(Image courtesy of My Search For Sunshine Tumblr)
Bucharest is a city I’d love to see—and not just because I’d like to peek out from a massive roof of a Communist-era apartment block to imagine (like the young Mircea Cărtărescu) the decay of infrastructure and the proliferation of butterflies among the medieval ruins. The city has come a long way since Mircea’s childhood, in the two decades since the advent of democracy. Bookstores cropping up in the main arteries of the city, a burgeoning Romanian nightlife, al fresco restaurants in the historic district, and a wide range of museums (including the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the open-air National Village Museum) attest to the kind of self-fashioning cultural renaissance Mircea imagined for his unconventional metropolis.
Of all the cultural offerings, I’m most interested in visiting Bucharest’s quirky English-language and world literature bookstores. I begin with Anthony Frost bookstore, located just minutes from the Athenee Palace Hotel, (made famous by Olivia Manning’s The Balkan Trilogy about English ex-pats living in 1930s Bucharest). The shop was started by a trio of Romanian Anglophiles in 2007 and stocks English-language titles about Romania and Bucharest alongside a wide variety of international fiction and nonfiction titles; comics and graphic novels; and art and photography books. (And Archipelago titles!)
(Image courtesy of http://classiq.me/bookshops blog)
I’d also love to visit these lovely-looking shops:
Humanitas Bookshop (located on 120 Calea Victoriei), is on the bottom floor of the Hotel Cismigiu building, and stocks a mix of Romanian and international titles. Well-lit and filled with comfy chairs, Humanitas looks like a gorgeous little shop and boasts an outdoor cafe where the travel-weary drink coffee and peruse their recent purchases.
(Image courtesy of TripAdvisor.com)
Carturesti Bookshop, which has expanded to a few locations in Bucharest and beyond, is a cultural hotspot. Part bookstore, part event space, part cafe, Carturesti sells books, tea, and customized stationery and hosts events, workshops, interviews, and intellectual discussions. I’d love to stop by to get a sense of what’s happening in the community.
(Image courtesy of Tripadvisor.com)
For more on Bucharest’s cultural offerings, including the National Village Museum, the Palace of the Parliament (formerly the Palace of the People), Bucharest’s Arc De’triumph, and the House of the Free Press (pictured below), visit Romanian tourism’s website.
(Image courtesy of the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism and Eugen Mihai)