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Published: August 25th 2018
We woke up this morning with a full day to explore the Romanian capital before meeting our G Adventures tour group tonight at 5:00pm. With this being our only day in Bucharest, we had to make the most of the day in order to see as much as we can. Waking up to sunny skies, it was perfect weather today to explore Bucharest. After another delicious buffet style breakfast at our hotel, we headed out and walked north along Calea Victoriei with the goal of getting to the National Village Museum. We walked by notable landmarks such as the National University Library, the Arts Collection Museum, and the George Enescu National Museum before locating a Starbucks for a short coffee break. Having now entered what must be a university area of the city, we were now surrounded by students going about their morning business. After our quick coffee break, we continued north and found a charming little park at Casa Filipescu-Cesianu. This little park contained busts of what I assume to be local political figures or intellectuals all arranged in a circle with a bench you could sit on to make it seem like you were having a roundtable discussion. It
was here at Casa Filipescu-Cesianu that we saw our first evidence of Romania's most famous historical figure, a small statue of Vlad Tepes, or most famously known as Dracula.
Continuing north, we walked passed the National History Museum and National Museum of Geology before taking a brief moment to walk through Kisseleff Park. There wasn't much to see here although we did make a quick visit to monument dedicated to Romanian infantry. After Kisseleff Park, we entered a more residential area with larger homes and most notably the location of a good number of foreign embassies. As we walked through here, we noticed signs for the embassies of Russia, Sweden, and Canada. Eventually we made it to the Arcul de Triumf, similar to the one in Paris before making a quick look around Herastrau Park and finally arriving at the National Village Museum. This outdoor museum on the shores of Herastrau Lake contained many churches, mills, homes, and windmills that were relocated from various parts of Romania. We spent the next 2 hours wandering around and checking out most of the structures within the site. We were allowed to enter most of the structures which was still decorated in
the style of the appropriate time period and gave us a glimpse of the simple lives of rural Romanians. Eventually, most of the structures began to all look the same and I was ready to leave. I did enjoy our visit here but checking out each individual structure does become a bit much. Watching and playing with the numerous resident cats did however break up the monotony.
Back at our hotel, we retrieved our bags as we had to switch to the G Adventures hotel, the Hotel International. It was only about a mile away but after walking all day, I wasn't in the mood to walk a mile with all of our luggage. I ordered an Uber which only cost us the equivalent of $4. The Hotel International was a bit dreary and had definitely seen better days but the rooms were quite large. No worries as we were only here for tonight. With about 100 people signing up for this tour, 5 groups were created each with their own guide. Our mandatory group meeting was held on the top floor of the hotel at 5:00pm where we met our guide for the next 6 days. Gabo, originally
from Argentina, explained some of the details of the trip, what to expect, as well as pumped us up for the party at Dracula's Castle on Halloween night. Our group consisted of about 20 people and from here on out Gabo would refer to us all as "La Familia". At this meeting we met Rob, Suzy, Rod, and Anne (2 couples from Portland, Oregon, Erin and Angie (2 friends also from Oregon), David and Paul (a married gay couple from London, Ontario), Brad and Chloe (married couple from the middle of nowhere in NW Australia), Maria from Toronto, and Margaret from Philadelphia. After the meeting, we all agreed to meet back down in the lobby where Gabo had made reservations at Caru' Cu Bere, a popular restaurant in the Old Town.
While gathering in the hotel lobby, 6 more members of our group arrived, a family of 4 from England and 2 older women from the U.S. With everyone in the group now in the lobby, Gabo lead us on a walk over to Bucharest's Old Town. The streets of Bucharest were absolutely packed. Evidently, there was some religious event taking place that Gabo explained but I didn't quite
hear. Making our way into the Old Town, we made a quick stop at the Old Princely Court where there was a statue of Vlad Tepes and Gabo gave us our first introduction to the Dracula myth. Dinner at Caru' Cu Bere was very atmospheric as we enjoyed typical Romanian dishes mixed in with sporadic traditional dance and song from the restaurant staff. Today was one of our group member's birthday and Gabo surprised David with silly birthday hats and champagne for all and we all sang Happy Birthday to our new friend. After dinner, we all walked back to the hotel to call it a night as we had an early departure tomorrow morning.
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