Bucharest Life favourite places: Carturesti/Gradina Verona/Gradina OAR

Bucharest In Your Pocket, like all In Your Pockets, isn’t meant to have favourite places. As objective observers – swayed neither by personal preference nor the filthy lucre of an advertiser – we say what we see and leave the conjecture to our readers.

That’s one of the reasons we started Bucharest Life. For while the editor of Bucharest In Your Pocket couldn’t possible divulge his favourite places in the guide, he can do so with impunity in an unofficial capacity over here on these pages.

And one of them is Carturesti/Gradina Verona.

In a large house (an historic monument, built in 1883) set back from the bustle of Bulevardul Magheru, Carturesti is Bucharest’s best attempt at a bookshop (we have commented on the poverty that is the bookshop scene in Romania elsewhere). Books are arranged – by and large – in the correct way, and are everywhere: on the stairs, on the floors, on the windowsills; like all good bookshops you get the feeling that they simply do not have enough space (compare with branches of the dreaded Diverta).

They also sell a vast range of CDs – there must be thousands of them – though we have to ask: who is still buying CDs in Romania?

The children’s room is a winner too: a good range of children’s books, good children’s toys and an area for kids to play in, and to read without being told off.

Then there is the cafe. Carturesti has had a cafe for years (it was one of the first Bucharest bookshops to serve coffee), joined in recent times by a garden and courtyard out back. This year serving a decent lunch on weekend afternoons, it is a genuinely nice, cut-price alternative to the awfully overpriced brunches at the big hotels.

And there’s more…

Just down the road (not two minutes walk away) is one of those places that Bucharest does not have enough of: Gradina OAR.

It’s hidden – with only a highly-understated sign pointing to its existence – discrete and quite lovely.

A cafe/cocktail bar for thinkers, there’s not a pitzipoanca in sight. Why would there be? Nobody sees you here. It’s for people of good taste. It is such a shame it is only open during the summer. Enjoy it while you can.

  • I just spoke with the “PR director” of Carturesti and she would not let me leave info sheets about my next photo workshop in Bucharest in the entryway to the bookstore. She said she wanted nothing to do with it and that my sheets did not look professional enough for Carturesti. Ok. . . and who else is teaching professional street photography workshops in Bucharest?!

    Bucharest is the city of impossibilities! I try to bring some culture here and even the best bookshop says NO! Since when did an A4 info sheet not look ok to advertise a workshop?

    • Geronimo

      “I try to bring some culture here.” Oh dear.

      Maybe it looks rubbish. Post it and we can let you know

    • Parmalat

      Yea, post it somewhere so we can see it and we’ll let you know

      Generally speaking, with 100 Euro you could make 5000 coloured and shiny leaflets, like the ones used to advertise pizza and stuff…

    • Parmalat

      On the other hand, except for the fact that the leaflets don’t look professional, I don’t understand what’s Carturesti’s problem and why wouldn’t they advertise…

      Davin, next time you should do this more ellaborated and more in advance:

      – think of how many attenders you need
      – then establish a number of 5-6-8 locations around Bucharest where you would like to advertise
      – make the advertisement as a promotion, for example if the attenders come with the leaflets from Carturesti they get a 10% discount, if they come with the leaflets from Caru cu Bere they get a 10% discount and so on… and all leaflets should be personalized with the name of the location where they can be found
      – in the worse case, when you don’t want to spend anything, you can print the leaflets on photo paper, using a color printer so you can have the shiny effect from the beginning
      – A4 is too big for a restaurant leaflet in my opinion, unless you have some very interesting picture printed on 3/4 of the page…

      My company has it’s object of activity in advertising, 6 years ago when I encorporated it advertising was my hobby, but later I focused on other activities and the company became dormant. But I didn’t lose all contact with this domain. And actually I was more into social engineering than advertising but I thought advertising was the best way to express social engineering.

      • What about just notice boards where people can post things for free in bookstores?! In the US, bookstores and coffee shops have such boards. Everything little thing one wants to do in Romania has to be so involved and demand so much money. The idea is, is that if a shop has a public free space for posting business cards and info sheets, more people will come to look at the board and will in turn end up buying books or coffee or whatever. It’s not rocket science. Somehow Carturesti did not understand this.

        • Geronimo

          I suspect your A4 flyer wouldn’t really have generated much business for them, now would it?

          They have about as much obligation to pin up your notice as Craig does to tolerate your hijacking of his blog to publicise your undoubtedly excellent courses.

  • Ahmed Soliman

    I went to Gradina OAR based on your recommendation. The place is nice and everything but somehow these marble dividers were annoying me. They reflect the voices which makes the place noisier than it should and somehow they have a claustrophobic effect.

    • Each to his own… I actually like the dividers, as they add a bit of intimacy, but I can see they might not be to everybody’s taste.

  • Yes! We ran our last street photography workshop in July at Carturesti. A great, great place and a welcome intellectual retreat now after 10 days in the hinterlands deep in Transylvania amongst the rural folk.

    Our next photo workshop here in Bucharest is the weekend of 28-29 August. Just a few spaces left now:

    http://luczakowskaellicson.blogspot.com/2010/07/bucharest-street-photography-workshop.html

  • Parmalat

    You can get cookies and jam too 😀

  • Peter

    Great bookstore indeed! All they need more is a decent airco because right now it is truly a sauna where you can buy booksand CD’s.