Bucharest, Greece and Rome

Going back almost a year, I had been wanting to spend time sleeping on a beach in Greece. After spending weeks in rainy Paris waiting for my state medical examination, I wanted this so much more.

Once the exam was complete, I found flying to Naxos Island incredibly expensive. Almost 500€ one way.  I wanted to get there, but I wasn’t going to swallow almost twice what my two week stay was costing.  After digging around I found Ryanair had a twice weekly flight from Bucharest to Athens. (Thanks rome2rio.com!) Including checked luggage cost, this was 90€. I found a flight to Bucharest for 130€ including my checked luggage. Add in a ferry ticket on Bluestar from Athens to Naxos for 36€ and it came out MUCH cheaper than the 500€.

Sure, I had many days in between flights and ferry, but I don’t view the hostel stays as part of the travel cost.  I would have paid that somewhere at some point. On top of that, I was happy to have time in the ’transit’ cities to explore.

I was even more happy, as I have a friend in Bucharest I have been wanting to meet up with.  Sadly, he was in Vancouver for work. 🙁 He did drop some excellent advice on me.  A route from piata (like ‘square’ or ‘plaza’ in Romanian) to piata which gave me a real feel for the city.  (Hit me up if you want this route.)

Here are a few of the photos I took walking around. Sadly the weather wasn’t the greatest, so most of the pictures I took didn’t work out so well.

The child of the 80s in me loved this building. As someone who grew up during the Cold War, it was surreal seeing these Brutalist style buildings with soft drink adverts on the roof.

Above is the Palace of Parliament.  Read the Wikipedia page. There are some interesting points to this building.

Of course a long day of walking calls for a local beer. 🙂

One thing that caught me off guard was that Romania, while in the European Union, is not part of the Schengen Agreement. I had to get stamped out and back in on the way to Greece. No issues, just a little time consuming.

All said and done, Bucharest has been one of my favourite European cities so far.  It’s still gritty, not too expensive, and unbelievably pretty. I feel I have only just scratched the surface. I want to go back for sure.

I wasn’t ready for Greece.  What I mean is, I was so focused on beach life, I wasn’t thinking about the history, food and architecture here.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking, with one exception. The first night I was in Athens, the place I was staying had a roof top bar with a view of the Acropolis.  That night a lightening storm rolled through the city.  I drank beer, chatted with new friends and watched the Acropolis light up as lightening raced across the sky behind it.

Ancient Agora of Athens

GYROS! Man, I loved these things. They were around 2€ so I lived off them where I could. I miss these.

Temple of Zeus in Athens

This was my view the first night in Naxos while eating dinner.

Apollo Temple over looking Naxos city.

Kouros of Apollonas

This is the exact moment when I had my “I should buy a boat” moment.  Seriously, I should buy a boat.

I knew what I was getting into with Rome. I loved living on pizza and gelato for like 5 days. It was pretty cheap in the University district I was staying in. So cheap, I couldn’t cook for cheaper.

One thing I didn’t realize was that I would be there for the Pride Parade. That was so much fun.

The Colosseum

Spanish Steps.  I saw this in Roman Holiday and wanted to go see them.  Apparently this movie is why they are famous.

Side note: GOOD MOVIE! I liked this movie so much, I had listed it in Matt’s Movies you may have missed

Funny story. We found out that drinking on the Spanish Steps is not allowed. The police officers were very cool and said, “You can go to the bottom of the steps and drink at the fountain. Just not on the steps.” So, we did that.

Years ago I was watching The Layover’s Rome episode.  Anthony Bourdain mention Bonci Pizzarium as the best pizza in Rome. While I haven’t tried every slice in Rome, this was head and shoulders above everything else I tried.  Top to bottom: Margahrita, Butterkäse and Anchovies, and Beef Tripe.  I don’t like Anchovies or Tripe, but they were the strangest things on the menu. They were ALL really good!  The plain Margahrita is always my favourite pizza though.

We followed the parade listening the to music and watching the spectacle. Every few blocks the parade would stop for a bit. When the parade stopped, everyone ran into pizza shops, markets, etc and grabbed a beer or used the head. Back out into the sunshine and back to partying.

The parade ended not far from the Colosseum.  After that we headed to Gay Street and partied all night.  This made for a VERY rough flight the next morning, but it was TOTALLY worth it.

With all said and done, after Greece and then Rome, I think I need to take a little break from looking at columns for a while. 🙂