As promised, more about Bucharest and how no matter how hard I tried I didn’t fall instantly in love with it. I know some cities aren’t for everyone and that one person may love one place while another person may not like it. I probably fall in the middle; not loving it but not hating it either. You could say I could take it or leave it. I will say that I am glad I visited this city because there were some things I found that I came to like. Who couldn’t love the parks or the metro system that turned out to be pretty easy to navigate? Other than that, it is one city I do not plan to revisit. Once was enough for me. In saying that, I tried to focus more on my surroundings since this would be my one and only trip here. I needed to take it all in and enjoy Bucharest for the time I would be here.
Like Budapest, I walked everywhere I went. I knew this would be the only way to truly see Bucharest. One thing I noticed as I was walking from my hostel to Old Town and beyond was the churches. Basically if I walked by a church; I would see older people and a few younger people make the sign of the cross as they passed by the church. Another thing I noticed when I walked into a few of the churches downtown was that the people inside the church visiting it would walk up and kiss the figurines. Another thing I noticed is the churches I walked into were small and not as big as the ones I am used to visiting. One of the churches I would be referring to as small would be Stavropoleos Church which was built in 1724, happens to be one of Bucharest oldest churches and is in Old Town. Though it wasn’t a big church; it was still beautiful especially the courtyard behind it.
Take note: just because a building you see might not be the biggest or most magnificent doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful in its own way.
Speaking of Old Town – I couldn’t tell you how many times I found myself walking in the direction of this part of the city. I must have made it there pretty much every day I was here. There is something about this part of Bucharest that drew me to it. Maybe it was the historic nature of the buildings and that they had been here since the 1700’s. Well, at least Stavropoleos Church had been but you get where I am going with this. Anyway, on one of my many days where I found myself here, I happened upon Curtea Veche. Well, happened upon probably isn’t the right word since it was one of the places I wanted to see and I actually was able to find it without too much of a problem. Good thing for having an offline map of Bucharest on my phone. It came in handy during this instant. You are probably wondering about Curtea Veche. It is another name for Old Princely Court. It has a small church and the ruins of the court itself. You could walk inside the small church but there wasn’t anyway you could walk through the ruins. One thing that stood out amongst the ruins was the statue of Vlad Tepes that you couldn’t miss even if you tried since the statue is right in front of the ruins. I would have loved to have walked through the entire thing like I did when I was in Italy and got to walk through the ruins of Pompeii.
While I was immersing myself in this part of Bucharest is where I noticed that it isn’t really a city set up for tourists. Not that its a bad thing but when you are used to the countries you visit to have souvenir shops that are easily visible or places to eat where you could understand the menu then you know where I am going with this. I mean I was lucky if I found 2-3 places where I could buy souvenirs to take back home. I would say the same for places to eat. The menus I did see outside of the restaurant didn’t really have what the food was listed in english underneath the Romanian words for it. So while I was here, I stuck to mini markets and street food where I could either go in and pick what I wanted or point to it if it was from a street vendor.
Like I said, this wasn’t a bad thing. It wasn’t something I was used to and it took some getting used to while I was here. I adjusted. I adapted to my environment. I learned that it should not be about me. It should not be about the people who live here. They shouldn’t have to speak English to me when I walk into their store. It should not be expected of them to do that. Oh and did I forget to mention that some of the places I went to which were probably where the locals went is where I had the most trouble speaking to another person.
Now you didn’t think I only visited Old Town and a few of the parks, did you? Come on, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t explore at least one cemetery while I was gone. You got that right…. Bellu Cemetery is the one I wanted to see and I didn’t have too much of a problem finding it. I took the metro to the cemetery which is probably the best thing I could have done. I wouldn’t have been able to find it if I tried walking there.
The cemetery is literally right across the street from the metro stop. You cant miss it…. Though you might end up walking around the outside of it for awhile trying to figure out how to get inside. I did that; found a gate that was open, spoke to the guard and asked if I could walk through and he said yes. Not sure what I would have done if he said I couldn’t go inside. One thing I noticed was that on a lot of grave stones there would be a picture of the person who had passed away. Another thing i noticed is that sometimes you might come across a marble slab with a grave marker behind it to represent that person’s grave. Not on the one I came across because there was a pile of dirt in place of the marble slab. You could tell it wasn’t freshly dug dirt by looking at it. It got me to thinking that the person didn’t have the money to pay for the slab with their name on it so this is what they got instead.
Take note: each cemetery you visit will more than likely be different from the next one you visit. For instance, there was a difference between the cemeteries in Budapest and Bucharest. Budapest has some areas where the tombs are overgrown with grass that you couldn’t tell whose grave it was and Bucharest seems to be a little more kept up and cared for throughout its cemetery.
One last thought to leave with you on this city is the crosswalks. There I said it….. Please be careful when walking in a pedestrian crosswalk! The light could be green and the cars getting ready to turn will literally be on your heels not even waiting for you to get to the other side of the street. They will be right there behind you waiting for you to get out of there way and then they are making the turn. Better walk fast so you can get out of there way. I learned this real quick….
You have heard my impressions of this city. Now its your turn to tell me what you thought if you’ve ever had the chance to visit.