Before leaving Romania, I wanted to see the capital city Bucharest. I decided to take the night train from Baia Mare to Bucharest, so I could have my first experience sleeping on the train. The train took off at six o’clock in the evening and arrived twelve hours later to the capital. There were two options, to either book a cabin shared with five other people or a private one. I chose the private one since I was all alone with way too much luggage and felt like in terms of security it would be much easier for me to be by myself.
The cabin was simple with two bunk beds, a tiny table and a mirror. It was a little over heated so I slept with the window open. Luckily I managed to sleep, albeit it was pretty noisy. Finally, at 6.30 AM there I was at Bucharest train station ready to spend my final two days in Romania.
I did not have much planned for the first day, but just to stroll around and see what I discover. There was nothing really that caught my eye or I was determined to visit when I searched online about Bucharest. Thus, just spending the time to see the city itself seemed like a good idea.
The first direction was toward the parliament. This building was on the top sights to see list in Bucharest. It was pretty huge and surrounded by a park. I liked how it looked kind of old and that it was covered with hundreds of windows. At least it looked like hundreds, I have no idea how many windows it actually has.
After seeing the big building I just kept walking to get an impression of the city. Near the parliament building was a long river flowing and on the other side of it was the Christmas market. I felt like the city could use some colours and renovation. They did not have many holiday decorations either to make it look prettier.
I was mostly interested to see the old city in Bucharest. I would say it was the most beautiful part of the city but did not impress me much. There were a lot of choices of restaurants, cafes and bars there. Occasionally you could meet some street performers. Surprisingly not so many churches as seen in the other parts of Romania, but quite a few spots for a special massage.
I decided to have my lunch at a rooftop restaurant to get a nice view of the city itself. The restaurant was located inside a hotel and had pretty good food, was nice and small but slightly overpriced. The view was not that impressive, though. Like I said the city could use some colouring. All the other cities I saw in Romania were a lot more attractive. Although, the other cities had an advantage. You can always charm me with mountains and Bucharest’s misfortune was that it was flat.
In the evening I stayed in the old city to have a tasty dinner and sit in a cafe. Drinking some hot wine I made some plans for the next day.
What I found the most interesting in Bucharest was the old village open air museum and decided to give it a visit. The first day I walked so much that I wanted to take a taxi this time. I was warned that the taxi drivers in Bucharest were not very honest so I’d better watch out. The first day I already drove a taxi with a functioning taxi meter and it was super cheap.
That morning I found only one taxi standing in my area and this one did not own a taxi meter so it was time to discuss the price. What he said initially sounded too much to me for the distance, but was still very cheap in general. I was not completely sure how much my ride should cost so I haggled it a little lower and decided to go for it anyway. Later I realised that I paid double the price, but on the other hand, it was still really really cheap. So even if you get screwed in Bucharest it’s not a big loss. I was pulled over by the Arcul de Triumf and had a short walk to the village museum.
I was lucky that they held their traditional Christmas performances at the open-air village museum on that day. Right away when I stepped in I saw people dressed up in all sorts of costumes and many groups performing. I did not understand anything from the songs they sang or poems they read, but it was very fun to watch. Some of the costumes were hilarious and it really shows how different cultures celebrate Christmas so diversely. All around the place, they were also selling all sorts of Romanian goods.
The village museum itself was a large display of old houses and showed how some people used to live. You could peek into some of the houses. In the middle of it was also a mandatory church. Some of the houses were so tiny, seemed tinier than my room and I wondered who could fit to live in there.
After a couple of hours spent in the museum, I decided to have another walk around in the big Herastrau park next to the village museum. At one spot in the park, I found a monument dedicated to Michael Jackson. I wondered why was it exactly there, not in a place I would expect it to be. After some research, I found out that people had really appreciated his performance in Bucharest and after he died they made a monument to remember him. Apparently, the alley it was located on was named after Michael Jackson too. Seemed quite a random place at first, but now it kind of makes sense.
I liked that I found some really old looking children’s swings and carousels at the park. Made me feel like I went a little back in time. No one was playing there either so they looked abandoned and slightly mysterious.
Before heading back to the hostel to pack my bags I visited a big mall. Bucharest is good for shopping because there are quite many huge malls. I completely ignored the fact that I could not even fit a little coin in my luggage anymore and still bought some things. Good luck to me travelling back home!
Bucharest was my least favourite part of Romania. It was kind of dull and grey and did not offer so much to do as I was hoping for. Unless you are really into buildings and old architecture then you might find it appealing. I felt like the city stayed in the communist area. The old city was the most beautiful part of it, but nothing special. I think if you are going to visit Romania and want to see the capital city, stay only one or maximum two days. The rest of the country is really worth discovering and you can find so many beautiful places. In the end, I just saw a small part of it, but what I saw was fascinating. And nature was just wonderful.
With still so much left to see, who knows, one day I might be back?!