To know Bucharest it's to dive into the communism
Published: 30/03/2016

Bucharest is not Budapest. Yes, this is the first thing we learn about the capital of Romania - Budapest is the capital of Hungary. Confusion is famous and even Michael Jackson when he made his first show in town in the early 90s, committed the mistake by saying that he was very happy to play in Budapest. . . They even have a website to clarify this, called Bucharest, not Budapest.

As Sofia, Bulgaria (click here to read more), the city is full of stories of the communist period, which lasted from the end of World War II until 1989. We did two tours in Bucharest: the Free Walking Tour and the Tour of Communism , one of the nicest we participated until now during this trip.

We were a very small group, actually a trio, and the guide was able to give enough attention and answer questions that do not always have to do with the communist period. Not to mention that, even though he was six years old in 1989, he told a little of what he remembered.

Of course, much is said about communist countries and information are not always correct. Of the many stories he told, we found that two are cool to share.

As everything was rationed - electricity, water, gas, food. . . - They had two hours a day with hot water with some pressure. He said his family lived on the third floor of a building and to be able to shower within those two hours they had to wait for the other families to start watching a show on TV because there was less people using the water .

The other story is that the communist government gave a kind of jeans for the population, but when it rained, the water took the ink off and they realized that the pants were not exactly what they believed it was, and everybody was walking in the street with stained legs.

Nicolae Ceau?escu, president of the communist period, destroyed much of the old city to build new buildings. The most impressive of all is the Royal Palace, which was never used by the president - he was sentenced to death before it got ready. The building is monumental and it was built in an area of the town that Ceau?escu had the desire to transform in the Romanian Champs-Élysées. In fact, the avenue of Bucharest is one meter wider than the French inspiration.

Currently Bucharest is full of malls, shops, cafes, restaurants and clubs, like any other city in Europe. The public transportation is cheap and easy to use, either bus or subway. Just be careful on the bus to not be fined (read more here).

Beer wagon
The guide of the Free Walking Tour recommended for us to have lunch at the oldest restaurant in town called Caru Cu Bere. The building has been around since 1879 and curiously was not destroyed by Ceausescu. The founder had a cart that sold beer in the same space and gradually the place was gaining more and more customers. People  began to ask for food to eat with the beer and he eventually open a restaurant. The owner tried to change the name, but it had already been established as the beer cart, or caru cu bere.

It was one of the cheapest places of the trip so far: entrance, salad, main course and dessert for the equivalent of 20 reais. The food was not amazing, a bit cold actually, but by tradition and the price is worth the visit. The beer is not much, but the interesting thing is that they continue to produce the beer on same space with the same recipe.

Another interesting place, which also produces beer itself, is Berestroika. The beers are great and the food very good. The cool thing is that the owner is an Indian and there are traditional food options from India. It is a place that certainly worth the visit.


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