Read, Write, Run, Roam

Transitions in Bucharest, Romania

Many people seem to think that Balkan cities have been stagnant since times of war or strife. Nothing could be further from the truth. To travel through Balkan cities is to see and feel transition. Fractured infrastructure leads to new highways. Hapsburg-era apartment buildings crumble next to shiny, high-rise offices. It’s not always pretty, but it is always interesting.

Romania is a perfect example of this transition. The country joined the EU in 2007 but it remains among the poorest countries in Europe. Sooty baroque buildings sit by communist-era monstrosities. Upon exiting the clean and reliable metro station by Buchaest’s “Champs Elysees,” the sidewalk was broken into large, uneven chunks.

Yet Romanian transitions aren’t always black-and-white, as this photo will attest. I spotted this combination of new and old just off the show-stopping beauty of Calea Victoriei. I’m not sure if the builder couldn’t afford to build a contiguous pop-up or if the whole building was designed as a testament to Romania’s past and future. In a town full of transitions, this one stood out more than most. As I said, it’s not always pretty, but it is interesting.


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