Three of us departed from Dulles at 8:45pm on Sept 9th ... flew through Heathrow, and arrived in Bucharest at 4:45pm Romanian time. We had very smooth flights; I slept many hours, and arrived feeling very refreshed. We got through customs easily and quickly, and Carrie and I were checked into our hotel by 5:30, with a 7 hour time difference. Door to door from Rob's house to the hotel was 17 hours.
The taxi ride from the airport to the hotel InterContinental was very pretty, past parks, bike lanes, and many picturesque buildings. We drove down Bucharest's version of Champs-Élysées - complete with an Arc de Triomphe built after World War I. Our hotel is rather fancy, especially for the price. Every room has a balcony, all with great views. Our rooms are on the 14th floor. Carrie & Linda have a view of the opera theater. Leslie and I have a few of the "Palace of Parliament" a.k.a. "The People's Palace", which I plan to visit when we are back in Bucharest on our last day. The view from the balcony includes some reconstruction (some apartment buildings, roads, and the opera theater are being renovated) but we can
also see many communist-era concrete block buildings. Some of the apartment windows and balconies defy their grim crumbling concrete by overflowing with greenery and flowers ... but not all.
Leslie arrived only an hour later than us, traveling from Savannah through Atlanta (7 hour layover!) and Amsterdam; Linda waited for her at the airport, then we all met at the hotel bar for a beer.
After her very long travel day, Leslie was ready for sleep -- but Carrie, Linda, and I walked to Old City, at the suggestion of the hotel desk. He was quite certain that we would end up dancing the night away and get back to the hotel at 3am! We must look younger than we feel. We started by visiting the Piaţa Universităţii right outside of our hotel. There were interesting sculptures and many pampered dogs without leashes --- all well-behaved which was important because the piata (pronounced like the Italian piazza) is surrounded by very busy roads. Much history happened in this place; it amused me to see it used as a dog park. After this we continued on to Old City. Only a five minute walk, and once again it felt a bit like "Paris of the East." Old cobblestone streets, no cars, several blocks of restaurants, cafes, and pubs, all with outdoor seating. A bit like Boulevard Saint-Michel --- but as promised by the hotel clerk, many places pulsed with loud dance music. The streets were undergoing major excavation, and everyone else seemed unbothered by the need to climb over rubble and around building materials. We all agree that it would be a very dangerous place to become inebriated. :) We ate outside at an Italian restaurant – Bel Monde. Delicious food; I had mushroom bruschetta and insalata mista. (Spent the past six weeks learning a bit of Romanian, and the first menu is in Italian!) The veggies were excellent, very fresh! Have also tried two local beers: Silva Black and Ursus Black. On the way back to the hotel I got a bottle of Belgian beer. When I got back to the room Leslie got up for a bit; we sat on the balcony while drinking the beer and looking out at the Palace of Parliament all lit up. I was sound asleep before midnight.
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