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Your Bucharest tour begins in University Square. Absorb all that sociopolitical history before taking a short walk to Strada Batistei, formerly known as the 'St Germain' of Bucharest and the site of the old American embassy. Our first stop will be an exquisite turn-of-the-century townhouse, lovingly restored but with the sense of elegant decay so typical of Bucharest. Under trees and vines, with grapes dangling overhead, you’ll sample a selection of Romanian entrees (gustari), including goat cheese, cured meat, spring onions, homemade bread, and locally brewed craft beers, and you can relax and absorb the atmosphere of this recherché little hideaway.
To help us digest all those treats, we’ll then make our way to the Armenian quarter. The Armenians were a vibrant and successful merchant community in the 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to their valuable role as 'middlemen' for the Ottomans. Based around the Armenian church, their mahalla (neighbourhood) features a spectacular variety of architectural styles from all over Europe and the Ottoman empire: Classical, Belle Époque, Modernist, New-Romanian, Balkanic. Crossing into the old Jewish quarter, we’ll then stop for the most famous street-food, covrigi, before heading on to one of the most beautiful and peaceful areas of the city: Mantuleasa.
After exploring 19th-century and inter-war Bucharest, we’ll stop for an ice-cold Romanian weissbier, in a space that can only be described as art-gallery-meets-bookstore-meets-summer garden, before experiencing the quintessential Bucharest public transport: a short ride on a tram. Rattling along the famous Mosilor Street, you’ll enter into Communist Bucharest, with its regimented blocks and housing projects, as you make your way to the famous Obor Market.
Stop for a drink of traditional Romanian palinca (brandy) to prepare the palate. Next, we’ll enter the indoor market to sample a range of Romanian cheeses: cow, sheep, and goat. After that, it’s on to the vegetable market, amid a riot of colours and textures, to taste and photograph the fresh local produce.
Probably the most famous and typical of Romanian foods — at least for Romanians — is called mici, which translates as 'little.' A kind of skinless sausage, these are served with mustard and cold beer. And finally, because your gastronomic adventure would not be complete without a dessert, we’ll grab a sweet Wallachian doughnut before sending you happily on your way home.