Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Hello Bucharest, I'm so glad to be here!"

This is what Michael Jackson meant to say when he greeted the people of Romania several years ago.  Instead he said, "Hello Budapest" (in reference to Hungary).  The Romanians told us that this faux pas occurred on the balcony of the "People's Palace" (Palace of Parliament).  (The Lonely Planet guide said that this incident occurred at the National Stadium.)  Regardless, I like the intended message - and agree - "Hello Bucharest, I'm so glad to be here!"

The People's Palace

Unlike the other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Romania did not experience a Peaceful Revolution in 1989.  While the Communist regimes of neighboring countries fell one-by-one, as part of a domino effect begun with the opening of the Berlin Wall, Romania's leadership clung to power.  This changed in December 1989 when dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were forcibly overthrown and executed.  

The People's Palace, which today houses the Constitutional Court, Chamber of Deputies, etc. was an example of Ceausescu's excesses.  It is the second largest building in the world in surface area (following the U.S. Pentagon) and is complete with multiple halls, a dizzying array of chandeliers, and marble at every turn.  See for example, custom-built "his" and "her" staircases for Nicolae and Elena, which were re-built 5 times to ensure proper proportions.

After hearing about bloody revolts, cults of personalities, and great hardships to the Romanian people, it was time to try something on the lighter side.

I liked this message in particular:

While I have to admit, this was not necessarily Romanian fare, I was not up to joining my colleagues for a lunch of  "bear" as I already had my ”Wild Game” experience.  Instead, I had the following (minus the cheese).

We also went to Bucharest's oldest beer hall. Well worth the visit.  There I tried to order a chicken and vegetable wrap - minus the chicken.  The answer was simply no.  No discussion, no alternative, just no.  It actually made me laugh.  "Just order what is on the menu."  Will do.  A House salad it is.  (I really wanted to visit Casa Satya in Bucharest. How many restaurants advertise themselves as "Alchemy for Body and Soul?" The menu even gives suggestions for ordering for your health.  Guess I will need to make another trip!)

Overall, a lovely time spent in Romania.  Still shaking my head about how 20 years have passed, how much has been accomplished, and how much more needs to be done.  Bucharest.  I thank you.


Sandi said...

That has to be the hardest part--ordering in foreign countries. I feel for ya!

The Robertsons of Mumbai said...

Ha, ha! I get you now! We're such Americans, aren't we?! Sadly, sometimes a familiar chain restaurant is a safer bet than the local 'wild' fare...

Travel Raw said...

Sandi, yeah, it's definitely not always easy!

JMSR, Hehe. Seriously!!