Despite the sky being greyer than the greyest sky I’ve seen in Edinburgh, I had an awesome first day here! Actually it started out last night, so I’ll cover that first.
My Ryanair flight was delayed by about 20 minutes, and landed 10 minutes late in Bucharest. My plane landed at 9:45pm and I was in an Uber at 10:13pm. My driver was a little mental, but it was great because I got to my Airbnb apartment in 17 minutes, it should have been about 25. The ride also only cost 37 lei (£6.50), which is about half the price of what it would be in Edinburgh.
I got to my apartment, followed the instructions which had been sent by video (great way of doing it!) and was in my apartment by 10:31pm. My friend Lewis was in town as well so I took a 3 minute walk over to his hotel and we wandered around the Old Town for a bit. It was good to see part of the city, but that part doesn’t really reflect what this city is really like.
We picked one of the many touristy restaurants that’s wedged between strip clubs, casinos, clubs, and more strip clubs. We got pestered continuously by people trying to get us to go to their restaurant, or bar, or strip club, or guys trying to sell us drugs. This was partially because Lewis was in his full Scottish regalia and got a lot of attention, but they are also just really forceful here.
We grabbed a table, ordered some food and had a couple of drinks while we caught up. After we were done we walked around for a bit more but at 1am I thought I should get to bed because I planned on doing a lot today. I said bye to Lewis and headed back to my apartment (and didn’t get hassled by anyone on my own…).
I got up this morning at 8:30am, showered, and was out the door by 9am to grab some breakfast. I went to a restaurant Lewis recommended called Grand Van Gogh Cafe and it was excellent. I had a ham and cheese omelette and fresh orange juice, the bill came to 51 lei (£9), so not cheap, but about the same as it would be in Edinburgh. I finished just in time to walk down to Piata Unirii to meet for my walking tour.
The tour guide, Tina, was there waiting for me and the other 11 people who showed up for the tour. Unfortunately there wasn’t really anyone I clicked with, but that’s okay. Tina was an excellent guide and I got to see and learn a lot about Bucharest, Romania, and communism that would have been difficult for me to learn on my own. Plus, getting a first hand account from someone who has lived it is always better.
The tour lasted three hours and when it was finished I was definitely ready for some lunch. I took one of Tina’s recommendations and went to Hanu’ Lui Manuc restaurant. It is a really cool looking restaurant that is in the courtyard of an old inn. I had traditional Romanian food, which I wasn’t blown away by, but it was fine. I had a turkey sour soup to start, and then three small sausages without the casing.
After lunch I started wandering north through the Old Town and came across a beautiful book store called Cărturești Carusel. I popped in to take a couple of pictures and then got out of the Old Town and made my way up to another restaurant that was recommended by Tina called La Mama. It was said to have the best traditional Romanian dessert, so I had to give that a try. I had the Papanasi, which is like a big thick donut with soured cream and jam on top. It was strange, but good. I wouldn’t rush back for another, but I’m glad I tried it.
After dessert I checked out another beautiful book store called Cărturești Verona, and this one was even more impressive than the first! It was completely different, but I preferred this one a lot more. I then started heading back to my apartment so I could relax a bit. I saw Revolution Square and a beautiful old church on my way back. I got back around 5:30pm and took a nice jacuzzi, because I’m rarely in a place that has a nice jacuzzi. It was the perfect way to unwind after such a big day of walking, and by 7:30pm I was ready to go get some dinner.
I got an Uber over to Hard Rock Cafe. It was about a 20 minute drive, and the Uber cost £2.50. That’s insane. It would be around £10 in Edinburgh for that. I had a good dinner, as usual, in my 57th Hard Rock Cafe in what is now my 72nd country visited. I Ubered back to the apartment and am ready to crash. It’s been a heck of a day, and tomorrow morning I’m up early to rent a car and drive into Transylvania!