BUCHAREST – SEPT. 15
Today our tour was joined by a local guide and we got both a driving and a walking tour of the city. The driving tour was good for orienting ourselves with Bucharest and showing us buildings outside of the historic old town, but the walking tour gave us more information and showed us more of the old town…so basically I was nerding out this entire day!
The first place we stopped at while on the walking tour was this old Eastern Orthodox Church. One of the things I found really interesting about Bucharest was the juxtaposition of old and new, and this church is a perfect example. Here we have this gorgeous old building right in the middle of run down corporate-esque buildings covered in graffiti. Sadly most of this duality of old/new is present throughout city due to all of the damage Bucharest sustained during the wars and their revolution. Towards the bottom of this church you can still see the bullet holes sustained during the revolution.
When the walking tour was finished we had a quick break for lunch before heading over to the Parliament Building, also known as the People’s Palace. The place a few of us had lunch was actually pretty cool as it was steampunk themed and had a really unique looking bathroom.
The Parliament Building itself is actually incredibly cool both in history and design. It is the second largest government building in the world second only to the Pentagon (go ‘Merica 🙄.) The building has 9 known levels, however no one knows how many subterranean levels there might be. People have many different theories, but the most popular one seems to be that there is a bomb shelter that could hold 100,000 people. When we were on our walking tour this was stated to us as a fact by our local guide, but during our tour of the actual building the guide said that this was one of many myths but that no one really knows because that section of the building is a government secret.
Actually getting into the Parliament Building was an interesting experience. Since it is an active Parliament Building we were required to leave our passports with the check in area and we were not allowed to stray from our group at any point as this would be viewed as suspicious activity connected to espionage. Maria (who is Russian) and I had a good laugh at being considered spies.
The only really annoying part of getting into the building was that if you wanted to take photos you had to pay 30 lei for the pleasure. It was really frustrating because I knew that there were at least two people on our group who paid, but I also knew that I would probably want my own pictures. Ultimately mom, it was your voice in my head that convinced me to do it. I could hear you saying you only live once, and so it was decided. It still felt like a waste of money, especially since our guide did not seem to enforce this.
(Click the images to see my captions)
While the building was absolutely beautiful, the best part about this tour was getting to take photos from the balcony and the terrace. These provided the best view of the city and the balcony was perfectly aligned with the main street of Bucharest. Comically this street was modeled after the Champs-Élysées made to be just a little bit wider and longer.
After the two hour tour (which did show us one asbestos heavy basement level) Tara, Taryn, and I headed back to the old town and grabbed a gelato and people watched. Next door was this really awesome outdoor food truck marketplace, and while I think the food trucks are permanent at this location, it was super cool. Honestly, we ended up spending hours just hanging out. It was set up as a beachy lounge and had sand on the floor. All in all a lot of fun and at various points of the night different people from our group came and joined us for a bit.