Bucharest initially felt a little rough around the edges based on where we had just came from. It is important though to take each place as it is and not a direct comparison to the former. While you may not experience an immediate sense a warmth here like other places- It is there. You simply need to look past the hollow shell of communist roots.
We arrived via bus from Kukës, Albania. A trip that was meant to be about 12 hours and that turned into 18 due to political tension at the Kosovo border. I found early on that one of my favorite parts of Romania was spent on the road. The beauty made me feel at home.
Our large tour bus dropped us off about a quarter mile from the door step of the Cozyness Hostel. As most new cities seem to welcome me, it all began in Bucharest with a long hike in the blinding, boiling sun. Beyond enervated, I woke up 4 hours later in the lobby of the hostel informed by my friends that I had passed out whilst waiting for an available room. The Cozyness Hostel was swell. I was very thankful for their hospitality as well as the large fans that are mounted adjacent to each bed. I let that fan absolutely rip throughout my stay. It was brilliant.
Besides being a little cramped, I couldn't complain about Cozyness. Kathryn and the rest of the girls though, stayed at the real gem of a hostel in Bucharest, Podstel Doors Hostel. This hostel was created and designed by two men who traveled the world and stayed at hundreds of hostels. They remembered what they endeared and eradicated what they didn't like, to create the ultimate hostel. From kind and helpful receptionists to spacious indoor and outdoor spaces, this is the place I will stay the next time I am in Bucharest.
Unfortunately for our time in Bucharest, we were on a pressed schedule. We only had a weekend in Bucharest and we had a pretty fixed schedule with little wiggle room. Thankfully we did wander about most evenings and most of our pleasure came from old town. We were with a group of 55 other people which made getting away from them all the more sweet. We felt a sense of accomplishment every time we found a cafe rid of Americans.
I actually recall sitting with my friends in a semi awkward cafe that was trying but not succeeding to possess breathable, moving, fresh air. I felt like I was breathing all of the oxygen that I just exhaled. Anyway, I was the friend in the group who brought up the notion that hey, maybe we are missing out at being in a better place right now? What if there is a place right down the street that we'll always remember that we simply aren't at because we here? Thank goodness for trip advisor as we were then led to Origo Coffee Shop in Old Town.
If you read the reviews about Origo, you will see that many consider this the best coffee place in Bucharest. It is hard to be able to explain to you why this meant so much to our group of friends, because you just don't know how badly we all felt like we needed to get away from our large group of white people. I do recall needing to find some solace because we had just experienced some amazing things in the prior country we were at, and all wanted to take some time reflecting. It also appeared to us that Origo had some great food options. The runner up coffee shop that we went to was Tucano Coffee which is actually a world-wide coffee chain. They were extremely friendly and we had some inspiring conversations in their upstairs lounge.
I wish we could have done much more during our time in Bucharest. Looking back, I realize what legacy Bucharest left with us far after we left. Bucharest provided my first Old Time experience. Bucharest shaped what type of cities I look forward to experiencing in the future. Before Bucharest, cities like Budapest, Prague, or Vienna may have had such a seductive ring to them. I look back with fondess at the beautiful cobblestone streets, elegant restaurants, and mouth watering street food that I encountered on these streets. I also remember the compassion I felt for the women who appeared to be sexually exposed. There was a dark feeling among those parts, it was alarming. This brought home how important it is to not just be a traveler and an inward thinker. "Oh how cool Bucharest was, and how cool my wanderings." but rather a concern for those who live trapped in their lifestyles: both the consumers and the producers of such things. The streets are a dark place, and I never want to forget how serious that is and how much prayer needs to be spent on the streets that I cross in a matter of minutes.