Romania

architectural whimsy

Photo by GIN

Earlier on we promised you a picture post in case we managed to capture the architectural whimsy of Bucharest. One of the things worth knowing about Bucharest architecture: Bucharest used to be called “Paris of the East” or “Little Paris”. War and earthquakes destroyed some of it, and sometimes in the 1980s, Ceaușescu had the idea of re-designing the whole thing, so he tore down whole districts in order to build huge bulevards and monuments to … probably himself. Before I drone on too long, you might want to go see Wiki about the historical details. We’re here for the pics. There is no guarantee that you will understand what I mean by “whimsical” when I say Bucharest by seeing the photos – but we can try. An attempt at a one-sentence-explanation would be something along the lines of: It’s cool because it’s crazy and you get rotting, tiny cute houses next to glass skyscrapers next to humongous architectural monsters of the Ceaușescu-era next to orthodox churches out of context.

1. I don’t speak German but I can if you like

Photo by Ms.K.

Look here: This picture was taken just a minute away from our hotel in a moment where we thought we would wander the streets forever, because we had no idea where we were. In this moment of desperation, beyond the old house rotting away and some sort of communal block, a glass building mirroring the sky. Anyway, back to this picture. Look at it. It’s nice.

2. The fashion of his love.

Photo by Ms.K.

The Gentleman in the North only agreed to this voyage to the Wild East because we promised him he would be walking between huge blocks of buildings. At one point in his life, he’s spent way too much time listening to german Hip-Hop. If I remember correctly, at that time, everybody used to rap about “the hood” and how tough life in those large buildings was. It took time – and I have no idea whether it worked – to make him understand that these blocks probably were rather harmless. Except for the high population density, which can admittedly be annoying to sensitive types like the GIN. But he was delighted to have had his hardcore walk between the ‘plattenbaus’.

3. Don’t be a drag, just be a queen

Photo by Ms.K.

This is a very intriguing photo of a Bucharest urban penis above the Dâmbovița river. If I haven’t gone daft and forgotten everything about Bucharest in the last two weeks, the penis is the Hotel Intercontinental, which we couldn’t afford, but did use for orientation (because that was for free). On the right side of the river (and not in the photo) is the colossal Palatul Parlamentului, which  we couldn’t be arsed to photograph, because it was raining and it was a long hike from the bridge where this photo was taken. The PP is this incredibly large parliament building that Nicolae Ceauşescu had built.

4. I could be mom, unless you want to be dad

Photo by Ms.K.

We ran into this church mostly because it’s kind of pink and it looks like a cake. And the women who went in to pray covered their heads with a scarf. We found out that it is the Russian Church , also known as Biserica Rusă in Romanian. The church is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. The orthodox church in Romania, in my opinion, doesn’t devote enough space to St. George, who is my family’s patron saint.

5. In the most biblical sense, I am beyond repentance

Photo by Ms.K.

The thing I said about churches out of context never presented itself more clearly than here. Somehow, this church made it through the overambitious building plans of the 1980s and was allowed to stay. At the same time, the houses aroud it (the parish) were torn down and the people moved elsewhere. If I remember correctly, this is a catholic church.

6. With you I’d watch them all be burnt

Photo by GIN

We walked to this building in the belief that we would find the Muzeul Militar National inside. While it has something to to with the military – it seems to be some kind of officers’ mess – the actual museum of military history is somewhere close to the Gara de Nord, the Bucharest North Railway Station (the Gara de Nord schedule photo here). That museum could warrant a post, if we weren’t so lazy. We wandered around a block for an hour before finally realising that the Bucharest plan our hotel gave us was $%!§# bad and we shouldn’t be looking at the picture of the museum which was two blocks away from its actual address. When we remembered to look at the address, we found the museum right away – it’s a 10-minute-walk from the station. This trip, however, remains firmly in my mind, not because we’ve been to the museum (I don’t care much for museums), but because we became aware of a local delicacy: Gogosi. My fried friends. The only thing that truly counts when you go to Romania. Gogosi. Yes, I think I did gain weight in Romania. Why are you asking?

7. And in the morning I’m short of my identity

Photo by GIN

It looks like a cigar! I don’t know what else to say. It’s somewhere around that supposedly entertaining little old town quarter where they’ve opened so many cafés you don’t know where to go.

8. I’m a soldier to my own emptiness

Photo by GIN

This photo was taken in the old town, where there are streets like this, filled with pubs like this. One britpub after another. Since I am not a big fan of britpubs (mostly they don’t smell very nice, the food sucks and you can drink … beer, which I don’t like), I wasn’t a big fan of this place. Admittedly, it was cute, but I feel that the enterpreneurs around here could’ve done more to diversify the area’s commercial choices and – if they feel they absolutely must open one bar after another, they would’ve done well to try and offer other options apart from the nondescript britpub. Good example: the sushi joint and the turkish restaurant Divan.

The paragraph titles were stolen shamelessly from the talented lyricist Stefani Germanotta.

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