When I arrive at the airport of Bucharest I am completely lost.

I was so busy in Serbia I forgot to arrange anything. I have no clue where to go!

Ever had that?

I know there is an old centre so I jump on the first bus I see. Hoping for the best…

Not a bad guess, as it turns out…

It is surprisingly lively there. Lots of bars, restaurants. There is even a room left in a hostel right in the centre and I have the best room with a view of the iconic historic building of the central bank.

And what to do?

Well, I am a tourist after all…

A free walking tour it is.The historic city centre is really wonderful and holds a lot of hidden surprises. At night you can go drinking, surrendering yourself to the bustling nightlife. Dancing salsa. Eating the local food (not that impressed).

 

The last day I go to the Palace of the People.

Romania used to be socialistic. As always, the result was a dictator. Ceaușescu, who added his fair share of socialistic craziness under the pretence of the common good. The man was utterly diluted…

 

He decided Romania needed the biggest building in the world. He first inquired what the biggest Boulevard was in the world. The Champs-Élysées. It needed to be bigger than that. Entire churches were replaced or simply “bulldozered”. Other historic buildings were destroyed.

All resources of the country were deployed for the project. The result was that the standard of living plummeted in such dramatic fashion that even before the building was finished the people revolted and Ceaușescu was put to dead after a flash trial.

The new government made a calculation and it turned out that it would cost more to demolish the building than to finish it. So it was finished. Although even currently there are huge parts that are not finished.

 

The building is absolutely enormous. It contains 1.100 rooms. The floor area is 340.000 square meters. The building was supposed to hold the entire government and a place for the dictator to live. There is even a huge nuclear bunker underneath that reaches 92 meters deep.

The tour passed the most famous rooms. Huge chandeliers. Carpets on the wall. Endless hallways of marble (all building materials are local, by the way). There is a ballroom that would fit a basketball court.

There are secret passageways…

During the tour we walk 1,5 KM but according to the guide we have only seen 5% of the building (!).

AS of now, the parliament is still using this building. The central halls are used for receptions and special occasions.

Other than that the building is empty…

 

In a free market such a project would never have been created. Simply because there is no use for it and nobody would be willing to pay for it. Only authoritarian and insane governments undertake these kinds of projects.

It is a fine example how government policies go right against the benefit of the people it pretends to represent.

Every government policy is a People Palace on its own. Of course smaller. And likely with clearer benefits. But they are forced upon the public. The benefit of some, paid for by others.

The most ironic part is that the biggest building cannot be found in Romania. It is the Pentagon. In the capital of the (former) bastion of capitalism.

 

Last Night In Bucharest

My last night I go to a Milonga. A Milonga?

Yes…

This is how a Tango night is called. I have been dancing tango for 1.5 years now. And although it is not an easy dance, I am finally confident enough now to venture into a new venue in a strange city.

You see… It is not your regular night out.

There is etiquette. There are rules to follow. You cannot just barge in and grab a girl. You cannot be drunk. You have to stay sharp…

The usual setting is a dance floor surrounded by chairs. People dance. Closed eyes. Passionate.

Around it people observe. When you want to dance you have to make eye contact with the woman you fancy. When she looks away, she is not interested. But when her eyes meet yours, it is an invitation…

You will get one change to show the crowd what you are made of. Are you up for the challenge?

 

The crowd is mature. The atmosphere sophisticated. The women well dressed. The cacophony of non-verbal communication is deafening.

Not all women are asked to dance. Some sitting the entire night frustrated on the side. But they still keep up appearances, desperately longing for when the moment comes. That moment she will feel that exciting intimate connection and can forget about the daily sorrows…

…IF it comes…

 

Lucky me I walk I am seated sit right next to a gorgeous girl from Moldova with whom I engage in a very pleasant conversation. She moved to Bucharest to pursue her career as an actress. Like a lot of women here in Romania she wears glasses. It makes her look “smart and sophisticated”.

I have a weakness for artistic women…

 

The conversation flows nicely. We laugh and speak out on our dreams. We dance. She tells me that she could probably lead better than I do. Auch…

What’s that? Yes, I guess I still have a lot to learn. I conclude that it is a better idea to take her to a salsa bar.

I know that there at least I will be in charge…

 

And so we fade into the Romanian night…