After a quiet train ride of napping and reading, Bucharest’s train station was an overwhelming shock of crowds and disorder. We managed to get to the hostel, which was hidden in a one-way alley – our taxi driver was kind enough to offer to host us at his home, but fortunately we found the hostel and settled in. As soon as we got to our room, though, some guy started getting quite upset about how one of his belongings had been taken. He raged for a moment and left the room in a huff, which earned him the apt moniker “Angry Guy.” Our other roommate, Finnish Guy, was working on a historical fiction novel taking place primarily in Moldova. He was nice enough and balanced out Angry Guy’s bad vibes.
The next morning, after a slow breakfast, we stumbled out of the hostel to spend a few hours meandering before meeting up with Moose, a friend of Catherine’s mother. We walked around Revolution Square for a long while until we found Moose in a subway underpass. On December 21, 1989, the president of Romania Nicolae Ceausescu had prepared a speech that was intended to go as all his previous speeches had gone. Instead, halfway through his speech, the crowd gathered in the square began to boo and yell, prompting Ceausescu to move inside the building and be led away in a helicopter. By the next morning, the revolution had spread to other major cities in Romania. Ceausescu and his wife were eventually captured, put on trial, and executed on January 9, 1990. Catherine and I both took a class about comparative political systems last fall, in which we talked about Romania’s revolution and watched a video of Ceausescu’s last speech. Keeping the video in mind, we set out to Revolution Square to see for ourselves where the Romanian people threw down communism.
With Moose, we went to lunch at a beautiful restaurant and chowed down on mujdei, a garlic-based sauce, homemade bread, salads, schnitzel, and yummy desserts. We wandered the streets of Bucharest for a while longer, passing by their parliament building, which is the second-largest building in the world and that Romanians call the People’s Palace. The building was so large and the sky was a bit foggy, which created an illusion that the building was simply a special effect imposed onto a blank area in space. Although, I suppose if we had the opportunity to sneak by Romanian security guards to touch the building, we could have confirmed the tangibility of the parliament building.
We decided to make the long trek to Bucharest’s Arcul de Triumf, but made a few stops along the way. Expensive cappuccinos called our name, so we talked about earwigs and the way of the world until we had regained the energy needed to continue our walk. We passed by a military marching band preparing to perform, which was reminiscent of an afternoon in Sevastopol. Continuing on our journey, we happened on a newly uncovered monument of sorts dedicated to Romania’s king, Mihai I. When we actually arrived to the Arcul de Triumf, though, we took a few pictures before going to the real prize of the city: the park that features Michael Jackson Alley and a shrine to the superstar. After visiting his shrine and taking necessary photographs, we sat by a lake and watched the bats and the moon while drinking a beer.
Moose was meeting up with his friends to watch a football game at an English pub, so we decided to tag along for the cheap beer and experience of a Romanian football game. In the end, I barely watched the game, but I managed to cheer along as though I was a fairly dedicated fan of team Steaua. After the game, there was karaoke and dancing. Although I did not sing karaoke, I did yell along the words to a famous Turkish song, which I think counts as sufficient participation in such an event.
We had planned to spend the next morning leisurely wandering around Bucharest until our bus to Varna left in mid-afternoon, but our hostel hostesses informed us that that bus is only seasonal. One flash decision later, and we were speeding to the train station to make a 1:00pm train to Veliko Tarnovo.