For a number of years now we have found ourselves in the lucky position of being able to eschew anything as formal as a regular job, preferring to muddle along, churning out our little In Your Pocket guides to Bucharest and Brasov. Even more fortunately, much of the work which goes into producing those guides borders on what many might call ‘tourism.’
Wandering around the Bucharest Old Town/Lipscani area on a gorgeous spring morning, for example.
Now, can anyone remember the last time they walked around Lipscani/Old Town? We do not mean going to a specific venue in the area to meet friends or to eat or drink something, but actually took time out to wander Lipscani’s streets, looking around and admiring – or otherwise – the sights and sounds?
Well, that’s exactly what we did yesterday. (And we called it work). The results: a fully revised Old Town/Lipscani text and loads of new venue listings will be appearing in the April-May issue of Bucharest In Your Pocket (and on the website as soon as we have written it), but for those of you who can’t wait that long, below are a few of the main things we noticed while walking around.
1. The Old Court Church (Biserica Curtea Veche; pictured above) has lost its scaffolding and looks better than it has for years. Alas, the same grumpy men in beards who have long had a hatred of anybody with camera are still around, ready to pounce the moment you look as though you might be about to take a photo.
2. The ruins of the Old Court (Curtea Veche) next door are a sorry sight. Nothing more than a collection of stones and a kitsch bust of Vlad Tepes thrown together to little effect.
Given that the cellars are such a spectacular space, it is time to sort out the Old Court: it certainly has real potential.
3. Just when you thought it was safe to start walking Lipscani’s streets again, they’ve started digging them up. Again. As before, there appears to be little rhyme or reason in the work being carried out. Instead of completing works previously started (such as Strada Gabroveni, which has been a ‘work in progress’ for the past two years), streets which – to our untrained eye – looked to be in perfect shape, such as Strada Stavropoleos, now look like this:
What was encouraging was that there were at least workmen, well, working on whatever it is that required two perfectly good streets to be dug up. We can but hope that the work will be finished sooner rather than later.
4. Whatever happened to the idea that Lipscani should be car free? The barriers remain but they are lifted by the security guards whenever anyone wants to drive in, meaning that the area is anything but car free. The only drivers who do not get access appear to be taxi drivers. Surely some mistake?
5. While everybody knows that Lipscani is now the place to be and that everyone under the sun appears to be opening a pub/bar/cafe/club/restaurant in the area, do you know just how many venues there now are? We will tell you in another post (oh yes, we counted them. Every single one). Meantime, we leave you with our favourite Old Town venue, the Caruta on the corner of Stradas Smardan and Lipscani, which serves big German sausages and belts out oompah music for the passing masses. Magnificent.