City Breaks

A Weekend in Bucharest: I Still Love Megapolises

To begin, I was born, raised, and have spent 20 years of my life in megapolis- with a large population, developed infrastructure, and changing seasons.

Although, at some point, I moved to the tiny city of Feodosia. There, I became fond of small towns, like Feodosia and our current city, Paphos. However, truth be told, living in a place where almost everything can be reached by foot, while getting used to one-way trips taking 40-60 minutes, for people like me can get too emotionally uncomfortable (this isn’t even mentioning the non-exiting seasons).

The idea of visiting Bucharest was birthed not from the desire to sight see, but simply from the desire to unwind and change our environment.

As usual, our decision was made by a WizzAir offer. Since our Discount Club (provided by the airline) and Priority Boarding (purchased by us) are available to us until May and our choices are more flexible, this low-cost travel planning is our number 1 choice for now.

The itinerary:

  • A flight from Larnaca to Bucharest
  • 3 nights in Bucharest
  • A flight from Bucharest to Larnaca

The total budget for two people was 211 EUR (excluding the payments for airport parking, food costs, and taxi fares):

  • 80 EUR – airplane tickets
  • 131 EUR – hotel stay

Taught by the bitter experience of our trip to Istanbul in 2015 and our Grand Eurotrip in May, we thoroughly considered the process of packing our clothing. As our previous packing processes have demonstrated, the weather in Cyprus and the weather on the rest continent are two entirely different things.

This time, we were spot on! Thank you, Captain Obvious!

Accommodation:

For our stay in the capital of Romania, we chose the hotel Villa Tamara. It was one of the best deals in terms of price, quality, and closeness to the center. The first and third parameters of the hotel fully met our expectations; the second parameter, however, not so much…

Why?

First, the nice spacious room, balcony, and view meant little when accompanied by the creaking mattress, one (albeit a relatively large) blanket for two, and an utterly worn-out headboard on the bed.

Second, the hotel operated with a ‘call to enter’ system, which was good for restricting access to unauthorized individuals; it was also good for returning to the hotel late at night and having to wait outside in the dark for the security guard to wake up and let you in.

Third, the breakfast – it deserves a special mention: a thermos of coffee, bananas/apples, packaged biscuits, a plate of scrambled eggs+vegetables+cheese or meat cuts, and a piece of bread (without butter) per person.

Their rating? 5 out of 10.

Although, I have to admit that among all the hotels we have stayed at without elevators, Villa Tamara had my favorite staircase- stamped with a seal of approval by a person who is panically afraid of heights and steep steps.

Day 1:

The very first night we, of course, could not resist the temptation to delve into the national cuisine. Despite the fact that I am part Romanian, had already heard of many different dishes, and even tried Romanian food with my family, I hardly ever refuse to try the national dishes and traditions of the countries we visit- Romania was no exception.

So, for our first night, we excitedly chose a restaurant called Vatra. It looked quite decent; it had a picturesque layout and cheerful, live folk music with dancers.

IMG_6246However, the euphoria of the ambiance suddenly came to a halt when the server brought us the wrong food. It wasn’t until the third try that they managed to properly serve our table… With mindfulness, it was difficult for me to judge what was causing the mistakes. Was it the standard practice of serving foreigners, or just the over-congestion of a Saturday night? Whichever the case, I am unlikely to come here again, even though the cabbage rolls and the mititei were pretty good (I strongly suggest ignoring the pepper pod decorating the plate though – it is HOT!) and the food prices were quite fair.

Day 2:

Contrary to our first dining experience, our visit to Hanu’ lui Manuc beeraria was impressively positive. Luckily, the restaurant we were initially looking for failed to exist in real life, so we ended up here by means of a happy accident. Everything was perfect here: from the branded steak with Café de Paris sauce, to the juicy burger, all the way to the atmosphere. This place is definitely an ideal workplace for a traveling freelancer.

The only exceptions were the desserts- those who have tried real tiramisu and real cheesecake may understand what I mean. Even then, this restaurant was the icing on the cake of a wonderful evening spent wandering around in one of the shopping centers and through the freezing cold city.

For the first two days, the weather was not on its best behavior; but this was okay because we had to complete several translation projects anyways (bad weather can sometimes make this easier). So, we had saved the real exploring of Bucharest for the last day of our visit…

Day 3:

Our main objective was to walk around the Parliament building, the size of which impressed us (even without a tour through the offices).

IMG_6288

Afterwards, we visited a nearby autumn park and watched beautiful flocks of birds fly over the setting sun of Dambovita.

A hangout at The Harp Irish Pub, with its nice view of the lively square, was indeed a worthy ending to our prolonged weekend in Bucharest. If not for the slightly overcooked turkey, this restaurant would have earned a 10 out of 10 in every category. The ambiance was perfect for a romantic candlelit dinner, or even a fun gathering with friends. Not to mention- the meringue I ordered was definitely one of the best desserts that I have ever tried. Overall, this place is a must visit, for sure!

To sum it all up:

Being in the midst a much-missed megapolis, an autumn park, and a bit of snow all in one trip is the epitome of pleasure for somebody who has been long spoiled by the sunshine of Cyprus and the leisurely lifestyle of an island.

Will we ever be back in Bucharest? Undoubtedly, yes! As soon as we want to escape the relaxed atmosphere of Cyprus and dive into the noise and excitement of a bustling city, we will be there.

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