Its always nice to return to sunny Bucharest, wiich is such an elegant place to stroll around, and in particular the charming Old Town. I visited the beautiful church Curtea Veche and next door the former home of Vlad the Impaler, a real nasty guy, and the inspiration for Bram Stokers Dracula.
I had an outstandin lunch special for only 23.5 Lei (about £5.00) 4 courses at the historic Hanu Lui Manuc, with a fine courtyard setting in a building founded by a wealthy Armenia merchant in 1769. Big changes in the city since the Romanian Revolution of 1989. and the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu who along with his wife were shot dead with the photos going global.
The revolution had started in the western city of Timisoara when the police and military had refused to shoot protesters and instead joined them and it became the first none communist city in Romania. The city is the birthplace of Abraham Klein the best international referee EVER, Now in Haifa, Israel. He fled as a child to Holland at the beginning of WW ll and later to Israel..and now age 86. Timisoara will be European City of Culture in 2021.
ACS Poli Timisoara were visiting FC Dinamo Bucharesti in a Liga 1 relegation play-off at Stadion Dinamo, with a 15,000 capacity but only about 1500 fans showed up. I was in the only covered section with chairs behind rows of tables covered in graffiiti, including swastikas. It wasnt much of a match but the Red Dogs finally scored the only goal after 72 minutes. They are the second most successful club after Steau Bucharest who once won the European Cup. The stadium is nicknamed GROAPA (The Pit) as a big hole was dug so that fans walk down not up from ground level. .www.fcdinamo.ro.
Their derby matches are called The Eternal Derby and are now always played at the awesome roofed in Arena Nationale where I watched Romania narrowly beat Armenia 1-0 a year ago in World Cup qualification. . In 1973 FC Dinamo defeated Crusaders of Belfast 11-0 at home, a European Cup record score. The club have a huge six floor headquarters that takes up a block and run many youth teams and other sports including rugby..
Also worth visiting is the Palace of the Parliament, home of the Romanian parliament and the largest, heaviest, most expensive administrative building in the world. It took 1200 architects to design what dictator Ceausescu wanted. It also now has museums and art exhibition spaces, but still 70% is empty..