Last month I made a “bucket list” of everything I wanted to do before going home. One of those things was going to Bucharest, which I managed to do last weekend. The trip was a little spur of the moment, but turned out great. The city itself is very much alive, with a large student population and strong arts scene. While I was there, I visited museums, saw a TON of performance art pieces, and just generally had a really good time!
After a mix-up with the hostels, I ended up staying at Little Bucharest. It was a good place to stay, clean and friendly. It did get quite loud at night, however this is because it was located smack-dab in the middle of the historic (more tourist) district, which also meant there was plenty to do. The community was also very welcoming, and I always managed to find someone willing to explore with me, whether it was going on a tour, eating dinner, or even late night bowling!
I went on two walking tours in Bucharest. The first was a general walking tour, which I caught just in time my first evening there (after my bus came in late). It was a good tour, but after 9 hours on a bus, and still carrying all of my stuff, I was pretty exhausted by the time the tour was through.
The second was an alternative tour, suggested to me by the hostel. The main focus of this tour was street art and graffiti, and the politics and culture attached to these mediums. It was very interesting, and I felt like I learned a lot, as all the subject matter was new to me.
To continue with the “alternative” theme of my trip, it just happened to be B-Fit the weekend I was in Bucharest. B-Fit, I discovered, was a street festival containing “moments of improvisation, allegorical parades, acrobatics shows, pyrotechnic moments or outdoor shows.” People came from all over Europe to perform, and the coolest acts I saw included a ballerina dancing inside a plastic bubble, and a group of musicians being hoisted on a crane in the park to perform mid-air (accompanied by aerial performers, of course). Here are some more of the highlights.
Unfortunately, it rained for the majority of my trip. Because of this, I couldn’t spend all day watching the street performers, and instead I had to find refuge in indoor activities. This meant museums. There were three museums I went to, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, and Parliament. I know, technically Parliament isn’t a museum. However it was garish, is of great historical importance, and I got to take a tour, therefore I’ve decided to classify it as a museum (of sorts).
The National Museum of Contemporary Art was definitely my favorite. I don’t always understand contemporary art, however there was an absolutely brilliant exhibit called “recorded memories.” It brought together 23 artists (all South and East European), and addressed themes such as post-memory, collective trauma, and how images play a role in these processes. The exhibit felt so raw and vulnerable, and was rich with pictures and videos of the artists, their families, and their communities. I wish I could have spent the whole day there, absorbing these people and their stories.
Food and Drinks
Because Moldovan food is so similar to Romanian, I did not feel the need to try too many local delicacies. However, by the suggestion of our tour guide, and with some of the volunteer workers at my hostel, I went to a fun theme bar called Bicicleta, where all the chairs were made out of bicycle seats, and there were old bicycles hanging on the walls.
I also went to Caru cu Bere, which is one of the oldest breweries of Bucharest, and is now a hugely popular restaurant with live entertainment. When I went there were performers dancing to Dirty Dancing songs. Very fun!
While I know I can’t complete everything on my “bucket list” due to time constraints, I am pleased that I managed to go to Bucharest. The city was so vibrant, and if I ever have the opportunity I would love to go back again.
Next up: I will go to Blaj (northern Romania) next weekend for a music festival. And then next Thursday I fly home!