36 Hours in Bucharest – The New York Times

Bucharest is like cilantro, a Romanian resident as soon as informed me: You both adore it or hate it. But there’s a lot to like a couple of metropolis that gives a much less-costly style of Europe (Romania is in the European Union however not in the eurozone). Still grappling with allegations of presidency corruption and dealing to rebound from layers of grim historical past, the current-day capital stays a bit tough across the edges, however affords a wealthy ethnic tradition, a resurgent arts and crafts scene, stunning parks and a booming night time life.

Book in advance for a tour in English on the opulent Ceausescu Mansion, also known as the Spring Palace, which opened as a museum in 2016. A guide walks visitors through the villa where the head of state, Nicolae Ceausescu, and his wife, Elena, lived in relative luxury from 1965 until their execution by firing squad in 1989, after decades of social, political and economic repression. There’s a grand marble staircase, a glitzy bar, a private movie theater (“He liked to watch ‘Kojak’ but she preferred John Wayne,” our guide said), and a huge walk-in closet still displaying their dated designer clothing. Check out the private spa’s slimming machines and the lavish mosaics surrounding the indoor swimming pool, and remember the population that struggled to survive on rationed food and fuel. To join a group tour, entry is 50 lei, or around $12, a person. Free for war veterans and what the website calls “revolutionaries.”

Catapult back into this century with a drink and an appetizer at Paine si Vin, a casual, but sophisticated, outpost emphasizing natural ingredients from regional butchers and farmers. The wood-fired flatbread with toppings like blue cheese and mushrooms (32 lei), or salami and eggplant (28 lei) make a nice snack with a glass of Romanian Alira rosé (17 lei). Or two can make a meal out of the charcuterie board of “traditional tastes from local producers,” including Mangalita smoked ham, Plescoi mutton sausages, marinated olives, salty Transylvanian sheep’s milk cheese, honey mustard and crunchy veggies (72 lei).

Walk off lunch with a stroll around Cismigiu Gardens, or rent a bicycle and pedal along the park’s leafy paths, through hidden alcoves and over picturesque bridges to see busts of Romanian writers and a granite monument to the hundreds of American soldiers who died in Romania in World War II. Check out the enclosure of exotic peacocks and the haphazard pile of stone chess tables. If the rink has been installed, try some ice skating. In warmer weather, stop for an ice cream or cotton candy at one of the lakeside kiosks as people row past in rented boats.

A stretch of busy Calea Victoriei serves up the chance to sample several drinking holes with minimum effort. Start at Fabrica de Bere Buna at No. 91-93 to try the craft-beer maker’s own Zaganu brand (12 to 14 lei) or a flight of microbrews with names like Immigrant and Sencha by a mix of independent Romanian breweries. (Four smaller servings arrive nestled into a wooden board for 29 lei.) Segue a bit north to the harder-to-find Gradina Eden (Garden of Eden): Enter the gates to the stately mansion at No. 107 and follow the path to the right to find a woodsy space festooned with lights and bars serving cocktails, smoothies and imported beers. In the mood for more? Exit and (carefully) cross the avenue to Green Hours, a chill bar-bistro-live performance space. If wine is more your thing, head up to No. 155 and the Vinexpert Wine Bistro to investigate native grapes like Cramposie Selectionata and Feteasca Neagra (9-15 lei a glass).

How to see other parts of Romania without leaving the capital? The Village Museum in Herastrau Park showcases more than 270 houses, churches and farm buildings transported from around the country. The architecture-themed, open-air ethnographic museum combines the quirky and the quaint, allowing visitors to step into the past and inside many of the largely wooden structures, including an 1860 “Hebrew Homestead,” where a sheep farmer and his family in the Maramures region once lived. In keeping with the nature theme, the trash bins are baskets of woven vines. In an area called the New Village, there are places to sit and snack and a stage for multicultural programs like Thai dancing. Adult entrance costs 15 lei. Free for preschoolers, veterans and the disabled.

One subway stop south is the Romanian Peasant Museum. Although the main building, with its collection of textiles, ceramic and icons, is closed — and expected to reopen in February after a lengthy renovation — the Peasant’s Club cafe-restaurant and the Peasant Art Gallery gift shop remained open and are good places to snag lunch and browse through the vintage textiles and handcrafted souvenirs, including woven wool carpets (prices vary by size) and carved wooden spoons (around 25 to 50 lei). Outside, check out the colorful Communist-era mosaic hailing the working class that stretches across the rear facade, and the 18th-century church in the backyard.

Source link Nytimes.com

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