Spring Break Part 3: Bucharest, Romania

I put off writing this post for awhile, thinking I would have plenty of time to do it while I was home with the baby (which I have, but I’ve been lazy).  I will post about Baby Herbie #2 soon!  🙂 Anyway, we added Bucharest, Romania (not to be confused with Budapest, Hungary–on our to-do list!) onto our spring break trip because we had a few extra days before I had to return to work and we had some extra cash through the travel agency that we were able to use on the hotel there.  After visiting Athens and Santorini, Greece, we ended up back in the Athens airport for most of the day before heading to Romania.  The airport was actually pretty nice and they had a fantastic kids’ play area where we hung out for a bit before eating.

Our flight was in the evening, so we landed in Romania somewhat late, then took the bus into the city centre.  Once we got to the central station, we took a {very sketchy} cab to the Central Hotel by Zeus International.  The hotel was nice and fairly centrally located.  Once we arrived there, we checked in and dropped our bags.  We had a very cranky, hungry toddler on our hands, so we did something we almost never do while traveling- we ate McDonald’s for dinner.  It was basically attached to our hotel, so it was easy, cheap, and made our little guy happy.  After that, we all crawled into bed and passed out.

DSC_3260-min

We didn’t have a lot of must-see’s on our Bucharest list, especially since it was a last-minute addition to our trip.  The following morning, we ate a yummy and filling breakfast at the hotel [while the Romanian women swooned over Benjamin].  We then decided to take free walking tour.  It started at ten, and thanks to my misguided navigation skills, we barely made it to the meeting spot on time.  BUT, we did make it, and I’m glad we did!  Our tour guide was absolutely fantastic, and I learned so much about the city!  Without giving away all the details, we saw the Union Square, the Old Town, a statue of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula!), “the ugliest statue in Bucharest”, Stavropoleos Monestary, and Revolution Square.  The Monestary was easily one of the most unique and gorgeous churches I have ever visited!  Romania has gone through much turmoil and has had many political problems, even in their recent history.  It was fascinating to hear about all the issues and how much the people there have overcome!

Union Square & our awesome tour guide

Old Town

Vlad & “The ugliest statue in Bucharest”

Stavropoleos Monestary

DSC_3235-min

Revolution Square

During our tour, we walked by Caru’ cu Bere, a restaurant I had seen on several websites I visited before our trip.  We decided to stop there for lunch– the interior was breathtaking!  Our lunches were good, but the dessert was what really made the meal.  We ordered the papanasi, which is a traditional Romanian dessert, much like a donut with cheese and jam.  While we devoured our delicacy, a group of musicians played some music, much to Benjamin’s pleasure 🙂 {In fact, he enjoyed it so much so that he fell asleep on daddy’s lap while watching!}

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll down to the Palace of Parliament, which is the second largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon (I didn’t know the Pentagon was that big!)  It is GI.GAN.TIC!  I could barely even get it all in one photo!  While we were wandering around, Benjamin woke up from his nap, so we headed to a huge playground near the palace.  The playground was super cool; we noticed that Bucharest had a ton of green spaces, parks, and playgrounds.  We made our way back to the hotel before heading out to dinner.

Restaurant Vatra was about a block from our hotel, so we popped down to give it a try that evening.  I am glad we did!  The waitresses were IN LOVE with Benjamin–even took a picture with him!  I had delicious Romanian stuffed cabbage rolls with polenta…DELISH!  And we even got to see some Romanian dancers!

One our favorite things to do when we are traveling is find awesome bookstores or libraries.  Bucharest happened to have a super cool, modern bookstore, Carturesti Carusel, so we just had to go!  It was beautiful with tons of fun things to look at, and we of course bought some kids books {our fave!}

Surprisingly, Bucharest’s Old Town has a pretty lively night scene–we wandered through, and if we didn’t have Benjamin (and Baby #2 in my belly), we probably would’ve stopped for a drink or two.

DSC_3301-min

Day two started with another yummy breakfast at the hotel, then packed up and stored our bags at the hotel after checkout since our flight was late in the evening.  Our first stop of the day was the National Museum of History.  The main exhibit was a plaster cast of Trajan’s Column, which is a Roman triumphal column that is located in Rome and commemorates the Roman Emperor Trajan’s triumph in the Dacian wars.  {Now that we are planning a trip to Rome in the fall, I am excited to see the actual column!}  The bas-relief images were carved in a spiral going up the column, which was really cool.  There were lots of other artifacts, such as jewelry and the crown jewels, but Benjamin was getting a bit restless so we left before we were able to see everything.

Next on our agenda was lunch, which we had at Manuc’s Inn in the old town.  The inn is gorgeous, and we were able to eat lunch on the patio in the beautiful sunshine.  Brandon enjoyed a Romanian beer, while I sipped on some delicious lemonade before eating some more yummy traditional Romanian food.

The rest of our afternoon was spent eating ice cream from Cremeria Emilia (YUM!) and wandering around, enjoying the sunshine.

Romania was definitely a different destination; you could feel and see the communist influences and Eastern European vibe.  I enjoyed our time there, and only have one regret: not taking a day trip to visit Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania.

Bucharest Travel Journal