We woke up to a pretty solid rain. A quick check of the weather showed rain on and off all day. Earlier in the trip we probably would have just hunkered down for the day and waited for better weather. Now we are feeling time pressure, so we decided that after all we are from Oregon, so we broke out our rain gear and headed out for the day.
We started the day by heading to the old town in Bucharest. This part of town has some of the few 19th century buildings that survived the communist government. It is a small area, but now has a nice mix of shops and restaurants. We enjoyed walking around and enjoying the sites.
We took in a couple of pretty churches, and some of the larger buildings left over from the 19th century including the Bank of Romania, and the Art Museum.
It was starting to rain and we had passed a beautiful looking restaurant called Caru’ cu Bere. Ton said it was a beer hall and was the oldest restaurant in operation in Romania. Between the beer and the rain it looked like a good place for a break so we headed in.
I was immediately glad that the rain drove us inside as the interior of the building was stunning. We both stood and just looked around for a few minutes. At first we intended to only get a beer, but we decided to order a light meal to go with our beer so we could enjoy the interior of this beautiful building. The food we picked was ok, but we really did enjoy the interior. I think it was nicer than any of the beer halls we went to in Munich.
Ton loves book stores and she said she wanted to stop at Carturesti Carusel as it was supposed to be a great place. It was a short walk from Caru’ cu bere and it was as nice as advertised. It is 6 stories of books, art, and coffee. We really enjoyed exploring every part of it. The interior of the building is incredible by itself, and the way the store is decorated enhanced the beauty of the interior. It really is a special book store, which unfortunately are a dying breed.
Our last stop for the day was an area called Central Civic. During the communist era the dictator of Romania visited North Korea and was inspired by the monumental architecture of Pyongyang. He returned and ordered the construction of several large avenues and gigantic buildings to emmulate what he saw in Korea. To do this he destroyed a large section of the 19th century buildings in the center.
The main feature of his monumental downtown is an immense building called the Palace of Parliament. This building is enormous. To give you a feel, when I told google to take us to the building the path it choose was closed off by a security post. Not knowing which way to go we ended up walking to the back of the building. From the center of the back of the building it would take 1.4 kilometers (nearly one mile) to walk to the front. It is not a particularly handsome building, and the Romanians seem to have very mixed emotions about it. Apparently in addition to destroying much of the existing downtown hundreds of workers died building it.
We started to head to the front, but were drawn to a large Cathedral on one side of the Palace. When we got to the National Cathedral it was closed at is going thru a major renovation, but it is a striking building.
However on the grounds of the Cathedral was a beautiful wooden church. There was a long line of people lined up in front of an icon. Eastern Orthodox churches usually have metal icons that people will kiss and then say a short prayer. Today one of the icons had a long line of people waiting to say a prayer.
We were still a kilometer from the front of the Palace of Parliament and it had started to rain again. When we were going to the city in the morning our driver told us that if we didn’t head back before 3 pm that we might as well stay downtown until 7 pm because the traffic would be crazy. When we finished at the church it was about 2:45 so we decided to head back to the campground.