Ocean is pictured above in Revolution Square in the center of Bucharest. This is the large plaza where KIng Carol II abdicated in 1940 and dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu fled from in December of 1989. Bucharest has many large, open squares, and beautiful, old architecture. You can see the famous World War II-era Athene Palace Hotel in the background. We walked around the center at night are were very impressed with the palaces, theatres, etc. One bad point is the Romanians drive very fast.
We have a four-day weekend with the Serbian government declaring the May 1 Labor Day on Thursday a national holiday along with the Friday as well. We took the opportunity to visit my close friend Claudiu Fuiorea and his family in Bucharest. They are Romanians who used to live in Belgrade and last year they moved to the Romanian capital. We visited them at their home in Transylvania during the winter break of 2009-2010 and traveled with them to the Carpathian mountain resort town of Baile Herculane in October of 2009. We were supposed to also travel with them in October of 2012, but Ocean’s passport was expired so we had to stay in Serbia. We also made many shopping trips to Timisoara, the most western city and a short drive from Belgrade. Claudiu’s wife Vesna and children, Tudor and Mark, are also close to my family and through the years, we have had many good times together. As we leave Europe for Japan next month, we really wanted to see them one more time before we go.
This is my second visit to Bucharest, the first being on business in October of 2010. Through our friendship with Claudiu’s family, we have really come to know the country and culture of Romania. After Poland, it is the biggest Eastern Europe country, and with the Carpathian Mountains, Black Sea Coast, and western Pannonian plain, it is the most diverse. It also differs from the rest of Eastern Europe due to its Latin root language. This is a fascinating country regarding folklore and legends, and it has been pleasurable learning nation’s history.
The next day I went for a run around the National Arena which was constructed in 2008 and is located close to Claudiu’s apartment in the suburb of Titan. Soccer is very popular here as in all Latin European countries (Italy, Spain, France). The suburbs remind me of many Eastern European capital cities because of the communist architecture of the apartment buildings and offices. We then ventured out as a family and had a great afternoon, seeing the sites and soaking up some perfect spring weather. We first visited the Natural History Museum, that had a large and varied collection of stuffed animals from all around the world. It was started by the Romanian naturalist, Grigore Antipa and was set up very well, with it being entertaining and educational for the children and adults. We then walked through the massive Herăstrău Park for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bucharest has several lakes and parks around them and they are well-maintained. This was something I was not expecting. I also was impressed with the city’s subway, that was clean and organized. It was very convenient to travel downtown and back to Titan.