EAT in Bucharest:
If you see a Turabo Café, then go straight in. The chain has a number of locations across Bucharest, all of which are stormed by the capital's hip and young, posing over their coffee until they are sure of having been seen by absolutely everyone who passes by. This works best in the Turabo on Piata Unirii. The building's façade?at least on the café level?is glass, affording an undisturbed view of the busy street scene outside. Of course, that means everyone can see you while you enjoy your pastry too.
Romanian cuisine? Simple, delicious, and good. You want to sample cooking typical of the country without the hand-woven folk art tickling the back of your neck? Had it with that pair of jolly musicians sidling up to your table at 9:30 sharp? Then it's high time to reserve a table at Casa Doina. At the villa which dates back to the 18th century the capital's most elegant meet for dinner. So take a tip and make sure you dress at least as smartly as the waiter. Nothing then stands in the way of an evening savoruing wonderful Romanian specialties. At Casa Doina they are prepared with a refined touch worthy of the surroundings. When the weather is fine, you should by all means take a cool drink in the garden.
How sweet! A small café where you can also take a piece of your favourite treat home with you. A charming, small chocolate shop where you can find what you've craved all day, and have a coffee as well. The selection of chocolates, pralines, tarts, cakes and other sinful delights is immense: you will feel yourself transported to somewhere between France with its crème brûlée, éclairs, and Forêt noire, and Italy with its profiteroles and tiramisu. Need a starter before devoting yourself to the sweets? Chocolat also serves delectable light lunches featuring soups, pasta dishes and salads made of the very freshest ingredients. The selection of baked goods is equally tempting: bread-rolls, white, dark, and whole-grain breads, brioche and panini, both filled and not. This is a whole new dimension to being spoilt for choice.
SIGHTS in Bucharest:
If you have had your fill of the city's monumental, socialist-style, and unfinished buildings, then head for Muzeul Satului or the Village Museum. Here you will see buildings similar to those which once stood in the area around Bucharest, and indeed all over Romania. Wood predominates as the building material. The original homes, workshops, and stables that have been reassembled here will whisk you off to another age.Traditional crafts are to be seen in the buildings. The interiors are in part decorated with traditional furniture. When one of the horse-drawn carriages carrying museum workers creaks by, you will think you have just stepped out of a time machine. Occasionally special exhibitions are also mounted in the houses. The Village Museum is located next to Her?str?u Park and can be easily reached by bus. On the way you can also pay a visit to the Arcul de Triumf.
The Royal Palace merits more than a cursory look from outside: The palace, which dates from the early 19th century, has been the residence of kings, a communist government office, and today houses the Romanian National Art Museum. Exhibited are paintings, prints, and other artworks both Romanian and European from a variety of periods. Taken together the collections are quite extensive, so if you would like to see them all make sure you have enough time and energy. You can also spread your visit over several days. Tickets are sold for each part of the museum separately, so you can do the museum in stages with no damage to your pocketbook. For those stuck on the big names, the museum has several works by Rubens and Rembrandt. Like many other of the city's sights, a visit to the Royal Palace can be combined with an enjoyable stroll.
At Bucharest's Kinofest the focus is on fascinating animated films and exciting shorts. Anyone can participate, whether professional director, or hobby cineaste. Romanian and international film-makers have the chance over five days to screen their latest works. The organisers' goal is to create a stage for young cinema-makers' films. The also aim to stimulate interest in media arts and showcase new forms of creativity. This formula seems to be a success, with the festival taking place this year for the fourth time. At Kinofest the best films in the categories animation, fiction, and micromovie will be awarded prizes. You want to get a taste of the festival in advance? Log on to the festival website, where entries of past years can be viewed.
STAY in Bucharest:
The Nelisse at the gates of Bucharest is not just an extraordinary value but also one of the cosiest hotels in town. The rooms are enchanting: wallpaper with delicate floral motifs, here a touch of rose, there a dab of pastel. And so your day gets off to a relaxed and romantic start after breakfast in the intimate breakfast salon. The draw-back: the hotel is located about three kilometers from the city centre. But the Nelisse offers rental cars to get you downtown in a jiffy.In addition to the 43 guest rooms there is an apartment. If you are interested, you will have to book early though.A night in a double room starts at about 43 euro.
Opinions are split on the rooms' decor that tries to impress with kitschy red and gold braid. Either you find it fantastic or dreadful, there's nothing in between. There is no dispute however about the staff. Their friendliness and warmth make a stay at the Suter Inn relaxing and enjoyable. With just 16 rooms and one apartment of course they can afford to take time for their guests.The building was constructed in 1900 by an architect by the name of Suter. The house was restored to its former glory in 2003. The hotel is located not in the busy centre of town, but in a quiet neighbourhood not far from Piata Unirii and parliament.A night in a double room starts from 43.50 euro.
The communist touch cannot be denied - from the outer view. However, there's only little left of it inside Central Hotel - which is located right next to the town hall and the university. Since its refurbishment in 2009 aesthetics and electronics set the tone in the city hotel. The latter can be found in terms of TVs and computers in almost every second wall niche. Next to it: designer pieces, prominently placed and showcased. For example the white leather sofa and the red wood ensemble: almost impossible to just pass by. Some might consider this cold, in turn the Romanian state opera and the historic museum can be reached in the wink of an eye. Like the Cismigiu garden, the oldest publicly accessible park of the city. If you prefer to stay at the hotel you can relax in one of the 56 rooms or one of the three suites. The in-house bar provides for entertainment.
SHOPPING in Bucharest:
How do a Dutch hotel owner and a Chilean architect get together? By jointly opening the Beros & van Schaik wine trade in Sofia. Jerry van Schaik runs a hotel, his partner Christian Beros designs houses. They both like good wine and have established a wine trade in the historic district of Sofia where they sell gourmet wines that cannot be bought in the supermarket. These come from France, Spain, South Africa, Australia, Chile and Romania - among other countries: for example Corcova, Terra Romana, Avincis or La Certa. Additionally they serve small snacks in their bar including smoked meat, cheese, olives and daily specials. The wine partners celebrate gusto. They also arrange regular wine tasting sessions in the stylish setting of their wine bar. No time? No problem - Beros & van Schaik also deliver to your door. And the matching goodies can still be bought at the supermarket.
Yes indeed, the Romanians are proud of their imposing shopping malls and have plenty of them. So take part in a total shopping craze at least once, and stroll through one of the popular malls. Why not the most typical of them all, the gargantuan Bucuresti Mall. Opened in 2001, it boasts over 140 shops on an area of some 99,000 square metres. The building dates from Communist times and is appropriately massive, grey and heavy on the cement. Still, the locals continue to crowd the place, to shop, bowl, drink coffee, or take in a film at one of the ten cinemas. The shops include all the usual international labels?Adidas, Esprit, Marks & Spencer, Levi's and the like. But there are also less well-known brands, like Aldo Shoes, the local wedding outfitter, Alb ?i Negru, and Romanian designer, Irina Schrotter. It's well worth having a look around, although you probably won't pay less for international brands than you would at home.
Victims of fashion and chic freaks must stop by L'Armoire Concept Store. Forget Versace and Gaultier?here Romania's young designers rule. There are a great many of them and they are ever more frequently the stars of international fashion shows. Are the names Ludmila Carlateanu, ana alexe, DADA or Roxana Davidescu familiar? What about Elena Perseil, Eugenia Enciu, Stephan Pelger, Zasha oder Dorin Negrau? No? Reason enough to have a look at their latest collections. As numerous the designers are, so too is the variety of their creations. Evening gowns, business outfits, smart casual wear. What all of the clothes have in common though is an elegance that highlights and complements the wearer's femininity, Have browse around for yourself.