Bucharest and how it all went downhill after Palinca…
Up and ready early, continental breakfast devoured and a happy birthday song for Peter we hit the road for the last day of driving. We were headed for Sinaia, named by a former king after Mount Sinai from the bible. The royal family had built their decadent summer palace here, and it was conveniently on the way through to Bucharest.
We drove up into the mountains through ski resorts resembling Austria or Switzerland with their wooden chalets everywhere and went round more hairpin bends with vertical drops at the side of us.
As we neared our first destination Peter, unsure which road to go missed a stop sign, unluckily for us a policeman was right there directing traffic and pulled us over. Luckily for us we got away with a warning when he said he could have given Peter a 30 day driving ban!
Being a little more cautious and navigating instead of napping (Oops) we wound our way to Peles. Everything is made very simple in Romania, with easy parking at all the destinations we have been to so far.
It’s a short walk up to the castle and was pleasant in the crisp morning air. It opened at 11am and we had timed it to perfection. I got us some cheap machime coffees to drink while queuing and we got the full tour ticket at 50lei, this means you get an extended tour to the upper floors. It’s the priciest one so far but it’s a completely different experience as it’s less than two centuries old.
The castle exterior is very cute and disney-esque but also very grand. The queuing to get into the tour was awful with everyone pushing and shoving and no real direction to it. I thought I would hate it but Peter wanted to do it and I wasn’t standing in his way on his birthday!
Once the tour actually started and we had our plastic blue shoe covers on I actually really enjoyed it. Peter later said he was unsure about it when the chaos of the queue unfolded but agreed it was worth it. The guide was great and there’s a real sense of history and art inside. Each room carefully planned out in various styles using different woods, metals and big leather walls.
There were also lots of secret doors and spiral staircases. The opulence was incredible inside and the cost that must have gone into it all would have been vast. There were imports from all across the globe with italian, chinese and ottoman inspired rooms. The tour took about an hour or so in total.
(Spiral staircase in the corner)
With the castle viewing over we had 3 hours before the car needed to be dropped off so with no hangimg about we were back on the road, winding down the other side of the mountains this time and entering the plains. It was odd not seeing any mountains looming up before us and it’s nice that each area of Romamia seems to have their own style and vibe. The best things were the bright yellow fields of sunflowers we went past.
(Sunflowers on the road)
As we entered Bucharest you could see it’s the capital with traffic increasing and the area more built up. We dropped the car off with no problems and got a taxi to the old town. I love how all these places have kept hold of their historic centres without feeling the need to tear it down to build a shopping centre or flats.
We passed through leafy green areas, around the Romanian Arc D’Triumph and through some big squares.
The driver dropped us off and suddenly we were in the thick of city life. Restaurants and bars spread out down every street and alleyway and, after a bit of retracing steps we arrived at our final home for the holiday, the old town bucharest hotel.
It’s right in the heart of the city along a pedestrianised street surrounded by bars. We dropped our stuff off and went to explore Bucharest, opposite us was Pasajul Francez, an alley that I had seen online that looked interesting. It’s basically just sofas and chairs running the length of it but it’s very pretty with a real North African feel.
We stopped to have a beer in the 31°c heat and cool down before setting off through the pedestrian streets of old town, arriving at the river and walking along to see a statue of Vlad Tepes and his princely court. There’s a beautiful church opposite too. We stopped off for a quick coffee and cake, wandered around a park towards a huge fountain but it wasn’t in use which was a shame.
(Bridge over the river)
Back up into old town we went back to the hotel and got changed ready for Peter’s birthday night out. Grabbing a drink in the Pasajul Francez again, we sat as the sun went down and the street turned a brilliant purple colour from the lights. It was absolutely stunning and looked like somewhere from Istanbul or Casablanca.
(Pasajul Francez at night)
(Looking down towards Bazaar restaurant)
We decided on a restaurant called Bazaar that was in a huge great looking building and we sat outside watching the world go by. It’s a lively place with everywhere full of people enjoying the warm evening with food and drinks flowing.
(Fooood at Bazaar)
Our food was excellent and cheap! Peter had chicken breast with chips and grilled vegetables. I had chicken wings and coleslaw (and a few of Peter’s chips) we finished off our food and drinks and decided to try a shot of Palinca, a Romanian 50% spirit. It came and we knocked it back, it smelt and tasted like paint stripper! Really warming the stomach and hitting the back of the throat.
We paid up and stopped off at another bar for a drink, starting to feel the effects of the palinca. Watching the busy hustle and bustle of the streets around us, and enjoying the attitude of the staff towards customers.
Next stop was somehow a karaoke place, Peter immediately signing himself up to sing…a lovely rendition of Your Song by Elton. The other people who sang were really good which made me reticent to have a go…a couple of beers later though and I signed up to sing Wicked Game. Peter was off dancing and making friends with the only other English person in the place and they soon got us to join them.
(Not sure about this nightclub)
I gave my song a good go (From what I can remember) and a couple more shots were had before a dodgy rendition of ‘Take me home, country road’ by me. Peter had sung Robbie Williams by this point and it was definitely all going downhill from the first songs we did.
One more song by Peter (David Bowie) and a couple more drinks and it was a short walk across the street to the hotel. Party over, it was fun to have a night out in Bucharest and it definitely lives up to it’s night life reputation.