Have you ever visited a place that you didn’t love at first sight? Or even second or third sight? I wasn’t sure how I would feel upon stepping foot in Bucharest. Maybe I listened too much to someone who had been there before and when asked if it was ‘good or bad’ in terms of what he thought of it. He said he didn’t have a good impression of the city. With that said, I tried to keep an open mind when I made my way to the city from Budapest.
It was hard to keep an open mind about it when I found the city to be confusing, messy and chaotic and that was just my first impression of it. When I say confusing, I mean I was going to take the metro and get off at the stop closest to my hostel. That didn’t happen since I didn’t have a map of the metro and the system seemed confusing at best or until I figured out how to get around. I didn’t have time to figure it out so I ended up taking the taxi from the station to the hostel.
Be advised that the station has what is called legal taxis since they are sanctioned by the station as the only taxis you should use. I am pretty sure I didn’t use one of them since one of the cab drivers walked up to me asking if I needed a taxi. I asked the price before getting into the taxi; 30 Lei which came out to $8 U.S. dollars. Another thing I did before getting into the taxi was make sure I kept my backpack with me instead of putting it in the trunk.
The driver didn’t exactly know how to get to where I was staying since he didn’t speak much English. When this happened, I gave him the phone number for the hostel and he called them direct to get the address and find out the location, I think. After talking to the office at Crazy Duck Hostel, he got me there pretty quick and the price was as he had quoted me.
The first thing I did after arriving at the hostel was drop off my backpack in the room before heading out for a bit. I mean, I couldn’t stay in the room all day. I had to get out there and see some of the city. One word can only describe my first impression; confusing. I was so confused trying to read the map given to me at the reception desk that I walked back to the hostel.
I literally sat down in my room for a little bit to get my bearings before I attempted to find my way around. Before I left the room, I came up with a plan. I was going to walk down every street off of where I was staying. It was the only way I was going to be able to find anything. In doing this, I found Cismigiu Gardens which is one of the places I wanted to see. Great plan! Walking around until you run into something you want to see by accident.
After walking around the gardens for a bit; decided I really wanted to see if I could find anything else by accident. I left Cismigiu Gardens behind me, walking down one street as far as I could go and found nothing. Turning back around, I walked past the gardens again and found what I was looking for in the way of another park. Izvor was the name of this one.
You will know you have found it when you see the river and the bridge that separates the two sides. Walk across the bridge to get to the other side of the street where you will see the park. I didn’t spend as much time in this park as I would have liked. Though I did walk through it on the day I was leaving to head back home. Now that was a great day; hardly anyone there when I showed up early enough in the morning for my walk.
Another park I found, using the metro system, was Tineretului Park. The first thing you will notice when you start walking towards the park is this long avenue. Not sure where it ended up but I do know at the end of the avenue was this building. I should have walked towards the building to see what it was but alas I didn’t. So after arriving at the park, I walked as much as I could through it. When I say I ‘walked as much as I could through it’ that is what I meant because it has this Central Park feel to it. It is that huge of a place.
It has all these different directions you can go in to get you through the park. Now the direction I ended up taking took me to the top of the park where stood this building that looked like it was no longer used. Of course, I had to walk up all these steps to get to the top but I couldn’t find any way to get to the building to check it out. Still it was nice to walk around the park and feel like I wasn’t in the city.
I will admit that my favorite park wasn’t one you would have heard of but some local park I found by accident. Parcul Luigi is a couple of blocks down from Crazy Duck Hostel in the opposite direction from Cismigiu Gardens. It is small in comparison to the other parks I visited while in the city. It is very much a local park for the residents who live nearby. That may be why I loved it so much because it didn’t feel crowded; very much off the beaten path.
What is it about Bucharest that you love if you’ve ever visited the city? Is it the parks that you find when you are walking through the city? Is it walking through Old Town because you love the history that might surround it?
What is it about Bucharest that you didn’t love if you’ve ever visited the city? Is it the graffiti on the walls of abandoned buildings or houses that still have people living in them? Is it the run-down feeling you get when you are walking around certain areas of the city?
Check back later for part two of Passport to Bucharest.