On Sunday morning this week I went on a walking tour of my Bucharest neighborhood where I’ve lived for the past 10+ summers to see if I could see it in a way that might interest you.
The title image is of one of the main shopping streets on Piața Dorobanți.
My Bucharest Neighborhood: The Church
Believe it or not, an orthodox church is the building most familiar to me.
Because it’s right outside my bedroom window. Here’s my view from above:
Here’s the view from the ground:
But why is it so memorable?
Because orthodox churches have what is called a toaca, which is a horizontal board (sometimes housed in its own structure, as is the case with “my” church) and which is beaten:
When I first moved in I thought, “Oh, how nice my bedroom window looks onto a quiet church yard.” Uh … that was before I was forcefully reminded that the toaca is beaten on Sunday mornings and other holy times, and it is LOUD.
Listen to this example
Because of my experience in Romania, I actually knew what I was looking at in Ethiopia when we visited the monastery on Debre Miriam Island, Behir Dar. I spied a toaca!
My Bucharest Neighborhood: The Immediate Streets and Buildings
Here’s my bloc (apartment building):
The address is on the main drag, namely Calea Dorobanților. But I enter it on this side street:
Across Calea Dorobanților is a well-known high school:
Across the way from my front door on the corner is:
Berezka, as the sign says, specializes in Russian delicacies. So, naturally this is where I buy my vodka because I’m sure the product is not botezat ‘baptized.’ In some Romanian stores, even major chains, you might buy spirits that have been watered down, aka ‘baptized’. How do you know? You put the bottle in the freezer and the stuff gets slushy.
I know the Russians aren’t going to mess with their vodka.
So that’s my immediate holy trinity: the church, the high school, Berezka.
My Bucharest Neighborhood: Shopping
Toward the piața is where I do most of my food shopping, namely at Mega Image:
Sometimes I simply marvel at how much English Romanians are confronted with. On the next corner after Mega, there’s this:
Speaking of English, right outside the entrance to “my” Mega is this:
When I’m not musing about the influx of English, I just look around. In the middle of the piața is a park:
Surrounding the park are upscale restaurants and shops, such as this one:
Fancy florists abound:
When I say a florist is ‘fancy’ I mean it:
My neighborhood has tons of restaurants on side streets. There is, for instance, Frodisiac, where I was pickpocketed last year:
I like the side street Puțul lui Zamfir:
There are aesthetic clinics galore:
And clothing boutiques:
Puțul lui Zamfir leads straight to Piața Floreasca:
The name of this shop has always puzzled me:
Not far from Ethic Wine is Smile, There’s Coffee:
Catty-corner across from Fish House is this burger joint. It’s new and looks to be a pop-up:
And now I’m just a stone’s throw from the back end (the non-Calea Dorobanților end) of Marcel Andreescu. I’ve lead you in a square.
My Bucharest Neighborhood: A Bit of History
So, what is a dorobanț (plural dorobanți)? It’s an old-fashioned word for jandarm ‘policeman’ and it is of Hungarian origin. The more modern jandarm is from French.
Calea Dorobanților was named in 1878 for dorobanții who distinguished themselves in the war of Independence.
I could come up with only this image of doboranții in the 6th Regiment of Mihai Viteazul from 1933-1947:
See: All My Romania Blogs
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen