|Today's adventure was the National Village Museum.
The Village Museum is an outdoor history museum. They collected homes from throughout Romania and moved them to this site just north of Bucharest. Most of the homes were from the 18th and 19th centuries. (This is similar to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, where they moved housed to form a museum.)
I started my journey today by taking the subway to the “Palace of the Parliament”. As I noted yesterday, this is the largest building in Europe and the 2nd largest in the world (2nd only to the Pentagon). I asked at the front desk of my hotel how to get there. Shortly after, another guest also asked how to get there. So, we decided to join forces in our search. The four of them were from Turkey (which is near Romania). We found the Metro station and then, with just a little effort, found the entrance for tours of the Palace.
Just as there are sections of the White House (in Washington) that are only used for special occasions and official state visits, the entire first floor of the Palace of the Parliament is unused most of the time. This section is open to tourists and is, perhaps, the most popular stop in Bucharest for tourists. I signed up for the “Basic” tour and a few add-ons. The building was designed during the communist era but was not completed until after the revolution in 1989. Since much of the original concept for the building was to demonstrate the power of the communist party, it was designed to be awe-inspiring. These designs were drastically reduced after the revolution. The result is a huge edifice that is very sparsely decorated, giving an overall feeling of despair. Just another enormous concrete building.
The rooms on the first floor are mostly conference rooms and meeting rooms. Each room is gigantic with high roofs. I'm told that the second floor is similar and is used for parliament meetings. The rooms above the second floor are mostly used for office space and are not open to the tour. The building is 10 stories above ground and an undisclosed number of stories below ground. (Rumor has it that there are more than 10 stories below ground, since it was built during the cold war.) Although it's a popular tour, there really wasn't much to see.
The big adventure for me today was the National Village Museum. I took the Metro to the stop where it should be but couldn't find it. There were no signs about it and no visual evidence. As I sat on a park bench trying to decide what to do, I was approached by a man in his 20s who seemed to be asking me for directions. Seeing my perplexed look, he switched to English and asked if I knew where the Village Museum was. I explained to him that I, too, was looking for it. As I had done earlier in the day, I joined this group and we searched for it together. One of them was able to get the directions on his cell phone and off we went.
I love open air museums and visit them whenever and wherever I can. This was no exception. There were dozens of buildings for all over Romania. But, only a few were open to see inside. It's possible that more of them are open in the summer, since it's now November. I found the homes to be very typical of similar homes that I have seen in other countries. The difference is that they were similar to much older homes in America. What was described as a 19th century home in Romania was very similar to exhibits of 18th century homes in America. The building housing my condo now was built around 1850 yet is far more modern in construction than the 1930s houses in this museum. The Industrial Revolution was underway in Rhode Island but it was not to reach Romania for many years.
Still it was fascinating to see all of the building gathered in this one place from all around Romania. I would recommend it to anyone as a must-see attraction.
Fortunately, I had decided to bring my walking stick today. The village paths were mostly made from paving stones. In addition, the weather was wet, not raining but thick fog. This made the trails uneven and slippery. There were stairs throughout the village. With the added stability of the walking stick, these were easy to navigate. I've also noticed that, when they see an old man with a cane, everyone is extra nice. I even had someone on the metro stand up and offering me his seat. I'm not sure that's ever happened to me in the U. S.. There are a few advantages to being old in a country where almost everyone is young!