Here we go. (What was the name of the park again?) --> Parcul Cismigiu.

In the park. (novala)

In the park. (novala)
You can have your picture taken with Bambi.
The photographer looked as sad and worn out as Bambi did.

In the park. (novala)

In the park. (novala)

In the park. (novala)
The art of having benches is one Germany for sure hasn't learnt yet. A lot of benches were even removed at places where bums occupy them. In Vienna and Bucharest the city put up so many benches that there is enough room for everybody - bums and non-bums.

In the park. (novala)
The lake wasn't flooded.

Opera. (novala)
Opera. They play Rossini's La Cenerentola right now. It's one of my favorites.

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Samstag, 14. April 2007
Bucharest: Life in The City
Bucharest for sure is a lively city. The parks have as many benches as Vienna and people meet outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Man and bird in park. (novala)

Men on a park bench. (novala)

Homeless person. (novala)

Or they work and wash one of the millions of yellow Dacia Logan taxis.
Man washing his taxi. (novala)

In Parcul Herastrau (right, Lara?) there is not only a village museum (more on that later), but also a big lake, a monument for the European Union with oversized bronze heads of its founders (only men) and
Girl running over EU monument. (novala)

in another part of the park - various bronze animals like this goose.
Park with iron duck. (novala)

Traffic. (novala)

Policemen in Lipscani.
Policemen in Lipscani. (novala)

The Arch of Triumph. No, not Paris. Bucharest.
It was built in 1922 to commemorate the soldiers who had died in WWI. I read that the original construction was of wood and only replaced by a concrete version in 1935. It's 25 meters high with a viewpoint.

Triumphbogen. (novala)

People and fountains on Unirii Avenue.
People standing at a fountain in sunset. (novala)

The park behind the palace.
People on swings. (novala)

The story with the dogs - although I took some pictures of dogs, these were pretty much all dogs I saw. I had been wondering why there was no dog shit anywhere (as in Vienna). B. said that there used to be a big problem with stray dogs (as in Belgrade), but that they had recently been "removed".

Beagle and legs. (novala)

Ceausescu had started to move people from there big appartments into these socialist concrete bunkers. There flats were not only small, but it was also not allowed to keep dogs. So people left their dogs outside and kept feeding them anyways. The dog population grew and grew. And now it's gone.

Dog in phone booth. (novala)

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Freitag, 13. April 2007
Bucharest: As Old As It Can Get
Bucharest was heavily destroyed in World War II and by an earthquake in the 1970ies. The rest Ceausescu accomplished to kill. Some old buildings survived.

Church. (novala)
Old meets new.

Church. (novala)

This old church is near Calea Victoriei in the old part of town. (What was the name, Lara?) Squeezed between big buildings it almost looks like a toy church.

Church. (novala)

In the tower there is a bell. Before the bell starts ringing, you can hear kind of drums. See the lady to the right? Her drumsticks call for prayers.

Church. (novala)

The churchyard.

Hanul lui Manuc. (novala)

Hanul lui Manuc: This caravansary for traveling merchants was built in 1808. Today it's a cafe, a restaurant and a hotel.

Biserica ortodoxa Sfantul Anton 
<br />
de la Piata Unirii. (novala)

If I got that right this is Curtea Veche - the ruins of Prince Vlad the Impaler's palace (1456-1462). They are next to the Princely Church, the oldest church in Bucharest, built in 1546.
They are just down the road not too far from the Hanul.

Palatul Voievodal. (novala)

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Donnerstag, 12. April 2007
Bucharest - Impressions
Over at "Meine kleine Stadt" I was asked to post more pictures of Bucharest. Since they have an upload limit, I will share the pics here. Lara will correct me if I got information about the places wrong.

House of Architecture. (novala)
House of architects. They took an old building, hollowed it out, just left the walls and built a new house into these remains.

"Donut". (novala)
The "donut" on a stick. Reminds us of the revolution (? - Lara?)

Street. (novala)
This little street is shaped like a U. The yellow roof leaves a warm light. There are some cafés inside. With some polish this could be the hippest hotspot ever.

Lipscani. (novala)
Lipscani - the old merchants quarter. According to Lara and B. there were a lot of stores until the end of communism. Now you find a an unusual number of shops selling ballroom dresses. But the quarter itself is totally run down. It will take a lot of effort to rebuild it. If this ever happens, it will be a gem.

Lipscani. (novala)
The narrowest house in Bucharest. Also in Lipscani.

Lipscani. (novala)
Still Lipscani. The quarter is now occupied by gypsies. A lot of their houses apparently have neither running water nor electricity.

Theater. (novala)

Hotel. (novala)
Washing day at a hotel wall.

Piata 21. Decembrie 1989. (novala)
A place to remember the day of the revolution.

More pictures: Fotografii Bucuresti

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Mittwoch, 11. April 2007
Bucharest: Ceausescu's Palace
"But there is nothing to show in Bucharest", Lara's friend Andrea said when Lara asked her to fill in for her as a tourist guide. I have to admit that Bucharest is not like Vienna (please don't cry now, Lara) when it comes to tourist attractions, but it's really not that there were nothing.

Ceausescu's palace. (novala)

The Number 1 must-see is Ceausescu's palace. The second largest building in the world (Pentagon is No. 1) has never been finished and who knows if it ever will. The construction works started in 1983 during a time when madman Nicolae starved Romania's citizens to death. Or at least tried to.

Ceausescu's palace. (novala)
This staircase had to be done three times, because the dictator never liked it. The steps were too high or too deep. I have to admit, they are perfect now.

"The palace stands 12 storeys high with over 1000 halls and rooms and massive underground basements. There is a nuclear bunker, underground parking that could accommodate Buckingham Palace and a lobby stretching for 300 ft. The rooms are lavishly decorated in gold leaf and marble and over 4500 chandeliers (of 11,000 originally planned) hang in the Palace. This enormous building was originally known as the Casa Popularii, The House of The People, but the people instead coined it Casa Nebunului - the Madman's House." [Source: Pilot Guide]

Ceausescu's palace. (novala)
The palace is full of marble from Romania

An entire quarter of the old town with 26 churches and over 7000 homes was destroyed to make room for the palace. In 1989 the dictator and his family fled the enraged crowd by helicopter from the roof of the building. It didn't help them much.

Ceausescu's palace. (novala)

I remember those days well. While Germany was celebrating a bloodless revolution and probably the happiest moments in history, in Romania people died. I felt so sorry for them.

View from the palace. (novala)
Click to see full panorama: palace_view2_xl (jpg, 139 KB)
If the guide is in a good mood you will be allowed to step on the balcony.

Ceausescu's palace. (novala)
Click to see full panorama: palace_sunset_xl (jpg, 82 KB)
View from the other end of the street towards the palace.

Nowadays the Romanian government has its seat in the palace. Other rooms are used for exhibition. If you can, go for the guided tour. There is an English one. Opening hours are daily from 10 am and 4 pm (except when the parliament is in session, then only weekends).

Ceausescu's palace. (novala)
The ballroom

I think the admission for adults was 20 RON. The permission to take pictures is another 30 RON, which is totally overpriced for what you see. Some guides don't check if you did pay ...

The easiest way to get to the entrance where the tours start is via the Southern entrance. Metro station Izvor is behind the park.

Ceausescu's palace. (novala)

Ceausescu's "Era of Light" [English]

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Donnerstag, 5. April 2007
Bucharest - How To Get There
With the new lowcost airline SkyEurope flying Vienna - Bucharest reaching Romania's capital has become a real bargain. SkyEurope is flying Baneasa, Bukarest's city airport. I don't know what Otopeni, the big airport, is like, but Baneasa for sure offered an odd landing. The plane reached the runway, stopped in time at the end, turned around 180° and faced the direction it had come from. It then drove all the way back. There is no exit at the end of the runway to reach the parking position.

Airport Baneasa. (novala)
Airport Baneasa, Ikea in the background

Party tourists preparing for take-off
Bucharest might gain the same doubtful popularity as Prague, Bratislava or the Baltic capitals. Those cities are hip to go especially for Brits to get wasted. A party weekend in Bratislava is cheaper than a night in London.
I was sitting in the middle of a squadron of Austrian 30somethings ready to fight the dullness of their existence with booze and girls in Bucharest.

The eternal Bucharest/Budapest mix-up
Bucharest could be even easier to reach if there weren't a slight similarity in name with Budapest. Which isn't too far away either. One participant couldn't attend the meeting - the travel agency had issued the ticket to Budapest. Doesn't that remotely remind us of The Eternal Slovenia/Slovakia mixup? [English] "Oh", Ana said, "this often happens."

Taking the car is useless
Taking the car from Vienna is pretty useless for a short trip. According to Roland Fibich's test [German] your average speed will be 60 km/h. No motorway.

Street sign. (novala)
This won't help you either

In Bucharest you are better off if you walk or take the subway. The city is the incarnated gridlock.

Subway. (novala)

If you get stuck, use the time to have a look at all the fancy cars. You won't see as many expensive automobiles in one place anywhere else in the world. It's quite a contrast to the general picture of the city.

In case there is no way forward, take the rocket train.
Rocket train. (novala)

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Dienstag, 3. April 2007
City With B: Bucharest
Had I been whining recently about a lack of impressive and charismatic personalities in my (working) environment, a significant number of them gathered in Bucharest this weekend for a certain CEE/SEE regional program. And I was with them. It was not only enriching in terms of learning something for work life, but even more on a personal level. During the meeting and afterwards. On Sunday afternoon, Lara and B. picked me up for a guided tour of Bucharest. Which lastet 2,5 days.

Sunset in Bucharest. (novala)
Sunset behind Ceausescu's palace

Before I start posting some of my 261 pictures, though, I want to say Thank You to a number of remarkable people for unforgettable moments. In alphabetical order: Mike Dover (New Paradigm), Lara Dutza (herself), Fred Fisher (IDIOM), Ronald MacLean Abaroa (World Bank), Nicole Rata (FPDL), Ana Vasilache (FPDL). Your hospitality, friendliness, openess, warmth, and humor made my heart swing.

And tons of very special thanks go to Lara's Mama who let me stay with her although we had no language to communicate in. Except the one called sympathy.

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