leaving Sinaia and its beautiful surroundings (you might know we
would enjoy being in the mountains!), we caught the bus back to
Bucharest and the final stop on our trip. Bucharest is the capital
of Romania. It is called the Las Vegas of Romania because of all
the casinos found there. It is home to 2.5M people and 2M autos.
There's lots of traffic and pollution - the 2nd worst in Europe.
Bucharest has no skyscrapers because the land has high water content
and lots of earthquakes. From 1968-1989, Romania was ruled with
an iron fist by Ceausescu. He destroyed many historic buildings
including 36 churches, exported goods that people needed (hence
the bread lines), bugged apartments, and allowed only 2 hours of
TV/day. The people finally revolted in 1989 and won. The apartments
that were built during this time have paper thin walls and no insulation.
Today they cost about $100,000 for a 1 bedroom unit.
bus tour through the city took us past the Palace of Parliament.
Begun in 1984 by Ceausescu, it initially took 20,000 workers and
billions of Lei (Romanian currency) to build. It is a huge building
rising 276 feet above the ground but is nearly as deep underground.
Nearly 1.1 million square feet in area, it is the second largest
administration building in the world after the Pentagon. It sits
at the end of a long boulevard that Ceausescu modeled after the
Champs Elysee in Paris.
Along the boulevard are rows of residences built for the members
of Ceausescu's staff. Unfortunately, to build in this area, many
historic buildings and private residences were destroyed.
We passed the Piata Revolutiei, the place where the revolution
of 1989 started, and University Square where there is a memorial
to those who lost their lives in the revolution. Here demonstrators
faced Ceausescu's forces on Dec. 21, 1989.
is also called "the little Paris"because of its wide boulevards.
There's a statue of Charles de Gaulle who spent some time here and
an Arc de Triomphe commemorating the exploits of WWI soldiers.
all the traffic and congestion, Bucharest is home to many parks,
one of the largest being Herastrau Park. This park is located around
a large lake. We took a long walk thru the park, admiring the tall
oak trees in the peak of their fall colors. There were a lot of
people also enjoying the park, some on roller blades or bikes, others
strolling thru the gardens and statuary.
park is also home to the Village Museum, an open air park containing
full scale displays of nearly 300 churches, wooden houses, windmills
and farm buildings. This unique museum offers an overview of Romanian
village life through the ages.
our final day in Romania, we opted for a tour to the Caldarusani
Monastery. This large Eastern Orthodox monastery was built in 1637
and is currently home to 30 monks. They have lots of land for grazing
sheep and cattle, and growing crops. Since this was a Sunday, we
were able to attend their service, which was a unique experience.
We joined the monks and local people for about 20 minutes of their
normally 4 hour service. It was fascinating listening to the chants
and watching the people lighting candles, kissing relics and making
offerings. It is quite usual for people to come and go throughout
the long service.
monastery was built in 1638. It fostered one of the first European
schools of religious paintings,
We visited the museum with its many old art objects, icons and paintings,
and talked to the monks about their life in the monastery. Then
we enjoyed a lunch of fresh food raised and grown by the monks.
farewell dinner was at a local restaurant where we were entertained
by a folk band and dancers.
They even got Fred up to dance with them. Then we had a special
tour of the city by night to see the beautiful lighted buildings
- a wonderful way to end this very special trip.
To view additional photos from our stay in Bucharest, go to the
Bucharest Photo Gallery.
Locations Visited Photos Map