Bucharest, Romania, A Family Weekend Getaway, Traveling with Kids

Bucharest, Romania – A Family Weekend Getaway

In February it was finally time for a family weekend getaway after our failed trip to Tirana. This time our destination was Bucharest, the capital of Romania. This is a large city with around 1.7 million inhabitants and we were just going to scratch the surface of what there is to see. Traveling with kids is also limiting, but at the same time, it really is amazing to see Little A interacting with the world around her. Romania became her 22nd country and she is only 5 years old so far. For Susann and me this was country number 46, as neither of us had previously been to this part of Europe.

Late Evening Flight from Stockholm Skavsta

Our Wizz Air flight from Stockholm Skavsta Airport was supposed to depart at 20:40 on a Friday evening. We were at the airport in time, but sadly Wizz Air was not able to provide the same accuracy in their commitment.

The boarding of the flight was late and quite chaotic. Fellow passengers were pushing from the back of the queue and it really felt like many did not know how to behave on a flight. It’s quite horrific that a few people harm the image of a people and confirm many of the preconceptions that exist. In addition to pushing, several people were moving around between seats and one even had to go to the toilet to vomit prior to take-off. This is really not behavior that helps when the flight is already delayed. Susann and Little A had been seated a few rows ahead of me, so I could not even spend the time to talk with them.

Once everyone was finally seated the plane needed de-icing and so we waited. And waited. It was snowing outside and I was actually quite surprised about how long we waited on the runway. If anyone knows how long a plane can wait after de-icing, please enlighten us. The 30-minute mark after de-icing had passed before we finally took off, with plenty of snow on the wings. I have really watched too many documentaries about accidents, so there was a small feeling of worry at that time.

Arriving in Bucharest

Fortunately, the take-off went well. We were also lucky to be able to move to an empty row and sit next to each other once we were at cruising height. The flight did go well and we were soon landing at Henri Coandă International Airport. Then we just had to face the challenge of booking an Uber to our hotel. This turned out to be harder than expected. It was difficult to find the pick-up point and also to get a driver. Several drivers were assigned, but after waiting a few minutes they tended to disappear and the app searched for a new driver. It took quite some time before we finally were in a car and on our way to the hotel.

Our plan was to stay at the ibis Styles Bucharest Erbas Hotel in the district of Aviației. A choice that was made due to the saving in cost, but we were satisfied with it during our stay. The time was already 2 am when we finally got ourselves under the covers for a good night’s sleep.

Waking Up Late in Bucharest

After the late arrival, we woke up quite late for our first day in Bucharest. Luckily the hotel served breakfast until 11 am. This is usually the favorite part of traveling for Little A. She really loves large breakfast bufés where she can choose what she wants to eat. It was a similar response this time. Little A ate more during this breakfast than either Susann or I. We really thought that this would be a great start to the day and that we should not need to find a restaurant for lunch too early on.

After breakfast, we headed toward the closest metro station. The Aurel Vlaicu metro station was just a short walk away. But it did take some time to find the entrance. It turned out that the metro stations in Bucharest are not as well-marked as in some other cities. It was a small “M”-sign above a small building that had seen better days. But we did find it and headed to the Piața Unirii metro station in the center of Bucharest.

Our initial plan was to walk around and see what we found. But there were already two needs to take care of. Susann wanted some coffee and Little A was already asking for lunch.

First Exploration of the Romanian Capital

Yes, we were eventually able to explore the center of Bucharest. It all began in Parcul Unirii with the large fountain that at this time of the year was emptied of any water. From these large fountains, along the road Bulevardul Unirii, it was already possible to see the massive Palace of Parliament. This building was ordered by Romania’s former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1984. It was actually not completed until 1997, several years after the fall of Ceaușescu in 1989. It is according to the Guinness World Records the heaviest building in the world. And when standing at the square in front of the palace it is almost impossible to understand its sheer size. It really is huge and it is when you walk along its front and starts to see that it is also stretching even further back than what the first impression tricks you into believing.

Our walk continued to Izvor Park where we found a large playground where Little A enjoyed some time playing. This playground must have been amazing for kids at one time, but we did once more see the sad outcome that is typical for many public places in Bucharest. The playground was in fairly bad shape and filled with graffiti. It looked well-built but was really destroyed. We don’t believe that it is the small kids playing here that have caused the damage. Little A wanted to play some more, but we continued our walk as some parts didn’t feel safe for play.

Our walk took us along the Dâmbovița River towards the Old Town of Bucharest. This is not the Old Town feel you usually find in other cities of this size. Instead, it is a mix of old and new buildings and a few spread-out streets for tourists. We were soon seated at a Turkish restaurant for some lunch. The late lunch turned out to be the end of our first day exploring the center of Bucharest. We were soon on our way back to the metro to take a train toward our hotel.

Playtime and Bar Training

Back at the Aurel Vlaicu Metro Station, we walked directly to the nearby Promenada Shopping Center. We had prior to our trip found out that they had a large indoor play area for kids and we wanted to let Little A have some fun. The play area was a bit smaller than we had expected and was more used as a guarded place for children while parents were shopping. We opted for Susann to stay with Little A while she played and we had a happy but tired girl after about an hour.

Luckily it was now only a short walk back to the hotel and this is where Little A showed her charms. The hotel bar was next to the elevator. So while we waited for the elevator Little A climbed up on a chair and made eye contact with the bartender. It didn’t take long before her charm resulted in a cup of hot chocolate in front of her. It was just to sit down and let her enjoy it. I decided to buy a beer while waiting and Little A soon also charmed the waitress and received a small glass of apple juice as well. This was just one of many signs of how friendly Romanians are, especially toward kids.

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and headed down to the hotel restaurant for dinner to be able to have some food before Little A fell asleep. Something that almost happened while eating.

Extending the Exploration of Bucharest

Our second day in Bucharest began once more with the hotel breakfast and a happy Little A. Even the most simple food seems to be more enjoyable for her while staying at a hotel. But we were soon on our way back to the metro station to head into the center of Bucharest.

This time we only traveled a few stops to the Piața Romană Metro Station. From here we walked towards the Old Town, seeing a few more of the sights in the center of Bucharest. These included the Romanian Athenaeum, the Royal Palace of Bucharest, the Romanian National Museum of Art, and several statues and memorials. We were, however, soon back in the Old Town and once more we were looking for lunch. This time we found an Irish Pub where we enjoyed a small meal.

After lunch, our walk continued and Little A was really brave as she probably had one of her longest walks so far. The walk took us toward Carol Park where we from a distance had noticed the large Nation’s Heroes Memorial. It really was an impressive park with a long walking path toward the memorial. This was formerly the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but that was moved in 1958. It was replaced by this Mausoleum of the Communist Heroes. The communists were, however, exhumed in 1991 and replaced by remains of soldiers who died during the First World War.

After enjoying the park and the sudden calm when getting away from the many streets filled with traffic, we were soon on our way toward the Tineretului Metro Station. We were heading back to the hotel as we had an early flight the next day. But we took a short detour via the Promenada Shopping Center to have some Greek fast food before going to bed.

Good Bye Romania

We took a taxi from the hotel early in the morning. It had been a nice weekend in Bucharest, but we looked forward to getting back home. It was nice to get a picture of Romania, a country that might not have the best reputation. One thing is for sure, the country has plenty of friendly people and even though a city like Bucharest seems to be struggling with a lot of things, there are still many nice sights and opportunities for development. We are certain that there is a lot more to explore in Romania.

Considering the chaos on our flight to Bucharest, we were a bit suspicious of how the flight back home would be. To our surprise the flight this time was completely different. Calm, organized, and a lot more younger travelers. It was interesting to see the difference.

We are now back home and we are open to returning to Romania for new trips. Bucharest might not be our first choice for a destination the next time, but you never know where you end up.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Stella

    We visited in 2008 when the whole place resembled a building site, but the fountains were on. I found it fascinating. It had a feel of being somewhere very different back then.

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