After we landed, got cash and a SIM card, we caught a taxi at the airport, with the help of a lovely Romanian family doing the same. While our taxi driver didn't speak the best English, he liked to talk, which I appreciated. He shared that in his 10 YEARS of taxi driving, we are the first Americans that have ever been in his cab. He found our interest in visiting Romania quite intriguing.
After our host showed us around new house (aka her apartment), the kids settled in with their electronics and I set off to find us some groceries, as we were all starving. The host had pointed in the direction of a 'grocery store', but once on the street, I had no clue where that direction was. I was also in quite culture shock and kept saying in my head, "this is the most bizarre place I have ever been." It was just a bit overwhelming at first, with all the cars, honking, people staring, broken glass, graffiti and me not having a damn clue where I was going. It's not like one can find a Walmart or a Target or anything even remotely close to what we think of as a grocery store. So I wandered around in search of the elusive grocery store until finally, I saw a man in white pants and pale blue shirt, maybe a medical assistant of some sort, and asked him where I can buy some food. I could tell he didn't totally understand me, and he pointed to some tiny shop. I said, "vegetables...do they have vegetables?" He then pointed to a larger building on the other side and there it was like the Holy Grail, a large room filled with farmer's market style of fruits and vegetables. Oh but wait -- no one can understand me, which only proved to be a problem when I tried to buy lunch meat and cheese, in one of the side shops of the room, and each of them just kept responding with "no". I have no idea if what I was charged, for my fruits and veggies, was legit and honestly, I didn't really care at the time. I was just happy to have some food in hand (four grocery bags actually) and on my way back home to make sandwiches for all.
I then did a bit of research on what was around us and learned that the number one restaurant in all of Bucharest is a half-mile away. Kids had no desire to go walk with me so I set out alone, with the goal of heading in the direction of this restaurant. And I am so incredibly happy I did. Not only did it cure my being overwhelmed, I found the area quite impressive, in a unique and special kind of way. The only way I can describe it is that it is the ultimate mix of historic old all the way through to modern new. You walk past an old building, full of graffiti and broken windows, and then a couple blocks away is the most glorious church you can imagine. In between the two are a few restaurants and a modern office building. Walk a bit farther and there's a beautiful park, beaming with trees and freshly bloomed tulips and children playing everywhere. Walk to the end of the park and there's a homeless man screaming and another sleeping and then another beautiful church. I'm really quite blown away and still taking it all in. I can't wait to explore more tomorrow.
The one thing I could do without is the traffic noise outside our apartment building. They like to honk here.