this past weekend i spent 36 hours exploring romania's capital with some of my favourite internet mavens. the "bangarang babes" (a war cry once used at a blogging event that just stuck as our whatsapp group chat name, and now a word that elicits fear in the hearts of nobody) and i met through blogging, but over the years have grown to be some of each other's best friends, biggest champions, and closest allies in this big, bad world of "content creation".
we also all really like travelling, and cheap things, and when those two things collided in the form of £30 black friday ryanair return flights to bucharest, a new moniker was born: #bucharang.
katy, charlie and i bunked in with charley and leanne the night before, then were met by milly and aj in the wee hours of saturday morning at an oversubscribed stansted airport coach station in stratford, ready to take on our first (of many, i hope), 36 hour lads holiday in eastern europe. except none of us are lads, and we were really only going there for cheap food, wine, and to finally take a holiday with people who don't get annoyed when you stop to take all the photos of colourful houses, or when you ask them to "just walk up and down against that cool wall while i casually take 12 photos of you doing that" every half an hour or so.
it was a super early start, coupled with a little pre-flight insomnia, so that first morning was rough for everyone. plus: who knew romania was so far away? the flight itself was almost four hours, and local time is two hours ahead of the uk, so by the time we landed and got to the accommodation, it was already way after lunch - and we'd been up since four a.m. we was tiiiiired, and hungry, so our first mission was to find some food.
naturally, instead we got terribly distracted by street art and pretty, ruined buildings, until the hunger got so unbearable that we fell into distrikt 42 in the old town - a steam punk, experimental, hipster bar where we managed to secure seven main meals, three starters, and two rounds of drinks each for the tidy sum of £13 each. we looked around at each other, with that knowing look of "i think we took out too much money guys..."
it was quite late in the afternoon by that point, so once we were done consuming all the food in romania, we headed back to the apartment via the carrefour on the way, and laden with bottles of fizz and snacks to keep us going, we spent the night playing heads up, drinking bubbles in our pjs, and laughing until we cried at the ridiculous revelations that game always brings up. by 10pm we were absolutely knackered, so tapped out for an early night and the promise of brunch the next day. as far as first days in a new city goes, that one was definitely one of the best.
the following morning was surprisingly hangover free, and even more surprising was the fact that seven girls managed to get up, showered and out of the apartment in just over an hour. how? the lure of food was strong. we'd walked past the urbanist the previous day, and saw a few of our favourite words emblazoned on their windows: brunch and coffee; two words that will draw a blogger in at the worst of times, and the fact that the restaurant was covered in fairy lights literally added to the draw. so, in we went.
and it wasn't until we'd piled in and unlayered ourselves that we realised what the romanian interpretation of "brunch" is exactly: coffee and cake, or sandwiches and smoothies. i mean, and that's fine, but.. it's not brunch, so don't pretend it is. we were gutted. but seeing as we were already there, and desperate for coffee, we stayed. and that's when i ordered and devoured the tastiest flavoured coffee i've ever had. salted caramel and the exact right temperature to drink, i was in heaven. until it was gone, and then i was sad. soon after, we bundled back out and headed out in search of food.
the second and third attempts at brunch didn't bode any better, and the starvation and fury were fantastic motivators for "sightseeing" so we kept walking until we found the one thing that leanne was desperate to see while in bucharest: the xenophon street stairs, that on pinterest looked so damn incredible that we were right there with her in wanting to see them. but once we got there, we felt like we were in our very own "pinterest vs reality" meme. they just... were a little lacking. but the sun was shining, the weather was incredible, and we were living our best lives. albeit, hungry lives.
we headed back to the old town after that, by way of a doughnut shop - naturally, before splitting up for a few different activities before dinner. the charlies headed off to the outlet malls for some retail therapy, and the architecture fanatics who remained carried on with a self-guided walking tour app and suuuper strong coffees for the stroll. old town in the sunshine was absolutely gorgeous, although the later realisation that the outlet mall had zara items in there for as little as four quid was a little hard to bear.
we later regrouped at hanul lui manuc, bucharest's oldest inn. the restaurant was giiiiant, and essentially takes up and entire block with its spacious beer garden and outdoor seating, and offers an incredible range of traditional romanian dishes; we were clever enough to make a reservation the day before, and by the time we got there we were all starving and looking forward to spending our remaining lei. we'd all taken roughly £90 with us, but it was about twice as much as we needed for two days.
that night at dinner we ordered three courses each and three bottles of wine and we still didn't break £30 each. the food was hearty, the wine was sweet, and the dessert was waaay too much to handle - it was the perfect way to end one of the best weekends i've had abroad in a long time. i wasn't sure how our first group trip would go, and considering a bunch of us are heading to japan later in the year, this was going to be a test. but, it was actually fantastic. being around a group of people who totally understand you and wholly encourage your creativity is incredible, and if you get the chance to have those sorts of experiences, i totally urge you to.