Hidden amongst the usual crap that masquerades as news on Pro TV last night was a short report looking at how many of Bucharest’s major attractions are closed just when tourists (and locals, we might add) want to visit them: bank holidays. The original Mediafax story the Pro TV report was pulled from can be read (in Romanian) here.
On both Easter Sunday and Monday all of Bucharest’s most visited and essential attractions (the Village Museum, the Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum, the National Art Museum, the Peasant Museum and Casa Poporului) were shut, with thousands of potential, paying visitors left bewildered as to why. (Some of these attractions were even closed on Good Friday and Easter Saturday). It was reported that one group of German tourists were taken on an impromptu tour of Bucharest Old Town’s cafes instead of a planned tour of the Village Museum.
The situation was much the same elsewhere in the country, with Peles Castle in Sinaia and the Brukhental Museum in Sibiu also strangely closed to visitors. It is bad enough (although at a stretch understandable) that most Romanian attractions already close for at least two days per week (usually Monday and Tuesday): it is downright bizarre that they should close precisely when they might have a glut of visitors.
In a not unrelated event, some friends of ours presented themselves at the gondola lift in Poiana Brasov last week (following a heavy snowfall) only to be told that it would not be opening as the skiing season had ended in March. ‘Surely the season ends only when there is no more snow?’ they naively argued, in vain.
As much as we like to pretend that Bucharest (and Romania as a whole) is increasingly geared up to receive foreign visitors, it is these seemingly little, unimportant things – such as ensuring that attractions are open when people might want to visit them – that prove, as much as anything else that it still has a long way to go. You can advertise holidays in Bucharest and Romania as much as you like, but if nothing is open when people turn up then you’re at risk of looking a little stupid.