Romania (part I) – Bucharest

Kretzulescu orthodox church
Kretzulescu orthodox church

After 4.5 years in Washington DC, I left the city for good. I first headed to Bucharest, the Romanian capital, for a work conference. I spent a few wonderful days there before exploring the most famous part of the country: Transylvania.

Upon arrival to Bucharest, first things first. We finished the preparations for our TAXGIP Conference so everything would go smoothly. This was my last event with the World Bank after 3 years working for the organization.

A few days later, my boyfriend arrived to Bucharest and the touristy part of the trip really set off. The capital is the biggest city in the country and we were happily surprised by the beautiful architecture, the lively atmosphere and the many good restaurants Bucharest has to offer.

During our stay, we strolled mostly around the Old Town. Starting from our hotel, we headed south on Piața George Enescu and then Calea Victoriei. On the way, you will find elegant buildings such as the Romanian Athenaeum (a concert hall),  the Central University Library, Kretzulescu orthodox church, Colțea Hospital or the National Theatre. Lipscani street is the most attractive area for tourists due to its various cafés and restaurants within a pedestrian zone. Cismigiu Park is also worth a walk!

While we were there, we got to catch up twice with Anamaria, one of my good friends from my Brussels period. We were lucky she took us to a couple of excellent restaurants (see trip details below)!

National communism in Romania was the state ideology of the country between the early 1960s and 1989. Part of the national mythology was Nicolae Ceaușescu’s cult of personality and the idealization of Romanian history. Even though Ceaușescu was executed in the Romanian Revolution of December 1989, the communist architecture is a remnant of that period.

The best example was the Palace of the Parliament, which was the most grandiose building we visited in Bucharest. Built between 1984 and 1997, it dominates the city’s landscape due to its monumental dimensions. Still, old and new go hand in hand in the Romanian capital.

To finish up our stay, we went to see the Giselle ballet at the Romanian National Opera. What a beautiful night!

Trip details:

Accommodation: Athénée Palace Bucharest. We organized the TAXGIP Conference in this hotel and this is where we all stayed. This place is located within the heart of the city and provides spectacular views over Revolution Square and the Romanian Athenaeum.

Bars & restaurants:

*Chocolat: great café by our hotel. Their products were really fresh and we had lunch here twice! Try their delicious pea soup.

*Caru’ cu bere (meaning ‘the beer wagon’):  with a history of more than 130 years, this restaurant was and still is a symbol of Bucharest’s old town. They serve traditional Romanian food and feature folkloric shows in a unique art nouveau interior.

*Bistrot Français: classy restaurant, next to our hotel. We came here with my work colleagues for dinner.

*Crama Domneasca: this is where my boyfriend and I had dinner on our first night out in Bucharest. We ate a platter of various delicious meats.

*Hanu’ lui Manuc:  this restaurant claims to be the oldest inn in Europe! It offers a delicious range of Romanian dishes in a spacious patio full of flowers. This place was courtesy of my friend Anamaria.

*Fior di Latte: my friend Anamaria also brought us to this excellent Italian restaurant. Their chocolate fondant was delicious!

*Aubergine: There is plenty of seafood and loads of vegetarian options in this cozy restaurant in the heart of Bucharest.

*Vatra: neighbouring Cismigiu Park, this restaurant represents the place where the Romanian cuisine is pleasantly supplemented by the Transylvanian original interior decorations dating back from 1920. We had a standard dinner in their lovely patio.

*Corks Cozy Bar: good place for a few beers.

*Puro & Bio: we had delicious icecreams here!

Prep information before traveling:

*Romania Tourism

*El País – Rumanía en ocho visitas

*El País –  Bucarest 

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