My trip to Bucharest can be described in only one word: Whirlwind!
I booked a tour of half a day (4-5 hours) with them that would take me to the highlights of the city.
ONE DAY IN BUCHAREST
Next morning and right on time for our meeting, the TravelMaker car was waiting for me right outside my hotel. Mathew and Stefania, my two cheerful guides, proved to be very knowledgable apart from bright spirited. Throughout the whole tour I was provided with plenty and insightful information enriched with humorous comments that made everyone burst into laughters and gave the tour a very relaxed and friendly vibe.
PALACE OF PARLIAMENT
Our first stop was to the Palace of Parliament.
330.000 square meters, 14 floors, 3.200 rooms and 60 reception lounges. During our one hour tour we managed to see only 5% of the whole palace! The biggest part of it remains closed to the public due to very high costs of maintenance. The Palace of the People, as it is often called, is the second biggest building in the world after the U.S. Pentagon.
It’s construction begun in 1984 under the initiative of Ceaușescu who envisioned that this building would shelter the head-quarters of the Communist Party along with his personal office and several other federal services. He never had the chance to see it finished as during the revolution of 1989 he and his wife Elena were executed. Today the Palace hosts the Parliament and the Senate of Romania. It’s completion required 20.000 workers and 700 architects that worked on 24 hour shifts.
Covered with marble from all over the country of Romania. Precious carpets, silk curtains with a weight of almost 250 kilos and crystal chandeliers with the heavier of them weighting 1,5 tons make this place majestic and a bit extravagant. In the basements of this monstrous building it is said that still exists a nuclear shelter.
Entering the Palace of Parliament requires a passport or ID as everyone passes through strict security control, much alike the one at the airports. Ticket costs 45 lei and if you want to photograph on the inside there is an extra fee of 30 lei. In total: 75 leu (around 16 euros).
VILLAGE MUSEUM IN BUCHAREST
This open-air museum is located in the northern part of the city, in the Herastrau park. It includes two lakes and has a beautiful scenery that we could not enjoy enough as everything was covered in snow.
It was created in 1936 and it contains more than 300 buildings representative of several districts of Romania, made of wood and stone. Unfortunately, the houses were closed at this time of year (they are open from March through October) and thus we could not see on their inside. On the entrance of each home though there is an explanatory sigh that informs the visitors as to which part of the country each house belongs to.
Address: Șoseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff 28-30, București 011347.
Ticket costs 10 lei (around 2,20 euros)
A concert hall housed in a most elegant building of 1888 that has the best acoustic in the entire world. It is a landmark of cultural events for the Romanian capital. It is also the center of international music festival in honor of George Enescu the famous Romanian composer, violist, pianist and teacher whose statue bejewels the place.
During our visit, an orchestra was rehearsing. I stood enchanted by the music that was flooding the room. It was a unique experience that I will cherish forever.
It is definitely worth a visit even if you do not have the chance to attend a concert.
Address: Strada Benjamin Franklin 1-3, București
Ticket costs 10 leu (around 2,20 euros.
WALKING IN THE OLD TOWN
The tour with TravelMakers concludes outside the Central Library with the statue of the king at the front. On the left one can see the oval building of the Romanian Athenaeum.
It was noon and I asked my guides to leave me near the old town. Despite the fact that it was freezing cold the roads and pavements were bursting with people.
I strolled around the cobblestone alleys. I already had with me a list of all the points of interest inside the Old Town.
4. STAVROPOLEOS CHURCH
First among them was the Orthodox Stavropoleos Church, a Greek historical monument. It was built in 1724 by a Greek archimandrite and it is now a Unesco protected monument.
The patrons of the church (the saints to whom the church is dedicated) are St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Unfortunately, it was closed and I could not see on the inside.
Address: Strada Stavropoleos 4, București 030167
“CARU CU BERE” BAR RESTAURANT
Caru Cu Bere has become one of Bucharest’s sightseeings. I went through the door and was immediately transferred to the interwar period. Here is the place where you can enjoy a beer among a big variety of choices and some food. Usually there is an offer for three courses menu in a very good price.
Live music varies from classical to traditional depending on the day you happen to visit. During my visit, I enjoyed 4 young girls playing classical pieces and it was a bliss to listen to.
Address: Strada Stavropoleos 5, București 030081
CARTURESTI “CAROUSEL OF LIGHTS”
It is right in the heart of the Old City and you must not miss the opportunity to visit when in Bucharest. It is an illuminated space where you will see how a bookstore can be so much more than a place that actually sells books.
I wandered through the books and gifts chosen with great taste and with aesthetics that matched the space that showcased them. On the top floors, I was amazed by the sight of many youngsters laying relaxed on the floors and reading their books.
Also on the top floor, there is a beautiful space for visitors to catch their breath over a cup of coffee.
I wandered a lot around the cobblestone alleys of the Old Town as well as the centre.
I saw imposing buildings
I admired the hospital Coltea that is the oldest hospital in Bucharest dated back to 1704. And even though everything around me was frozen I did not feel cold not even for a moment.
Bucharest is beautiful, rich in history and buildings of great architectural interest. It is also a very affordable destination suitable for all seasons of the year.
However you plan your trip, either you have plenty of time or not, the stuff of TravelMaker Tours is the most efficient to organise your stay and guide you through the town in the most relaxed and enjoyable way.
* I was a guest of TravelMaker Tours, however, this article reflects as always my personal opinion.