In the few months I’ve been in my new job (see previous post), I have been lucky to take a few European trips to Spain and Italy, but a few weeks ago I got the opportunity to again visit Romania for a project meeting.
My previous trip had been to the north, deep into the Carpathians and involved seeing a wild bear just a few feet away from me, a helicopter trip across the country and a Hungarian Count but that is another story. I loved the place and looked forward to returning, this time to Bucharest.
Those of you who know me reasonably well will know that I struggle to speak English from time to time, never mind any other languages – essentially my Romanian is as good as my figure skating. With this in mind, finding myself at Bucharest airport at 00:30 in the morning with no local currency and my taxi nowhere in sight wasn’t the best start to the trip! Thirty minutes later as panic was setting in and after being propositioned by a number of dodgy cabbies, I saw my name upside-down on an iPad – normally I ignore my given name Laurence, but on this occasion the happiness and relief gave me goosebumps.
Bucharest is a strange city. I have been to Eastern European cities before but nowhere with such a dichotomy of buildings – wonderful architecture was stuck right next to brutalist communist concrete blocks. Mind you, nothing prepared me for the government building that Caucescu built to show off his power – it must have been at least 300 metres wide and dominated everything around it. Dictatorship personified.
My main surprise though was the fact that it would appear the UK stag and hen parties hadn’t discovered the place yet. Somewhere that is on a budget airline route and has beer for 50 and Mojitos for a pound is surely going to be spoiled at some point with L plates and pissed up Brits.
Anyway, recommended for a short city break, although I have to admit to preferring the more rural parts of the country.
Next stop, Paris…