Spring in Bucharest

Good old Bucharest! I hadn’t been home since October, I was planning a trip in February, but then a trial came up and I postponed it, just to get the flue and succumb to it for 3 whole weeks. In the meantime both Diana and my brother got the chicken pox and so in the end I was lucky to stay away, ’cause I can’t remember having had it as a child. In the end we decided to go together for the Protestant Easter, since it’s a bank holiday and we both had some time off.

We rented an airbnb on Magheru thinking we’d discover the city together, walking around till our feet hurt, stopping for coffee and a bite, getting together with my family and friends for dinner and lounging in the apartment reading and drinking wine.  Also it’s been a never-ending winter here and we wanted to get some sun on our faces. We didn’t get to be as much on our own, we didn’t see a single friend (sorry guys!), and the family part was a bit like in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”- my brother took a whole week off to be with us, my niece hijacked one restaurant dinner at 9:30 pm, you get the picture!

It was hectic, what can I say, but I don’t see my family that often and I’ve just learned the art of limiting one’s expectations myself. But I’m telling you- had I been half as popular in high-school, I wouldn’t need medication now- haha!

But it was sunny most of the time and we were ecstatic! And if there’s one thing we did lots of, it was to drink coffee in the places I fancied trying, on top of the good old ones- Origo, Artichoke, Trofic and M60. And lots of wine- also Origo, the wine bar by the Athenaeum and our own apartment. 😉

One morning we visited the Romanian Athenaeum, a splendid piece of architecture just a stone throw away from this fantastic eclair bakery- French Revolution. 😉 If ever in Bucharest, do try them, they’re to die for!

Diana was never far from my lap and she wanted to copy everything I did, including taking the cat out to town, the way I did when I was 18 and my life seemed like such a bore- haha! I love you, she’d tell me in her shy, high-pitched voice, now let’s go for a walk! She called F “Fredde” and talked to him in Romanian, never mind that he didn’t get it, love doesn’t need words, right?

Carturesti is my favorite bookstore, I prefer Verona, for the atmosphere, but this one is as beautiful as a maiden! I bought some books and brought them back with me to warm me up on grey days. 😉

Bucharest will always hold a special place in my heart, but I can definitely see why people get fedd up with it, too. “There’s no city centre”, F argued, “just huge avenues leading to nowhere”! Haha! And it’s mostly true. The old town is full of tourists and tourist traps, so we stayed away except for one quick stroll to see if anything had changed. Bucharest’s charm lies however in the small streets, on a green May day, when the alleys smell of linden, acacia and dust, whereas this was the end of March, snow still covering street corners and people hasting by to their daily chores.

The traffic is nightmarish, I have no idea how people put up with it, it made me so angry the few times we had to resort to a car, my blood pressure went sky-high. So we tried to walk as much as possible, entering only the shops in the city centre, although quite few, most of them being at the malls far away. I hate malls, thus I boycott malls.

The service was pretty bad, too, except for the few places en vogue, I hadn’t expected anything else and still I found it tiresome. It’s like you have to be on your toes all the time and I’m so polite, you have no idea, there has never been a person more polite than me, I’ve polished this politeness through my adolescent years, to keep away from trouble and still I got this: “This is how we do the Americano here!” – in espresso cups! I mean come on! And then I had to do something I never do and that I hate other people for doing, I actually said: I’ve had Americano in most European countries and this is not it! :-/ hahahah!

That being said, I loved our week there! F would wake me up earlish, make some coffee, despair or jump for joy on account of the weather, he’d eat some breakfast, I’d read a book and munch on some left-over pretzel, then we’d start getting ready to go out, take a shower, I’d call my mom, my brother or whoever else we were meeting that day.

We had pretty good food, without putting too much effort into it, ’cause driving to Calea Dorobantilor every other day with a kid was neither realistic, nor desirable, so we stuck to Stadio, Caru cu bere, Animaletto and everywhere we could walk. We dined at the Israeli “Aubergine” one evening on our own and couldn’t have been more disappointed, the same applies for my lunch at Trofic- I’m all for vegetarian/vegan choices, but when the food doesn’t taste anything, it means you haven’t tried hard enough.

We ended up at Mogosoaia on Saturday, a nice mansion half an hour outside town, it was a lovely day, people cramming on the terrace for lunch and beer, children biking and dogs sniffing each other’s asses, the only thing lacking was the green, tree branches waiting to sprout at the first ray of sun, the first spring rain. 

There’s no place like home, even when home is a post-communist chaos, grey high buildings waiting to collapse at the first earthquake, people ranging from old frauleins in fur to Berlin-like youngsters, nothing like me or my generation of wannabe Rai Uno primadonnas. 😉 I walk around, I eat my strudel, I embrace my uncle and my cousin, I drink my other cousin’s Americano while I ask for more water- sorry, it’s not you, it’s me, I’m a wuss- I stumble on the uneven sidewalks, I smile at people, I’m holding F’s hand, I’m happy and I’m home.

xxx, Alina

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