Gigantomanism in Bucharest

After good sleep in the night-bus to Bucharest (the only notable thing was the bridge over the Danube – which is the border between Bulgaria and Rumania – near Russe. A narrow bridge with steep inclines on both sides – it looked rather frightening in the night), I spent two full days in this city. I had always thought, that Bulgaria and Romania are pretty similar – but apparently I was totally wrong. The language (Romanian is – surprise – a roman language) is not the only difference. The faces look different, as do the buildings.
Bucharest is a city full of contrasts. Nicolae Ceauşescu, the infamous leader of Romania between 1965 and 1989, tried to turn it into the „Paris of the East“. Huge boulevards cross the city, lined by monotonous block buildings. Boulevard Unirii (Unirii = Union) starts at the Palace of Parliament, which is said to be the second-largest building of the world after the Pentagon, and goes 3,2 km to the east – 6m longer than it’s prototype, the Champs-Elysee in Paris. If you go just one street behind these blocks, you can see the old structures – little churches, neat two or three story buildings – in various states, some of are empty and torn-down, some newly renovated.

Bus stops are hard to find – often there’s just a small sign with the name of the station and the list of line-numbers. If there’s a shelter at the stop (which is pretty common) you usually can find a map of the routes in Bucharest. No schedules, no information about coming buses. In contrast the information system in the buses belongs to the best I’ve ever seen. LED-displays inform about the next station and possible interchanges. Many buses also host an additional screen, which shows the exact position of the bus on a map and cycle through surrounding streets by highlighting them. In Bucharest there are also trams, trolleys and some metro lines.

Most of Saturday we (I was couchsurfing, which was a good experience again) spent with a group of photographers, who meet regularily to explore parts of the city together. The best was to see the reactions of the people living there, as the group of over 50 photographers invaded their neighbourhoods and took pictures of everything. The weather was just right for taking pictures, sunny and pretty warm.

On Monday, on the way to Braşov, I went to Sinaia, a small town famous for host two interesting castels. The nice thing: I met some U.S. peace corps volunteers, currently staying in Marocco and had a nice time with them. The bad thing(s): It was cold and rainy and the castles were closed, so we didn’t even bother to go there. And the town looks like a typical hotel ressort … Not very pleasing. So I took an earlier train to Braşov … but this is another story …

You will find more pictures on my photo pages, but please check again later ;)

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