Our last day in country was totally free, just what the doctor ordered. We didn’t even get down to breakfast until after 10:00 and then spent an entire hour grazing. The pastries are made in-house daily and definitely worth a second or third pass. The omelet guy had an attitude and we were surrounded by people speaking languages we did not recognize.
Our whole goal for the day was to see if we could snag tickets to tour the Parliament Palace, the heaviest as well as the most expensive administrative building in the world and the second largest office building in the world, behind the Pentagon. Our handsome, friendly doorman, Marcel, offered to call and see what our chances were and low and behold, he said, if we could get there by 12:30 we had a shot at getting a couple of the tickets not released on the internet. Thankfully he advised us to run to the room for our passports or our efforts would have been totally in vain. We racewalked the mile to the gate, ran in, and got tickets.
Marble is the name of the game, tons and tons of beautiful white marble. The other outstanding features are the elaborate wooden doors, chandeliers of all shapes and sizes, and beautiful ceilings. By order of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the president/dictator of a communist Romania at the time, construction of the palace began in 1984 after tens of thousands of people were displaced to free up the acres and acres it took for the massive building and its grounds. Only one third of the 1,100 rooms are actually being used currently. What must it cost to heat and cool the place?
Ceaușescu had grand plans for his capital city. In front of the Parliament Palace he built a huge plaza bordered on two sides by beautiful multistoried, semi-circular buildings. Between the two building is one end of a boulevard built to be longer than Paris’ Champs-Élysées. Ceaușescu and his wife were found guilty of genocide and executed in December of 1989 and never had the chance to wave at the adoring crowds from the central balcony overlooking the plaza and long boulevard. Michael Jackson, however, did, as did we.
After our tour of the Parliament Palace we walked to the old part of the city and strolled around with stops here and there to peek into small churches and courtyards. Cafes and restaurants were a beehive of activity. We eventually made our way back to the hotel by a route that took us past the construction site of what will soon be People’s Salvation Cathedral, the tallest and largest Orthodox Cathedral in the world. It is a stunner and situated almost next door to the Parliament Palace, a decision that would no doubt had pissed off Ceaușescu.
For dinner we decided on pizza (delicious!) at one of the hotel restaurants. On our way up to the room to prep for our transfer to the airport tomorrow morning we ran into Rose and Peter and heard about their unusual day. Their new son-in-law happens to be Romanian, so they spent the afternoon with his non-English speaking parents and delivered the crockpot as a gift from their son.
If tomorrow goes as planned, we’ll head to the airport with a boxed breakfast around 5:00 a.m. for our 8:30 British Air flight home. With good luck, nice weather, and no surprises we should walk in the door at home about 21 hours after waking up.
… Parting Bits and Bobs …
Romania is roughly the size of Michigan and has a population of 21 million.
The tallest wooden church in the world, and the second tallest wooden structure in Europe, is in northwestern Romania.
Romania’s Scărișoara Glacier is the second largest underground glacier in Europe.
It has been in existence for more than 3,500 years.
The minimum wage is 500 euros and the average wage is 700 euros a month after tax.
The currency is the Romanian Leu.
$1.00 = 5 leu
Romanians enjoy free healthcare, pensions, and education through high school.