Romania 2009: Bucharest

This is my second full day in Bucharest and it’s really really hot.

I didn’t particularly like Bucharest when I first arrived and I still don’t like it now very much. It’s too hot, it’s absolute chaos and getting out of the city is almost impossible.

I’ve spent two mornings wandering around. I’ve been to the Piata Romana and seen the wolf statue, I’ve wandered endless streets and squares (and squares here are like massive roundabouts only they have nothing in the centre and there are no rules. Crossing the roads is lethal. I read that there were stray dogs but I wasn’t expecting so many of them. Everywhere you go, there’s dogs wandering around the pavement, sleeping in the shade, howling all night. Any other time I might almost be tempted to talk to them, here I cross the road to avoid them. They’re not vicious, they don’t really even look at people, but they make me nervous.

Romanian language isn’t so bad. I can’t understand a word spoken but reading it is just about manageable. It’s a bit like if French, Spanish, Italian and Catalan all had a baby and then tried to teach it German. I couldn’t read a book in Romanian, but I can recognise signs like “station” and “ticket hall” and various other tourism basics.

I was in a room on the top floor of the hotel the first night but the women’s bathroom was being renovated, so they decided to move me down to the fourth floor where it wasn’t. On the fifth floor I had a small shared balcony, a view over the road out the front, roottops, buildings and a lot of sunshine during the day.

On the fourth floor, I have a higher ceiling and a functioning bathroom but I have no balcony and my view is of ruins although I can also see a now very appealing Ibis hotel and probably the Gara de Nord.

A lot of Bucharest is ruins. In the 70s and/or 80s, a lot of the city was pulled down to build a modern metropolis but I gather the dictator who was doing it got exiled or killed before it was even nearly finished. That’s how the dogs ended up on the streets, owners whose houses got bulldozed for this project had to throw out their dogs and they ended up multiplying and becoming pests.
Anyway, a lot of Bucharest seems to have been interrupted mid-destruction and the majority of the rebuilding never got done.

I have a ticket tomorrow to Brasov, which is in southern Transylvania. I don’t yet have a return ticket, but if I end up spending the night somewhere other than here, that’s not exactly a tragedy.

I have no plans yet for Sunday, but my Monday plans are to go straight to the airport and maybe do some shopping there before coming

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