We started the year in a good mood, writing about how happy we were with the primary school our son attends. (We are still happy, by the way, a year on. It is a fine school). We also declared our support for Romania’s criminally underpaid teachers. Alas, their protest – like all others – came to nothing. The Romanian government of occupation – and its prime minister, Little Emil Boc – survived no less than four votes of no-confidence in 2010. The closest it came to falling was in June.
This year will probably be best remembered, however, as the year Romanian politics went officially Michael Jackson.
And speaking of the man who, had he stopped recording after Off the Wall would have been remembered as one of the greats, did you know that a path in Bucharest’s Herastrau Park is named after him? There is a shrine nearby too. Really, see here.
The much-maligned Minister of Tourism (and Bucharest’s next mayor – you read it here first) Elena Udrea unveiled (to much derision) Romania’s umpteenth new ‘Tourism Brand,’ while Bucharest finally got itself a Tourist Information Centre. Later in the year we wrote about how the state of Romanian tourism is not quite as hopeless as most people think. (There is another analysis of Romanian tourism in the works. It will probably be our first post of 2011: Watch this space).
Back in Bucharest, our favourite club, Mojo, started hosting English stand-up comedy nights, shipping in a decent roster of talent from the UK every month (the next will be in February). We (and our kids) became big fans of the puppet shows at the Muzeul Taranului.
Some fantastic restaurants opened: Bonne Bouche probably being our favourite, though honorable mentions too for Osho, Ici et La and the new look Cafe Athenee at the Hilton. If we were handing out a prize for the best restaurant in the land, however, then we would probably give it to Prime Steaks at the Radisson.
The Old Town/Lipscani area continued to boom. Two recent openings: Oscar’s and The Gin Factory have cemented its position as the top nightlife area in town. The city council even got around to completing renovation of (most) of the area’s streets. It’s just a shame they couldn’t stretch to providing a little information.
The new look Lipscani is not to everyone’s taste, however, as we reported here.
Bucharest In Your Pocket went from strength to strength, not least when we launched our iPhone app in September. (An app commented on by the Carcotasi, of all people). We also continue to publish a Mini-Guide to Brasov, still our favourite city in Romania. Unfortunately, a trip to anywhere in the Brasov region requires navigation of the hell that is the DN1. We suggested that wiping Busteni from the map would be a solution.
We reviewed a number of books this year, including Lucian Boia’s masterpiece, Romania and William Blacker’s reactionary tale of how wonderful life is (for wealthy people such as he) in poverty-stricken rural Romanian communities, Along the Enchanted Way. Blacker was in the press last weekend, apropos, with this piece about visiting his son (who lives with Gypsies in rural Romania, as you do) last Christmas. We wonder if Blacker will be visiting his son this Christmas?
We thoroughly enjoyed the far less reactionary documentary Dupa Revolutie, and look forward to seeing Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceausescu in the New Year: a documentary of the dictator’s life making use exclusively of official footage. This is the (brief) trailer.
We might have to do it again soon: we hear that two new stations are set to open in 2011, though as usual, we will believe it when we see it.