|Monument to Heroes of the Air.
Known locally as the aviator statue, it commemorates those who gave their lives in the pursuit of flying excellence.
The people who had died, up until 1935 when it was constructed, are listed on the bottom of the statue.
|The Arcul de Triumf, located on the Kiseleff road.
The original arch was constructed from wood, to commemorate Romania achieving independence in 1878.
It was removed and another arch was put up in 1922, to commemorate the 1st world war.
The arch in its present form was constructed in 1935 and inaugurated in 1936.
It looks similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris but much smaller.
|Herăstrău Park is a large park on the northern side of the City.The park has an area of about 1.1 km², of which 0.7 km² is the Herăstrău lake.
Initially, the area was full of marshes, but these were drained between 1930 and 1935, and the park was opened in 1936.
The Village Museum (which we had previously seen) is connected to the park.
Its one of the biggest parks I have ever visited, and once featured a statue of Stalin which was torn down in 1956.
|It’s a bit of a cliché about Eastern Europeans sitting in the park playing chess, but I found these tables, which prove that it does happen.
|Another of the long walkways in the park.
In the background is an office building in Charles De Gaul square.
|Bushcraft never leaves my life for very long, and sure enough, I found this enormous bracket fungus on the side of a tree.
What surprised me was that it was still there.
It was right next to the path and in the UK some fool would have knocked/smashed it off.
|Wherever I go, I seem to find memorials to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of my favourite inspirational authors.
George Eliot called him “Germany’s greatest man of letters.”My favourite quote by him (paraphrased) is:
“Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth.
That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Its what, in modern peak performance science, is sometimes called the Green Renault Megan Principle.
|Across the lake in the park I could see the Casa Presei Libere building in freedom-of-the-press square.
I remember thinking what a daft name for a square.
But then it occurred to me…
In my whole life, I have always been able to write to the prime minister, tell him that he is doing an awful job, that he stinks, whatever, without fear of reprisal.
Perhaps I am guilty of not valuing something, as I have never had to go without it.
|I had seen most of the sights on the way there, so on my way back, I just soaked up the atmosphere.
I noticed this old car.
I was surprised there weren’t more cars like this, but many of the cars I saw were of a fairly modern family design.
|The most popular type of car appeared to be this one.
They were everywhere. I remember the headmaster at my School (Mr Clayton) got one when I was 8 years old (I am 39 now).
|Off all the ones I saw on the way back, this one won the most knackered but drivable award.
|In the evening, we decide to visit a more contemporary restaurant called the City Grill, and there is talk of fillet steak.
We arrive in the restaurant, and within seconds, all the lights go out (this picture was take using the flash, the people in it, are standing in total darkness).
We hung around for a while, they didn’t have any candles, and advised us it might be hours before the lights came back on (it was just in the restaurant, it wasn’t a power cut) so we decided to leave.
|We wandered around for a while.
I have always believed a bigger group is safer when travelling but we hit our first problem.
Its a lot easier for 2 people to get a table on Saturday night, than it is for 10.
Luckily, we found a nice Italian and then headed back to Edgar’s, a friendly Irish bar near our hotel, which we had visited the night before.
|Our last day.
We have a minibus booked for 4pm to take us from our hotel to the airport.
We decided the visit the Parliamentary Palace.
Our guide had previously advised us to walk to the left hand gate.
We got there and were told we had to walk to the right hand gate instead.
|You can see from this picture just how far that walk was.
When we got there we were told to walk to the back of the building.
Effectively the building, due to its immense size, cuts the city into two—an urban planner’s nightmare.
Everyone knows it’s the 2nd largest building in the world, but I was told, by volume, its 10% larger than the pyramid of Ghiza.
|We arrive at 11:10, and find that the organised tours leave on the hour.
We kill some time chatting (there was no coffee machine).
We pass through security and the metal detectors (as well as a famous building, this is the home of a working government).
As we set of on our tour, our guide says that we need to stay close, as there are more than 1000 rooms in the building, and its easy to get lost.
|Originally named the House of the People, the building is presently called the Palace of Parliament.
Moderate Communists took power after the revolution, and kept control until 2000.
This isn’t a political site, but I was amazed when I heard that the number of crimes committed in Romania dropped by 51% between 2000 and 2004.
This hallway, is more than 150m long. There are 11 others just like it, on the other 12 floors.
|All of the state rooms are themed (this one is masterfully carved from wood, by the finest craftsmen in Romania) and can be hired for weddings, fashion shows etc.
The building is constructed entirely of materials of Romanian origin.
|The building contains 480 Chandeliers (requiring 3,500 metric tonnes of crystal) and 1409 ceiling lights.
To make all of this work requires 3 million light bulbs.
|Building work started in 1984 with 20,000 workmen and artisans and 700 architects.
The lead architect was only 27 years old, and presently sits on the senate.
Our guide demonstrates that the main them of the building is symmetry.
Here, some hand crafted marble tiles have a pattern, which is a map of the actual building.
|This picture isn’t fantastic, but it shows the symmetry of the building, as all of the doorways line up perfectly.
|This picture of the staircase shows the quality of the marble and the craftsmanship used to work it.
The building uses one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania.
|The building was originally intended to serve as headquarters for all the major state institutions (it must take a lot of people to “run” a communist country).
During the 1989 regime change, its leaders referred to the building as the House of Ceauşescu, using it as an example of the excessive luxury in which Ceauşescu would have been living.
A stark contrast to the squalor and poverty endured by many people living in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
These curtains, for example weigh one metric tonne.
|Parts of the building (some of the west wing, some of the east wing, parts of the second floor, basement 3 and everything below) are yet to be completed.
As we pulled back the curtain (which took some doing) we saw the 5% that remains unfinished.
The building was only 80% complete at the time of the revolution, and the controversial decision was made to continue with it (many people thought it should be demolished).
Whatever the original motivation for the building, it’s superb, and I think they were right.
Our guide pointed out that every part of the building screams traditional communism, yet no communists have ever occupied it.
|This is the biggest room, I have ever stood in, in my life.
Lets face it, Ceauşescu wanted to rub foreign leaders’ noses in it when they came to visit the building, and I could imagine George Bush and Tony Blair attending a reception in this room and it achieving that aim.
|Me standing on the balcony.
It’s not that I am miserable, I was just blown away by the magnitude and splendour of the building.
No political speeches have ever been given from here although Michael Jackson was standing here, when some fans bellow cheered him and he shouted hello Budapest, which is several hundred miles away in a different country (tool !).
In the background is the Intercontinental Hotel which overlooks the square.
I didn’t see inside, but it really is one of the most impressive hotel buildings I have ever seen outside Las Vegas.
Its also the tallest building in Bucharest.
|Macca-Vilacrosse are two pedestrian alleys roofed with glass and wrought iron and lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.
We had lunch here, it was rather atmospheric, with perhaps an excessive number of begging dogs, children and old women.
|We found this self contained street where antique shops and art galleries were located.
Nobody bought anything, but it felt quite cultured to walk through there.
|Finally, we head back to our Hotel, get our minibus and arrive at the worst Airport I have ever visited (I am sure it will pick up, as more people fly through it).
What a brilliant trip, spending special time with a few old friends, and meeting loads of new ones (too many, to mention here).
Confidentiality binds me from discussing the details, but without the special assistance of one individual, I would have missed out on this trip. You know who you are, and sincere thanks.