Photo of the Day 1

Like most people these days I often snap random photos with my phone. I have decided to share some of these photos on this blog. I am sure I won’t be able to post a new photo every single day but I will try to post as often as possible.

mustafaskebap

This is a photo of the line-up for a… kebab! Mustafa’s kebab in Berlin is very known and popular. Some people claim they had to wait over 2 hours to get a tasty lunch. The queue that you see in this photo – that’s about 1 hour wait. Is it really that good and is it really worth the wait? I will give out all the details in another blog post some time soon :)

– Alex

La Mama Restaurant, Tonka Soul Café

Monday evening was starting slowly. Alina, a Romanian friend from Montreal just came to Bucharest and will be staying with me for 2 days. We decided to hit up the famous “La Mama” restaurant known for its great Romanian dishes. Once again, I am very happy about living in the downtown area – La Mama is located behind my building, a 2 minute walk! The restaurant greeted us with a shot of Ţuică, a traditional alcoholic beverage, basically vodka made from plums. I then had Mititei with fries and a big glass of Carlsberg. The food is great, service is good but a little on the slow side and prices are very reasonable. A full meal usually starts at $6, this includes a soup, main dish and salad or fries.

At 10 pm Alina went to bed and I decided to pass by the Sailor’s Pub at Piata Victoriei where Bogdan was having beer with Theodora, Ionica and Pizdinu. I had a bottle of Beck’s and a little past midnight they decided to head home… yes, some people have school and/or work in the morning. Ionica gave me a lift home from where I walked to my favorite… yes, you guessed it, Deja-Vu cocktail bar. I had a few Heinekens on draft and some Jägermeister. At 3am there were no more clients, so Ivan the barman said he will close. He offered me a shot of… Absinthe+Lemon juice+Tabaso sauce… it burned but was really good.

After closing the bar Ivan and I went to Tonka Soul Café, a 24/7 café-bar, 5 minutes away from my building.

tonka soul cafe

The place is huge! The beer is priced at about $3 per bottle and cheaper for draft. More alcohol… a bit after 6am Ivan went home I decided to finish my beer… I finally made it home at about 7 in the morning… had a great night and now I know  bar that serves alcohol 24/7.

Till the next post,

Alex

Herăstrău Park and Caru’ cu Bere restaurant

Tuesday I went to have a coffee near me at the Grand Cafe Galleron. Apparently this is a well known and respected place – they do serve great espresso, I have to give them that. However, the service at this place is a hit or miss – depending on the waiter (waitress) you will get. I sat for about 30-40 minutes until I got the menu… luckily they provide free wi-fi and I had my laptop with me. After I got the menu, I waited another 20 minutes – I saw the waiter pass by and i called him several time with no success. Eventually a waitress started serving the same room and finally I got great service.

The place looks very nice, it has 6 or 7 different rooms, one of them non-smoking and they serve a large variety of coffees, alcohol and some light meals (salads, smoked salmon…) I would recommend this place mostly because of their great coffee and the interior decor but don’t expect good service.

Wednesday evening I went to the good old Deja-Vu for the “Live Music Wednesday”. Had some beers, a few shots of… not sure what, it was on the house and sang along to some Russian tunes from the 80’s and 90’s. After the show was over I chatted for a little while with Radu, the guitar player and singer for that night and at 2am I decided to leave. When I got to the entrance doors of my building I heard loud music playing near by – Bubbles Club, right across the street was open so I decided to check it out. I guess it wasn’t their best night, there were less than 10 people inside and it was a … KARAOKE night! I had a few more drinks, listened to some guys and girls sing “I will survive”, “Nothing Else Matters”, “Hit the Road, Jack” and “American Woman”… and decided to go home. The barman told me it’s much funner on Fridays… I might check it out.

This brings me to Thursday… I had some breakfast and decided to check out the Herastrau Park. It is one of the biggest parks in town and many told me it’s very beautiful.

herastrau park bucharest

Right before I entered the park, I passed by the Arc de Triomphe… the Bucharest one of course!

Arc de Triomphe

The Herastrau Park is based around the Herastrau Lake, even during winter the parks looks very nice and hundreds of benches are taken up by old ladies, young couples and mothers with baby strollers. I also spotted some people walking on the frozen lake; first I thought they were ice skating, then i thought they were fishing and then… I am not sure what they were doing…

Herastrau park

Herastrau Park and Lake

Herastrau Park and lake

The weather was great! It was +3 C, the sun was bright and warm so I ended up walking for 2-3 hours. A little past 4pm I was at the Aviatorilor metro station (that’s the one right near the park entrance) and I headed home. I forgot to get off at Piata Romana, where I live so i decided to get off at the Universitate and head to Lipscani for lunch… When i got to the old town, I remembered how much I wanted to pass by Caru’ cu Bere, one of the town’s oldest restaurants.

Caru cu Bere

I was told that all the tables are reserved for later, however if i wanted I could only stay for 2 hours… I agreed. It usually takes me less than 2 hours to eat a meal. I was surprised by the authentic neo-Gothic-like design, that alone is worth a trip.

Caru cu Bere

Caru cu bere Bucharest

(the iPhone pictures don’t do it justice, you’ll have to see the place for yourself)

Once I was shown to the table the menu was brought to me within minutes. I ordered Carnati Plescoi (hot sausages) with Romanian fried potatoes (covered with cheese) and a 400ml glass of Caru’ cu Bere draught.

The meal was served within 15 minutes (beer came much earlier) and it was very very delicious. The sausages were hardly “hot”, but still very tasty.

Caru cu Bere beer

Caru cu Bere Meal

I was surprised to see that I was charged extra for the bread… It was only $0.5 or so, but the principle of it… anyways, the whole meal including the beer was about $10, so very affordable.

Everyone, from good looking young ladies that greet you at the door to friendly waiters speak English and offer good service. The menu is Romanian and English. Caru cu Bere also offers free wi-fi. I definitely recommend this place to everyone and i will be coming back 😉

Lipscani, eating, drinking and more.

Saturday, January 30 I walked to the Lipscani district (Old Town). In the Middle Ages this was the most important commercial center in Bucharest. The district was planned to be destroyed during the communist times but this never happened. As of 2008, the city started renovating the district but they ran into a dilemma;  after digging up the streets the ruins from the old buildings were discovered and this fact gave the city council 2 options: first one, to preserve the ruins and turn them into an historic site (which requires a lot of money for maintenance) and second option is to simply pave the streets and move on. The Bucharest mayor’s office cannot make a decision and some streets are left all dug up until… no one really knows when.

Lipscani Bucharest

Lipscani Bucharest

Lipscani Bucharest

Lipscani Bucuresti

The district is now very popular when it comes to night life.  Some websites claim it hosts over 60 cafes pubs and restaurants (as of early 2009), I would say this number must be closer to 100.

Well, after walking for a while I went to have an espresso at Grand Café Van Gogh on Str. Smardan. This Dutch owned café must be one of the best in town. Beautiful interior, big long windows, friendly staff, reasonably priced coffee, food and alcohol make it a great place for any time of the day.

Grand Café Van Gogh Bucharest

I will surely be back to Lipscani to check out some of its popular pubs and restaurants… Later on that night I went to Silence pub with Bogdan and his friends; two Vlads and Dan. This small and kind of hidden bar is right next to Piata Romana, besides alcohol and coffe you could also enjoy Turkish Shisha. Beer is rather cheap, 0.5L of Beck’s costs under 5 Lei (less than $2) and the atmosphere is very nice.

A little past midnight I made it to Deja-Vu cocktail bar, I guess I can call it the “usual” place for me. It’s conveniently located just a few blocks away from my building, the cocktails are great and both barmen; Sergei and Ivan make sure that preparing a cocktail looks like a show or a ritual of some sort, very entertaining… I had quite a few drinks, some were on the house and at 5:30 when I was getting ready to leave, Sergei surprised me by bringing a plate of fresh, hot and very tasty ciorbă and some bread. That night (morning) I went home pretty tipsy, well fed and happy :)

On Sunday I woke up pretty late, since I went to bed at about 7am. Ruxi called at 3pm and told me Radu and her were going for lunch or maybe a drink and asked me if I wanted to join them – of course I did. Radu suggested that we should go for some “mititei” also referred to as “mici”. I already knew what mici was since I have quite a few Romanian friends in Montreal but for those who don’t know; ” Mititei or mici (Romanian for little or small ones) is a traditional Romanian dish, grilled minced-meat rolls made from beef (usually mixed with mutton and pork), which contain garlic, black pepper, thyme, coriander, anise, savory and sometimes a touch of paprika.” (thank you, Wikipedia).

There were a lot of people so it took about 30-40 minutes until we got the food; mici, fried potatoes and pui la jar – chicken grilled with garlic and other spices. Beer, of course goes very well with mici so we had the local Ursus.

Mici La Cocosatu Bucuresti

Next time you are in Bucharest, make sure to stop by La Cocosatu restaurant for some amazing mici!