We slept like logs the first night in Bucharest and took our time before moving off in the morning. The hotel staff were very helpful and gave us a map. We made our way to the river and sat outside and had a light lunch at a nice little Italian cafe and then caught the underground into the centre of the city. It was hot but not as humid as in Istanbul. Most of the women were very stylishly dressed which was a contrast to a lot of the local women in Istanbul who in the heat of the day were wearing trenchcoats all done up over their clothes as well as their headscarves. It made us feel hot just looking at them.

The Romanian language being latin based and some words very similar to Italian made it easy to get around with Maurice and his schoolboy’s latin and me with my Italian. We had breakfast the second day with a lovely couple from Madrid. She was Romanian but had lived most of her life in Madrid and he was Spanish. We all had a great discussion – half Italian, part Spanish and a bit of English and Maurice’s google translate which spoke the words in Spanish. He was a policeman in Madrid.

All around the streets in the suburban area in which we stayed and also around the city there was a lot of recontruction in progress of old and historic buildings going on that was the result they told us of money from the EU which didn’t seem to have dried up yet. The old part of the city is particularly interesting and the old churches are beautiful and most played lovely music which created a wonderful atmosphere. There are some very grand buildings which have been or are in the process of being restored. Bucharest also has it’s own Arc de Triomphe but that can only be climbed for some reason on a few days of the year.

We had a fantastic meal at a Hungarian restaurant in the old part of the city which is full of cafes and restaurants. As we both love eggplant we have had every country’s version of baba ghanoush – in Dubai it was called Murtabal and in Istanbul and Romania they refer to it as Eggplant salad but it is all the same thing. They have delicious pretzel like breads in Bucharest that are sold by the side of the road and in the bakeries and they are very tasty. We have been walking a lot but I think we have put on a few extra grams as we can’t resist trying some of the tasty food in the different countries – that is part of the wonderful thing about travel – for us anyway.

The clothing is also very reasonable and very stylish and there are many boutiques around the city. I have bought a couple of things and so has Maurice and we have made a pact that if we buy something we get rid of something apart from a nice dress that I bought in Dubai and a couple of the gifts that Salim’s family gave me that Alan kindly offered to take back to Perth sometime. After living in the same meagre selection of clothing for 3months some of the older clothes were becoming a bit shabby and we didn’t want to arrive at the relatives in a few weeks looking like hobos. We saw a great T-shirt on a girl that stated “more style than cash” which probably applies to us.

One thing that struck us and we were warned about was to be careful of our belongings as there were gypsies around and there were the usual professional beggars in the city centre but not many. We did see a few gypsies but the security presence and police around everywhere – in the parks and in every shop and on the street must keep them at bay.

There are posters everywhere for erotic massage and apparently there are many tours to Romania for this purpose but we didn’t see this seedy side of the city. We only saw one girl injecting the ankle of a male friend on a street corner in the middle of the city. I don’t think he was a diabetic.

We met some lovely people the next day. I have had trouble with my Nokia phone and walking around the city we saw a sign saying “phone house” so we ventured up to the 5th floor to ask where we could take the phone. “John” was so helpful and said that he only imported phones but he rang the Nokia care centre and wrote out the address and gave us his phone number in case we had a problem. He also told us the way the taxi should take us and told us how much it should cost. We then found a very nice taxi driver who took us to the shop and gave us a commentary of all the historical sites on the way and didn’t overcharge us.

Then for 53lei (about $14) the very helpful guy at Nokia got the Australian programme and downloaded it onto my phone. Meanwhile we went off exploring the neighbourhood and had a good coffee. We sms’d John thanking him for his assistance.

By the time we got back to the hotel after a late lunch we were a bit hot and sticky and we had already checked out of the hotel so we asked if we could pay and have a shower. The receptionist told us to go ahead and wouldn’t charge us. Unbelievable and all on Friday the 13th.

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