After cleaning up a bit I headed down to the old city center – Lipscani. This required using the metro, which is rather nice and convenient. Immediately the contrast of this city leaps out. I was in Prague less than 10 years after the fall of communism and it was far more ‘western’ at the time than Romania is over 20 years after the fall. And it makes for a great energy (or perhaps vibrancy is the better word?). The old and new are mixed together. This city is only now going through its facelift (lots of restoration is happening, but it still has a ways to go).
You have the monstrosity know as the Palace of the People (or Parliament) that was a communist debacle that destroyed about 1/6th of the city and bankrupted the nation (it’s the second largest building in the world). And then only a few hundred meters away, off the main street you find buildings in ruins or beautiful little churches and monasteries that somehow survived communist eradication. These are places of peace – where I had one man who shook my hand simply because he realized I was American (which was really quite odd, but rather uplifting as well).
And even though Rome ruled Romania for less than 200 years about 2000 years ago, the people here still hold on to that unmistakable Latin character – I can’t help but think of Italians with thick Slavic accents. This city comes alive at night – well, at least Friday nights as I haven’t seen any others. Oh I wish I were 10-15 years younger, single and with a group of friends. This city must be a single’s dream come true. Everyone is out parading around to be seen – the men openly eyeing the women and the women only being slightly more circumspect about eyeing the men. I honestly haven’t seen the like since I was in high school and college. I grew up in Austin going down to 6th street, I’ve experienced Bourbon Street both during and out of Mardi Gras, I’ve done Vegas, I’ve been to Soho on a Saturday night and none compares to the young energy I saw in Lipscani (of course it could just be that I’m old and out of touch – but I choose think it’s just that great here).
If only it weren’t so damn hot and humid. Nothing’s perfect I guess.
Anyway, I’m off to get a cool drink.