After an uneventful flight from Belgrade, I’m happily in Bucharest! My Serbian taxi driver spoke English and was fantastic – on time and a good driver. A tennis player and very healthy, he told me he had contracted covid twice. The second time, because he didn’t allow his body enough time to recover fully from the first. He was articulate, and it was interesting listening to him discuss Serbia.
Airport Covid Processing
Thankfully, I didn’t need to complete a passenger locator form to enter Romania. I’ve learned that it’s easier to present a printed covid vaccination card when leaving and entering different EU countries. I stapled mine to the back cover of my passport. Presenting vaccination proof on your smartphone can be awkward, as the person reviewing the info will futz with your phone.
Currently, the EU is using Digital COVID Certificates. Since I got my vaccinations in the US, I had to fill out a “declaration” form upon arrival at Bucharest’s Henri Coandă International Airport. It was a first for me, but not difficult.
Bucharest is an interesting European city with fascinating 20th-century French Art Nouveau, Deco, and Belle Époque architecture! It’s labeled a city with an absorbing “mix of old and new”. As the taxi passed through Bucharest, I admired the massive buildings, lush parks, and colorful autumn foliage.
My modern studio is in Centrul Civic. There are many interesting nearby historical sites and districts to explore:
- Centrul Civic and Piata Unirii
- Lipscani (Old Town)
- Palatul Primăverii
- Cotroceni and Eroilor
- Tineretului Park
Wars and Earthquakes
Over the years, Bucharest buildings were damaged severely or completely destroyed during wars and earthquakes. Those that survived have been repaired or renovated. The historical city centre is listed as “endangered” by the global World Monuments Watch program. Another Romanian distinction is its location in the Vrancea seismogenic zone, one of the highest seismic‐hazard areas in Europe – so far, I haven’t felt any tremors.
Between the two World Wars, Bucharest became known as the “Little Paris of the East“. It has an Arch of Triumph of its own near Herăstrău (King Mihai I) Park. Population in the city proper is two million, with two million more in outlying urban areas.
Where am I?
This is my fifth or sixth accommodation (I think) on a trip that began in May 2021. When the departure date for each new destination approaches, I struggle. Preparation isn’t the problem, but on the actual day of travel, I have to be on constant guard to stay focused. There are so many ways to get distracted and run amock during all the pushing and prodding to get from point A to B. Of course, covid hasn’t helped the scenario. Taxis on both ends and airport personnel barking at you to get out your laptop, take off your coat, and blah, blah add to the stress.
With each new location, I feel slightly dizzy, and sometimes have to think about where I am when waking up in the morning. During the period of adjustment, the feeling of disorientation is both exhilarating and unsettling. The freedom of extended foreign travel becomes a way of life, and I guess that’s what happened to me. It’s enlightening to leave everything familiar behind and learn about foreign cultures and new ways of looking at life. It’s often challenging, not always fun, and clearly not for everyone. I’m privileged to be exploring the world!
After checking into my apartment and unpacking, I was hungry and took a short walk to find a restaurant. Along the way, I met a mother – Claudia – with her young daughter who live nearby. They gave me the “rundown” on what was good in the neighborhood and which areas to avoid. Apparently, one nearby area is full of big, scary dogs!
I was slightly alarmed to see that there are no crosswalk signals at most places. You just enter the marked crosswalk area, and cars coming in both directions suddenly stop – YIKES! Feeling bold, I’ve tested it a few times, and the motorists always stopped and motioned me forward.
Claudia went to school in Atlanta, where she got her MBA. She and her daughter were fun, open, and sweet and even offered to take me shopping with them over the weekend. I had dinner at Il Mulino Trattoria, close to my apartment. The food was reasonably priced, delicious, and healthy, so I’ll be visiting again for sure!
It will take a few days to settle and learn how to navigate Bucharest. I also plan to book a few tours in outlying areas – Draculas’ Castle is a must! Media shots of some of the many places to explore are attached!
It looks an attractive city; and I imagine English is widely spoken there.
Surprisingly, most of the people encountered so far speak little or no English. I’ve had a few give me a puzzled look and ask if I speak French or Spanish. I’m a little concerned about getting the flu, as the trams and Metro are very crowded, so I went to a farmacie to ask. Even with a translation app, the pharmacist called someone and put me on speakerphone for translation. They smiled and brought out a small box with the flu vaccine and a needle! I asked if they could give me the injection, and they looked horrified and said no. It’s sitting in the refrigerator until I can decide how to get it into my arm :o(. I’ve emailed a few hospitals nearby that take ambulatory patients to ask if I can come there to get it injected – no response. Don’t want to spend an entire day walking all over the city for nothing. May try to give it to myself :o( but needles for intramuscular injections are long, and I’ve never done it before!