despre ce se mănîncă în București - și cu ce se mănîncă Bucureștiul


The Quiet Irishman 6: China!

Buna Bucuresti din nou!!

Aceasta fost mult timp de cand vorbim. Sunt inca de invatare Romana!! 🙂

Sper ca ti inteleg!!

Sunt inca in China acum, am fost aici de la September!

Nu sunt prea mult de oameni vorbeste in limba Romana aici – numei meu MP3!!!

I know that this section should be really only about Bucharest from people in Bucharest however I’ll always keep in touch with the Hungry Mole for when I return and also to maybe give some updates on how things are going for an ex-Romanian-Irish traveller!!

Well I have to say that although it’s difficult without any Romanian people around I’m still persisting with trying to learn more Romanian! Not so easy in China, it is a little unusual for an Irish guy to be in China learning Romanian, however I shall continue while I can.

I’m in a city called Foshan which is about 2 hours drive from Hong Kong, it’s quite a large city with about 6 million people (bigger than all of Ireland haha) and right beside another city with 10 million people, Guangzhou, so you can imagine it’s pretty busy.

Foshan is very much an industrial type of city while Guangzhou is more for tourists so there are very few western faces at all in the city, this usually leads to a lot of people having a good long look at you when you walk down the street, takes a bit of getting used to; I remember it was much easier to be anonymous and relaxed in Bucharest….. until I opened my mouth of course haha, you can’t hide an Irish accent in Romania!!!!

I’m sure it’s beginning to get cold back in Bucharest right now, I do miss the idea of some snow seeing as it’s really like an Irish summer here in China right now, it will get a little colder soon but not like Bucharest – I’m sure the temperature has dropped quite a lot and that there’s not so many people enjoying coffees at 12 or 1 AM on Saturday night in the old town!!

It was almost this time last year when I went to Bucharest first so after being in Romania for almost a year I hoped I would be better able to speak and understand the language but it really is about practise – I have been using a couple of linguistic web sites to help improve my language skills – one site is called “LiveMocha” – I’m not sure if anyone is aware of it but it seems pretty good to me, I’ve been using it for only about a week now but I have to say that it’s good because it helps you speaking, writing and learning etc with different methods and as it covers a lot of different languages of course anyone who wants to work on their English or any other language may also fine it useful, I’d be interested in hearing what people might think about it.

Well anyone who has been reading Simply Bucharest will know not only of my fondness for travelling but also for the food and drink you get along the way – I still miss very much being able to have some Mici or Sarmale washed down with a 1 or 5 palincas 🙂 especially as it is very different to the cuisine in China, I know everyone has tasted Chinese food but the biggest surprise for me was how different Chinese food in the west is to actual real Chinese food in Asia, it’s pretty much a different type of food altogether; yes there is rice and noodles and soups but the preparation, how it’s served and how it’s eaten is really very unique to here; Chinese food in the west is exactly that western Chinese food!!! I do like the food here but you certainly have to become used to the culture and traditions here, you only use your hands to hold the chopsticks, very rarely using them on the food if at all, you don’t have a knife so you use your teeth to cut, yep, I’m sure there are some people reading this who’ve eaten Chinese food alright without this experience but I can only tell you what I’ve seen and experienced here!!

The range of food is huge also; the general feeling is here that when it comes to food that if it grows or lives you can eat it… so you can expect pretty much anything on the menu from plant roots to chickens feet – honestly, there are no limits. It takes some getting used to but right now I’m looking forward to getting home for some steak and chips haha.

I did try and track down something that might represent the equivalent to Romania’s Palinca here in China, funnily enough there is a drink here that is probably the closest you will get which is called Mao Tai – it’s not really a Brandy but is referred to as a type of wine, even though it is about 60% alcohol 🙂 ….. I’ve tried it a few times, it’s very nice as an aperitif, you just have to know when to stop lol, when it stops becoming an aperitif and starts to become a session of “Gam Bay’s” (Bottoms up or Knock it back) then you can probably forget about the next day!!….. worth a try though!!

I do recommend for anyone who is coming here to plan well in advance for any place you want to visit, access is pretty easy by train etc but literally the size of the country makes travelling around China the same as travelling around Europe or the States – I know it’s probably an obvious statement when you think of the size of it but it can be forgotten that it can take you up to 5 hours to fly the length of China!! … so in short take  a good look at where Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong are, if you take a slow train from Hong Kong to Beijing it will take you over 24 hours travel!!! Of course when they get the bullet train fully up and running things will get faster and better but it’s not fully operational right now.

I do hope to see more of China if I do get back here in the future, not so easy when you’re working as well so maybe in the future 🙂

Ok well I guess I could call this section Simply China but it’s definitely too big to be simple and certainly I would need to be here for much longer and travel a lot more to be able to give any real insight into living here but I hope it gives just a little taste!!

My regards and happy Christmas to all reading with continued success and long life to the Simply Bucharest site, it’s very good and very informative and of course thanks to the Hungry Mole 🙂 – pe curand!!!

La revedere pentru acum si ne vedem mai tarziu!!!

Pa Pa,

The Quiet Irish Guy (in China)

am rămas fără Irlandez

… trebuia să se-ntîmple odată şi-o dată; dar s-a-ntîmplat mai repede decît crezusem. Dave s-a întors acasă. Venise pentru un proiect – şi fiindcă l-a terminat, a plecat. I-a plăcut aici şi pentru că nu s-ar fi supărat defel să mai stea, noi l-am învăţat de bine: i-am arătat cum să tragă de timp,  cum să pară incompetent, cum să ceară amînări – a luat toate astea ca pe nişte glume şi şi-a văzut conştiincios de treabă; poate, cel mult, s-a molipsit de o pauză de masă mai lungă cu vreo cinci-zece minute, din cînd în cînd…

Vestea bună este că o să ne mai scrie. Ar trebui să fie interesant: următorul lui loc de muncă va fi în China.

Ultima ştire de la el am primit-o din Machu Pichu (cum intri, pe dreapta) – Dave e în vacanţă.

The Quiet Irishman 5: la munte şi la mare

Hi All,

First of all apologies for the long delay in updating the Quiet Irishman blog! It’s been very busy in work but I guess I’m not much of a writer either :-)) The upside is I’ve managed to see a lot of places in the meantime here in Romania including outside Bucharest so it’s been interesting. I know that Simply Bucharest is of course really a Bucharest web site but I think I’ll try and break the mould a little bit and share some of what I’ve seen in Romania.

Well since I’ve been in touch last I’ve had an opportunity to get to the Transfăgărăşan road, Sibiu, Sinaia, Constanţa, Bran, Poenari… all the touristy spots I guess but then again I am a tourist 🙂 of sorts!

After being here for almost 8 months now I have tried to get hold of the language a bit better also, I’ve certainly gained the appreciation of how difficult it is and that as with all languages the only way to really learn it is through speaking it; so with the help and patience of my colleagues in work and the tolerant locals in shops etc where I try out as much Romanian as I can I’ve got a little better at it, the biggest problem for me is still trying to understand the language when it’s being spoken by Native Romanians, it almost becomes a different language to the one I’m learning through the speed and dialect but I refuse to give up and for as long as I remain I will persevere! Most people I have to say especially the younger generation do support me quite a lot in my attempts, it’s easy to dismiss it and say “just speak in English, I understand English” but the majority of people are patient enough (or probably amused enough lol) to sit it out and hear what I’ve got to (try and) say! Taxi drivers are pretty good too, I know they usually get a tough rap but when it comes to understanding my quasi-Romanian/English.

Anyway back to some of my travels; rather than giving you the tourist guide all I should really say is that there is a huge amount to see in Romania and because in my view it’s one of the countries in Europe that’s held onto it’s language and culture without becoming overly globalised or “Euro-ised” whilst still developing modern cites and a modern society etc that it’s worth getting to!

The best way I found to get a round to see as much as I could was by car so I rented a car a couple of times! I’ve not tried the trains yet although I’ve been told they are good for getting there quickly and well I guess not everyone wants to drive in a new country especially if its left hand drive on the right hand side of the road, wow…. I’m not sure if I was more of a danger to others or felt I was in danger myself but you really have to be on top of things, drives show no mercy and if you’re in the way then get out…. fast, haha, without being overly critical some of the roads especially in the country do contribute to this on the weekend with a lot of travellers and tourists and not so many motorways but after a while you become accustomed to things and just go with it, even if sometimes you get lost of flashing lights and horns beeping…. lol, damn tourists, not sure what that is in Romanian but I should know it at this stage 🙂 Briefly though if I was to summarise some of what I’ve seen, I think Poenari is spectacular, it’s advertised less than Bran but if you ask me has more to offer with the whole mystique and history that surrounds it.

The Transfăgărăşan road speaks for itself and anyone who gets near Romania should make a point of driving it; would love to get back there in the winter before they close off the tunnel, now that would be a challenge.

Constanţa was nice to visit too, beach had a bit of seaweed but still plenty of places and room for swimming, the town was really nice too but very much like Braşov in my view, almost impossible to find your way round haha, ok maybe if I’m being honest I probably should have done more homework about the area and maybe asked a few more people directions but difficult roads to get round in and not great signs so I learned quick, find out exactly where you need to go and how to get round there before you go!! A lesson for me!!!

Something I though was really great to see were the stork nests up on the telegraph poles in a lot of the small villages along the roads around Braşov and on the way over to Constanţa, they’re probably in a lot more places around Romania but they’re really postcard kind of pictures; great to see that the Storks themselves are happy to set up in a village and that the villages or townspeople can live there without affecting them. Most of the locals seemed to take it pretty much for granted and paid little or no attention to them but I think something that is really unique, amazing to see for tourists like myself who don’t normally get that close to them and something really worth making sure you don’t loose!

I’ve talked way too much about the food already in the past but I have to say that if and when I move on, I absolutely intend on ensuring I have a Palinca supply to source when I need and that I have the recipe’s for both Sarmale and Mici :-)) …. enough said.

Well back to Bucharest which I’m supposed to be talking about, I took the opportunity to go and see the Ireland under 19 football team playing against Spain over in Chiajna; nice stadium and easy to get to, Ireland were whipped 5-0 but getting to the semi’s was good in itself I guess.

I’ve continued to try and get as familiar as I can with the city so that I know where I’m going which I’m pretty much happy I have at this stage. I’ve noticed that as we’ve gotten further into the summer that the old city and the cafes and bars have begun to extend out into further areas around town which is good in terms of options and choice.

One of my old enemies which are Mosquito’s (Ţânţar as I’ve learned out of necessity) have started to become more obvious, I guess with the heat although I have to say there’s never been much humidity here which is great, much more tolerable. Anyway, the “mossies” are out in force so for anyone travelling here keep it in mind! Don’t seem to bother the locals here for some reason so maybe it’s just me haha, anyway, keep it in mind.

Ok definitely going on too much here so I’ll wrap up, I’ve added a couple of pictures from the trips I’ve taken as well, maybe better to just show it rather than all the above dialogue 🙂 all the best and see you next time.

QI.  🙂

The Quiet Irishman 4: planuri…

I’ve been experiencing something like Irish weather for the last week except for the heat which has been a different experience to the previous few weeks!

I think this is when Bucharest really seems to come to life when the sun comes out 🙂 there are so many little markets and stalls set up where you can buy gifts are just sit and have a coffee! Really enjoyable but of course make sure you’re back inside before 4:30 when the storms come haha!! I’m sure it’ll clear up soon; I think the storms will have gone back to Ireland by next weekend 🙂

For the past couple of months I’ve been trying my hand at learning some Romanian, now I’m sure a lot of people will laugh when they read this knowing that it is not very easy to learn and definitely is not something that you pick up over a few months, but I still want to at least give it a shot!

The biggest difficulty (other than the grammar of course) is the speed at which people speak at, which is the same in most countries but does seem particularly difficult here; even if I do understand some of the words being spoken I think it’s another level of difficulty just picking up the sentence and then trying to make sense of it; but I know it’s not easy and will take a lot of time so I’ll keep persevering 🙂 Any suggest as to hints or suggestions on how to understand the language a little easier are welcome, except of course getting a translator 🙂 I’ll have to of course attempt a word or two in Romanian over the next few weeks in my installments so don’t be too critical, ok!! 🙂 … very much a beginner!!!

Having spent a few months in Bucharest I hope to travel to some of the places outside Bucharest as I know there’s a lot more to Romania than Bucharest alone, the plan is to hire a car and head for the Mountains first and see what I meet along the way! The main areas I’d like to get to visit are of course the Carpathian Mountains & Transilvania and then to visit some of the local villages and towns around there. There is always the immediate attraction of Transilvania which it seems most Romanians are bored hearing about from Tourists so I won’t mention too much about Vlad however it still is a major attraction for tourists like me so I will have to go there, I couldn’t spend time in Romania without going to see the castles and be a tourist for the weekend 🙂 (Especially with the connection to Ireland with Bram Stoker being from Dublin) There are lots of places I know along the coast also that serve as great tourist attractions especially along the black sea however I expect I’ll need more than a weekend to get over and experience that!

I’m keeping an eye out for other possibilities and places to visit; what I’ve always found is that some of the best places to visit are places that are known more to locals and less advertised in the tourist magazines and websites, so any suggestions are welcome! 🙂

I’m sure there’s also a lot of local recipes, foods and drinks that are local to certain specific areas in rural Romania which I hope I can experience, I’ve managed to try some of the foods of course in Bucharest like Sarmale and Mici which were incredible and I’m sure there’s a lot more I can try along the way; also with a little Palinca of course or perhaps just some of the domestic coffee to start with!!

I’ve tried to make some of the domestic coffee here but I reckon I need more practise; it just doesn’t seem to turn out like it tastes in the cafes in town 🙂

So thanks for reading, please feel free to come back with any comments or suggestions about the language or possible areas to visit, all the best until next time!!

The quiet Irishman


The Quiet Irishman 3: Casa Poporului… mici…

Well it looks as though summer is here; certainly from an Irish point of view anyway, I know that here in Bucharest this kind of weather is really just considered as warm Spring sunshine for you but for guys like me who are more used to rain 6 months of the year this certainly feels like summer!!

I’m beginning to see also the gradual increase in visitors to Bucharest so I expect that it won’t take long before the place is thronged with thousands of camera slingers!! I din’t think it would happen this early to be honest, I expected this more perhaps in June, July so I imagine that by August Bucharest will be a much different place from what I saw in the winter 🙂

Something that has really come to life in the last few weeks is the “old town” area of Bucharest, I new immediately when I got here in the winter that this part of town was special and well worth seeing however with the sun over the last few days I have to say the place has been transformed into a really beautiful relaxing area where you can comfortably relax and have a drink with some food in a place that is easy to get to and just as easy to find your way back home from. I have to be honest of course, the main reason I found my way to the old town was as result of looking for a bar that shows football on satellite tv 🙂 I’m a keen follower of the premiership and the champions league so finding some places down there where you can relax, have a drink and watch some footy is really what I would call the Holy Grail for keen football fans!! 🙂

I decided to finally take the opportunity to take a look in the Parliament buildings, I have to say it took me a while to find out how to get in there 🙂 considering it’s so big but I did get it sorted out last weekend. There are a few different tours for people who are interested in taking a look, I did the standard tour but will definitely return so that I can get down into the basement also for a look, I will certainly recommend this to anyone I know who is coming here as it really is an awesome building, I do get the impression that locals aren’t too fond of the place which I imagine is more to do with the history rather than the building but I’m still learning about this so apologies if I’ve misunderstood people’s thoughts for the Parliament buildings, it is after all only one of many tourist spots but I have to say is probably the most famous. The building is absolutely incredible inside simply as a result of its pure size but then when you see and hear about the building fabrics including marble, silk and gold plating it really is quite breath taking, I know it’s something I want to visit again and learn more about.

I mentioned previously some of the fine foods that I’d come across since I got here and have to say the list is growing, hopefully I’m not growing the same way myself but lets see!!! I was introduced to a delicacy called “Mici” by our resident Hungry Mole, which is really like a normal sausage (except a lot nicer) it’s a combination of minced lamb, pork and beef mixed with some various spices and is definitely as addictive as Sarmale 🙂 which I will probably need therapy to help me get over whenever I leave Bucharest! It’s defiantly one of those real treats and probably something that is really unique to Bucharest and Romania, I’m sure it’s well documented on all the tourist guides and in menus throughout Bucharest however when you get either or both prepared as homemade domestic food then you can be sure you’re in for a treat.

So on that thought, I’ll sign off till next time, one thing is for sure I will definitely be indulging myself further in the mean time with some of the other fine foods here over the coming weeks and months, I can’t of course live on Ţuica alone after all 🙂

Until next time, my regards to all,

Quiet Irish Guy.

The Quiet Irishman 2: Sarmale!

First of all I’d like to say it’s good to have some feedback so thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions.

Not a lot of sun for the last week so not too much time spent out and about however that always leaves more time for food and drink; like any respectable Irish guy (if there is such a thing) one of the first things that comes to mind when you hit the ground in a new place is what’s the local drink and where can I get it? I have to be honest and say I haven’t indulged myself yet in either of the two recommended local drinks which are Ţuica and Palinca yet but fully intend on doing so at the next opportunity, might even be this evening.

If either are similar to the equivalent home grown version we have in Ireland which is “Poteen” then I’m sure it won’t take too many to have me at least trying to sing; for anyone reading this who happens to make there way to Ireland I’d strongly recommend you give it a try.

Any recommendations you might have for myself or any other readers are welcome, I’m sure there are other poisons out there that will make any good night even better!!

I’ve seen Palinca on offer in some of the bars but not sure about Ţuica; I’m sure you can get your hands on the nicely packaged commercial version of both however what most people who are just passing through want to experience is of course the real deal which is the domestic home brew. I don’t claim of course to be an expert on either; I’m really feeling my way around at the moment to experience some of the local culture here so when I eventually move on then whatever experiences I have had I’ll be able to at least give some accurate information to whomever may be thinking of visiting you here!

Of course you can’t survive on drink alone so I’ve been trying to find some of the better local dishes on offer here; I’m a strong believer in trying the local food wherever you go, what’s the point in travelling a thousand miles to eat a burger in Mickey D’s??

I could talk for a long time about the different food available here in Bucharest as there are simply thousands of local dishes unique to Romania, I’ve tasted a number of different offerings recommended by my colleagues here but one dish especially called Sarmale has made me come back for more!! It’s really vegetables & minced meet stuffed into a cabbage roll, maybe it’s my being Irish that attracts me to the cabbage but I have to say this is really one of the best foods I’ve tasted, almost addictive; probably ends up that it’s not so good for you considering it tastes so well, anything that tastes as good as that generally has to be bad for you although I really hope I’m wrong.

So in short if I was writing for a food show after being in Bucharest then I guess I’d recommend starting with a plate of hot Sarmale along with some Palinca or Ţuica, you can’t go to far wrong with that.

So I’ll carry on indulging myself with whatever recommendations I get for now and hopefully experience some more of the fine foods I’ve seen so far, including of course a few drinks to keep things lubricated!!

We’re getting through April now so I’m told we should be expecting some sunny weather pretty soon; which of course will bring the Girls out!! I can’t talk about Bucharest and Romania without giving the Girls a mention; after all Romania is renowned for more than just good food; just hope that they’re not all taller than I!!

Until next time! Slainte & La Revedere,

Quiet Irish Guy 🙂


First impressions after a short time living in Bucharest

For those arriving by air to Henri Coanda Airport most local people you meet understand English very well and are happy to give information you may need to get you on your way, although like any major airport there’s always unofficial cabs which you should avoid; you’ll be approached as soon as you arrive but take your time, find a yellow cab and ask him the price to where you want to go (especially if there is no taxi meter) preferably get a yellow cab with a taxi meter or else agree the price up front, cab prices are reasonable enough and are shown at the airport when you arrive so keep an eye out, you can also book a cab for when you arrive, there are yellow cab services that for a small extra charge will be waiting for you with a sign up, definitely recommended if you are arriving late or don’t wish to engage with drivers on your first visit.

You may arrive in the smaller Aurel Vlaicu International Airport, which has less amenities so probably not worth waiting around too long.

There are many ways and means of travelling around Bucharest relatively easily including trams, subway and by taxi. Tickets can be purchased at any one of the many kiosks located frequently around the city; for the subway you can also pick up tickets at very reasonable prices, if you are staying any length of time the best bet is to buy a monthly ticket for approx 7 or 8 Euros. Watch out for the trams, in places they go on the same side as the traffic but in the opposite direction so always take a good look. When you see a red sign at a pedestrian crossing then it’s safest to heed it, wait for green before you go, you will always get a few people who’ll take a chance but traffic can be unforgiving here, best to obey the signs; being Irish I have to say that breaking pedestrian traffic laws is like a national pastime at home but I wouldn’t recommend it here. Even if it’s green keep an eye out, no guarantees… you might claim to be in the right if there’s an accident however you don’t want that as your epitaph!!

If you’re planning on travelling around the city by car then make sure you are a well accomplished driver who’s not afraid to take the initiative, driving is not for the faint hearted and I’d suggest not for anyone but locals, safest option is by public transport, it’s safe, fast, easily accessible, efficient and cheap.

There are a large number of hotels to stay in ranging from very reasonably priced small local hotels to the Hilton, Marriott, Intercontinental etc. Depending upon how long, what your price range is and where you plan on visiting there are numerous options to choose from – if your stay is extended it is also worth considering an apartment, again a large range of different standards to suit different budgets however be sure you get some local advice on the most appropriate locations and types of apartments so as not to be disappointed when you arrive. Recommended places to stay are closer to the centre as possible anywhere from Piata Victoriei down to Unirii will keep you close to the heart of the city, close to all transport and most importantly close to most of the many museums, buildings and places of interest you may plan to visit. Hostels are also numerous throughout the city but similar recommendations in terms of locations and having some knowledge in advance of arrival.

The city is probably best visited from March or April onwards through the summer as the winters can be very cold; however being here during the winter has its charm also so if you can handle a little cold you’ll get to see the city in a blanket of snow which I found to be very appealing. Be prepared though for getting around in the snow and ice with the right footwear.

For day to day shopping, restaurants and purchasing of gifts etc the prices range greatly depending upon what you are looking for, Bucharest is a city where you can pay anywhere from very reasonable prices for food, clothes & gifts to some extremely high prices that far exceed prices in some of even the more established Capitals in Europe so be aware of the prices in restaurants etc before you indulge yourself, if you look around you can find cafes and restaurants that have all the charm of their European counterparts but that are very reasonably priced and come strongly recommended.

Like any major city you always want to be careful when it comes to money but I’ve found using any of the huge amount of ATM’s is safe and convenient – also paying by credit card is similarly easy and accepted throughout the city from tourist shopping to restaurants to clothes etc just be as vigilant as you would in any new town.

More to follow 🙂


Irlandezul liniştit, de mîine pe Simply Bucharest

Ne îmbogăţim cu un colaborator: Dave Hannon. E irlandez şi lucrează de vreo patru luni în Bucureşti. L-am rugat să scrie despre cum i se pare oraşul nostru, despre ce îi place, despre ce nu – şi m-am bucurat cînd a acceptat.

Puteţi să fiţi de acord cu el – sau nu; fiindcă e băiat de treabă (de asta rubricii sale i-am şi zis Irlandezul liniştit) n-o să vă aştepte la colţ de stradă ca să vă ia la bătaie.

Deşi a-nceput să rupă binişor pe româneşte, Dave o scrie în engleză, şi o să-i las articolele în original.

Aşadar – the Quiet Irishman, de mîine pe Simply Bucharest!