- The Village Museum - an open-air ethnographic museum featuring dozens of actual village homes transported to the city for display. Most were transported back in the 1930s and 1950s. So interesting to see how the different regions built shelters over the centuries and more impressively, how simply they lived.
- The funky Old Town area. Bucharest doesn't seem to want to pretty up its historic center so you find beautiful churches and buildings intermixed with modern but dilapidated storefronts, scrappy pubs, trendy shops, cafes, and adult venues (one apparently in the former location of a library). Very gritty, kind of bohemian, sort of reminiscent of NYC.
- The sunsets.
- Bed bugs at the hostel. Yep. It was bound to happen somewhere and at this point it's fitting that it was in Bucharest. We didn't get bit but Jen found three by her pillow just before falling asleep (and immediately requested a room change). Another guy in that dorm room got eaten alive. This is the guy who started talking at 6:30am every single day and never, ever, EVER stopped, no matter how much everyone ignored him, so we can't say we had too much sympathy.
- Awesome Romanian people. We got harassed by bus ticket checkers on the way to our last hostel - a common scam we'd read about but had yet to encounter. We had scanned the ticket twice as instructed by the ticket seller (who also tried to keep 5 lei of our change - a whole other bullet point for this list but "Friday six" just doesn't have the same ring to it). For whatever reason the ticket didn't validate, but the automated fare validator gave us no indication of this. So we thought everything was fine until these two menacing bus ticket checkers got on a few stops later and after a bit of an exchange, tried to scam us out of 50 lei for an invalid ticket. At that point about six helpful Romanian youth, men and women who had seen us scan our ticket started to yell at them and continued to do so until they eventually got off the bus. We didn't have to ask for help, these folks just gave it. Lesson learned: Question authority, trust your fellow man. (And woman. And teenager.)
- lunch at Dristor Kebap - a lot like the Soup Nazi place, pay up front and know right away what toppings you want or NO DELICIOUS KEBAP FOR YOU!
we made it through the line alive
- homemade (well, "hostel made") pasta! the Aussies made some in Lisa so we were inspired to give it a try one night after looking up a Mario Batali recipe... a few more batches and we will have a winner
- Umbrella Hostel was fine for three nights... Except for the bed bugs. To their credit they moved us immediately, apologized profusely and shut down the room shortly after we reported the issue. We had no other issues during our stay except for the tiny coed bathroom with absolutely no privacy. (And the aforementioned-annoying-bed-bug-bitten-nonstop-talking guy who ended up moving to our dorm room our last night due to aforementioned bed bugs in the other dorm, and our dormmate Sir Snores-a-Lot Sergio... But those are not the hostel's fault.) The kitchen and common areas were great. Breakfast included bread, meat and cheese (we call this "lunch"). And the whole place was kept pretty spotless. Except for the bed bugs.
- Vila Gabriela for our last night, because it is close to the airport. So far we are the only ones here, the owner is really nice, the garden is pretty, there is an adorable kitty named Kitty, we can hear roosters and pigs off in the distance, and we have our own room so unless one of us spontaneously starts to snore, we may actually sleep well tonight. For once.
Bed bugs and stupid men on buses aside, we did not love Bucharest. But we didn't expect to so it's all good. We would love to come back to Romania someday and when we do, we will avoid this city as much as possible.
This time tomorrow we will be in Istanbul (fingers crossed). Crazy. Just crazy!