Bucharest is being reconstructed from whole cloth these days, with a lot of major road work disrupting any attempt to get from point A to point B. Bucharestians can be seen carefully dancing their way around all manner of obstructions as they attempt to navigate the streets and sidewalks. if you have to get anywhere, take the Metro. Bucharest traffic at evening rush hour is horrendous. But Bucharest itself has come a long way from the urban hell hole we remembered from the early 1990s. The shops are smart, lots of trendy bars and cafes, good restaurants, definately not the Bucharest I remember from fifteen years ago when all was grey and dreary. Believe me, in the 1990s Bucharest was one of the least attractive cities in the world. That's changing, but it takes an awful big heart to love Bucharest. The dreariest building of all is the former Palace of Nicolae Ceauşescu , now the Palace of the Parliament.
Started by order of the increasingly unstable Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1984, the construction of the Palace required demolishing much of Bucharest's historic district, including 19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, three Protestant churches (plus eight relocated churches), and 30,000 residences. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Palace is the world's largest civilian administrative building most expensive administrative building, and heaviest building. But the newer Bucharest is a series of surprises, especially if you knew the old one. On the up side, I found Europe's best hamburger in a small "French" bistro on Piata Romana, a place that advertised itself simply as "Soups and Meats."The bun was a bit tough but the meat was perfect... good beef, medium rare. Hungary doesn't have a single eatery that can produce a burger anything like this... none of us know why... it is so sad... but Bucharest definately takes the blue ribbon for east European burgers. There were non-burger items to try while I was in romania, but more on them later... I never rush a post when discussing tripe soup and ground spiced meatwad products like mici.