I had no idea what to expect in Romania. I thought it would be like Ukraine but I didn't find that at all. Bucharest was more modern than I expected. I only had a day there, but I got picked up from the airport and driving through the city allowed me to see a couple things I otherwise wouldn't have- like their huge triumph arch (Arcul de Triumf). A guy at the hostel said Romania based a lot of their architecture on French styles and buildings. You can tell- there are some beautiful buildings in the city.
The most prominent building is definitely the parliament. It is the 2nd biggest building in world- the first being the pentagon. It is the largest parliament building in the world. I took a tour of the building and it's quite nice, but I've seen fancier ones. It was built for a communist leader named Ceausescu who never had the chance to use the excessively large building because he was overthrown and executed in 89 before he could. My favourite fact about the building is that the stairs had to be made to an exact specification- the exact step of Ceausescu. Climbing the stairs, I got tired, so I must be shorter than he was lol. The terrace and it's view was awesome too. There is a grand street in front of the parliament, like Champs Élysées. Michael Jackson even visited in '95 and said "I love Bucharest" to the public from the balcony. They're pretty proud of that lol.
Everything in the building is from Romania including crystal, silk and marble. Another interesting fact is that there is no air conditioning or heat- Ceausescu was afraid someone would try to poison him through the system lol. So there are vents that circulate natural air, which an make the building too hot or cold, depending on the season. The marble staircases were my favourite part- absolutely gorgeous. There were matching staircases so the leader and his wife could walk down the stairs and meet in the middle.
Other than that, I walked around the cute old town, which is now full of bars and construction. I ate at a Romanian restaurant that is a historical spot- a beer cart building that has been around for about 100 years. The place was really beautiful. Columns, arches, detailed decorations... The waitresses were in costume lol so yeah it was a bit touristy.
Then the fun started! I had an hour and 15 minutes to pick up my luggage at the hostel and catch my overnight train. It had been cool and rainy all day, but the sun was out again and it was hot. I got all turned around finding a place to eat so I didn't know where to go and my photocopied map wasn't very good. I went in like a circle after some bad directions. I was down to 30 minutes and I was starting to freak out. So I ran. I finally found the parliament ( it sort of stands out lol) and even a short cut to my hostel. I got there with 15 minutes to go. A cab was 10 min away so I chose to count on my legs and do the walk to the station. It wasn't too far, but in the sun with my heavy pack (and the pressure!) it was hell lol. I ran when I could so I made it with 3 min to spare, completely red and sweaty. That's the worst feeling- thinking you'll miss an overnight train and be stuck in Romania for another day lol. On the train I met a nice couple from Prague. Lenka works at a restaurant in the city so I'm going to visit her when I'm in Prague in a few days :) The countryside in Romania was gorgeous, by the way. Tons of trees and some mountains- it reminded me of B.C.!
I had an interesting time. It was nice to see a place I wasn't really planning on going to. Since then I've told people that I have been and they've asked me advice because they are going too. I guess Romania's tourism is increasing.