Of gypsies, nettles and mountains of marble
Our last night in Romania and we have just arrived in Bucarest where the Romanians’ nemesis the dictator Ceaucescu was finally dethroned in 1989.
What a total Prick he was. He proclaimed that no person could have more than one small apartment for a family or one single room for a single person and all else was appropriated and sold on by the Secretariat to other people who were crammed and wedged into these houses, homes and apartments. So – when Ceaucescu and his horrible wife were assassinated in 1989 the original owners naturally wanted back what was stolen from them and the new owners said no as they too had paid for the property so there have been legal disputes ever since and these houses and apartments and homes have had to remain unoccupied ever since.
So there are these crumbling ruins which the gypsies squat in that were once noble mansions pre Commo -revolution. Couple that with the black and grey housing commissions Ceaucescu forced most people into and you have an idea of what parts of Bucarest are like.
Yet we also visited the largest Mall (like an immense Chadstone) in Europe too today.
And tonight we are in a Hilton PALACE in the main square which is almost rivalling Ceaucescu’s Palace whilst just up the road gypsies sell nettles on the side of the road to put in your soup and in peak hour traffic jammed with cars one sees the odd horse and cart plodding along through it all.
Ceaucescu’s wife Elena fancied herself as an academic (having only completed grade 2 in some peasant school) so she had all these scientists write Chemistry books and she passed them off as her own. She gave herself many degrees and yet at a conference where she spoke everyone snickered because she called water by its scientific name as H-20 she was so dumb.
Bucharest is so beautiful in spots. It is like Paris in its architecture.
There are wide boulevards, fountains, caryatids, sculptures…. everything a girl could want in a sophisticated city, obviously all hailing from a bygone era of Monarchs and wealth well before Ceaucescu and the other dictator Gheorghe Gheorghie Dev or something…… I forget his name
We had our press conference this morning where they all asked us our opinions of Romania and then they took us to the Peoples’ Palace that the Bastard Ceaucescu built.
It was built by the people, funded by the People but not FOR the people. It is truly immense. After the Pentagon it is the largest building in the world. 700 architects designed it. There is 200,000 sq m of carpet and 1 million cubic metres of Transylvanian marble used in it. The size of a small mountain’s worth.
There is a room inside the same dimensions as a football field (Nadia Comenisce got married in it)
Happily, Ceaucescu was assassinated before he ever got to use it. The building labour came from the Labour Camps where teachers, professors and political dissidents were imprisoned. The boulevard outside has 42 hand-carved fountains with superb mosaics down the middle of it. Apparently when Ceau did an inspection of the boulevard apartments he ordered built for his lackeys there was just not enough money to finish them in time so they simply built the facades and behind was thin air.
The mad bastard didn’t know the difference and was immensely pleased with his achievement. They have since been finished and the boulevard with fountains does look spectacular.
Ceaucescu’s monumental palace – now called the Palace of Parliament is nowadays used for the Parliament and receptions etc and costs 8 million euros per annum to maintain but the guided tours and receptions pay for this.
It is truly amazing in size. There are curtains sewn of silver and gold by nuns that weigh 250 kilos (the curtains – not the Nuns).
Ceaucescu wanted silk tapestries but as Romania does not make silk he had silk farms built for that purpose to provide the silkworms. He demanded nothing be made that was not from Romania.
He had the 2 massive pure marble grand staircases built 4 times mind you as he and his wife wanted to walk down at the same time facing each other on opposite sides of the immense reception hall without looking down at the steps as they descended. Each time they were built for him he was not happy and they ripped them out and had to rebuild them at a cost of millions each time!
He destroyed 30,000 buildings in Bucarest to build this palace and its surrounds.
There are 96 m down of underground bunkers, carports, shops, storage, supplies etc for him and 2,500 of his nutter mates to live for 10 years after a nuclear war.
Mad as a Hatter.
Get this – because Ceaucescu abolished religion and worship, we saw a dear little church today that had actually been removed by the devout on rolled logs and hidden from view between two huge apartment buildings in the middle of Bucarest!
The bloody bell ringer started clanging the 6 original bells for me when I got to the top. Nice of him but I am sure I have lost my lower range of hearing as a result.
It is such a land of contrast and change. It is remarkable. It is a land lost in time.
Much of the time I can’t believe it is 2012 here.
I recommend you come asap to witness this as I cannot see it staying in this time warp for too long. The younger generation is determined to Westernise-up and then it will all change.
You must come here and see this beautiful contrast of a country. I’m so disappointed I don’t have longer here. The Romanians are so welcoming and warm and so passionate about us being in their country. They treat us like superstars.
It is so cheap and such good value for what you get. Beautiful Hilton hotels for a 1/4 of the price of Paris. I have been so spoilt and fêted that I am now totally deluded and believe I am indeed a renowned celebrity.
Must dash – am in foyer of Hilton and about to go to airport – shall weep buckets upon departure
La Revedere Caterina Cominisce xxxx