I had such a nice day in Bucharest! I have to say starting out I wasn’t so sure I was really going to have much of a day at all. I had no map. I had no idea where the tourist info. booth was, or where city centre was for that matter so what the heck was I going to do? Then there was the problem of my bag. Nothing is more fun that dragging 40 pounds of luggage around in 32 degree heat, right? I asked my hostel if I could store my bags there and he said no. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I dislike the hostel situation. Give me a hotel any day! Anyways, it was a blessing in disguise because as I was walking around the old city area (which was a good 20 minute walk away from the hostel) I found a cute cafe that rented bikes. Hmmm, if I rent a bike I bet they’ll store my bag! YES!!!! And the bonus? The bike rental was free for the first two hours, then you had to pay. I was only going to be 2 hours, so it was just an ideal situation! I biked all around the old city (it’s really not very big) and stopped and took lots of photos. It’s definitely much rougher around the edges than most of the big cities I’ve been to. And there are way more gypsies. This is a place where you want to have your wits about you. I’d heard numerous stories from people I’ve met about Bucharest being hazardous for tourists and their wallets, and my mom sent me an email about fake police stopping you and asking for your passport and credit cards and running off, so I was prepared to ward off would be scammers.
Sitting in the shade wondering how to while away 5 hours.
People sell anything and everything on the street. Kids approach you with packets of Kleenex to sell you. There was this old woman that had a basket full of baby bunnies. She was selling crocheted hanky’s and I stopped to take a photo of the bunnies and she wouldn’t let me! She said something in Romanian which I took to mean, “If you don’t buy a hanky, then no photos of my basket of bunnies.”
This is right on one of the main streets, you can see how unkempt it is.
LOTS of graffiti here!
Isn’t any time Beer O’ Clock?
I loved the roofs on these buildings. They’re almost like a thatched roof or something similar.
This is where I rented my bike.
One of the strangest and most disturbing sculptures I’ve seen!
A beautiful Russian Orthodox church from the early 1900’s.
Then right across the street there was this shabby office/apartment building.
Another beautiful small church.
This woman was lighting the candles within the small boxes.
I took a cab to the airport and had the most hilarious driver. Radu had a lot of questions. Was I married? Did I have kids? Was my boyfriend worried about all the men while I’m traveling? He himself is married and has 4 sons, so he wasn’t trying to get with me, he was just curious. He made me laugh though, because at one point (I guess after I told him I’d been traveling mostly alone) he reached back to do one of those handshakes that basketball players do and said “Good woman, independent woman!” He was the perfect ending to a surprisingly nice stay in Bucharest (well, except for the god awful hostel!)
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Now I’m in Istanbul! I got here tonight at about 9:30, paid 3 times what I should have for a cab from the airport and kicked myself the entire ride but what can you do? It was my bad, I should really know better! Anyways, here are my first impressions of Istanbul from the airport and cab ride.Lots of head scarves and burka wear. As we were driving though old town I could hear the call to prayer through the window. It was incredibly haunting. Saw Hagia Sophia at night. Wow. No words for the beauty of that! And the streets are so busy with people! I’ve never seen so many people! This is definitely the most culturally different place I’ve ever been, and I haven’t even really even been out there yet! Just WHAT will tomorrow bring?