The House of the People, Ceaucescu's folly, but great place to enjoy a guided tour
Over the years, my Easter city breaks have become consistent, enjoyable, and, most significant of all, highly memorable experiences, and although this was booked in place of a cancellation I was forced to make due to a schedule change for a flight to Kiev, pre-departure reading boded very well for this trip. Upon arrival at Bucharest's Otopeni airport, I met up with my travelling companion from the Scotland trip of the previous month, and we were heading towards the city centre filled with anticipation as to what the city might hold in store for us. The hotel (Lev Or) scored highly on just about all counts - location, cleanliness, breakfast, price, and general facilities (dig those jacuzzi bathtubs!), and an itinerary which had been put together in the lead-up to the trip seemed like it would provide its fair quota of trip highlights.
Count Dracula Club restaurant. "One word against my restaurant, and you're the next menu item!"
It seemed to me that, despite Romania's status as a less-visited corner of Eastern Europe, there was so much to commend the place, in terms of architecture, variety of shops, eateries, nightlife, museums, etc, and I can only imagine that the city had come on strong since its darker days under the Ceaucescu regime. A night out at the Green Hours 22 jazz club was an entertaining way to spend an evening, as was a night out at a local nightspot, Club A, which had atmosphere and vibrancy, despite its smoky and crowded interior. Although it did not represent the culinary highlight, the 'restaurant experience' highlight must surely have been the evening spent at the 'Count Dracula Club' theme restaurant, where the atmosphere was surreal and wacky enough for diners to gloss over the fact that the food on offer was merely a small part of what the restaurant actually offered.
Charming, delightful, enchanting Peles castle, at the resort town of Sinaia
Going on a guided tour of the imposing Bucharest institution, the House of the People, the overly-grandoise building built for Ceaucescu before his regime was eventually toppled, indicated just how controlling and commanding a role the dictator had taken during his reign. A perfect escape route from Bucharest came in the shape of a day-trip to the (ski) resort town of Sinaia, where the ski resort proper, coupled with the charms of the town itself, and the delightful monastery, and enchanting Peles castle made for a tremendously satisfying whole, and every reason for a visitor to lose themselves in the resort town's undeniable charm. Looking back, the trip to Bucharest was as much about rewarding experiences as it was about the fabric of the place itself, and illustrates how a European city which ranks as 'off the beaten track' to many tourists has a certain hidden power to grab you by the lapels and demand your attention.
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