In 2013, I traveled alone for the first time because I was speaking at a conference in Amsterdam. I remember being an absolute bundle of nerves, afraid to trust myself and anxious about what it would be like to experience a foreign city alone. It turned out that I had nothing to fear, and I have since traveled to many countries by myself (Italy, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Taiwan) for both work and pleasure.
Solo travel has been one of the most fulfilling, liberating, and rewarding things I have ever done, and I would highly recommend anyone going abroad alone at least once. Although I have always been a very independent person, it truly took that first step off of a plane into a foreign city for me realize my capabilities. To state it simply: solo travel has made me a stronger and more confident person.
So, once again, I find myself travelling the world without anyone I know and trust by my side. Conferences and other work-related responsibilities have brought me back to Europe. The first stop: Bucharest, Romania.
Before arriving in Bucharest, I knew very little about the city, its history, or its people. Apparently, I have connections to Romania through my maternal side, but I sadly know very little about my European roots.
Bucharest is the capital and largest city in Romania, and it has a difficult history associated with a communist regime established in 1947. When I had time away from the conference, I made the most of my time by seeing all the sights recommended by various guidebooks and bloggers. These included the Romanian Athenaeum, Lipscani Old Town, and Palace of Parliament.
One of the most interesting places that I visited as part of a walking tour was the Memorial of Rebirth on Revolution Square. On Dec 21, 1989, the Romanian dictator Ceaușescu gave his final speech in what is now Revolution Square. The speech was a pivotal moment in the Romanian Revolution, and it was powerful to be standing in the same place as the brave people who revolted right in front of Ceaușescu’s eyes.
Although there were some interesting historical spots, my most enjoyable moments in Bucharest were spent visiting cafes. Before my trip, I read that Bucharest is known for “limonadă” (lemonades), which are made with all natural ingredients. Indeed, I had some delicious and surprisingly beautiful lemonades on street patios. I was also thrilled to find a cafe that served vegan and vegetarian options (M60) – a saving grace in a city that has heavy emphasis on meat – and a bakery that made the most beautiful and delicious eclairs that I have ever had (French Revolution).
Being candid, I must admit that Bucharest was not my favorite city that I have visited. However, I did not spend enough time in Romania interacting with locals to find out more about the culture, which I’m sure would have helped me to better appreciate and understand the city and its people.
Eat and drink: Artichoke, M60, the Urbanist, French Revolution