Canadian christians in Bucharest
Trip Start Aug 18, 2006
149Trip End Ongoing
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It appeared the same as all the other houses on that street (which is not in itself a complaint- many city hostels do this to avoid unwanted attention
-Oh, ok then, can I have my ten euros back?
Other signs around the house inform you that 'God loves you' and that the family who run the place 'observe the sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, so kindly refrain from asking them to do anything between these times'. The way they overcrowded the dorms, using a sofa with a mattress balanced on it and a broken folding bed to squeeze in extra people did little to reduce the sense of having inadvertantly joined a cult. Nor did their blatant attempt to steal my money: 10Euros does not equal 40LEI by any stretch of the imagination. It can equal almost any other number however. Romania recently rationalised their currency, removing four zeros from all prices. However, during this transitional phase both new and old notes are still in circulation. This means the following transaction can really take place:
-How much for that?
-Heres 10,000 Lei
-That's not enough
-OK Here's 10,005 Lei
-Thanks, here's 1,002 Lei change
I dumped my stuff and headed for the town, where for the first time the collecting capital-city jazz-clubs idea served the purpose for which it was originally intended
I spent Saturday seeing the good side of Bucharest. The national art gallery's collection of contemporary Romanian art was genuinely enjoyable, taking me through every major artistic movement since about 1850, as interpreted by Romanian artists I'd never heard of. There was half a room devoted to a painter called Nicolae Grigorescu who I thought was particularly good- some impressionist stylee landscapes and portraits that actually made the subject seem like an interesting human being with a story and a future. Not sure what it was about them, but thats how they seemed to me. Plus I thought I saw Michael Palin going in as I was coming out. (If you happen to know he was elsewhere at the time, please don't tell me.)
The Peasant Museum was awarded a gong of somekind by the European council for awarding stuff to museums, so I had to check it out. It was a good museum in many ways, with a decent amount of information in English and some interesting exhibits. The problem with a peasant museum is that peasants pretty much by definition don't have much stuff, so a certain amount of repitition is inevitable. The museum has one of the worlds 'richest collections of chairs' for example
My final stop, before the sunset prevented further sightseeing, was the Arc de Triomph. This is a copy of the one you've heard of, installed by Ceausescu ('communist' dictator), to try and make Bucharest into the 'little Paris' it was reputed to have been before he broke it. Speaking of which, the one impressive sight I caught on the ride into town was Ceausescu's 'People's Palace'. After the Pentagon this is the second largest building in the world (by area) and, after all of N. Korea, probably the second biggest monument to one dictator's insane megalomania bankrupting a nation. A sixth of Bucharest was razed to make way for the palace and gardens, and every aspect of the building- design, workmen, materials, were one hundred percent Romanian. (probably cold comfort to the people who starved to pay for it).