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Flight to Bucharest

Come fly with Austrian Airlines to Bucharest and you will be visiting both Romania's largest city and capital. Known as "little Paris," Bucharest is famous for its tree-lined paths and beautiful architecture. You can visit the House of the Free Press, or the Casa Presei Libere, and view the awe-inspiring building that has been compared to the Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw, Poland. Bucharest boasts a teeming metropolis and offers something for any tourist, no matter your age. If night life is what you seek, Bucharest offers a variety of shopping and clubs to tickle your fancy. Want to get up early and catch all of the sights? Make sure to soak in the beauty of Bucharest from the Jewish Community History Museum to the Cişmigiu Garden, the oldest garden in the city.

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Bucharest

STAY in Bucharest:

Hotel Continental

This is the acme of luxury. The service? First-class, The décor? Pure elegance. The guests? Elite. The Grand Hotel too recalls the 19th century, with painstaking renovation recreating the atmosphere of the era. The building was constructed in 1886 in German Renaissance style based on plans by Emil von Forster. After being renamed Otelul and Hotel Broft, the sumptuous building was restored and reopened as the Grand Hotel Continental. Cinderella was not simply given a face-lift, but brought up to date with 21st century technology.Aesthetes will marvel at the richly detailed decoration. The rooms are tasteful and elegantly appointed. Particularly impressive are the suites in the various period styles: Renaissance, Empire, Louis XV. Simply regal!One night's accommodations in a double room cost 320 euro; the most expensive suite will run you 920 euro.

Hotel Opera

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.

Central Hotel

The communist touch cannot be denied - from the outer view. However, there's only little left of it inside Central Hotel - which is located right next to the town hall and the university. Since its refurbishment in 2009 aesthetics and electronics set the tone in the city hotel. The latter can be found in terms of TVs and computers in almost every second wall niche. Next to it: designer pieces, prominently placed and showcased. For example the white leather sofa and the red wood ensemble: almost impossible to just pass by.   Some might consider this cold, in turn the Romanian state opera and the historic museum can be reached in the wink of an eye. Like the Cismigiu garden, the oldest publicly accessible park of the city. If you prefer to stay at the hotel you can relax in one of the 56 rooms or one of the three suites. The in-house bar provides for entertainment.

EAT in Bucharest:

Balthazar

The Balthazar is one of the top places to dine in Bucharest. Here you are served French-Asian fusion cuisine at its most sublime. For foreigners it's affordable, but you can assume that the Romanians you see here belong to the capital's top earners.   The old villa where the restaurant is located has been lovingly restored with an eye for detail. The gardens and avant-garde bar?perfect for a drink before or after dinner?are especially attractive. The guests are still hip, even if the times have past when business dinners took place no where else. Perhaps too, despite the culinary delights, guests have noticed the restaurant's two weak points: a rather anemic wine list and music which can sometimes drive you to distraction. But if that doesn't trouble you, you are set to enjoy a very enjoyable evening in an elegant ambiance.

Chocolat

How sweet! A small café where you can also take a piece of your favourite treat home with you. A charming, small chocolate shop where you can find what you've craved all day, and have a coffee as well. The selection of chocolates, pralines, tarts, cakes and other sinful delights is immense: you will feel yourself transported to somewhere between France with its crème brûlée, éclairs, and Forêt noire, and Italy with its profiteroles and tiramisu. Need a starter before devoting yourself to the sweets? Chocolat also serves delectable light lunches featuring soups, pasta dishes and salads made of the very freshest ingredients.   The selection of baked goods is equally tempting: bread-rolls, white, dark, and whole-grain breads, brioche and panini, both filled and not. This is a whole new dimension to being spoilt for choice.

Lacrimi si Sfinti

Mircea Dinescu is a well-known Rumanian writer. He works as a journalist and fell from favour during the Ceau?escu era for his socio-critical viewpoint. But that wouldn't be enough for him. That's why he was looking for 100 years-old recipes whose forgotten tastes he now reinterprets in his restaurant Lacrimi si Sfinti in the historic district of Bucharest.   Dinescu's focus thereby lies on the revival of local culture. He uses regional ingredients and organic meat from small farms. The kitchen windows in his restaurant come from an abandoned house in the surrounding area and the door comes from a former pharmacy in a Romanian county. For his decoration the revolutionary has arranged 16,000 lego stones from Copenhagen and works by local artists. All this is well received in Bucharest. Just like the wines that are produced by Dinescu himself on his manor.

SHOPPING in Bucharest:

Bucuresti Mall

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.

Nichi

At first glance you might not suspect that Romania has a good deal to boast of in the world of fashion. Nichi Cristina Nichita is a Bucharest girl made good. The fashion designer has presented her creations on many a catwalk and invariably earned ecstatic kudos.   In the shop on Piata Unirii slip into one of the designer's latest creations; you're sure to be won over. Elegant businesswear with that certain something extra, lovely handbags, and clothes for that special event. Too bad Nichi Cristina Nichita only designs for women, but she really knows how to pamper them. The designer plays with classic looks that are never dull because they all have a dash of contemporary spirit. Pick out your favourite dress and reserve a table at a chic bar to show it off.

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:

Patriarch?sPalace

From Piata Unirii it is just a short walk up the small hill where the patriarch's residence is located. For fans of religious architecture, this excursion is a must. But even those who are less interesting in churches should wander up here.   A few moments earlier you were surrounded by the hectic traffic crowding the broad boulevards, now you find yourself in a peaceful courtyard. If you crave even more quiet, enter the patriarch's church. The floor is covered with thick carpets, and the sanctuary's interior is suffused by gentle light shining through the stained glass windows.   If you come at the right time, you can experience the rituals and chants of the faithful. Just a few hundred metres from the turbulent activity of the big city, you have seemingly been transported to a remote rural monastery. This is the place to kiss icons, and perhaps yourself be kissed by the muse.

Open-air museum

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.

City Centre

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.