Roaming Romania, Take Two

Old Oct 19th, 2014, 09:28 PM
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Condolences all round.

I just visited a Museum to the Revolution in Timisoara. Very moving to see the photos of bodies on the streets I'd just been walking.

I chose not to bother going inside the "Palace" , I had seen photos and it didn't look worth the trek.

I am now limping round Budapest, but since I'm in an apartment I have to go grocery shopping before I can write anything else.
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 06:01 AM
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How come you are limping.?
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 07:04 AM
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Hi, I wonder what was the disaster in Sighishora, I guess you arent referring to floods or quakes, which happen in Carpathian Romania all the time?
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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Good luck and quick recovery to you Perc. On Nic's hanging, probably a mixup of my recalling mechanism> I seem to remember that the revolutionaries made a spectacle by hagning their bodies. Again, don't recall too well about it.

Hope limping isn't slowing you down, KW..still a lot to see and do on your exciting visit. More!
stu
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 08:35 AM
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Am limping very slowly. Went to the Szechenyi thermal baths this afternoon, may have helped some. I think it's a sprain, due to an unexpected dip in the pavement in Romania. Puffy area below ankle bone, unwillingness to flex forward or back - going down stairs is difficult.

Disaster in Sighisoara was a bad hotel. See: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...nsylvania.html

Rain in the forecast, so I may get some more writing done.

Good luck with the surgery, Percy.
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 08:52 AM
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So sorry to hear that you are hors de combat. Sounds like you need lots of soaking in the thermal baths.
I am in big trouble here as I discover I have expanded exponentially after too much gelato and too many cannoli in Sicily. Not to mention the ciabatta and pasta. Maybe if it rains you can stay in and eat!!
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 09:21 AM
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Ah yes, those Sicilian cannoli.... Yum!

In order to eat in I have to shop. Probably Market Hall tomorrow. Bought a transport pass today, so I can ride just one stop if I want to.

May try the Gellert baths later this week.
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 12:18 PM
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<b>Sep 24-25, 2014: Traffic, hubris and a greeter</b>

What I mostly remember about the ride in from the airport are traffic jams. Citizens of Bucharest are in love with their cars, and I can't altogether blame them. The metro system, which I used, was cheap and simple, but crowded and short on escalators. I also found it way overheated, but that turned out to be a common problem in Romania. I imagine the buses are miserable in summer. By the time I checked in, unpacked, and showered it was dark, and I was too tired to tackle a new city with my now dubious night vision. I ate an acceptable meal in the hotel's bar cum cafe and was asleep by 9:00 pm. I awoke briefly at 3:00, and then for good at 7:30 - no jet lag this trip!

I think my room at the Elisabeta was the smallest they had, and the "view" was of decrepit roofs and an office building, but it was clean, the bed was comfortable and the water hot. However, it faced south, and while the calendar said autumn the thermometer said summer, and I discovered that the AC wasn't working. The front desk said they would turn it on, but when I came back after lunch I found that turning it on involved a man with a step ladder and a tool box in my room. That cost them one TA star.

I spent my first morning zig-zagging through the old town, which was not in the best of shape, towards the epitome of hubris, Ceaușescu's hulking Palace of Parliament. Said to be second in size only to the the US's Pentagon, and only partially used, it loomed in undistinguished modernity at the end of a tree-lined boulevard. I rather liked the boulevard, which besides some welcome shade offered a sequence of mosaic-floored fountains, but was wryly amused to discover that it ended, at the foot of the folly, in a large parking lot. I had seen photos of the interior, and thought it not worth the trek to the entrance to see it in person.

Going back through the old town I discovered a pleasant arcade and Bucharest's oldest church. Much of the old center was razed to make way for the Palace of Parliament, and while Lonely Planet may describe what is left as the "liveliest, hippest, bawdiest and loudest quarter in the entire country" I thought it could use a lot of TLC. More interesting architecture was to be seen along Calea Victoriei.

Shortly before I left on this trip I been reminded of the "Greeter" or "Welcome" system, which I had used before in Japan and Argentina. The results had been a little mixed, but I had spent a wonderful evening with my Kyoto greeter (see: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/...on-over-kyoto/ ) and had been pleased to be able to arrange for a greeter my first afternoon in Bucharest.

We met at my hotel (which is why I was there around lunch time), and I spent a delightful afternoon with the young woman volunteer (AC). A modern languages graduate, she spoke perfect English, and I was seriously impressed to learn that her other language was Dutch. She had just left her job to start a new venture as a tour guide, and we talked about travel as well as about life in Romania.

I had voted absentee right before leaving on this trip, unhappy to discover that I had to chose between 19 unknowns for a seat on the NC Court of Appeals, and now I learned that Romania had an upcoming Presidential election with as many candidates. But at least that was only the first round. The slate included a strong woman candidate, who had been Justice Minister, but I was told, not only by AC, that a woman stood no chance. The run off was likely to be between the enterprising mayor of Sibiu, and the Socialist candidate, Socialist apparently being misused as a euphemism for ex-Communist.

We visited the old, a nicely frescoed monastery, the newer, along Calea Victoriei, and the very new, in the form of an aggressively modern glass bank building reflecting its much older neighbor. We finished a walk through the heart of Bucharest with coffee at one of AC's favorite cafe-restaurants, and I had intended to go back there for dinner, but in the end felt that I had walked far enough for one day. The Elisabeta sent me round the corner to a restaurant I believe was called Rosettii, although I can't find it online. I recommend it, as not only was the food good - including an excellent mushroom soup - they took the trouble to find me a table away from the cigarette smoke.
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Old Oct 20th, 2014, 06:16 PM
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THURSDAYSD, continuing to follow your journey and learn interesting "on the ground" details about Bucharest, a city I have not visited.

Hope your ankle is better....
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 01:39 AM
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what a nice idea to find a "greeter" especially in somewhere like Romania where things might need some explaining.

Shame about your foot - but we hear good things of Hungarian doctors, with some people going there not just for dentistry but medicine too. Worth a try perhaps?

Tower - I too have that image of the bodies hanging and swinging around in the air. I wonder where we got that from?

Good luck with the op Percy - hope it goes well.
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 02:15 AM
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LDT &annhig - thanks. I don't think there's much point in a doctor for a sprain, s/he'lll only tell me to do what I'm doing. Plus rest.... However, it does seem a bit better today - don't know whether it's time, or whether the baths actually helped. But the other ankle, which has been compensating, has started complaining... Typical of my trips, my first TR on Fodors was titled "The Sore Foot Tour" and I spent much of the East Asia leg of my last RTW with a sprained ankle.

Fortunately, my Budapest apartment is very central, a couple of blocks behind the riverfront Marriott, and two or three blocks from transport in most directions.
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 03:34 AM
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Glad that it's getting better, thursdaysd - the baths surely can't do any harm.

How much longer do you have in Budapest?
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 07:19 AM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...1980SAnd1990S#

KW
scroll down to #24-28 for the colorful 19th century throwback, Gellert Baths..elegant old hotel...the odor (sulphur?) is a bit overwhelming at first...everything else is A-1... We stayed at the former Military Barracks made over into a lovely Hilton with great Danube views...just up Castle Hill from the Gellert down below. Buda side has some very good restos...one, the Karily, has an ongoing folk show while dining..just a few doors from the Hilton. A bit hokie, but fun. Vegas it ain't. Hope ankle is getting back to normal.
stu
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 07:32 AM
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KW...is this pothole the culprit that did you in, in Bucharest?

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...23003839734354

stu
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 07:57 AM
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@annhig - I'm taking the lunchtime RailJet to Vienna on Saturday. As I remember it's a really long trek from the metro to the tracks at Keleti station, so I may have to spring for a taxi. I did that a lot in Romania, very, very unusual for me, but they were super cheap there.

@stu - no, it was later. The pavement in Bucharest wasn't too bad. Problem with doing a lot of walking there was the fumes from the cars. I wondered whether they were still using leaded gas.
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 08:46 AM
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Following your report thursdaysd.

Hope your ankle is better each day.

Thank you annhig, I go Thursday (2 more sleeps )

stu: that looks like the pothole I stepped around !! ..just kidding .
Like the Gellert Hotel pictures.
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 09:01 AM
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When your ankle gets better, you might like a walk up to St Stephan's cathedral, not just for the cathedral but in a sports bar opposite, we had the most delicious fish soup I've ever had. A real depth of flavour. it's probably long gone, but we were impressed. the nearby opera is gorgeous if you can get a peek inside. [or better still, go to an opera there].

Also the Liszt museum was very interesting and I loved being able to see Beethoven's piano - so small compared to the ones Liszt played.
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 09:14 AM
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Still following along. It sounds like this trip has ben a very mixed bag so far.
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Old Oct 21st, 2014, 10:51 PM
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@Kathie -well, I thought it was going pretty well until I started limping! Couple of hotel snafus, but that's the price of booking ahead, which I'm willing to pay. At least they weren't so bad I couldn't stand to spend one night (see Aleppo, 2009). And then there's rain, it's coming down hard outside, but that's the price of traveling off season - although Budapest is still full of tour groups.

BTW, was thinking of you yesterday. Tried to go back to a fabulous Asian museum which, alas, was closed to prepare for an exhibition. If you make it to Budapest you have to go to http://visitbudapest.travel/arts-ent...n-gold-museum/ - I couldn't find the museum's own site, if it has one, which is how come I didn't know it was closed. I went to the Hopp Ferenc across the street instead.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2014, 12:31 AM
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<b>Sep 26, 2014: A Very Christian Museum, More Roman than the Romans, Smoky Lunch, Indulgence</b>

At first I had thought to spend four nights in Bucharest, but almost every tourist sight in Romania closes on Monday, and the palaces I wanted to see in Sinaia closed on Tuesday as well. So I cut Bucharest to three nights, leaving on Saturday. Then my sightseeing was further cut by rain on my second full day. I had wanted to walk Soseaua Kiseleff, the northern extension of Calea Victoriei, out to Herastrau Park and the outdoor National Village Museum, but it wasn't that kind of day.

It was, instead, clearly the kind of day for the other, indoor, museums on my list, starting with the Museum of the Romanian Peasant (seems a somewhat politically incorrect name, but I didn't choose it). This museum was a bit of surprise, as it concentrated very heavily on religion, as if nothing else in people's lives was of interest. The curator saw crosses in everything, including embroidery where I couldn't see them myself. However, a huge room of not very good icons was balanced by a complete cottage, and a collection of costumes. The museum had been kicked out of the building under Communism and there was a display in the gloomy basement devoted to that gloomy period.

My afternoon museum was the National History Museum, fronted by a recent and quite bizarre statue of a naked Emperor Trajan holding a dog (Dacian wolf, apparently, but looked like a dog to me). Inside, I found another good costume display, including a set of diplomatic uniforms, a form of dressing up I don't think I had previously encountered. I had read that there was a display of crown jewels in the basement, but the few remnants were way outclassed by beautiful prehistoric gold artifacts.

The museum also contained a complete replica of Trajan's column, broken into pieces so you could get a good look. Now, the column celebrates the victory of the Romans over the Dacians, who were the original inhabitants of the area, but rather than identifying with the Dacians, the Romanians seem to have sided with the Romans. In almost every town I visited, a copy of the Romulus and Remus statue was displayed on a tall column in the main square. Any discussion of language would include a reference to Latin roots.

In between the museums I ate lunch at the popular Van Gogh cafe in the old town. Thanks to the rain, instead of the usual crowds outside, I shared space inside with just a scattering of people - cigarette smokers, one and all. I also bought my train ticket out, checking the route to the station as well. Buying a metro ticket was easy - a woman in a booth sold them right by the entry turnstiles, two rides for 4 lei ($1.15 US). Navigating was easy - plenty of signs and a simple layout. Changing lines and getting from the metro into the station was not so easy. Bit of a trek, involving stairs, and the metro was very hot and very crowded. So I booked the car and driver who had collected me at the airport for my Saturday departure. Indulgence is a slippery slope - one ride led to another, to another. Of course, once I got out of Bucharest the taxis were very, very cheap.

I had enjoyed my time in Bucharest more than I expected. In some ways it reminded me of Budapest ten years ago: a work in progress, with possibilities. Although, of course, Budapest is much bigger with more possibilities. But Bucharest didn't seem overrun with tourists, unlike Budapest these days, so I would consider visiting sooner rather than later. It didn't make my "must revisit" list, but is on my "would revisit" one.
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