We arrived shortly after midnight after a crowded flight from Amsterdam. Brandi had sent a colleague to meet us. Adi was waiting when came out with our passports stamped and our bags in tow. All of our bags had followed us to Amsterdam and finally to Bucharest. Hooray!
After initial introductions Adi found three taxis, and we divided the group with an adult in each vehicle. Our driver seemed to think he was in a race with one of the other taxis, and he showed his racing skills by overtaking and passing the lead car. Things began to slow down as we entered the city and encountered traffic lights.
At one stop Joe commented, "What major European capital is this?" This was after passing something that seemed like a replica of the Arc de Triomphe. We started looking around and even with our midnight eyes we saw Parisian clues. There were blue street signs trimmed in green.
When we arrived at the Umbrella Hostel shortly after 1a.m., we found three clean, comfortable rooms and wonderful beds, which were heaven to our weary bones. It was nearly 2 by the time lights were out, but that gave us a good chunk of horizontal sleep after our long day of serial napping. Our passports have three entry stamps from three different countries on the same day. Pretty amazing!
We met for breakfast shortly after 9. Adi had collected bread, yogurt, Nutella and jam. It was good to meet and talk after a real sleep. Everyone made much more sense, strangely enough.
We had to check out of our rooms before leaving for our noon tour at the People's Palace, We also had time for some darts and a brief meditation on the first of the Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit. It seemed an appropriate focus just before visiting the second largest administrative building in the world built by a dictator who lived there.
As we walked the streets of Bucharest, and took the Metro and walked some more, the strength of our initial impression grew. The sidewalks on the side streets were made of pavés, which is called "pavage" in Romanian. Things are often broken, but the architects and builders were intending to pay homage to The City of Light when this city was laid out, without a doubt.
The visit to the People's Palace deserves its own entry.