Since I just came back from vacation, I’ll break the wavefunction physics series for one post and share my impressions from my 2 week vacation in
The two cities I visited were Paris
I grew up in
Romania, and I
know the city very well, but this was my first visit to Paris.
Bucharest used to be called “The
little Paris”, but I think the
comparison works both ways and without fear of being wrong I can call Paris
“The large Bucharest”. Despite the carefully
projected identity as the city of fashion, Paris
is a city which shares its core identity with Bucharest
and I felt right at home in it. It still had several surprises in store for me.
Like any first time tourist there, I visited the big attractions and I marveled at the opulent display of art and former glory at the usual spots: Louvre,
and Notre Dame. I found the usual description of French people as rude
completely false, but the “smelly” description still applies. This is because,
despite the summer heat, most Parisians wore heavy formal suites for social
status sake. Only tourist wore short pants and dressed appropriately to avoid
For some odd reasons, people in small restaurants in
love to eat outside right on the sidewalk looking at the passing traffic. After
the first failure to attract attention, you will learn that you have to seat
yourself. Also you will discover that each and every dish is of an exquisite
quality and any humble restaurant in Paris
will beat any fancy American restaurant by several orders of magnitude in taste.
Also all restaurants are packed at
and I wonder if anybody is really working in this city. (The daily oddball strikes
did not improve this perception either. There were strikes at the , at the airport, etc.) Eiffel
The public toilets were a joke and
has some fancy one with a self clean cycle and here lies the problem: a full cycle
(after each usage) take like 10 minutes, and a 3 person waiting line can be a big
problem if you are in a hurry. Given the man-made shortage problem of public toilets,
there is no wonder that about half the city smells of urine given the relative large
number of homeless people.
After a week in
it was time to go to Bucharest.
Before the global economic crisis, Romania,
and Bucharest in particular enjoyed
huge growth and this was the place to make big money. After the subprime
mortgage bubble burst, the city had only organic growth and the local general
perception was that people got poorer and there was a newfound emphasis on competition and efficiency. I was pleasantly surprised by the local metro
system which is I think recently became one of the best in the world.
During communist years, the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu built a huge palace (the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon) and its opulence can match any other palace including
Romanian’s Parliament is now housed there but there is still plenty left for tourists
I took the opportunity to visit the palace, but the visiting tours are grossly mismanaged and I had the misfortune to have as an official guide a self-hating street smart young guy who “explained” the
revolution of 1989 in a grotesque conspiracy theory. (I can state this with confidence because I
participated myself in the 89 events and I am intimately familiar to what
happened then.) To top the mismanagement, all toilets in this large palace were
missing the toilet paper and the casual explanation is that the cleaning crew steals them. In this palace NATO summits took place and I am left to wonder if the
building management took steps to prevent embarrassing situations, or the heads
of states were told to bring their own toilet paper at the meetings.
Since the politicians in the Romanian Parliament are the one in charge of the
palace now, your can correctly guess that they are all crooks.