Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Bucharest

I've  been to Bucharest before and I chose to come back for 2 reasons. Firstly I was scammed by the taxi driver and I wanted to undo the bad memory that brought. Secondly a number of new parks had popped up since my last visit and I wanted to check them out. Having been here before I was more than happy to use the metro on this trip.

Firstly the taxi system at the airport has changed and it's perfect. Upon exiting the baggage area look for the yellow computer terminals. On there you're offered up to 4 taxi companies with their rates. You choose the one you want and the terminal will print out the cab number of the taxi that'll pick you up and an ETA of when it'll arrive. Then you simply exit the arrival area and wait outside for your taxi to arrive. It might be a good idea to get some change before you do this. The drivers typically don't carry change for the big notes you're likely to get from the currency exchange.

This was my hotel for Bucharest. It's the Crowne Plaza located in the north of the city within walking distance of the Hard Rock at Herastrau Park, where I went for dinner upon landing. This was the morning after where it was apparent I wasn't going to be as lucky with the weather as I was in Bucharest. The nearest metro station is Aviatorilor around 3km to the south at the main entrance to Herstrau Park. I'd chosen to go to the next one Plata Victoriei as it was a nicer walk.

This is the Romexpo, the city's main convention centre. There weren't any events on of note on this time.

This is the National Museum, a great outdoor museum containing recreations of housing from all the different areas of Romania. They do have a home made kids ferris wheel if you want that. 

The Romanian Arcul de Triumpf (you can translate that) is a copy of the Paris one. On this occasion it was undergoing some renovation. 

This main road that runs to into the city centre has some great buildings, most of them are embassies. 

Nice little wallpaper making reference to corporate greed again.

The Geological Museum. When you get here you're almost at the plaza...

The Plaza is huge and with traffic looks like an urban demolition derby. The first metro entrance was close but the ticket office was closed. So I had to walk around to the other side and enter from that end. The tickets are really cheap. A single journey is 1 Lei, a return 2 Lei, and a one day unlimited ticket 6 Lei. Not many people buy the one day as the metro is typically used for commuting so only the 2 journey ticket is needed. To ask for a one day just say "O Zi" 

The first metro journey took me to Brancoveanu which is at the southern end of Parc Tineretului. This park is huge and there is a station with the same name at the north end but its then a trek through the park to get to the rides. 

First impression was that this park had had some major investment. When I came in 2010 it was just a park with 3 rides. Now it had theming and I could already see new rides such as the tower ride peeking over the wall.

The weather wasn't the best and I was out early again but I was happy to spend quite a bit of time in the drizzle checking this place out. 

This was the coaster that I rode last time, but even this has had a name change and new paint job.

A rather low lying spin ride. Usually these are taller.


I was really impressed with the shop chalets that they'd added although there were quite blatant in copying Disney and Hanna Barbera.




The second coaster in the park was a mine train ride decked with more unlicensed pictures of famous cartoon characters. The translations of some these were amusing.

Not visible on the satellite was even more expansion including this spin ride, which are quite common in Europe.


and for the counters I found a new powered dragon ride. The train was a  bit different to those that you usually see. The station lacked any livery and the ride remains nameless.


I spy an Extreme ride.

...with a UK reg plate. I'm wondering if these have been bought from the UK and retired here.



These were quite sinister paint jobs. It's the eyes I think.


These on the other hand were beautiful. Quite a lot of them made reference to reading which would encourage kids to do the same thing. 

The Sun wheel overlooks a hillside on which even more had been added.

A water ride, like a rapid but with boats you control. Perhaps water-based go-karts is better. On seeing this I was instantly reminded of a similar ride in Sicily where they'd given it the name "Aquabum".


More dodgy pilfering.


Could it be any more blatant?

In fact lets just take all the characters and put them on the same mural. As naughty as it is, I did actually think they'd done a good job.


More statues around the park. 



A view of the exterior of the park, which now has the name Oraselul Copilar, which I believe translates to Childrens World. 

For those that get off at the wrong stop and enter the park from the north you do get to see this amazing building. Did I go to the wrong station? Nope, I was checking that there were no rides at the north end of the park. Last time I was here some were packing up.

Second metro destination was Politehnica in the west of the city, which is the nearest station to the AFI Cotroceni mall, home to the Zorky's indoor amusement park. To get your bearings on exiting head to the nearest intersection and head south. You'll eventually see this on the right hand side, which is the Imax

From the road you're walking down there are two entrances. The first will put you in the NE corner of the mall. The second the SE corner. I entered at the first. 

In the centre of the mall is a huge open space with waterfalls and ice rink. This looks like a perfect place for a ride, unfortunately the ride isn't here. You need to head to the NW corner of the mall. 



This ride has a great location jutting out into the mall over the shoppers below.

The ride is noticeably expensive, compared to the other rides I'd seen. You buy a card that you have to charge up. Fortunately the park speak English and were able to take useless ol' me through the process. They were of course interested to know why a fully grown adult was wanting to ride the childrens ride but were impressed with the hobby when I explained it to them.


A short walk west of the mall is another new amusement park. Terra Park popped up in 2011 and has a number of decent rides, with a few appropriate to adults. There are two coasters; one is a kiddy coaster, the other is a spinning mouse. There may be more, I never got to find out. The park was closed and the 3 security guards were unhappy with me walking past the closed signs (which I couldn't read) and got even more irate when I raised the camera asking if I could take pics. Perhaps I'd stumbled in on the 3 of them doing something untowards, I don't know but I know when I'm not welcome and beat a hasty retreat.

I did consider walking around the back of the park to see if I could sneak photos but when I saw the state of the area behind the park I changed my mind. The positive in not getting the park is that I have plans to come back a third time to visit some of the landmarks outside of Bucharest. At least now I'll have some coasters that I can pick up too. 


The rest of the day was spent trying to photograph the city but I gave up when the visibility showed no signs of improving. That in the background is the 2nd largest building in the world; the old Ceaucescu palace. However with the city not wanting to play with my camera I decided I was done and it was time to go back to the hotel. Which I did trying another route and messing up. I ended up walking a load of mud into the hotel having run across the main railway line out of the city when the GPS messed up.

So now I have good memories of the city and I can't wait to come back. 

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