Of close suburbs and distant apartment buildings

Today we tried to once again escape the city centre. Taking the tram we reached our first stop: Rahova in the south-west of Bucharest. Located just around the corner of the parliament, the district is still seen as a suburb by the people of Bucharest – even though it’s just 20 minutes away from Piața Unirii and the city centre on foot, actually starting right behind the “House of the People” and stretching to the borders of the city in the South.

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Rahova is a residential district that had been described to us as a sort of  low-income neighbourhood – not as bad as Ferentari, which some of our interview partners had called “the ghetto of Bucharest” – but still quite different from the city centre. On our way into the area, looking out the tram window, we noticed huge apartment buildings lining the main street of the area. Getting off the tram close to the border of the city, we were greeted by many little shops, men watching the streets, and single family houses. We decided to get coffee and explore the area.

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The neighbourhood offers both pretty houses and neglected buildings but due to caring people who are gardening and running their businesses Rahova leaves a good impression on us. After strolling around for a while, we were getting closer to the big apartment blocks around the main street. Once again we noticed some in-between spaces crowded with cars and fenced green spots, most, if not all of them unused because of the fences and because they were full of trash.

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Arriving at the other side of the district, the part which is closest to the ‘House of the People’ we stopped by ‘The Ark’ for lunch, a building that was supposed to be a hub for cultural industries and attract the middle class but didn’t quite take off. Right vis-à-vis is a famous flower market that is an interesting contrast to this hipster-ish building: On this side of the street there were many people on the streets, having barbecues, cutting flowers, selling handcrafts, and someone, all of a sudden, threw a bottle out of a window of a run-down building.

On our way to our next stop we passed by the construction site of the Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral, blocking our way to the metro and planned to be even bigger than Ceaușescu’s “House of the People” next to it.

This was also the moment we realised that the “House of the People” acts as an enormous barrier to the city centre because when we tried to reach the next metro stop, Parcul Izvor, to get to our second district of the day, we had to go all around it and the construction site of the cathedral to get there.

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Finally arriving at the beautiful metro station of Titan, we discovered the district of the same name. Huge apartment buildings, benches that people were using, green spaces and life on the streets leave a good impression on us, even better than in Rahova. This neighbourhood, to us, seemed different from the others, we had the impression that people were really using public space. Unfortunately we did not have that much time to go deeper into the district, because we had an appointment with Vlad Odobescu, an investigative journalist.

We arrived at Piața Victoriei right when it was getting dark, so we decided to go to a nearby café in the Museum of the Romanian Peasant. Quickly we got into a conversation about protests, public space and parks. After getting some dinner we called it a day and, being quite tired from a long day, headed back to the hostel.

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“Building” of the day: Building in the back of the parliament

Insider joke of the day: Us: ”Ohhh there’s a sweet doggy” Dog: “Bark, bark, bark, grrrrr”

GIF of the day: #neighbourhood #lifeonthestreets #titan

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