Spring in Bucharest 2012


Night of Museums - Noaptea Muzeelor

Grand staircase of the former royal palace (now the National Art Museum) about 4am. Photo by Catalin Abagiu

Day trip: Ruse, Bulgaria

I did it! Took the 1 hour drive to Ruse, Bulgaria. These are a few outtakes from the days photos, to see more visit my photography blog vivianphoto.


Bucharest Favorites (places & things)

A photograph I made of grafitti art in downtown Bucharest. I think this would make an excellent postcard don't you?
A few weeks ago I was asked to submit an article detailing my favorite places/things in Bucharest for a Romanian airline's flight magazine. I know what you're thinking - who ever reads the airline magazine?! Probably not very many people but thanks to the internet I get to share my favorite places with you here. This list is a bit expanded from what ended up in the magazine, I hope you enjoy these places as much as I do: 

Carol I Central University Library - Founded by King Carol I in 1895, this beautiful building was designed by French architect Paul Gottereau. My favorite part of this library is the "professor's reading room" which like much of the library was completely destroyed during the revolution but now has been fully restored. Unfortunately public access to this room is restricted to one night of the year - The Night of the Museums which was on Sunday May 20th 2012. If you really want to take a peak try contacting the library in advance to schedule a visit. Contact info is listed on their website.

Inside the Professor's reading room on the night of the museums.Photograph by: Catalin Abagiu

1.     Restaurant Le Theatre’s summer garden – is a hidden gem in the downtown area. Just off of Strada Victoriei, it’s umbrellaed patio sets nestled amongst lush green grass offers a cool and quiet refuge from the buzz of the city. You’ll feel as though you’re dining in someone’s backyard because you are dining in someone's backyard. In fact, this is a former residence of the Ceasescu family. Friday evenings they often have live music, check their website to reserve a spot.
Views of the summer patio garden at Restaurant Le Theatre. Images sourced from their website.

2.    Vintage Bookstore: Anticariat Unu – Once you’ve fallen in love with the history of the city the time will come to purchase a few souvenirs. “Anticariat Unu” is a great alternative to the magnet and keychain usually brought home from trips. Here you can discover your own unique souvenirs. Browse through their vintage books, stacks of magazines, and read the headlines of newspapers during Ceasescu’s reign. My personal favorites are the boxes of old postcards dating back to WWI.  The one above is a 1921 picture postcard mailed to Bucharest by a Romanian man, his wife and her sister. Strada Academiei nr. 4-6 (Universitate Area).


    Cismigiu Park – is on everyone’s ‘must visit’ list for good reason. Bucharest’s oldest park serves as an extended living room to nearby apartment dwellers like myself and also a place for tourists to mingle with locals. The park offers more than just a quiet stroll, there are boat rides, playgrounds, and small cafes to help make your visit a pleasurable one. Although most come to see its beauty during the day, the park is just as lively and beautiful at night.

   Lipscani – is known for its nightlife but before the nighttime rush old town is the perfect place to people watch.  Relax and enjoy a drink at one of the dozens of patios while you watch visitors and locals walk along the streets of Lipscani. Another good spot is on the steps of the Romanian National Bank (in Lipscani) where street musicians often perform.


Village Museum – Or Muzeul Satului as it is known here is one of the largest and oldest outdoor museums in Europe.  It is a personal favorite of mine because it holds a collection of authentic traditional Romanian dwellings, which were relocated from all the different regions of Romania. Not long ago the majority of Romanians lived a rural life; this museum pays homage to that tradition and helps visitors get a better understanding of the history behind today’s Romania. Don’t miss the gift shop it is the best place in town for traditional Romanian goods!

Best bean soup - I've had a few bean soups in this town but Atena cafeteria is hands down the best. Their ciorba de fasole is the perfect balance of bean, broth, pork, and spices. If you're thinking best means expensive, think again. This is a no-frills place where most people take their meals to-go. There is however bar seating inside, which is where I prefer to eat my hot bowl of soup alongside a huge chunk of bread and a hot pepper. Simple and good. It is the kind of place I'd take Anthony Bourdain if he ever came to town again. Atena is on the same street as the Intercontinental hotel (Strada Batistei 17) located just before Batistei Church.

 Shaorma – Forget McDonalds the shoarma is Bucharest’s fast food of choice when you need a quick lunch or a late-night snack. My favorite is the Greek gyro (Romanians refer to it as the Greek shaorma) but you’ll also find Arab and Turkish variations. If you’d like to try them all, the Lipscani area has several shaorma stands to choose from but my favorite greek shaorma is from Gyros Sotos, located Northeast of Piata Romana.  There is no place to sit and the sign simply reads "Gyros" but you'll be happy to stand once you take a bite of their food. Address: Strada Mihai Eminescu 85 -Sectorul 2 Bucuresti. Hours: Monday - Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Phone: 0768.731.511

Perks of Shopping Lidl + Margarita Recipe

Every now and then I go by Lidl, the German discount supermarket chain, to see what interesting items they may have. Why Lidl? Well, besides having top rated olive oil at a great price they're also a unique source for ethnic food. Every few weeks they pick a type of cuisine (Chinese, French, Indian, etc.) and bring in products. There are some great finds to be had. Last week was Mexican themed which aligned perfectly with the Cinco De Mayo holiday. I stocked up on crunchy tacos, lots of ripe avocados, and silver tequila. They also had sliced jalepenos but I'm more of a serrano pepper gal so I skipped those. The crunchy tacos were an especially good buy - impossible to find otherwise. Taco night, with guacamole, for the win!

Sad you missed out? Pick up some silver tequila at Lidl or any other supermarket. Then make yourself a margarita like you've never made before. No really, this recipe is not normal. I couldn't find triple sec anywhere in the city, just a rather steeply priced bottle of Cointreau which --as much as I love margaritas--wasn't worth it. Plan B: Orange zest provides the same flavors as triple sec according to my research. The result is a make-shift margarita that I've been preparing a few times a week. I love an afternoon cocktail over lunch :) Hope you try this and like it:

Viv's Make-shift Margarita (Serves 2)
  • 2 shots of tequila
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange (perfect substitute for triple sec, I promise)
  • Splash of lime soda
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (optional)
  • Ice
Juice the lime, add the orange zest, sugar and tequila - then mix. At this point pour a bit of lime soda in (don't overdo it). Rim a glass with a sugar/salt combo and pour your margarita over lots of ice. Enjoy!

*Special note: This post is not brought to you by Lidl, I just like the place. 

My story:

Girl meets boy.
Love strikes.
Boy moves to Romania,
girl (now engaged) follows suit.

I'll be living abroad for the first time in my life beginning January 11th 2011. Follow this blog if you want to see my adventures.