We wanted our staying at Bucuresti to be relaxed. Both Giorgos Z and Sakis had previously visited the city and had the opportunity to see some sights. Only Stratos was the first time visitor. So I thought it would be better to visit 2-3 basic parts, which were unknown to the others and eventually I didn’t visit myself some time. By this in mind, the Muzeu Satului (= Village Museum) was one of them, which I visited in 1997. Beyond that, the Parliament or otherwise «Casa poporului» was the second, as I had promised to Giorgos Z. At the end, we would have our coffee and would wander around the streets of Old Town «Lipsicani», as it was in the process of upgrading the last 5 years.
We woke up at 9:30 a.m. Our first destination was the Muzeu Satului. This is a museum (ticket: 6RON/person) which houses buildings-houses of almost all Romania. It is furnished with original objects of the period, reflecting the lifestyle of people living in them. It is made of wood, adobe and stone, depending on the region. High ceilings with steep roofs made of wood, straw, or blocks as tiles. All the furniture is wooden. The fireplace was used as a kitchen, and most had more than one. Informational signs help us understand the layout, method of manufacture, origin and even some special characteristics.
For me it was impressive because the last years I have visited many parts of the country. In this way I could assign homes to those areas and understand both their architecture and the reason why they were made with these materials. The houses that are open to the public have a guard and you can take a look inside. The area hosts also utility rooms and buildings, like warehouses, churches, mills, coops, pens, etc.
The wandering lasted about 3 hours. When we decided to leave the time was approaching 4pm. We started to visit the Casa Poporului (= the House of People) or else «Parliament», the largest building in the country which is a trademark of Bucharest, and perhaps the whole of Romania. Unfortunately, the schedule of visits was until 4pm. (Monday to Friday). Personally, on my previous visit, I did not see anything special. But beyond that, it is a landmark that should be seen by anyone visiting the country.
It was time to eat. Although we tried Romanian food and we were all satisfied, we couldn’t resist the temptation to visit the restaurant «Ali Baba» (old «Abu-Abdu»). Even if everything has changed, it is still a decent, economic Arab restaurant, worth to visit and taste the cuisine. Stratos never tried before Arabic cuisine, so there were no second thoughts.
Around 6.30pm we returned to the hostel to take a bath and later to visit the region Lipscani.
At 9pm. we started again. We visited Lipscani from the side that borders the river Dimbovita, near Piazza Unirii. Once we arrived, I was impressed with the crowd that was there! Perhaps it is the busiest part of town. Much had changed since the last time I visited, and more -almost everything- since I was a student there.
The area Lipscani is the historic center of Bucharest. By 2007, it was left to its fate. The traditional neoclassical houses stand to remind us the glory of the past, without a trace of maintenance. The streets are paved, yet with holes that actually looked like bombed! Lighting does not exist. The area inhabited by Roma only, which for most was a reason to avoid the area. All the stores were located peripherally.
Earlier in 2007 they started a program of upgrading. Having first driven out the gypsies -who actually did not have any titles- began to slowly repair the roads and maintain the buildings. The cafes and restaurants pumped up one after another on the main streets. Fortunately, most of them have adopted styles that fit the area. The scenery completes the outdoor vendors and in some corners organized or improvised music scenes. From wandering I noticed that the smaller and quieter alleys offer more "hip" shops unlike the main streets which have a more touristic character. Almost everything was full. We found somewhere to sit centrally. Observing the crowd and the area I could not believe where I was ... If I was brought there with my eyes closed, I could not recognize anything...
Around 12.30pm we took the way back to the hostel. Before we return I offer a ride to my friends following the classic route Kongalniceanu - Drept - Opera – Faculaltea de Medicina - Cotroceni - Academie Militara. We made a short stop in my old neighborhood ... to smoke a cigarette, say a few words and fill up with memories...
We returned to the hostel ... Perhaps it was the first time in many years of traveling that I did not want to come back...
27-28 of August 2011 (Saturday-Sunday)
Now is the day of return ... We had planned to stay in Thessaloniki after -basically- the "requirement" of our friend Achilleas. We were also invited on our way up, but we had refused as we were in a hurry ... Now our night there was one way ticket! So, our departure didn’t bother us to delay, since the approximately 700km we had to ride would be without stops, except those for supplies and rest. So we left the capital to go to the border at Gurgiu (60km).
Upon our arrival we saw the bridge that defines the border of 2 states. The Danube River forms the natural boundary. Crossing over, I felt a nostalgia once again ... when would I have the opportunity to visit Romania again? A country that feels itself to be a second home to me ... How have things changed from the past ... I remember when I was a student and was arriving at the bridge over the Danube, I was feeling so close to Greece ... I never looked at the mirror behind me ... This time, however, I found myself doing that. I was trying to locate the sign that says «Romania», the first welcome entering the country. They say that leaving a place, if you turn your head backwards, it's like giving a subconscious promise to yourself that you will return...
At 8pm. We reached the border of the Promahonas ... We barely saw 3-4 employees and half of them were Bulgarians. Nothing comparing with the status before 2007. The buildings were closed and already starting to show early signs of neglect. We made a short stop for rest. To tell you the truth we wanted to realize our return. Although we would not go to Athens, we felt the pleasure of completing a journey, not the end, but the realization of a goal.
At Thessaloniki, Achilleas with the whole family were waited for us. Always smiling and ready for teasing. Triada had prepared a delicious meal which we enjoyed on the balcony with a lot of talk and laughter.
The next day we left for the last kilometers of the journey ... Entering in Athens, the travel group spent the last meters riding the bikes one next to the other ... One last horn and a salute signaled the end of the trip for everyone, and one by one followed the way for home ... I found myself riding alone in Attiki Odos with only one thought in my mind: "Where would be the next trip ...???"