I enjoyed two days in Bucharest. On the first day, my niece had a day off work and accompanied me. It was good to have an orientation to the city, which served me well for the next day on my own. We did a walking tour of the inner city. Our guide pointed out places of interest and told stories, so it was a good introduction to the city. It was quite cold and raining slightly, but we were brave tourists!
After the tour, we had a light lunch, then continued walking around, visiting a couple of museums, one dedicated to Georges Enescu, famous Romanian composer, the other to Romanian life. Most interesting. Then we walked home, about an hour, all good training for me.
On the second day I used the metro to get back into the city and visited the People’s Palace. It is a relic of the communist era and was intended to showcase Romanian Communism. It is on a grand scale, much like the buildings of North Korea, with grand colonnaded halls, silk brocade curtains, seemingly acres of marble, literally tons of crystal in the chandeliers. There are multiple stories above and below ground. It was built in ten years between 1984 and 1994, with three shifts of workers working around the clock under the direction of multiple architects. It was never officially opened, as the regime fell before it happened. However, it has been “inaugurated”. It is used for both houses of the Romanian Parliament and houses many offices of the administration. I was glad to have seen it, or at least, a fraction of it, but it is a “soul-less” place. It is a scandal that such opulence was invested in this building while so many of the people were suffering poverty and hardship.
If you want to know more about it, see http://www.local-life.com/bucharest/articles/palace-of-parliament.
Here is a view of the front. Many buildings were cleared away to make way for a
Champs Elysee style boulevard which leads up to this view of the palace. For the rest of the afternoon I strolled around. On this day, as on the previous day, I visited Romanian Orthodox Churches. Very interesting to see the different style from the Latin Rite. The sanctuary is closed off to enhance the mystery. The walls are covered in paintings. There are icons in front of which people pray and do reverence. The churches are often quite small in area, but very high, a steeple reaching up to the heavens, saints and other celestial paintings on the walls, topped with a figure of Christ Regnant on the underside of the dome.
As on the day before, I walked home, finding my way by map, all good training for the camino, but all the good work undone by enjoying a lavish meal out that night!!