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Bucharest, Romania, after the Ramsar Conference of the Parties, July 2012
Once every three years, the Contracting Parties or member States to the Convention on Wetlands gather to renew old friendships, cast hostile glances round the hall, and freeze the budget for another triennium.
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Now, the solumn disputations have been put to bed at last, and after we pack up all the sacred outcomes for the journey home, it's a FREE DAY. Many of our colleagues and the delegates have shambled off to see the wonderful sites of the Carpathian hinterlands and Danubian wetlands, but we have only today to see the local sights.
It's persisting at a brutal 39° (or 102° F), so this may be a very short exploration into the city.
Kristin and Rachel are seeking Art, first of all. Later, lunch.
The Art says, "Welcome to Romania".
We're charging forward to the Galeria de Arta Europeana, which is quite a respectable collection of "all-time favorites". One is most charged up about a Brueghel the Elder work advertised here, because it was a surprise to find that it was here and not where we thought we recalled seeing it recently, in Spain.
But the Brueghel wasn't here. It was on loan to an exhibition in Spain.
Where next? The Historic Old City (or Centrul Istoric Bucuresti, as it were).
There were sights to be seen in the old town, but not many. Most of the pedestrian zone of old Bucharest seemed to be taken up choc-à-bloc with outdoor bars and discos.
The Curtea Veche, or Old Court Church, 16th century onwards.
Very pretty inside, if a little overstated.
Kristin and Rachel amidst an Excess of Holiness
Manuc's Inn, named for its Armenian host and builder in the 18th century. It once included 23 shops and could accommodate 500 guests.
Oh, doesn't this look interesting. Vlad the Impaler lived here. "Gather round, children, and I shall tell you a tale . . . "
This is the "Old Court Princely Museum". There were habitations here since just days after Genesis, but the hovels began to graduate into an urban settlement in the late 14th century, when walled cities began to be erected to protect the trade routes and the rich people (called "boyars"!).
In about 1458, Vlad Tepes ("the Impaler", the victim of bad press), during one of his several short reigns as Voivode here, built a citadel on this site, and in the 16th century, Mircea Ciobanul, or Michael the Shepherd, renovated it pretty thoroughly. Of course, it's been let go somewhat since then.
Vlad Tepes, by the way, Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1431-1476), a great fighter against the Ottoman turks, came from the Dracul clan, and got himself adopted in 1897 as the vampire Dracula. He once paced this hall, seeking impalees.
But indeed, as Vlad paced these subterranean halls, as Kristin is doing now, he knew that he was never guilty of being a real vampire. That's all gross superstition. His conscience may have found being a wholesale impaler troublesome enough.
I'm not entirely sure what impaling is, but it was gruesome enough that whole Turkish armies turned back to Istanbul when they came upon 20,000 of their impaled colleagues along the banks of the Danube. Oooofff.
20,000 Impalees at one go! On that note, we're going back upstairs.
Rachel could read the script, but we could not.
Rachel and Kristin in the ruins. Thinking about lunch.
The old city of Bucharest -- with lines of pubs, bars, and restaurants. An embarrassment of choices perhaps.
Up and down the warren of streets, looking for lunch. European lowest-common-denominator beer signs abound.
Here's a good place, after a long work day, to get stored.
It's too late for Breakfast -- "a fresh breakfast for a fresh day", at The Barrel.
Street scene -- This could be Rome.
Rembrandt Hotel ("Rembrandt slept here"). "French Bakery". "Food & Travel". (Glacial vitamin water?)
"Old Havana" may have just what we're looking for. Nope, it opens in the evening.
How about Greek?
So what shall it be for lunch, then? ("Pizza or what?")
No, just a salad. A very nice, very old place. AIR CONDITIONED!!
Munic's Inn (we seem to have made the loop)
An impromptu street party
Impromptu, but they thought to bring along the wine and accordions.
Overcome by the heat, we leapt into a taxicab, and our driver grunted and lurched forward into a crowd of pedestrians in the crosswalk. They yelled at him in indignation, and he began screaming back at them and shaking his fist out the window. The confrontation escalated, and we leapt back out of the cab, whereupon the cabbie grew even more exercised and began screaming angrily at us, too . . . in Romanian. On the assumption that many tourists would then turn and say, in English, "oh, you're quite right. We'll climb back into your cab now, if we may." Instead we scurried off to the Bershka-Stradivarius city-within-a-city.
And then came home. For two days. Then Kristin went to America. Then I went to America. Then what?
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 22 September 2012.