SIGHTS in Bucharest:
If you have had your fill of the city's monumental, socialist-style, and unfinished buildings, then head for Muzeul Satului or the Village Museum. Here you will see buildings similar to those which once stood in the area around Bucharest, and indeed all over Romania. Wood predominates as the building material. The original homes, workshops, and stables that have been reassembled here will whisk you off to another age.Traditional crafts are to be seen in the buildings. The interiors are in part decorated with traditional furniture. When one of the horse-drawn carriages carrying museum workers creaks by, you will think you have just stepped out of a time machine. Occasionally special exhibitions are also mounted in the houses. The Village Museum is located next to Her?str?u Park and can be easily reached by bus. On the way you can also pay a visit to the Arcul de Triumf.
You should have a head for heights when you want to look out of the window from here. The 18Lounge is located on the 18th floor of the City Gate South Tower in Bucharest, right next to the Pullman Hotel. On your way towards it, passing the entrance hall of the office building, you could easily forget about your actual mission. But the moderate background music when leaving the lift picks you up exactly where you want to get - to the huge lounge bar with restaurant. Your vertigo could become a problem on the way to your table, since the view on the Romanian capital is ingenious. The menu impresses with lots of sea food, fish, and T-bone steak. Vegetarians are served baby spinach with peperoncino, garlic and olive oil, for dessert there's mango crème with almonds and crispy rice pastry. If you're not hungry at all, you can bet on Chanel No. 6, not as a fragrance, but a drink!
E-Book and Kindle are its enemies. Soft leather binding and paper rustle sounds two of its greatest strengths. It's about the book which holds its ground in our over-digitalised age. But offering reading material alone does not suffice anymore - it's about the overall experience. Bucharest knows the answer: Carturesti. Carturesti is an empire with 13 bookstores in Romania. One of them is the Verona bookstore near the Patria Cinema in the centre of the capital, located within an aristocratic mansion next to the Magheru boulevard. Carturesti fans are particularly intrigued by the broad range of English literature and art books as well as its selection of CDs and DVDs. But they also come to see contemporary artworks. But that's still not it. They want to have a tea and grab a little bite - because the stay under the stucco vault could take a while, especially if they later move onto the terrace to sip an espresso and bury themselves in their favourite authors' books.
EAT in Bucharest:
Life at the Amsterdam Grand Café starts early in the morning: fancy citizens of Bucharest are reading newspapers and taking breaths for their days in the elegant building in the historic district Lipscani. The seats in front of the large windows with view onto the cobbles and rushing people are the best spots within the two-storey venue. At midday, lunch is following. But as soon as the late afternoon arrives, the Grand Café changes its costume and turns from an unconventional café into a funky bar. Cocktails, beer and music replace the smell of the coffee house. On Thursdays and Fridays, it might happen that a live jazz session is performed on the little stage. This colourful life also takes place around the Grand Café Amsterdam: bars and lively cafés cluster in the streets of Lipscani, many lounge barss and jazz venues can be found around the Calea Victoriei boulevard.
Treat yourself to an overdose of tradition at Vatra. The food is so delicious and authentic, there must be a Romanian mama in the kitchen. The rest of the magic is in the décor: traditional textiles and handicrafts, some of which date back to before 1920, adorn the walls. Surprisingly there is not a long wait for a table. Don't worry about busloads of tourists here, the place is just too small, as well as relaxing and cosy. If you can choose, take a table downstairs in the cellar. Dark and gloomy? Just the opposite: the illuminated vaults create an appealing, rustic atmosphere. You must order the stuffed cabbage, or stuffed vine-leaves. They are served with the classic accompaniment of polenta. Non-smokers will be delighted; the Vatra has a separate room where smokers can puff away.
Under Canadian head chef, Henrik Sebok, the Avalon has advanced to become one of the city's most celebrated gourmet restaurants. First, your eyes are in for a treat with the presentation of the freshest, most exquisite ingredients. Then it's the taste-buds' turn, even the most jaded. Sebok's creativity is uninhibited and can't be pigeon-holed. Fusion is fusion, but above all, it has to taste good. The Avalon's atmosphere is unrivalled. The elegant ambiance is conjured up principally by indirect lighting. The interior is minimalist using much white and even more cream, because it's even posher and more restrained. If you don't feel like dinner, then you must try the fantastic breakfast for an incomparable start to the day.
STAY in Bucharest:
The Nelisse at the gates of Bucharest is not just an extraordinary value but also one of the cosiest hotels in town. The rooms are enchanting: wallpaper with delicate floral motifs, here a touch of rose, there a dab of pastel. And so your day gets off to a relaxed and romantic start after breakfast in the intimate breakfast salon. The draw-back: the hotel is located about three kilometers from the city centre. But the Nelisse offers rental cars to get you downtown in a jiffy.In addition to the 43 guest rooms there is an apartment. If you are interested, you will have to book early though.A night in a double room starts at about 43 euro.
Appropriately for a boutique hotel, the Moxa is located in the heart of town and cuts quite a delicate figure next to the block-buster hotels which Romanians with their Communist heritage still consider a status symbol. Guests enjoy ample privacy, plenty of elegance, a dash of luxury, and a pinch of the avant-garde. The result is a cosy home away from home, where you needn't fear getting lost between fitness studio and lobby.Of course the Moxa has a fitness room, and the friendly and patient staff will be pleased to assist. And no one will reveal your faux-pas. Discretion is writ large here. Your stay is truly relaxing with just 53 guest rooms decorated in contemporary style. You need meet your fellow guests only when you want to. The hotel boasts bar, terrace, spa, lounge, fitness room, and there are lovely baths in every room.A night in a double room runs from 89 euro.
The Hotel Opera looks exactly as you might imagine: elegant, classic, a bit of old-world charm, a touch of the Orient Express, and loads of style. That's what the public areas are like with old paintings of the Bucharest of yore in gilded frames adorning the walls. The guest rooms are more ordinary, but perfectly adequate, and bear such musical names as Aida, La Bohème, Tosca, and Traviata. The suites are Rigoletto, Nabucco and Carmen. The hotel was reopened in 2002 and is perfectly located in the cultural heart of the capital, directly next to opera.Take a stroll through Bucharest; when you return to the hotel you will delight not only in the peaceful atmosphere, but also in the feeling that you have taken a journey back in time to the beginning of the 20th century.One night in a double room starts at 140 euro.
SHOPPING in Bucharest:
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.
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.
Victims of fashion and chic freaks must stop by L'Armoire Concept Store. Forget Versace and Gaultier?here Romania's young designers rule. There are a great many of them and they are ever more frequently the stars of international fashion shows. Are the names Ludmila Carlateanu, ana alexe, DADA or Roxana Davidescu familiar? What about Elena Perseil, Eugenia Enciu, Stephan Pelger, Zasha oder Dorin Negrau? No? Reason enough to have a look at their latest collections. As numerous the designers are, so too is the variety of their creations. Evening gowns, business outfits, smart casual wear. What all of the clothes have in common though is an elegance that highlights and complements the wearer's femininity, Have browse around for yourself.