City Spotlight: Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

September 2015

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Length of visit: 4 days, then 1 ½ days

Lodging: Family

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Can’t Miss Sights, Tours, and Experiences 

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+ Palace of the Parliament – This massive structure is the seat of Parliament in Romania and is the second largest building in the world, behind the Pentagon. It is an unbelievable (even excessively) ornate building featuring materials from all over Romania. Commissioned by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the megalomaniacal dictator of Romania, it also has quite a fraught history.  The English tour was quite good, and spending the extra lei to take pictures was absolutely worth it.

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+ Futbol at the National Arena Stadium – We had the good fortune to be in Romania during a Euro Cup 2016 qualifying match versus Greece, so naturally, we made sure to get tickets.  The tickets weren’t expensive, and we had great fun. Definitely worth the experience!

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+ Mogoșoaia Palace – If you have access to a vehicle, you can drive 20 minutes outside of the city to Mogoșoaia to see the pleasure palace of Constantin Brâncoveanu, prince of Wallachia.  Brâncoveanu was a deeply religious prince who made donations to churches throughout the three kingdoms.  It’s a beautiful, quiet place, and a nice way to spend an afternoon.

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 + Romanian Village Museum – Although there is limited English signage here, it was great to see a variety of homes from villages throughout the country.  I had the benefit of having Romanian translations, but even without, it was a nice experience.

 Great Food 

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+ Caru Cu’ Bere – Situated in the heart of Lipscani (Old Town), this restaurant has great atmosphere.  The building is a historical monument and boasts an excellent patio area.  They still make their own beer, and the food was quite good.  It’s a nice place to rest while exploring Old Town.

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+ As we were staying with family, I can’t speak to many restaurants in Bucharest.  That said, I highly recommend ordering mici, which are small pan-fried sausages, or trying the cașcaval, a mild cow’s milk cheese, if you get the opportunity. When I was out to eat in Romania, I always ordered Ursus Black – a dark Romanian beer. It’s inexpensive and pleasantly refreshing.

 Overall 

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Bucharest is a great city – there are so many things to do and see. There were many things that we simply weren’t able to make time to do, and I hope to do them if I get the chance to visit again. Moreover, Bucharest has excellent public transportation that is easy-to-use, even if you don’t speak Romanian, and everything was surprisingly inexpensive given that we were in a Capitol city.  All in all, you could probably see many of the major sights in 2-3 days before departing to explore other parts of the country – but don’t skip over delightful Bucharest.

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