June 28, 2009

Dear Bucharest

Belle Epoque beauty

Dear Bucharest,

I wanted to like you. Really, I did.

I was excited to experience all that you had to offer and arrived with an open mind and a sense of adventure.

My disappointment isn't your fault. I can see that you are being mistreated. Your faded, crumbling beauty is still evident, despite the neglect. I loved your friendly citizens, gorgeous Belle Epoque architecture and beautiful churches.
You have such potential!
There were moments when I could see past the decay and ignore the atmosphere of organized crime that seemed to permeate everything. But they were brief moments.

I know that there are people who care for you and are proud of you. I hope that one day they will lovingly restore you to your former glory. You deserve to be cherished and looked after.

Unfortunately I won't be visiting again any time soon.
You and I just didn't "click."
However, I wish you all the best in the future.

Kind Regards,


Bucharest Old Town - apparently the road works will continue for years

Stavropoleos Church - interior, gardens and restoration still going on

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Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Loulou...what a shame for you, and such a shame for this country...and the friendly citizens..

I hope they will be restored to their former glory too!!

martha said...

Beautiful photos. I especially liked the ones of the church.
It's all too common in too many places in many post communist countries, the very real potential loveliness of their towns and cities is clouded over under a blanket of corruption and greed.

Cathy said...

Hi Loulou - What a sad story. Maybe someday the city will be restored. It does happen.

Thanks for the lovely photos.

Aeneas said...

I can't say I am surprised. I had hoped, though, that some of the old charm and beauty I recall as a child there would somehow reach out. But a lot has passed over that city, mostly bad and very bad.

It never was one of the great cities of Europe; however I do remember vividly when my parents met some 'old timers' in Paris who had travelled to Bucharest before the war and they were absolutely gushing about how much they loved going there.

I am a bit disheartened to read about the crime; the last thing I would like to do is to go to a place where there's crime, of the kind I imagine you are alluding to. If I want crime, I just travel 30 miles to Los Angeles...

I often contemplate, lately more and more, about moving back to Europe. It's a crying shame that I never considered going back to where I was born and there's so much beauty, and could be a good life. Being half Hungarian, at least I can consider Budapest. But as Martha says--all ex-communist countries have huge problems.

But... your photos are lovely. :)

martha said...

But Adriana, just because you wouldn't want to live there, doesn't mean we can't visit. I have me very nice people from some of the smaller cities - Timisoara, for example. Budapest is FUN!!!!

BM said...

You say you came with an open mind, but your note on organized crime clearly shows that you had some stereotypes about the city. In reality there is far less organized crime in Bucharest than in a similarly sized city in Western Europe, for instance.

Loulou said...

I have no doubt that it will. Seeing other parts of the country (which were amazing and I plan to write about that next) leads me to believe that Bucharest is definitely up and coming.

That church was so beautiful. We left a donation to help with the restoration there and at a few other places.
I got the feeling that the city has money, but it is being siphoned off somehow, thus the city is suffering.

Glad you liked the photos. As I said to Anne, I believe it is an up and coming place.

There is still some of that charm there, but it was overshadowed by many negative things, in my opinion.
We weren't the victims of crime, but many of the stories we heard, told to us by locals, were a bit disheartening.
You should go back and see it though. You might be pleasantly surprised. I am just one opinion and I know many travelers love Bucharest!

I had read about the problems of pickpocketing and rabid dogs in Bucharest, but not organized crime. As a traveler, I always read about potential problems, as do most informed travelers.
Call it not having an open mind if you like. I think it is merely common sense.
However, I did arrive with an open mind because I thought the stories about the dogs and the crime were blown out of proportion.
I know that organized crime exists everywhere, I just felt a strong sense of it there. More than in other places.

Aeneas said...

Martha--you mean visit, like you and me, one day? :) But, I would prefer the smaller cities that are quite different I hear. Certainly I would visit the city where I was born (left when I was two... never seen it again) and the places my parents were born. Very small towns...

sooner or later curiosity will win and I will go there. I wish I could've done it with my father so that he could show me the places. But, now it's too late for that.

Loulou--in spite of what I am declaring, I will go there one day for the sake of my grandparents', great-gradnparets, etc. memories. I know this sounds strange, but it feels like such a foreign place to me. Odd, I know.

martha said...

BM: I wonder where you are getting your information about relative levels of organised crime. The problem in the cities and towns of the developing Eastern European countries is not their direct impact on visitors, it as the malaise and stagnation that spreads over any project where there is money to be siphoned off. The EU is rightly concerned about this and has issued warnings to both Bulgaria and Romania to do more to combat corruption or risk losing large chunks of development funds.

Anonymous said...

That's too bad, although I think I have an idea what you're talking about. When we visited Sofia last year, it seemed that the city had plenty of money (upscale boutiques, pricing on par with that in France for many things) yet the streets were crumbling and most of the buildings were in a sad state of disrepair. Still, I found the people to be largely enthusiastic and warm, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting somewhere so foreign to me.

Parmalat said...

Hi Loulou
You know why you felt the atmosphere of organized crime in Bucharest? Because the post-1989 Romanian society was built by watching the American movies.
And in the American movies there are a lot of bad guys who behave like organized crime and Bucharestians try to immitate them. Fortunately for Bucharestians, the worse they are prone to do is listening to loud music from their 100.000$ car bought second-hand, and trying to make their enemies sweat by showing off.
Otherwise this is no organized crime society. It can't be! In the end we all meet on the same 2 streets: Magheru and Calea Victoriei, whether it's Basescu, Tariceanu, Gigi Becali and others they will pass on Magheru or Calea Victoriei almost daily so we're like a big family :))
Communism brought people close together and it's hard to do anything such bad as organized crime. But since we are together, we can show off because like that more people can see us :))
About corruption: corruption is everywhere, however in Romania there's much less money to be stolen than in the West so after everyone fills their bags there's not enough left for public purposes and the effects are a lot more visible. And since you can't really hide stuff in this country (see my ideas from above) everything that you do will reach the press :D

Loulou said...

That doesn't sound strange. I've only been living away from the US for 6 years and when I go there now I feel like a bit of a foreigner.
I'll look forward to hearing about your trip - whenever it may be!

Thanks for more insight

Interesting to hear. We encountered that same upscale pricing/crumbling streets and buildings split.
Do you have the desire to return to Sophia?

Thank you for the information! Very interesting to read. :)

jen laceda said...

Awww...i actually thought the photos of the Belle Epoque buildings were from Montpellier. Then I saw Bucharest...

spacedlaw said...

Still, plenty of beautiful pictures...

Loulou said...

There are many, many gorgeous buildings in Bucharest. They look very French!

There were many photo ops!