EAT in Bucharest:
Romanian cuisine? Simple, delicious, and good. You want to sample cooking typical of the country without the hand-woven folk art tickling the back of your neck? Had it with that pair of jolly musicians sidling up to your table at 9:30 sharp? Then it's high time to reserve a table at Casa Doina. At the villa which dates back to the 18th century the capital's most elegant meet for dinner. So take a tip and make sure you dress at least as smartly as the waiter. Nothing then stands in the way of an evening savoruing wonderful Romanian specialties. At Casa Doina they are prepared with a refined touch worthy of the surroundings. When the weather is fine, you should by all means take a cool drink in the garden.
If you see a Turabo Café, then go straight in. The chain has a number of locations across Bucharest, all of which are stormed by the capital's hip and young, posing over their coffee until they are sure of having been seen by absolutely everyone who passes by. This works best in the Turabo on Piata Unirii. The building's façade?at least on the café level?is glass, affording an undisturbed view of the busy street scene outside. Of course, that means everyone can see you while you enjoy your pastry too.
Mihai Panfil loves good coffee. And he always has. Together with his friend he has designed his own machine for coffee roasting and has surrounded himself with people who also love coffee. He has thought of a place that he would want to work every day - and in April 2013 he eventually opened his coffee shop Origo in Bucharest. As former Romanian representative of the barista championships he puts all his energy and experience into the new venue. He's travelling the world and imports selected coffee beans to Bucharest. These are used to create a perfect blend that is served under 276 hanging coffee mugs. And where do these mugs come from? From the young Bucharest architectural team Lama who have put a massive bar under the flying mugs to create a visual contrast. The front is riddled with brass, and the top is made of solid oak. After all the coffee shop can also be transformed into a cocktail bar at late hours. That means: you also need some perseverance at the counter!
STAY in Bucharest:
This hotel is rich in tradition: it was opened in 1852 by Grigore Capsa and straight away became the place to stay for Romania's crème de la crème. Only here did one feel at home, if one was rich, beautiful, or artistic. In 1886, the Capsa was given a make-over to turn it into Romania's most elegant hotel. The aristocratic and cosmopolitan atmosphere can still be experienced. You will feel definitely feel special, in part because the hotel has only 42 rooms, all of which are individually decorated. What they have in common is a luxurious, regal décor that recalls ancient tales of princes and princesses. They were all here: the guest list reads like a who's who ? even Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria slept at the Capsa.One night's accommodations in a double room start at 185 euro.
Friendly service is priority number one at the Pullman, so it's not uncommon for the charming manager to welcomes guests herself. The second lesson in hospitality comes from the staff that attends to guests' wishes around the clock, and turns a business trip into something more like a holiday. For a large hotel?203 rooms?it is surprisingly quiet. If you are looking for company, then try the restaurant, or stroll through the centre of town, it's just five minutes away by foot.Our favourite extra in this hotel: room service delivers gourmet treats?even warm dishes?to your door around the clock. So slip into your pyjamas and get on the phone.One night's accommodations in a double room start at around 134 euro.
It's only a few minutes walking distance to the Triumphal Arch and the Botanical Garden is right around the corner. But: the colour green can also be found in the Crowne Plaza itself, in the hotel garden with skilfully cut bushes, Wimbledon-resembling lawn and braided beach chairs. Tasteful is the right word for the ambience, as well as quiet. Apart from the green oasis, the location of the hotel is a principal argument: it's 20 minutes at the maximum to get from the international Otopeni Airport to the hotel. The Crowne Plaza's environment is quiet and green, and the Romexpo exhibition centre, the World Trade Plaza and the Herastrau park are close by. You also reach the cultural, shopping and business districts fast and easily. The hotel offers 164 spacious rooms on three floors mostly with balcony and several luggage racks. Also in the hotel: an in-house tennis court, a gym and a couple of bars and restaurants.
SHOPPING in Bucharest:
Yes indeed, the Romanians are proud of their imposing shopping malls and have plenty of them. So take part in a total shopping craze at least once, and stroll through one of the popular malls. Why not the most typical of them all, the gargantuan Bucuresti Mall. Opened in 2001, it boasts over 140 shops on an area of some 99,000 square metres. The building dates from Communist times and is appropriately massive, grey and heavy on the cement. Still, the locals continue to crowd the place, to shop, bowl, drink coffee, or take in a film at one of the ten cinemas. The shops include all the usual international labels?Adidas, Esprit, Marks & Spencer, Levi's and the like. But there are also less well-known brands, like Aldo Shoes, the local wedding outfitter, Alb ?i Negru, and Romanian designer, Irina Schrotter. It's well worth having a look around, although you probably won't pay less for international brands than you would at home.
How do a Dutch hotel owner and a Chilean architect get together? By jointly opening the Beros & van Schaik wine trade in Sofia. Jerry van Schaik runs a hotel, his partner Christian Beros designs houses. They both like good wine and have established a wine trade in the historic district of Sofia where they sell gourmet wines that cannot be bought in the supermarket. These come from France, Spain, South Africa, Australia, Chile and Romania - among other countries: for example Corcova, Terra Romana, Avincis or La Certa. Additionally they serve small snacks in their bar including smoked meat, cheese, olives and daily specials. The wine partners celebrate gusto. They also arrange regular wine tasting sessions in the stylish setting of their wine bar. No time? No problem - Beros & van Schaik also deliver to your door. And the matching goodies can still be bought at the supermarket.
Rozalb de Mura
The Rozalb de Mura label was launched in 2006 and ever since customers have wondered about the name that combines the words for ?rose' and ?blackberry'. That is meant to signal an scintillating and creative mix. Designer Olah Gyarfas is himself a mix of equal parts Hungarian and Romanian. He takes an interest not only in fashion but promotes an exchange between artists, musicians, and other creative people from all over the world. The concept works: Rozalb de Mura is a lively showcase with a wealth of fresh, imaginative creativity that you will try hard to find elsewhere. Shop, showroom, and exhibition space all rolled into one?no limits here as long as the line is aesthetically pure and the artistic claim ambitious. The outfits are made for today's yuppy. And especially if you are among those who absolutely reject this distinction, then you should have a look inside. Here you find fashion of the day after tomorrow. Just the thing for exhibition openings, graphic artists, writers, artists, club nights-out, or DJs. Most of it is in black and?at last!?there is men's wear too.
SIGHTS in Bucharest:
Anyone looking for something resembling old town quarters in Bucharest, is most likely to discover them between Calea Victoriei and Bulevardul Ion C. Bratianu. The streets may be a bit run-down, but exude more charm and character than the broad boulevards with their bombastic architecture. The many small and larger bars in and around Smardan and Selani streets offer plenty of vantage points for watching the goings-on in the pedestrian zone. The central location makes this a perfect place to choose a café or bar as jumping-off point or rest stop when sightseeing. You can have a snack or full meal here, and in the evening the district is a favourite for going out. You can conveniently reach many sights on foot from here. And nearby Piata Unirii is a public transport hub.
In and around Bucharest there are many parks that beckon you to take a stroll, unwind and relax. These landscaped gardens are given their distinctive character by long and winding lakes. A glance at the map shows that Bucharest is studded with green areas and bodies of water. The biggest such leisure area is Her?str?u Park. It impresses by sheer size?187 hectares. In relation to the city's area it is thus a good deal larger than New York's famous Central Park with its 349 hectares. The lake gracing the park's centre is so long and narrow that it looks more like a river, whose banks make the perfect setting for a picnic. When the weather is warm, the Her?str?u Park is great for people-watching and soaking up the city's flair.
The Royal Palace merits more than a cursory look from outside: The palace, which dates from the early 19th century, has been the residence of kings, a communist government office, and today houses the Romanian National Art Museum. Exhibited are paintings, prints, and other artworks both Romanian and European from a variety of periods. Taken together the collections are quite extensive, so if you would like to see them all make sure you have enough time and energy. You can also spread your visit over several days. Tickets are sold for each part of the museum separately, so you can do the museum in stages with no damage to your pocketbook. For those stuck on the big names, the museum has several works by Rubens and Rembrandt. Like many other of the city's sights, a visit to the Royal Palace can be combined with an enjoyable stroll.