Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rediscovering Bucharest - Eclectic Living

I came to re-discover Bucharest a while ago. My perceptions used to be filled with stereotypes and prejudgements about the capital city as being a place where souls go numb and everything turns mechanically into money making machines. It's no place to raise your children, I was told. They are all robotic... I was loaded with such ideas when these started to dry out during my latest visits there, in front of a fascinating richness that would slowly come out to light.

Nowhere have I seen a more magical mixture of times and cultures as in Bucharest these days! Here I am sitting in the heart of the city in a fancy four-star hotel room (for which I would have paid four times more in Paris) having state-of-the-art tech and interior design (and yes, they served me camembert cheese and red wine on arrival) - only the cry of a street seller of soap as if coming down from the 19th century time breaks the grand contemporary air of the street. Absolutely surreal!

The place abounds in highly modern buildings and Belle Epoque streets, people range from stylish cosmopolites to rural village characters - so it's this very mixture of spacial and temporal dimentions that cut through time and place that makes Bucharest a uniquely fantastic city - but beware! you need a good friend to show you round the hot spots!

Handmade products come to Life

Not far away from Ancuta's Inn, in the very heart of Moldova, any traveller who crosses this fairytale land can come across traditional handmakers - just like the ones I've met in Barticesti village (Neamt county). The summer was very hot and the local people welcomed us in the coolness of their village house with great hospitality. I couldn't help admiring the hundreds of objects on display - spoons, baskets, pots, pads, various cooking utensils - all carefully handmade of wood, straw and various other natural raw materials. The owners told us this tradition comes down from many generations and you have to be suitably ''cut'' in order to be able to do it. However, they were not doing it for money, even though they had taken part in a Traditional Products exhibition in Bruxelles at the European Parliament. I left the place with many beautiful and useful tools (at bargain prices) that I've been using ever since in my kitchen. I feel safe with such simply gifted kind-hearted people around and their beautiful story fills up my kitchen everytime I spend time there.