After a long day in Transylvania, we relaxed this morning and secured a late checkout. We are transferring hotels to join the cruise line tour group. After a big breakfast, we took a cab to the Village Museum (Muzeul Satului in Romanian) that has been around since the 1930s. The museum’s official name (in English) is the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum. It is a collection of over 272 houses from all over Romania that have been dismantled and rebuilt as a display on how Romanians from different regions lived in the 19th and 20 centuries. The museum has a lovely setting on the edge of a lake in one of Bucharest’s parks. On display there are mostly houses, but you can also see the supporting buildings (barns, haylofts, windmills, etc.), churches, and even a dance hall. The wonderful park setting under the trees made for comfortable touring even in the heat. Other tourists and Romanian families joined us as well.
Both our cab driver and Alex recommended the museum. I was in my element, taking so many pictures I even filled up the memory card and had to start deleting pictures so I could keep going. I loved that these were actual homes rebuilt with their gates, fences, wells, barns, and even yard art in place. Although from many regions of the country, they were placed next to each other to create a village-like setting.
For each building, there was a sign (also in English) telling you the region the home came from, how the people lived, and the time frame of the home’s construction and use. Pictures of people in the regional costumes and maps completed the signage. Unfortunately the gift shop was out of a printed guide in English. That is something I would have taken home.
Boris and I spent hours at the museum. There was also a café if you wanted a snack. The gift shop was also very nice and had quality merchandise. I looked for the decorated wooden spoons Alex had recommended as a keepsake. The designs each have a specific meaning.
After we completed our touring, we took a cab back to the hotel. Cabs are very cheap in Romania, just make sure they use the meter or set a price before you go. The official cabs will be numbered and have the rate printed on the outside of the cab; these are the ones to use. If you are leaving from the hotel, have them call one for you. The concierge will give you a ticket with the cab number on it.
We weren’t hungry so we just went up to the lounge to grab a drink before the transfer. The Radisson Blu, there we will be staying with the tour group, is just around the corner; we just rolled our bags over. Uniworld had a check-in desk in the lobby where they gave us the information on the land portion of the cruise. Then we checked in at the registration desk for the hotel. Because the guests were coming at such different times, they did not hold a reception but gave us each a drink voucher instead.
The Radisson Blu is as different as night and day from the Hilton. While conveniently located on Calea Victoriei, there is no Palace view. However, everything was very modern and the room amenities and particularly the bathroom were a definite upgrade. With a multi-story all glass front and a bar right in the center of the lobby that looks like an ice cube (the glass floor underneath the bar has jets shooting out water), the hotel is definitely going for that hip vibe. Boris proclaimed immediately that it was too trendy for him. I liked it.
After we settled in, we went out to try another recommended restaurant in the area, La Mama. We once again had Romanian food. I tried the grilled trout that Alex had suggested given the regional access to very fresh fish. It was fresh and presented whole. We also had the plum brandy, a specialty of the country. We were seated outside in the courtyard under umbrellas. It was very crowded the entire time we were there. The restaurant is right around the corner from the palace; it was originally the home of one of the king’s mistresses.
Our big meals have been costing between 200-240 lei ($50-$60) for two. That is for appetizers, main courses, side dishes, desserts, bottled water, and alcohol. You could eat here for very little for a normal-sized meal.
After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and did a little window-shopping at a handicrafts store nearby and noted the hours for the next day. They have switched the schedule for the day tours. Tomorrow we have the panoramic tour of Bucharest, lunch in the old town, and the afternoon at the Parliament building.