Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bucharest, the Paris of the East

Bucharest is the capital city of two million inhabitants, once called “The Paris of the east”, has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past 15 years, as has most of Romania. This proud people are descended from the warlike Dacians, live in the shadow of the beautiful Carpathian Mountains and produce a seemingly endless stream of excellent gymnasts. Having joined the European Union 2007, Bucharest now aspires now to be called “Paris of the east”.
Bucharest is true metropolitan area and the big names such as McDonalds, Benetton, LG, Sony and many others have been there along time now. Ceausescu’s grand boulevards and majestic palaces still dominate the city.
There are small balconied corners, with lacy ironwork and colored window shutters reminiscent of Paris at its finest. Continuing this Gallic theme; Romanians are also flattered to be called “the French of the Balkans”.

The most attractive site in the city is the compact historical centre, but obviously one can’t ignore Ceausescu’s People’s Palace. To build this monument to megalomania almost one quarter of the old town was pulled down, including any houses, churches, synagogues and beautiful modernist villas, all demolished.
Today, the Romanian parliament sits on this sight and guided tours for tourists are also organized here.
Ceausescu’s People’s Palace is one of the largest and most bizarre buildings in the world, exceeding even the decadent palaces of Saddam Hussein. In terms of perhaps only the American Pentagon could compete with it. It has over 3100 rooms, 20 wings, a labyrinths of secret passages and the upper floors nearly disappear into the haze of the metropolis. The Romanian leader had called the building “The house of people“ and referred to it as the Romanian acropolis.

He didn’t however leave to see the completion of the building as was execute by “his” people during the revolution in December 1989.
There is an interesting irony in the fact that, at the beginning of April 2008, Ceausescu’s monstrous palace hosted the largest ever NATO summit.
*If you want to try speaking Romanian yourself:

Hello - Buna ziua
Excuse me - Ma scuzati

Yes - Da
No - Nu
OK - In regula
Good morning - Buna dimineata

Good afternoon - Buna ziua
Good night - Buna seara

Thank you - Multumesc

Please - Va rog

Sorry - Imi pare rau
Perhaps - Poate
What - Ce
Where - Unde
When - Cand
Why - De ce Niceties

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