Thursday, 19 December 2013

Bucharest Night Life, Tourist Style

Ok, so after all the carrying on about not being a regular tourist in Bucharest, I had tonight and dinner with friends marked down as the real tourist night out in ... you guessed it ... the popular Lipscani district (also known as 'Old Town').

Here's a panorama I took in Piata Unirii, with the changing light conditions from cars headlights revealing the photographic stitching...

It was just here that I took my favourite photograph in Bucharest, and right up there with one of my favourite photos of all time. My impromptu title for this is 'Christmas wish', and picture the scene: this street dog sitting alone on the pavement as crowds of people flowed behind him, transfixed by the sight of sausages hanging from the street-side butcher (all kinds of symbolism you could read into it).

Lipscani 'proper' is a bit strange in that you just turn off a main road and enter the area without much fanfare. In fact, if you weren't looking for it, I'm pretty sure you could drive past the area all week without even knowing that it's there. As the 'Old Town' name implies, it's the old heart of Bucharest, replete with the oldest of various kinds of buildings, and undergoing some pretty heavy restoration (in the nick of time).

Here's one of those old buildings, a bank ...

... and another old bank, CEC Bank, apparently the only bank during Romania's Communist times ...

The most interesting however is this area (at the foot of the first bank above), which is apparently a recently discovered section of the oldest part of Bucharest, lying under all the newer developments, which is currently being explored like a modern-day version of inner-city archaeology. Pretty amazing to consider that Bucharest is growing so quickly that it's forgetting and then rediscovering parts of itself!

The whole point of the evening, however, was a rendezvous at a restaurant which is apparently popular with tourists. I'm not so sure - it seemed pretty popular with Romanians as well, and the atmosphere is brilliant. Its name is Caru' cu Bere (apparently 'Chariots With Beer'), and is a great place for traditional Romanian cooking at decent prices (a main meal is around 30 lei - good considering that a McDonalds meal is 20 lei!). Its main drawcard is its history, however, and original architecture:

Every so often the restaurant also trots out some dancers like these, for a burst of energy (Top Tip: f you can try to reserve a table in front of the dance floor because you can't see anything from some parts of the balcony seating):

And something pretty different for me is a guy dressed like a clown who comes around to the table and offers you kit to dress up with for cheesy 'post on your blog' photos like these (something I didn't know is that a tip is expected for this - luckily my Romanian friend picked up the tab for that):

Just because I cannot really end this post on a photo of me wearing a feather boa and a real live bird on my head, here's another impressive building for you...

Good night, world. 00:17, and it's been another good day in Bucharest. Tomorrow ... night train to Cluj, baby (trying a sleeper coach sharing with two other people in my cubicle - here's to hoping they're friendly)!

1 comment:

  1. Nice photos again!

    I just forgot to tell you a hint - in Cluj, the best (in my opinion) place to stay is the Cetățuia Pension, on Cetățuia Hill. On this hill is a well-known hotel - Belvedere - which is expensive and bad (old building) but near it is this pension which is cheap (it costed me 100 lei in 2011, now might be cheaper), very clean and has a big terrace with a wonderfull panorama over the city. The only problem is that is a quite long way down to the city, like a 20 minutes walk and there are no buses there. Here are my photos from that pension:

    On the way to Cluj, you will pass through many fine places that can be photographed from train, like the Bucegi Mountains that can be seen from Sinaia and Bușteni (the road between Predeal and Brașov is fine too, although less photogenic). The castle of Rupea might be seen from train too, I think. The railroad between Rupea and Sighisoara (which doesn't follow the car road) is one of my favorites, passing through time forgotten, derelict (former) Saxon villages and once cultivated hills, now invaded by wild vegetation.

    In Cluj don't forget to visit the Corvin House, the Reformed Calvin Church, the Franciscan Monastery. In the center of the main square (near the Catholic church of St. Michael, the city's main landmark) is an archaeological area (the Roman city of Napoca) protected by glass, like the one you saw near the National Bank on Lipscani. Also, if you have time, the National History Museum is interesting.