Bucharest is fascinating. When arriving, the contrast of the city is incredible, but walking through the old town is magical. Among local produce shops and trendy bars, one can find little pearls, little corners that have something special that is quite difficult to put into words.
Si el día está lindo, no dudes en ir preparado para hacer un pic nic luego de visitar el arco. Se encuentra a unos metros de distancia de uno de los parques más lindos de la ciudad. Con puestos para comprar comida y golosinas.
Going down Carada street, parallel to Calea Victoriei, then up to the National History Museum of Romania, we found on the right a bohemian passage, like the ancient covered passages of traders of Paris in the Belle Epoque. Several streets have been covered by a large glass roof, allowing the small shops and restaurants to have a terrace in all seasons, or to leave their goods out. Built in 1891 the passage has a strong French influence, there is even a "bistro", nothing but national dishes are served though, from goulash to bean soups. Today the passage has mainly restaurants, there is a curious Moroccan style restaurant with water pipes and large comfy seats outside that students frequent, another serves Romanian food with transalpine chalet decor, and a third more neutral looks really old, and has a fine selection of products. It's a shame that artisan shops and antique book stores have been replaced by soulless shops offering souvenirs to tourists.
The Village Museum, or Museul Satului is in the Herăstrău park, is a place you can visit every day except Mondays, between 10 and 18 hours. The best way to get to the museum is taking the subway or taking the bus to the Arc de Triomphe. The museum was created in 1936 by Dimitrie Gustie, the founder of the Romanian school of sociology. The Village Museum was one of the first of its kind in the world. Its style was mimicked long after, with the lore museums worldwide. Set in the middle of the largest city park, next to a large lake, it has more than 300 buildings across the country recovered. Later they were disassembled, and were transported to the capital to build them. There are churches, houses, craft workshops, blacksmiths, bakers, ... all which are typical of each region of Romania. You can appreciate the atmosphere of all the villages with its typical decorated door, with the names of the families ve lived there painted on them. It´s a great to visit for children, as well.
The Lake Herăstrău, Lacul Herăstrău, is situated north of Bucharest, and surrounded by the largest park in the city. It is a favorite place for people to come and run , or enjoy the views of its romantic landscape. In a country where many people still live with their parents, Lakeside offers a bit of privacy that you cannot get in the small flats of the communist era. The lake was created in the 30s to prevent flooding and covers an area of 74ha. It is powered by the river Colentina. There are some very nice restaurants overlooking the house of the free press, a monument of the city. There's even a bar installed on a boat. You can not swim inside of it but you can rent a boat if you´d like.
Carol I Park is located at the end of the avenue of June 13, and it is one of the loveliest parks in the city. In the middle of it there is a big lake and on weekends the people come to rent a boat. The park has a lot of children, whom are accompanied by their grandparents because parents generally do not have enough money to find another child care system. Up on the top of the park is a monument dedicated to the dead, a tribute to the Romanian soldiers, with a flame of the unknown soldier. You can get there from the hill of the metropolis, the Strada Patriarhieu, southwest of the hill. The park is big, but around it are the big roads of the city, and there are actually very few places where you feel like you're in the midst of vegetation. It is easy situate yourself by the large main boulevard leading to the memorial of the dead. This is on a hill that lets you take in all the sights around you. And as in other city parks, there is wifi and many young people go there with their laptops to use it.
The Romanian Athenaeum is well-known for the quality of its acoustics. This near-mythical concert hall has hosted all the big names from the world of classical music like Ravel, Strauss, and Enescu. It's located near Franklin Street and has a small park in front where you can admire the facade from the comfort of a bench. It was built by French architect Albert Galleron in 1888 and the entryway features small medallions representing the great figures of Romanian history. The concert hall can seat about 1,000 people, and on the ceiling of the rotunda, you can see frescoes about Romanian history. It's open from Monday to Friday from 9 to 15:30 before closing for acoustic testing before the evening concerts.
The National Museum of Romanian History is located in a beautiful turn of the century building which, before becoming a museum in 1971, was actually once the Post Office. Inside you can see weapons, archaeological artifacts and other diverse treasures from Romanian history. It's a shame that it's not more popular than it is. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 9-5:00 pm and admission is free on the last Friday of the month. In the basement, the National Treasury includes more than 2,000 objects of gold and silver embedded with precious stones. The highlight is the 4th-century Visigoth Golden Hen with Chicks, a priceless treasure discovered near Buzau. The hen is surrounded by hundreds of gorgeous golden chicks.
The Romanian Senate is in the Revolution Square in front of the National Museum of Art of Romania. It is a neoclassical building that finished construction in 1948, after the Second World War, when the country went through a transition to the hands of the Communists. It later housed the headquarters of the Communist Party Central Committee.You will notice a sadly famous balcony, which has been there since December 21, 1989. This is where Nicolas Ceausescu, desperate for a popular revolution in Germany and other countries of the Soviet bloc, delivered his last speech before being interrupted by angry people. In front of the building, there are crosses, flowers and candles burning throughout the year, commemorating the events of 1989, and the fact that dozens of Romanians died in the square, which was the starting point of the "transition", or the move to democracy. He tried to flee but he was a couple weeks too late, was judged and hit on the head. Today the building is used to vote for the laws.
The Calea Victoriei market is one of the oldest markets in Bucharest, the other being in Unirii Square. It is south of the Piata Victoriei if you head towards Romana Square. You can go to Victoriei by subway or tram as there are several stops around the market. It is not for tourists, this a place where you are going to meet the natives of Bucharest. Some older ladies come from far away to sell garlic bulbs or raspberries from their gardens, for a cheap price. Prices in the capital for accommodation and transport are very high. But most of the capital's pensioners live on very little, about 100 euros a month. They go to the market, where you find all cuts of meat, even some we would not eat, and fish but it did not look good. The best was the fruit which was juicy and tasty, the best thing about a Romanian summer.
The Bucharest Metro is insane. First of all because there aren't two way stairs yet. So, when you're there, every time the metro stops way too many people get on, it's especially impressive during the metro's peak hours. Then it is very difficult to understand because there are not many maps or directions. For example the first time I asked my destination, I was sent to walk around the circle, but the longest side. I, perhaps half an hour later! The metro is a very cheap means of transport, travel card costs 8 10 read, ie about 2 euros. Probably that is why it is in such bad condition. I preferred the buses and trams of the city, but the hours of heavy traffic or to go near Victoriei or Unirii Square, faster go underground. It is safe, there is not much crime.
The National Museum of Art of Romania is located in the old Golescu Palace that, despite being small, was one of the most prestigious buildings in Bucharest. In its place, the royal palace was built by the French architect Gottereau. In 1927, a fire destroyed the palace and King Carol II built the new building in 1935. Following the exile of King Michael in 1948, the palace was nationalized and converted into a museum with sections focusing on 18th century Romanian art, modern art, and Eastern European and decorative art in general. There's a collection of priceless religious artifacts, and works by popular 20th century Romanian artists like Luchian and Cecilia Storck. The final part of the gallery houses the private collection of the king that was confiscated during the Communist era and features works by El Greco, Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet, Delacroix and Renoir.
The Baraka is a bar in Herastrau Park, which is in the north of Bucharest. Herastrau is the green lung of the city, and the government allowed restaurants and bars to be installed. The Baraka is a very simple place. It has the appearance of a lounge with comfortable armchairs, dark tones ... But it is an open place, surrounded by nature. It is in front of the skate park in the city, and there is a music that corresponds well to the spirit of the skaters, and seems to inspire their jumps. You must enter the park through the gate and Charles de Gaulle find just before reaching the lake. Prices are reasonable, the coffee is 1.30 euros and beer at 2 euros. They serve a lot of food but there are other restaurants around. I recommend this visit a lot you will enjoy the ambience and the entertainment that there is.
The Biserica Doamnei church is a bit hard to find, but it's worth it to experience this oasis of peace and quiet in the heart of busy Bucharest. Locals usually arrive there at noon to say a prayer and leave a candle. It was built in 1683 by the Prince at the time and the entryway features some truly beautiful floral motifs. The interior is dark, small and intimate, and actually very cool on hot summer days. Strangely, Calea Victoriei is one of the liveliest streets in the city, with traffic, people running and shouting, and it's so funny to find complete serenity in the churchyard. The church is open every day until 5:00 pm excepts for weekends when it's open until 3:00.
The Place Charles de Gaulle, or Piata Charles de Gaulle in Romanian, is a square in northern Bucharest, on the intersection of Aviatorilor and Prezan Constantin Avenues. As you walk through the gardens, you'll come to a lake. In the centre of the square is the Millennium Cross, a sculpture by Neagu, which was built in the 1990's. In 2006, a statue of General Charles de Gaulle, the work of Mircea Spataru, was unveiled. It stands nearly five feet tall. The square was originally named for Piata Jiano, a popular hero from the revolution. During World War II, it was renamed after Adolf Hitler, but after the end of the war the name changed again - first to Stalin, during the communist era, and finally it was given the name of Charles de Gaulle during the 90's. The Arc de Triomphe is a few metres away in another square.
The coffee Galleron is a last century charming looking coffee place. It is behind the city´s Hilton, in Nicolae Grigorescu street. The decorations are beautiful, there are refurbished antique chairs, lamps falling from the ceilings, windows reflected in mirrors, it gives a great feeling of luxury. It is next to theaters and exhibition halls, a popular place to wrap up the night with a good coffee or a cocktail. It is an old mansion, probably from a rich bourgeois of the city, which was renewed, and walking through the halls you still feel like its house. Breakfast is served in the morning, and there is free wifi access for customers. Prices are higher than in the rest of the city, more or less 1.50 euro for a coffee, almost 5 for a cocktail, but it is very good. It is quiet place , with lounge music, that offers private catering for groups up to 45 people as well.
The Galleron Cafe is decorated in the style of last century. Hilton is back in town, on Nicolae Grigorescu Street. The décor is beautiful, refurbished antique chairs and lamps and windows that are reflected in the mirrors, giving an impression of luxury. It is next to theaters and exhibition halls, a popular place to end the night with a good coffee or a cocktail. It is an old mansion, probably from a rich bourgeois of the city, which has been renovated and, passing through the halls, it still feels like a home. It serves a good breakfast in the morning and there is free wifi for all customers. Prices are certainly higher than in the rest of the city, such as 1.50 euros for a coffee and almost 5 euros for a cocktail, but very reasonable. It is quiet and relaxed, plays lounge music and offers private catering for groups of up to 45 people.