Sunday, 3 June 2018

Bucharest, Romania (DoubleTree by Hilton, Unirii Square)

After napping after breakfast and a shower I was ready to visit the Palace of Parliament. I’m even prepared to order a car from Uber to drive me there. I don’t know why I’ve been reluctant to use Uber. So many people use Uber rather than a taxi. (One reference stated that there are 40 million monthly active riders.) But for me, today is the day to give it a try. I’m exhausted from walking in the heat for the past few days and look forward to being driven.

After a quick tutorial from YouTube, and a little Uber help from the hotel’s front desk, I was ready to try Uber. From my phone I entered the hotel’s location and then the location of the Palace of Parliament and it was done. I could then see that a driver had been assigned and, from the map on my phone, the driver was headed in my direction. The car showed up and I got in, then we were on our way. When we arrived at the destination I thanked the driver and got out of the car. My credit card was charged for the distance traveled and the Uber application gave me an option to leave a tip and any comments. It was very easy.

In the visitor’s center, it was easy to buy a ticket. Though it was three step process. First you order a ticket for the tour, then you go to another place to pay for the ticket, who then pointed to the #3 on the wall to wait for the tour to start. Our group had about 25 people and we first went through security before we joined the guide in a very large room. As mentioned in yesterday’s posting, a good portion of the building is empty. Some pictures are on the walls, but that is about it.

We walked from room to room. Mostly large meeting rooms of different shapes and decorations.  Great pride was taken to ensure that all materials used were from Romania. We heard about the constant revisions by former President Nicolae Ceausescu after his weekly Saturday visits. Our guide said that 700 architects were engaged for the building. The former president never did have a chance to use the building. He and his wife, after the revolution, were executed on Christmas Day 1989. There were discussions to demolish the building, but in the end it was decided to complete the building to a certain point and make it available to the Romanian government. The goal was to have all government offices located in the building but some offices refused to relocate there.

The building is actively used today. Many meetings are conducted within the building. The ball room (the building’s largest room) was used by Nadia Comaneci (Romanian gold metal gymnast) for her wedding reception. Mostly, this room is used for graduation parties and the annual New Year’s Eve ball.

One of the last stops was the balcony that faced the open square in front of the building. (Similar to Buckingham Palace.) Many rock groups use this platform when performing. The only person to use the balcony as former President Nicolae Ceausescu had intended, as a place to address the Romanian people, was Michael Jackson.

After the tour I used Uber to return to the hotel. I was still tired from last night. Though I did make more reservations for future travel visits. I also watched the last of The Crown.

Tomorrow I am visiting “Dracula’s Castle”. (This is how it is advertised.) Also advertised as the home of Vlad the Impaler. I will need to be ready to join the tour at 7:15 a.m. I’m looking forward to leaving the city and to see the Romanian countryside.

 

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

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