- Sue Stipek
First Impressions of Romania - Bucharest and accessibility
Our trip to Bucharest was uneventful - just a long day of travel. We took a cab from the airport as it was after 7pm by the time we got through customs and retrieved our bags. It would be dark soon enough and the challenge of finding a hotel on a street with a strange name in an unfamiliar city could be difficult. As it was the cab dropped us about a half block from the hotel on a street that was all torn-up. A lot of Bucharest is in a state of repair - more so than new construction though there is some of that as well. We had a time finding the street number of the hotel but as we stood looking at a building and looking confused, the desk clerk came out asking if we were looking for the Hotel Christina - signage was not good. Thankfully, the staff was great and very helpful.
First thing that hit me about the place turned out to be my fault. In planning I try to reserve hotels at least for the first nights where we are going to stay. And since our bodies are not as nimble as they used to be and I my knees are still recovering from Lyme Disease - I look for places to stay with an elevator or ground level accommodations. However, I need to add to my search criteria that the elevator needs to be from the ground floor and hopefully the reception is on the ground floor as well. The Hotel Christina is neither. The reception is up a few steps and the elevator is up a half flight from there. Then the breakfast room is down a half flight from the reception area. So the hotel is not very accessible. There is a ramp from the street to the reception but it is too steep and narrow for anything but dragging up suitcases. Accessibility becomes more important the older one gets.
The Hotel is very nice but the neighborhood is a little shabby depending on which direction you go. It is a few blocks walk in any direction to public transportation. The staff and amenities, however, are great. You get a welcome treat of a cheese plate and a glass of Romanian wine. The rooms are clean and most have a small balcony. The bed is nice and the head and foot can be raised. There is a gratis massage chair in the lobby, a small cafe, arrangements with a spa and gym. Bath amenities are from Yves Rocher. Then the breakfast is excellent. Served buffet-style, there is a large choice including hot items.
Public transport in Bucharest is by Metro, bus, and trams. There is information on the Metro but it is not as easy to find info on the trams and buses. You can print off a tram or bus map from online resources - so I suggest that you do that before you go - unless you prefer using your cellphone for navigation.
Another planning note - Monday and Tuesday many museums are closed in most cities. We should have planned to travel on these days so that we would have been able to go to Museums on our first days. As it was, the museums that we wanted to see were closed on Tuesday.
More thoughts in my next blog.