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Friday, December 30, 2011

Home via Amsterdam. Life at Schiphol.

Our trip back home from Bucharest took us through Amsterdam again, where we spent several hours between flights at Schiphol airport.  I've blogged about Schiphol a couple of times before.  We probably have logged more time there than at any other airprort in the world.  There is always something new to see or do.

We exited our KLM flight from Bucharest and headed into the main lobby near the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol - a small art museum in the airport lobby between concourse E and concourse F.  There are usually some comfortable chairs in that area.

Say, what's this?


Now there's an idea.  A living room with a fireplace.  Let's take a closer look:

Too bad that most of the chairs are taken.

On the other side of that screen is another room.  That one has a baby grand piano.

The sign above the keyboard is very welcoming.

While we waited, one young boy came along to play a couple of tunes.  He was followed by another boy of slightly better accomplishment.  Finally, someone came along with even more flair and began a lengthy program.

Now you might have noticed a coffin or iron-lung like device behind the piano.  That is the water massager that has been a feature of the area for quite a few years.  As the piano played, the massager accompanied with its unique sounds and passers-by mostly just kept moving except for a few of us who always find there is something special about a trip through Schiphol.

Bucharest, Romania. It's About Time!

It's getting close to the time we will be leaving Minnesota for a warmer area, and I still haven't finished with our visit to Romania.  I had better catch up.

Edward, our guide and driver for the previous ten or so days provided a driving tour of Bucharest and then a walking tour of the older part of the city.  After that, we were on our own for another two days.

Bucharest is an attractive European city combining some historic elements, some modern and a diminishing number of boxy structures from the Communist era of the 1950s and 60s.  In some ways, the tree-lined boulevards and monuments are reminiscent of Paris.

One building that doesn't fit neatly into any category is the Palace of the Parliament.

A fourteen-story building measuring about 800 feet on each side, this building is home to both houses of the Romanian Parliament and numerous government offices.  Its construction was begun in 1983 and was largely complete at about the time of the fall of the Ceausescu government in 1989.  It is open for public tours Monday through Thursday.  Unfortunately, we were in Bucharest Friday through Sunday.

There are plenty of trees, fountains and monuments in the area:
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The cultural center of Bucharest surrounds two almost adjacent areas, Victory Square and Revolution Square.

A large National Art Museum with a remarkable collection of Medieval Art can be found in this area as well as the Central University Library shown below and the previously blogged Athenium concert hall, visible at the left edge of this picture.

Romanian's are very proud of their composer, George Enescu.  Famous as a violinist and conductor as well, during the 1920s and 30s, his former home in Bucharest is now a museum.  Try this YouTube link if you would like to listen to Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody.

About a mile away from this area in "Old Bucharest," a large area is restricted to pedestrians.  Shops, street performers, sidewalk cafes and other restaurants provide an entertaining break from the serious sightseeing.
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And, in Bucharest, we enjoyed the best food of the trip.  Prices were about one-third of what we had experienced in Greece and Italy at the beginning of the year. 
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Romania gets two definite "thumbs up" from Linda and Tom.