Back home. Cannot believe that I spent yesterday in Bucharest, in fact mostly enjoyed it once I got outside the train station. Bucharest actually has a large number of beautiful buildings, not all of which could have belonged to the Ceausescus.
The villas along Embassy Row on Blvd Dacia are especially lovely, although there is one scary corner containing the Sudanese Embassy, the Egyptian Embassy, and the Iraqi Embassy. The Egyptians and the Iraqis have armed soldiers outside, and the Iraqis have a display case with faded pictures of Saddam, and another with pictures of deformed babies under the heading “Effects of Chemical Warfare.” Bucharest seems to have a wider range of architecture, facilities, cultural events, and shopping than smaller cities do, making it a real capital. Sofia is not a real capital, just a big town, and I skipped it this time. (Proof that it is not a real capital: no in your pocket guide. Not that Helsinki has one either.)
Bucharest also had water. For the second week in Blago, water pressure was very low and we had a “regime” whereby each half of the city could get water at an acceptable pressure for 12 hours a day, and no water at all for the other 12 hours. I was told that this was a fairly soft regime; sometimes each neighborhood has water for only 4 hours a day. The public squares of Blago are built around fountains, which naturally, were all dry, giving the town a desert-like feel. But in Bucharest, the fountains on Ceausescu’s grand boulevard were gushing rainbows of water, and children were swimming in them.