Following up on my nostalgia and my missing the mother country, I decided I should write about Bucharest and share some hidden treasures with you. I´ve only lived there briefly, from 1999-2000, as a language student at the State University. That didn´t stop me from falling in love with the city, its dusty charm and its veiled grandeur. On the contrary, it might be the very reason I never get enough of Bucharest- I wasn´t given the chance to grow tired of it. Many people I know say that I would feel different if I actually lived there- between late working hours, the ruthless bureaucracy and the everyday struggle many Romanians experience, there wouldn´t be much enthusiasm left. This might very well be the case, but I choose to believe that you have to make time for a relationship, the way you do with your loved ones. Take your time and discover the city, go for a stroll in the newly renovated old town, have a coffee on a lovely terrace in the shade, grab a beer at a beer garden or mingle with the young and the restless by Herastrau Park, the choice is yours. And it´s not only about money, don´t give me that, I don´t buy it! As a student I had no money and still I loved the city. Fill a thermos with cocoa and get out in the open air if the money doesn´t stretch. Go to a gallery, it´s free of charge! Don´t just indulge in your feeling sorry for yourself!
Anyways.. I try to go home twice a year and insist on staying in Bucharest for a few days. My brother lives there, but the last couple of times we stayed in Hotel Cismigiu and we absolutely loved it. It´s a stylish newly-renovated hotel, in a classic old building just beside the Cismigiu Park. It has large and beautiful apartments, good service and the prices are fair. What I hate most in Romania is the nouveau-riche phenomenon and by staying there you avoid it completely. They´re no old fellas in their 50s with gorgeous skimpy dressed girls in their 20s, no money flashing, no limousines. Just a really comfortable home in the heart of the city.
While staying there, you should have your coffee at the Origo coffee shop in the parallel street Lipscani. It was newly opened in May and it´s amazing! A little oasis of genuine and cool in the city! It´s in a small street with large trees and cute houses. At night they serve delicious cocktails, the employees are friendly and passionate and they have wifi.
The library next door to the hotel, Humanitas, has lots of books you can browse through while sipping an espresso in their comfortable lounge area. If you´re not into reading, you should at least go there for the cool design. If there´s something I really love about countries “in course of development” is their ability to create stunning things from nothing. Really inspiring.
For dinner, check out Caru´cu bere. A venerable inn with a long tradition in good food and hospitality, the place is stunning- high ceiling, beautiful antique tiles and huge mirrors. The portions are big and the pints even bigger. Families eat lunch here in the weekends, so be sure to book in advance.
If you like books and old houses as much as I do, the Carturesti library on Bulevard Magheru is a must! We always end up spending lots of time there! There´s a big mansion with beautiful classic decoration details turned into a library/gallery/delikatessen shop. 4 floors of books, art, design (young and cool Romanian designers), tea and jams, I´m sure you´ll find something to your liking. It´s a great place for buying gifts, too.
And while the list could go on for ages, I´ll let you discover more on your own by mentioning a last place of cool- Atelier Mecanic. Fabulous lemonades from big jam jars, good feel and uber cool decoration. It´s the old town´s it place!