MB & daughter MB2 enjoyed a number of tours around the city of Bucharest (and outside) during their recent five-day excursion to Romania. All were enjoyable, particularly the street food walking tour which combined history, geography, architecture, local culture, Romanian craft beers and great food, whilst exchanging stories and chat with fellow-tourees.
MB & MB2 turned up at steps of the National Theatre at the allotted time (10.30am) to join tour guide Dana and fellow adventurers, who by coincidence were all from Australia and New Zealand. Dana gave a quick synopsis of the history of Romania from its days as part of the Ottoman Empire to the fall of Communism right up to present days, before handing us some local street bread to get us fuelled up for the five and half hour walking journey that lay ahead.
Bucharest, from an architectural point of view suffers from the lack of enforced planning laws that exist in more westerly parts of Europe, so the city is an eclectic mix of modern and ancient, very often side by side on the same street.
Traditionally, Bucharest was divided into Mahallas – neighbourhoods that may have been called after a local dignitary or businessman, and operated independently of other mahallas from an administrative point of view. Each Mahalla may have had its own speciality, such as woodwork, steelworker, leather goods and so on. And each Mahalla was also generally a separate religious neighbourhood similar to parishes in Ireland.
MB & MB2 have now completed 4 or 5 food walking tours in major cities, and the Bucharest event was as good as any. Half the fun is actually meeting other tourists and sharing the food and beers with them and the guide, whilst engaging in cultural exchanges and past experiences. Recommendations on where to travel next are also always welcome if they have been to places not yet seen. Obviously, an interesting and educated guide also goes a long way to the enjoyment of the tour and Dana was a Romanian gem in this regard.
So dear HX/MB followers, MB can highly recommend Dana and her Bucharest Urban Adventures tour company if ever you travel to Romania/Bucharest.
Go n’eiri an bothar leat!
Some pics and commentaries follow:
Dana gives a brief Romanian history lesson whilst teasing the hungry tourists with a bag of hot breads in her hand
Sculpture in front of the National Theatre
Pit stop for food and some local craft beer
Bucharest lies in an area of seismic activity and suffers from earthquakes on occasion. The circular (faded) red sign over the entrance door below has been fixed in place by the local council, indicating that the building is not safe for occupation and is likely to fall come the next decent earthquake. Meanwhile the unfortunate owner has hung up a ‘For Sale’ sign.
Churches abound in Bucharest.
The Cross below lies just outside the Armenian Church, and is dedicated to the victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915 when 1.5M Armenians were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks. This particular event is hotly contested by Turkish governments since that time who dispute that any genocide took place. The 2nd photo is a shot taken inside the church.
Now here’s a funny one. Next to MB’s HX locality back home lies the small village of Bruff, or ‘Brú Na Deise’ (Bruff of the Dacia people) in the Irish Gaelic language. The Dacia were originally inhabitants of the Carpathian Mountains region of present day Romania & Moldova (& surrounds) and were also one of the ancient Celtic tribes after they traveled west. MB is not sure how they arrived in Ireland as that happened in an era that was pre-Wikipedia & Facebook!
Eclectic architecture is everywhere, some of it very impressive.
Like many European cities, there is far too much graffiti on the streets of Bucharest from MB’s liking. However, using the logic of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, Bucharest has an annual graffiti festival with international artists in attendance.
The story of the graffiti dog (1st pic below) is worth telling. Two years back, the public became tired of all the stray dogs roaming around the city. The authorities acted, rounded up all the dogs, and exterminated them. To this day, a graffiti artist called Aeul goes around painting his signature white graffiti dog in memory of those fallen, and signs each one.
Following some prior food & beverage stops, Dana landed her group at the farmers Market where she bought local mici sausages (delicious skinless sausages of half beef half pork – eaten with a mild mustard), cheeses and vegetables for her hungry walkers. The entré and aperitif comprised a small plastic cup of the local Romanian brandy-like drink called Palinca, which MB found highly palatable and can recommend to all who like a tipple of the hard stuff!