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Clare
Clare

Day 9: Bucharest

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It was another bright sunny day when we woke up in Bucharest this morning. After breakfast, we set off in the direction that we'd taken yesterday, soon coming to the familiar building of the university library.

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What I hadn't realised yesterday was that this was really close to Bucharest's Revolution Square. On one side we had the former Royal Palace (now an art museum)...

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...and on the other side of the road we had the former headquarters of the Romanian Communist party.

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The dictator Ceausescu gave his final speech from one of the balconies on this building, during Romania's 1989 revolution.

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On the corner of the square is the Kretzulescu church, originally built in the 18th century.

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From the square we were walking down Calea Victoriei, one of Bucharest's main streets, which was modelled on the Champs Elysee in Paris. There were lots of pretty buildings along it.

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Partway down we found this fountain...

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...with a huge Romanian flag flying above it.

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Every so often we'd come across tiny little churches, squeezed between bigger more modern buildings.

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This beautiful big building is the headquarters of a Romanian bank.

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Just across the road from it, we found our way into Bucharest's old town.

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A lot of the old town was demolished during the reign of Ceausescu, to make way for his new plans of urban development, but the bits that remain are really pretty.

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Down one of the side streets, we came across this incredible church.

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This is the Stavropoleos church, originally built in 1724. It was decorated with really beauitful paintings.

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Not sure what this church was called, but it had an impressive silver dome...

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...while this one was the Curtea Veche church, built in 1559, making it one of the oldest churches in Bucharest.

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I was surprised at how busy the old town was; we came across several walking tours of tourists, and there were souvenir shops everywhere.

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There were also a lot of restaurants clearly aimed at tourists, including Irish pubs!

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Once we left the old town behind, it was a bit quieter.

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We walked through a park...

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...and caught sight of what looked like a huge fountain in the distance.

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It turned out that it was an entire complex of fountains!

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As you can see in this shot, there was a traffic island full of fountains in the middle, with cars driving around it, and then huge pools of fountains on the other side of that.

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We walked down one of the boulevards leading off from this fountain square, which was itself decorated with smaller fountains.

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We were walking towards the Palace of the Parliament.

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This absolutely enormous building was built by Ceausescu, inspired after a visit to North Korea(!), and is believed to be the second largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon.

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As well as what you can see above the ground, it has eight underground levels, including a nuclear bunker.

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Today it is home to the Romanian parliament, plus several museums, and is also a venue for conferences... but approximately 70% of the building still lies empty.

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We walked all the way around the outside of it (which took ages!). On the way we caught sight of the domes of an enormous church.

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This is the People's Salvation Cathedral, an extremely new Romanian Orthodox cathedral, on which construction only started in 2010. 

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The cathedral was consecrated in late 2018, but it looks like there's still a fair amount of work to be done before it's finished.

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From here we walked back down the long boulevard...

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...towards the fountains.

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Taking a different direction this time, we walked towards the national library of Romania.

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The library is situated on the banks of the river Dâmbovița and it was really pleasant to stroll around here.

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We were looking for a bookshop, in the hope of buying some Romanian Asterix for Tim. On the way back towards the centre of town, we passed what looked like a statue of Romulus and Remus with the wolf.  We thought Romulus founded Rome rather than Romania, but who knows :D 

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Down this street we found the bookshop we were looking for.

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It was a really beautiful building inside :)  

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We found the books we were looking for and then climbed up to the top floor, where there was a lovely cafe, to enjoy some cold drinks.

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From the bookshop it was back out into the sunshine again.

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We soon found ourselves in University Square, a large square which was home to several statues.

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In a gap between two buildings we got a glimpse of Bucharest's Russian church :) 

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We were really hot by this point; this thermometer suggested it could be as hot as 36 degrees! We decided to go back to the apartment to cool off for a bit, before heading out later for an evening meal.

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On the way back, we strolled through one of Bucharest's parks.

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There was a big boating lake in the middle of the park...

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...and we found some unusual brown ducks :) 

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So far our experiences of Romania are positive :) I was worried from some of the things I'd read online that there would be packs of stray dogs roaming the streets, but so far we haven't seen a single one! Bucharest definitely feels like a big city and we could probably have spent more time here, but tomorrow we will be on the move again as we head to Transylvania :) 

Edited by Clare

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