It is mandatory all times to keep clean!

Bucharest Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 14 › view all entries


Arrived in Bucharest on time despite a slight delay in leaving Istanbul. Despite my preconceptions, Flying on Tarom was very pleasant and far better than Turkair (more legroom, edible food, attractive stewardesses) and clearing customs was quick and painless. Got the bus into town after spurning the advances of many taxi drivers "a good price for you!" - shades of Istanbul again.

The next morning I was up early and wandered into town looking quite the tourist with my Lonely Planet in one hand (the only map I had) and camera in another. Visited the Senatul where Ceauşescu had his last stand and tried to take a photo but noticed I had somehow broken the screen on my camera.

Nice church
Disaster! Oh well, my camcorder takes (not very good) stills so I will have to use that until I find a place to buy a new digital camera.

Bucharest city centre is a bizarre mix of styles. Some fantastic old buildings, mixed with churches and then alongside some hasty concrete apartment blocks. There are some very wide boulevards and crossing the roads can sometimes be a hair-raising experience. Wandered through the cobbled streets of Lipscani (the one remaining historic district) which had some nice buildings and cafés. The place is a bit of a building site at the moment but should be fabulous when the reconstruction is complete.

Moving on across town, I found the shopping centre which was a bit different to what I was expecting.

Shopping area
The place was full of currency exchange offices, women's clothes shops and fast food outlets but nothing really worth spending your money on. I wandered around looking for an electrical store but failed miserably,

Having quickly realised that there is not much for a tourist to see or do in Bucharest, I went to the CFR office and booked the Wednesday night sleeper to Budapest. The cost was about £75 for a bed and ticket in a double sleeper.

In the afternoon I visited the Romanian Parliament building. This was constructed at the height of Ceauşescu's megalomania and is the second biggest building in the world (after the Pentagon). Now I thought Las Vegas was all about excess and some of the things at Disney World take your breath away but they are nothing compared to this place.

Casa Poporuiui
It is absolutely colossal. At a cost of a reported $4 billion the place is 84 metres tall, has over 1,000 rooms and was supposed to house the organs of the communist state. 70% of the building was constructed in 4 years between 1984 and 1988 but still remains 10% unfinished with many rooms apparently totally empty.

Bought a ticket for 15 LEI (about £3/$4) but passed on the additional fee to be allowed to take pictures. There was a 30 minute wait for the next English tour so I hung around the lobby reading the rules and regulations on the wall. After the usual stuff about security and not wandering off The last point in English caught my eye: "It is mandatory all times to keep clean!". Thinking that this was strange I glanced at the French language board next door and in the same position it said "Guard your belongings at all times!". I wonder what the Romanians have against people from the English speaking world?

Inside the building is very impressive.

View down the Boulevard Unirii from the Casa Poporuiui
Marble, polished wood and gold leaf everywhere. It was kind of shocking to see how much money had been spent on the place, particularly during the mid 1980s when so many Romanians were living in abject poverty. The tour ended on the main balcony which faces the 4km long Boulevard Unirii which is 6 metres longer then the Champs Elysees in Paris (and 1 metre wider on each side). Apparently a huge part of the historic centre of old Bucharest was demolished to make way for this project which is such a shame but despite all this I would highly recommend visiting this very unusual attraction.

After feeling a bit rough all day (blamed on the hotel breakfast) I decided on Pizza Hut for my evening meal. £4 bought me an eat in pizza and a beer. Bed at 10 as I was shattered.

Proper camera hunting tomorrow...


  • Buses from the airport go from the floor below international arrivals. This does not appear to be signposted. It is about 40 minutes into town.
  • Take some sort of guide book with you that contains a map of the city centre or you will be totally lost. Tourist maps are not readily available here.
  • If you go to the Parliament building, the visitors entrance is on the north side (the right hand side as you look at the front). Take your passport or you will not get inside.
  • Bucharest is a very cheap city. Just change enough money for what you need otherwise you will be left with a lot of notes that you cant spend (or probably exchange) outside the country.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Nice church
Nice church
Shopping area
Shopping area
Casa Poporuiui
Casa Poporuiui
View down the Boulevard Unirii fro…
View down the Boulevard Unirii fr…
photo by: tm16dana