Hello Budapest, Romania!

It’s so great to be here in Budapest…

I’m in Romania today to give a lecture to a university group on using Yahoo! Boss for building search applications. Imagine my embarrassment when I noticed the PowerPoint was filled with Budapest instead of Bucharest… arggggh. I feel like a nincompoop.

I tried to prepare for the trip by watching Romanian films. Unfortunately the selection on Netflix was a depressing story about two college women arranging for a illegal abortion during the communist era, a documentary about prostitution at the train station, and a vignette of peasant life in the country before the revolution. Somehow Netflix overlooked the happy go-lucky, feel good movie of the Romanian century.

First impressions of Bucharest

  • Some stretches reminded me of the area between Seattle and Canada, minus the mountains.
  • There are lots of stray dogs and my hotel room has a blurry painting of an angry dog running at me.
  • Everyone speaks perfect English, as well as 5 other languages. Americans speak English and Loud English.
  • There’s a big mixture of architecture. I’ve seen abandoned shacks, Victorian, Romanesque, Classicism, Communist Block, Las Vegas Glitz, and Hollywood ala Sunset and Vine.
  • While everyone tells me there’s no vegetarian food and to look for Indian restaurants, I had a great meal at an old communist soup kitchen type place. I had a sauerkraut/potato soup, polenta, marinated mushrooms, and a rice/vegetable dish. It wasn’t fancy, but tasted great, was inexpensive, and great fun. I’d go back in a minute.
  • There are way too many cars. It reminds me of the song “nobody walks in L.A.” by the Missing Persons.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of the city tomorrow and the art museums on Saturday. Now, if I could only stop calling it Budapest…

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My little chunk of the Paris ghetto

under the tracks in the morningFrommer’s has such a lovely description of where I live in Paris.

12th Arrondissement (Bois de Vincennes/Gare de Lyon) Very few out-of-towners came here until a French chef opened a restaurant called Au Trou Gascon. The 12th’s major attraction remains the Bois de Vincennes, sprawling on the eastern periphery of Paris. This park is a longtime favorite of French families who enjoy its zoos and museums, its royal châteaux and boating lakes, and its Parc Floral de Paris, a celebrated flower garden boasting springtime rhododendrons and autumn dahlias. Venture into the dreary Gare de Lyon for Le Train Bleu, 20 bd. Diderot (tel. 01-43-43-09-06), in the Gare de Lyon, 12e, a restaurant whose ceiling frescoes and Art Nouveau decor are national artistic treasures; the food is good, too. The 12th, once a depressing urban wasteland, has been singled out for budgetary resuscitation and is beginning to sport new housing, shops, gardens, and restaurants. Many will occupy the site of the former Reuilly rail tracks.
Neighborhoods in Brief