At night before my travel back home, I have watched the report on Iceland volcano eruption. It was mid of April 2010 and I was nearly 1000km from home, in Romania. I deluded myself the ash cloud will neither get to Romania nor to Germany, my connection point. I hope I would be able to fly back next day early afternoon. Vain hope. Next day I got short notice from my travel agency that my flight was cancelled, as thousands of others. The idea on flying thru Prague also failed, everything was already booked, and some time later all airports, I could transfer through, has been shot down anyway. This incident extended my stay and I had couple days more to understand this place. I wished I had taken my DSLR with me, to take better picturs, and inline skates too.
The old town in Bucharest resembles old town in Cracow – narrow meanders of streets made of stone, tenement houses rooted in medieval ages. City center is also full of old houses with amazing architecture. They are spread everywhere, sometimes well mixed with modern places, sometimes not really.
The most famous feature of Bucharest is the palace of the parliment, formerly palace of Nicolae Ceausescu, communist president that ruined his country, and who was finally sentenced to death and executed in 1989. The palace is enormous outside, and even bigger watching it inside, designed by hundred of architects, having over thousand of rooms, full of crystal, marbles and other luxuries. Add to the visible part 4 underground levels (officially) and you will get world biggest building.
The view from the balcony in the center of palace leads to other massive architectural idea. One of the biggest squares I have ever seen in a city. Piaţa Unirii is around 200x300m place, full of fountains and fancy water pools, crossed by streets and pathwalks, filled in by trees and greenfields.
I was completly overwhelmed by the momentus of Ceausescu, and completly agreed with his sick illusion of greatness.
Pinned down for three days, without perspective on flying back, I decided to go by train. It was adventurous, since at Gara de Nord, the train station, there were massive queues of foreigners chasing after tickets, a way to get out. I would spent half a day in line without guarantee of a ticket. With help of Crisitian, who was my local business peer, he bought a ticket unofficial way, so typical in post-communist countries. This way I took overnight train to Budapest, Hungary. Romanian railway is another monument of Ceausescu government; they decided to invest heavily in steel-wheel transport instead roads. Today Romania has most dense network of railways, while they suffer from lack of roads and their horrible state. I was delighted with the couchette car – cozy, comfortable and clean – and the rails – perfecly flat, no bumping, wobbling, and other special effects. It is very important, when compared to next tripleg. After a day of wondering about the Budapest, which I already knew, I had another overnight train. This time it was provided by PKP, polish railways. I was disgusted at the very beginning, it was stinking, toilet was a mess, sleeping car was dirty and narrow. Somehow I felt asleep, but I was shaken and wobbled all the way down to home. Finally I got back saving about 4 days until sky has cleared itself.
Adventure and sightseeing, kind of 2-in-1 trip, unexpected and quite exciting, I want more :]