EAT in Bucharest:
Here you will be served authentic Indian cuisine. Be careful: if order your food hot, it comes hot! But if you prefer not to give your taste-buds a good singe, no problem: the chef will prove that Indian cuisine can be spicy but doesn't have to be. It is all about an alluring mix of spices that can be mild as well. The restaurant won't win any design awards but it's inviting and comfortable nonetheless. The rooftop terrace in particular is a great place to meet for those who favour a modern and southern ambiance. Three chefs stand watchfully over the pots and seem to be competing in a contest. Where else will you find ten different lamb dishes? Vegetarians will also feel right at home. They may like to choose one of the home-baked breads from among eight variations as an accompaniment to an exotic vegetable-based speciality.
Treat yourself to an overdose of tradition at Vatra. The food is so delicious and authentic, there must be a Romanian mama in the kitchen. The rest of the magic is in the décor: traditional textiles and handicrafts, some of which date back to before 1920, adorn the walls. Surprisingly there is not a long wait for a table. Don't worry about busloads of tourists here, the place is just too small, as well as relaxing and cosy. If you can choose, take a table downstairs in the cellar. Dark and gloomy? Just the opposite: the illuminated vaults create an appealing, rustic atmosphere. You must order the stuffed cabbage, or stuffed vine-leaves. They are served with the classic accompaniment of polenta. Non-smokers will be delighted; the Vatra has a separate room where smokers can puff away.
Mihai Panfil loves good coffee. And he always has. Together with his friend he has designed his own machine for coffee roasting and has surrounded himself with people who also love coffee. He has thought of a place that he would want to work every day - and in April 2013 he eventually opened his coffee shop Origo in Bucharest. As former Romanian representative of the barista championships he puts all his energy and experience into the new venue. He's travelling the world and imports selected coffee beans to Bucharest. These are used to create a perfect blend that is served under 276 hanging coffee mugs. And where do these mugs come from? From the young Bucharest architectural team Lama who have put a massive bar under the flying mugs to create a visual contrast. The front is riddled with brass, and the top is made of solid oak. After all the coffee shop can also be transformed into a cocktail bar at late hours. That means: you also need some perseverance at the counter!
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.
At first glance you might not suspect that Romania has a good deal to boast of in the world of fashion. Nichi Cristina Nichita is a Bucharest girl made good. The fashion designer has presented her creations on many a catwalk and invariably earned ecstatic kudos. In the shop on Piata Unirii slip into one of the designer's latest creations; you're sure to be won over. Elegant businesswear with that certain something extra, lovely handbags, and clothes for that special event. Too bad Nichi Cristina Nichita only designs for women, but she really knows how to pamper them. The designer plays with classic looks that are never dull because they all have a dash of contemporary spirit. Pick out your favourite dress and reserve a table at a chic bar to show it off.
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.
E-Book and Kindle are its enemies. Soft leather binding and paper rustle sounds two of its greatest strengths. It's about the book which holds its ground in our over-digitalised age. But offering reading material alone does not suffice anymore - it's about the overall experience. Bucharest knows the answer: Carturesti. Carturesti is an empire with 13 bookstores in Romania. One of them is the Verona bookstore near the Patria Cinema in the centre of the capital, located within an aristocratic mansion next to the Magheru boulevard. Carturesti fans are particularly intrigued by the broad range of English literature and art books as well as its selection of CDs and DVDs. But they also come to see contemporary artworks. But that's still not it. They want to have a tea and grab a little bite - because the stay under the stucco vault could take a while, especially if they later move onto the terrace to sip an espresso and bury themselves in their favourite authors' books.
Macy Gray, Louie Austen and Melanie Fiona have already been here and gave concerts. Also Hurts and Vaya con Dios provided for hot nights in the Fratelli Studios and in doing so even competed with the huge chandelier at the ceiling. The latter is - along with cleverly placed spots - responsible for the lighting which does not only show off the stars on stage. Not less iconic is the lounge bar with panelled wooden walls where guests can relax after the concerts on chocolate-coloured sofas. Altering light effects and oriental mirrors support the recreation and communication. And that's even more easier in the Social Club, designed in white colours with threaded upholstered furniture. But only when you aren't thunderstruck at the sight of the overhead deer trophies. In this case the best option is to flee to the Fratelli Beach Club in Mamaia, the most important bathing place along the Romanian Black Sea Coast.
STAY in Bucharest:
You may feel as though you are in an antiques shop. But here you actually get to use the creaky chests, sleep in the romantic old-fashioned beds, and wander at will through the historic halls. After all, it's still a hotel, even though quite a historic one.The EL Greco is a dream that dates back to the 19th century?both the façade and the lovingly restored lounges and staircases. True, the rooms can seem somewhat full and the décor a bit overladen unless you have a special penchant for heavy, burgundy-coloured curtains, gold braid, stucco, and patterned carpets. If your eyes need a rest, then repair to the garden and terrace in the hotel's interior courtyard. Here you can also savour Greek and international cuisine. One night's accommodations in a double room start at 110 euro.
Whoever stays at the Piccolo Mondo is sure to feel the world is their oyster at this cosy hotel in one of Bucharest's attractive residential districts. This world includes a restaurant with terrace, where one can sample Lebanese specialties. The restaurant has been in business since 1993; the hotel followed ten years later. It sports just two stars, but it doen't let on, except for the prices which are embarrassingly reasonable.Guests wont for nothing?the staff is at your service 24 hours a day. Otherwise you will enjoy the peace and quiet. And it's easy to avoid running into other guests: the hotel has just 20 rooms on four floors.One night's accommodations in a double room start at 60 euro including breakfast.
This is the acme of luxury. The service? First-class, The décor? Pure elegance. The guests? Elite. The Grand Hotel too recalls the 19th century, with painstaking renovation recreating the atmosphere of the era. The building was constructed in 1886 in German Renaissance style based on plans by Emil von Forster. After being renamed Otelul and Hotel Broft, the sumptuous building was restored and reopened as the Grand Hotel Continental. Cinderella was not simply given a face-lift, but brought up to date with 21st century technology.Aesthetes will marvel at the richly detailed decoration. The rooms are tasteful and elegantly appointed. Particularly impressive are the suites in the various period styles: Renaissance, Empire, Louis XV. Simply regal!One night's accommodations in a double room cost 320 euro; the most expensive suite will run you 920 euro.