There are a few images I link to Winter-time — the smell of a log fire at my grandma’s place, the taste of herbal tea on a rainy evening, a cat purring on my lap while reading a book.
But Winter (and by that, I mean real Winter) was a notion I only understood when my husband and I arrived in Bucharest five years ago. That was when we first became familiar with snow and long dark evenings and started seeing through the eyes of all those classic Russian writers we love. I vividly remember the first time we saw people skating on a frozen lake, Shostakóvich Jazz Suite № 2 flowing on the crisp morning air, and came to the conclusion we were now living on our own version of Anna Karenina (well, maybe without the wonderful costumes and all the drama, but you get the idea, don’t you?)
We started spending every spare hour outdoors, wandering, discovering the beauty of all those abandoned white marble palaces shinning under the golden rose light, like a million candles, asking ourselves why barely anyone knew there is another Paris hiding in East Europe. Because the truth is only a few outside Romania knows Bucharest nickname is Little Paris.
And it is not only about the incredible French architecture they imported, or the joie de vivre you can experience on a sunny afternoon sitting in any downtown terrace, it is about that catchy spirit which seems to infuse every aspect of the city: From the delicious food (some more notes on that very soon) to the awesome underground music scene; From the city art galleries to the countless tea rooms, second-hand shops and antiques markets — the Romanian capital never stops shocking you.
So, when last month Sebastian asked me how would I feel about having some days off for a city break there (we are currently living in Timișoara), I could only paraphrase Hepburn by claiming that
ParisBucharest is always a good idea (also, I might have danced Don’t Stop Me Now around the house, but that’s another story for a different time…)
And finally, last Thursday we took a train in the early hours and arrived just on time for lunch. That was on Valentines Day, so on our first stop, we granted a visit to our favourite tea house. Bernschutz & Co. is based on a tiny Victorian house, located in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods.
In Bucharest, it is not unusual to find the most charming and cozy restaurants inside renovated Art Noveau and Belle Époque buildings. It is awesome. Actually, scratch that. I mean AWESOME. Just imagine yourself having afternoon tea on the 19th-century old manor. You feel pretty much like a Downton Abbey character and that’s an experience I cannot recommend enough.
As I said, Bernschutz is my favorite, but options are countless: Casa Oamenilor de Stiinta (which used to be the home of the first worldwide traveler, the local Phileas Fogg, if you please) is an amazing Victorian house in the heart of the city, Hotel Continental offers a lovely afternoon tea with the same high quality standards The Ritz Carlton does.
Of course, we also spent some time visiting old town. The place is packed with some of the most beautiful buildings you can imagine, such as the National Bank or the National History Museum (in these pictures). Another national treasure can be found at Piata Victoriei, and it is the famous Romanian Atheneum (but do not worry, I am writing a little city guide and I will share it very soon).
Unfortunately, by the time we took these pictures it was kind of cold (and by that I mean it was about -5°C which made our hands to feel numb enough to finish the shoot abruptly and to run for our lives), so we decided to enter to the closest mall to warm up for a while. Probably, you are now thinking: “What! So, you are visiting the coolest city in Europe and you simply pop up to any mall? What is wrong with you?” And this is actually my next argument in favour of Bucharest — even the malls can be cool. We visited Victoria Shopping Center, a wonderful time capsule offering all kind of vintage goods: tailored clothes, new and second-hand jewellery, artisan gloves and hats… anything.
Bucharest might not be as crazy in shopping standards as Budapest is, but the wide variety of shops and markets is still quite amazing. So every time we visit the city, Sebastian is required to play his personal shopper/style consultant role so I manage to establish priorities and not to get aaaaall the goods… (Thanks, hun! You are so far the most patient of all my friends.)
So, long story short: If you are into beautiful architecture, awesome food, vintage and arts, please book your next holiday in Bucharest.
Now, tell me a bit about your last holiday.
Dress: H&M (sold out, similar here)
Scarf: Meli Meló (sold out, similar here)
Bag: Pinko/ Bracelets: Meli Meló / Boots: Deichmann