Jul 302009

Versiune în română

As soon as the 15th of June comes around and it’s starting to get very hot outside, Bucharest becomes increasingly quiet. School closes and most of the inhabitants leave on holiday. During the day the city seems caught into a stupor, mostly because the outside temperature is almost unbearable. And then comes the salvation, in the form of the summer terrace. Many restaurants take their tables outside and put out signs reading “The terrace is open”. Some restaurants are actually pure terraces and are open only during the summer. On high summer days people of Bucharest flock to these summer terraces. As soon as sunset aproaches the terraces come to life and they keep buzzing with activity until the early hours, regardless of whether it is a normal working day or the weekend. People come to cool off from the heat of the day, to have a drink and chat with friends. Even the smallest bar will find a table to place out on the street. Some of these terraces are already institutions, they are so popular that it’s difficult to find a table if you stop by at around 10 pm.

Today’s photo is from the newly opened “Terrace Verona”, the terrace behind the Cărtureşti bookstore, which is one of my favourite places in Bucharest. In my opinion this one has the potential to become a Bucharest institution. I was there last night when I took this picture, and liked its relaxed atmosphere. Centrally located, plenty of tables, a nice design that combines well with the garden, ok prices – not the smallest but not the highest in Bucharest. Definitely recommended.

Jul 292009

Passing in front of the The Palace of the Military Club (in the photo) yesterday, I saw a blue banner with the following message “July 29th – National Anthem Day”. Searching on the web I found out that that July 29th was voted to become the National Anthem Day in 1998 to commemorate the date when our national anthem was sung for the first time, on 29 July 1848. Good. It only took me 10 years to find out about it 🙂 The national anthem of Romania is “Deşteaptă-te române” which translates as “Awaken thee, Romanian!” or “Wake Up, Romanian!” the larger meaning being “stand up for your rights”. The lyrics are by poet Andrei Mureşan, a Romanian poet and revolutionary sang to a popular tune chosen by him and a friend. Since them, the song was sung any time Romanians needed a message of liberty and patriotism. It became the national anthem in 1989, after the Romanian Revolution, replacing the communist-era “Three Colors” (Trei culori). The first paragraph goes like this:

Wake up, Romanian, from your deadly sleep
Into which you’ve been sunk by the barbaric tyrants
And now or never, your fate renew,
To which your enemies will bow too.
Now or never let’s give proof to the world
That in these veins still flows a Roman blood,
That in our chests we still maintain our pride in a name
The victor in his battles, the name of Trajan!

Jul 282009

Bucharest is scorchingly hot in the summer with temperatures in the uppper 30s and sometimes lower 40s Celsius. That is the reason why many people look for shelter from the heat in one of the many parks sprinkled around the city (because yes, Bucharest is a lot greener than it appears on a first sight). Today’s photo is from Cismigiu Gardens, Bucharest’s oldest park. The gardens are a great place to stroll and enjoy the peace that one can feel finding such an oasis in the middle of a hectic city. Among the lawns and trees and the winding alleys you’ll find a lake with rowboat rentals, a playground for children, a chess area where old people play tournaments, many statues and plenty of park benches. This is also one of the best spots in the city for people watching, all ages being well represented: children playing, couples strolling hand in hand or kissing on the benches, old people snoozing or chatting. Cismigiu was first designed and laid out in 1843 by the German landscape architect Carl Meyer, on the commision of Prince Gheorghe Bibescu. The official opening took place in 1847 but the park continued to be developed by the architect until 1870. More than 30,000 trees and plants were brought in from the Romanian mountains to be planted on the 17 hectares park.

Jul 272009

About a month ago while I was preparing for a trip to Paris I discovered a nice blog by the name of parisdailyphoto.com. Its author Eric, who recommends himself as a “friendly parisian”, is posting an image of Paris a day with a small commentary. Extending my search I found out that there is a whole bunch of daily city photoblogs, some still up to date, some already closed after being in use for a few years. This is how I got the idea of creating one for Bucharest, the city where I was born and where I currenly live. My declared goal is to post a daily photo taken in Bucharest. All the photos will be taken by me. I shared this idea with a few friends and was asked by some if I think anyone will be interested. I certainly hope that some people will be interested. If not, the worst case scenario is that I will get to know my city better 🙂

Today’s photo is “Piata 21 Decembrie” (21st of December Square), the little square with the fountain located a bit north of University Square. The end wall belongs to the Faculty of Architecture. It’s a nice resting spot smack in the center of Bucharest and even though at midday there’s not a hint of shade, the fountain helps in cooling off a little. This little square was a focal point during the 1989 Romanian Revolution (hence the name) and its aftermath when Iliescu summoned the Jiu Valley miners to “defend democracy” in June 1990.