Thursday, May 24, 2012

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


at: March 17, 2013 at 4:37 AM said...

I really liked your article! I'm from Bucharest myself and now live in London, it's nice to see someone else enjoying the same places as I do :)

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