Friday, April 26, 2013

Views of Bucharest

Today's post will be mostly pictorial, because if you're like me before I got here, Bucharest is probably a bit of a mystery to you. Here's what it looks like.

Lots of little Orthodox churches are tucked amid the tightly packed buildings in the older parts of the city. Sometimes they have small outdoor altars where visitors can light a candle, as in the top photo.

There are quite a few stray dogs wandering around. My guidebook says this is the result of Communist-era policies decades ago that forced people to move into large apartment blocks. Unable to keep their pets, they turned the dogs out onto the streets. I've seen tags in the ears of some dogs, so apparently there is some kind of tracking or veterinary care program for them.

There's a crazy amount of graffiti and street art to keep me busy with the camera!

A street view in the older, cobblestoned part of town. I love how elegant old buildings appear around every corner, tucked amid the newer ones.

Here's the River Dambovita, which runs through town. It was channelized years ago, and even flows underground for some distance.

And finally, here's the Palace of Parliament, built in the waning days of the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, just before he was overthrown in the revolution that ended communism in 1989. It's said to be the second-largest government building in the world after -- you guessed it -- the Pentagon. Apparently large portions of it aren't even in use. It's quite imposing, though.

I walked and walked yesterday, with more of the same today. I am in my element and having a ball. Reading my guidebook I realize how little I know about the history of this part of the world -- Magyars, Dacians, Thracians, Wallachians, it's all a vague jumble to me. It's great to be able to sit in a cafe, drink a Timisoreana beer, and learn about it all in the midst of modern-day Romania.

Lots more wandering is on the agenda today!


  1. Wonderful -- and I look forward to some mini history lessons!

  2. Steve, it's funny that you should take a photo of that particular church because one of the people that Rick works with is a member of that very same church! When he was there he went for a concert featuring children that belonged to the church playing violin and piano in the basement of the church.

    He also got a little private tour of the artifacts and icons associated with the church. She invited him to mass as well, but Rick respectfully declined since it was a very long mass.

    Can't wait to see more! Enjoy your wanderings!

    P.S. Meant to add the other day when you said the students went to their host families, weren't you jealous? What a great learning experience for them!

  3. It's as if you were on a different planet. Whoa, Steve! And these pictures are really stunning. I have to admit, I have such an isolated view of the world. You just cracked that open a bit. Thank you.

  4. This is fabulous! I love seeing the city through your eyes (& using your legs - I'd probably only be good for about 2 hours of walking).

  5. I don't do religion but I really like that church. It seems to me that that's what it should be about, small intimate places instead of the extravagant wasteful cathedrals. I love the history apparent in the architecture too. None of that here, especially in Houston where they have no love or respect for the past. Iconic art deco building? tear it down and build some ugly modern structure.

  6. I am so glad that you have a blog! I LOVE your life and I LOVE your photos and I LOVE your dog!! Thank you so much! Great look at what you are seeing there- Can't wait for the next installment! Just wonder full !

  7. Hey Steve, FYI,
    Rick and I were talking tonight about your trip and he said I should tell you to have dinner at your hotel in the "high end" restaurant (not the Beni-Hana's) because it was stellar. Knowing Dave's palate I thought I'd pass it along in case you were avoiding it. He said it was wonderful.


  8. Elizabeth: I'm probably not in the best position to TEACH the history, but trust me, there's so much that we never learn in school.

    Lynne: How great that Rick got to see a performance in that church! I didn't even go in, though it is open to the public. I suppose I should visit it. I am jealous of the kids. What an incredible opportunity, especially at such a young age.

    Ms Moon: There is so much to see on this planet. It's just mind-boggling.

    Bug: Thanks! I am happy to take you on a virtual tour. :)

    Ellen: The Romanians did their share of tearing down, particularly when the Communists were in power. Ceausescu flattened whole square miles of the city to build his grandiose plazas and government buildings. You wonder what was lost, because what's here is still so amazing.

    Linda Sue: I'm glad you're getting a kick out of it! Maybe you need to plan a trip to Romania! One good thing -- because the country isn't yet on the Euro, it's relatively inexpensive.

    Lynne 2: Thanks for letting us know! I think our dinners are somewhat scripted because we're here with Dave's work crowd. If we get some free time we'll check it out. We do eat breakfast here, but it's been a standard (good!) breakfast buffet.

  9. Bucharest was a mystery before I saw your pictures and after -- but in a good way that makes me want to add it to my list of places to visit.

    It's interesting that the universal language of graffiti seems to link otherwise foreign places back to where we call home. I could have seem the same tags in the Mission, Barcelona, or Singapore. Probably not on that last one.

  10. I'm way late catching up but loving your photos/stories!