SHOPPING in Bucharest:
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.
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.
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.
STAY in Bucharest:
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.
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.
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.
EAT in Bucharest:
Here you will be served authentic Indian cuisine. Be careful: if order your food hot, it comes hot! But if you prefer not to give your taste-buds a good singe, no problem: the chef will prove that Indian cuisine can be spicy but doesn't have to be. It is all about an alluring mix of spices that can be mild as well. The restaurant won't win any design awards but it's inviting and comfortable nonetheless. The rooftop terrace in particular is a great place to meet for those who favour a modern and southern ambiance. Three chefs stand watchfully over the pots and seem to be competing in a contest. Where else will you find ten different lamb dishes? Vegetarians will also feel right at home. They may like to choose one of the home-baked breads from among eight variations as an accompaniment to an exotic vegetable-based speciality.
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.
At the Count Dracula Club they roll out all of the myths, legends, and clichés about the old blood-sucker. But it's done so humorously that you should spend at least one evening with the undead. This theme restaurant with its grizzly ambiance will not only delight fans of horror films; providing you manage to get a table, it can be quite cosy. The ambiance lives up to all the most hackneyed clichés about Transylvania and then some. Theme rooms give the restaurant a special twist: there's a chapel complete with casket, a grim cellar, Medieval chamber, hunting and ghost rooms. Waiters' costumes range from the laughable to the gruesome to the plain funny. Come here with a group that knows how to have a laugh, and you are sure to spend an entertaining evening. Especially on Thursdays and Fridays, when the owner, Count Dracula, appears in the flesh for a short show. The food is Romanian and good; bloody steaks are the kitchen's specialty.
SIGHTS in Bucharest:
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.
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.
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.