Bucharest & Having Too Much Coffee Man!!! 

Doing a specialty coffee shop circuit wasn’t my intention when I went to Bucharest. It was as what Bob Ross said, a happy little accident. It wasn’t my intention but it greatly shaped my experience in Bucharest. Now, I forever associate Bucharest with great coffee and even greater people. Although as a result of all the coffee I drank, there were days when I felt like this:

I’ll break it down to which coffee shops I went to per day click on the names of the coffee shops for their address. I’d like to add that this is a non sponsored post. I just like coffee.

Day 1

ORYGYNS Specialty Coffee 

This is the place that started it all and it’s all because of Alexandra. She’s the manager of Orygyn and she can make a great coffee. What I like about this place is that they switch their coffee beans up. Every two weeks they change their source. She told me that their beans usually come from Burundi (my favorite), Ethiopia, and of course Colombia. This is a very welcoming coffee shop with a friendly staff.

Alexandra also introduced me to an espresso tonic. This is something that you can drink during the summer all day. She’s the one that started it all for me. Without her help and recommendations my stay in Bucharest would’ve been very different.

Click here for more photos. 

Day 2

Now with a goal in mind I had a plan. While I’ll be going around and exploring the city. I’ll be going to the coffee shops that Alexandra recommended. A sort of 2 for 1 deal. See Bucharest and also experience their growing specialty coffee scene.

I was forturnate this day because I was able have my hostelmate Mona join for me for two out of the four shops I went to.

Artichoke 

The first order of the day was an espresso for me and a cappuccino for Mona. I’m happy to say that both tasted the way they’re are supposed to taste, Not too sweet for the cappuccino and their beans aren’t over roasted. The espresso tasted sharp and clean. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to talk to manager or owner of the place.

The place is tucked away at a side of a building. It’s near the art museum. So if you ever need a pick me up before or after some art, then head on over there.

Click here for more photos.

Fellow One

After my time at Natural Museum I headed over to Fellow One. I had a cold frappuccino this time because it was just too hot that day. Fellow One is a great place. The decor is inviting and you can totally see yourself sitting for a bit and enjoying the coffee. The frappuccino was sweet but not cloyingly so.

Click here for more photos.

Steam

After a tour around the Village Museum Steam was next on the list. It’s a good thing that it’s only about 10 minutes away. Steam is in a residential area so just follow Google maps for exact directions. As a bonus Mona’s back!

I have to say that steam is one of my favorite places in Bucharest. Their espresso tonic is another all day drink. Looking around the store the beans that they were using they day were Ethiopian. Steam is a must go coffee shop for me.

Click here for more pictures.

M60

M60 was the last stop of the day. Also, as a bonus it’s only minutes away from my hostel. M60 is definitely that coffee shop that you’ll go to with your laptop and spend your day there. This is the first place I’ve ever been to that adds oranges to their cold brew. The oranges added another layer of freshness to their cold brew. It’s something I’ll start doing at home. Lastly, I came back to M60 and tried their food and trust me when I say try their chicken sandwich.

Click here for more photos.

Day 3

Boiler

The third day started with a little bit of a drizzle that didn’t let up. While you won’t get soaking wet the constant rain does get annoying. Fortunately, Boiler was only 10 minutes away from my hostel. When I got there the barista at the front was also the owner. Paul really knows what he’s doing and he has a clear vision of how he wants his coffee shop to be. He takes his influences from Japanese and American designs. You can see that all the lines are sharp and clean in his shop. The sign for the coffee and the lights are a bit bombastic relative to the place. This was all done by design. Paul isn’t shy about his love of Japanese culture, there are One Punch Man mangas in the shop! This just added to my love of the shop already.

The coffee here is phenomenal. Paul sources his beans from Colombia, Burundi, Ecuador, and Spain. Those are just some of the places that I remember that he mentioned. The espresso was done to perfection. You can really taste the sharpness and fruitiness of the beans. He was using beans from Colombia that day. As a treat he also made an espresso tonic for me. It was the sweetest I’ve ever had and that’s without any other ingredients. Just an espresso and plain tonic water. This goes to show that Paul really cares about where he sources his beans from. The ingredients that he uses in his shop are top notch.

I was only able to go to one shop on the third day. I’m glad that it was Boiler.

Click here for more photos.

Day 4

This was my last day in Bucharest and I made the most out of it. The mission today was coffee. I saw all I wanted to see in terms of Bucharest’s sites.

T- Zero

The first shop I went to was T Zero, Ciprian is the owner and fortunately he was also the barista that day. Ciprian is such a great guy, he’s funny and a great person to talk to. Like all great coffee shops he rotates his beans every few weeks or so. His beans come from Colombia, Ethiopia, Burundi, Spain, and other places too. 

I really like the decor that he has going on in his place. It’s a bit macabre but in a very funny way. The mannequins he has hanging on the wall and the ceiling are a riot. Another great thing that he has which is actually a feature in all of these shops is the outdoor seating. It really is a place to gather with your friends. 

The espresso he makes his excellent. The combination of good beans and a great technique is all that’s needed. Fortunately, Ciprian has both. I had a great time in his shop so go for a visit. 

Click here more photos. 

Ivy

Ivy is literally just a few steps away from T Zero. Just walk about a minute and voila! You’re there. It was really hot at this point in the day and I wanted something cold. I’m happy to say that Ivy delivered. 

Manning the front that day was Petru. He’s an extremely friendly guy so go have a chat with him. I wanted an espresso tonic but he did one better. He made an espresso tonic with elderflower. I have to say out of all the espresso tonics I’ve had this is my absolute favorite. The elderflower adds a sweetness that’s not cloying. It actually added to its refreshingness. They also make other types of espresso tonic mixes so have more than one. 

Ivy’s space is big so having a big group won’t be a problem. Have an espresso at T Zero then walk over to Ivy for an espresso tonic and your day would be good. 

Click here for more photos. 

Labirint Concept Store

I was headed to the Parliament building and fortunately Labirint is on the way. What Alex is doing with his shop is very cool and interesting. It’s basically one stop shop for street culture. 

First, the coffee. The espresso is great. The beans are great and it was made very well. What makes this place awesome is what else he’s doing with it. It’s a place to gather. It’s in a former parking lot so space is definitely not a problem. He mentioned that in the summer he’ll have special events in his space. There’s an actual store for street wear clothing too. Right now he has shirts and sneakers with more to come. You can see that there are bikes and bike paraphernalia everywhere. This is by design because originally he wanted it to be a bike shop. 

Labirint is definitely a place to watch out for. Specialty coffee is just one thing, but I also think he wants to make it into a cultural center for the cool in Bucharest. I look forward to see how his place will be in a year. 

Click here for more photos

VanFruct

My last stop of the day is VanFruct. In terms of decor, to me this the most unique. VanFruct is doing something a little different. Aside from coffee they also serve shakes, vegetarian and vegan food. Aside from my espresso I also had an avocado shakeStefan also graciously let me sample a waffle with avocado, tofu cheese, and the best paprika sauce I’ve ever had. His mom makes the sauce by the way. 

His espresso is more on the fruity side. That’s done intentionally. He likes his coffee on the lighter and fruitier side. It’s also to match the motif that he has going with his place. After drinking the first one he asked me how I liked it. I told him that I usually have my espresso a bit stronger. So, unbeknownst to me he made two more espressos from the same beans but used different extraction methods. The result was like night and day. The taste of the espresso got stronger and more potent. Just the way I like it. It goes to show you that a skilled barista can do many things. So, if you like your espresso strong just let Stefan know. 

While chatting he mentioned that he too rotates his beans every few weeks or so. That day we had beans from Ethiopia. His other beans come from Colombia, Burundi, and Spain. 

Give Stefan’s shop a try. Aside from the coffee make sure to try his food too. Trust me you won’t be disappointed. 

Click here for more photos. 

The specialty coffee scene in Bucharest is growing. There are many people there who are passionate about their coffee. Everyone that I met and talked to would love to see the specialty coffee shops grow and for Romanians to have access to great coffee. 

On a personal note I’d like to thank everyone that I met during my coffee circuit. I just came in and started talking to you all and each and everyone of you were so friendly and welcoming. I will always associate Bucharest with coffee and from the bottom of the heart I’d like to again say a big thank you to all that I met. You all made my time in Bucharest unforgettable! 

Bucharest, sweet, sweet Bucharest. 

My first night in Bucharest was filled with anxiety and a little bit of fear to be honest. That Uber driver… Now, I’m in a train heading to Brasov and all I can think of is how much I’ll miss Bucharest. Without a shadow of a doubt my stay in Bucharest has been fun, but most of all its been a productive learning experience. 

I cannot talk about Bucharest without talking about coffee. I was trying to figure out how I’ll do this post and I’ve come to the conclusion that it needs to be split into two different posts. The first post is my general sense of Bucharest and the people that I’ve met and the things I’ve seen. The second will be about the coffee. I won’t say much about it in this post but suffice it to say, I’ll always associate my time in Bucharest with coffee. 

My first full day in Bucharest was spent exploring and walking about on my own. I stayed in The Midland Hostel A fun and very social hostel with a great and helpful staff. Also, every major site in Bucharest is just a 20-30 minute walk from there. I didn’t bother taking any public transportation. I just walked everywhere. I met a lot of great people in the hostel and everyday there was always someone new to share your adventures with. I’ll always be thankful for them for the good times. 

Alexandra 

Megan 

Mona

Day 1

My first day in Bucharest I was just in a daze. I got in the city very late and all I did after waking up in the afternoon was walk around a bit on my own and then I stumbled onto Orygyn, a coffee shop. I had a great conversation with Alexandra and I was content that day. A lot wasn’t done but I was finally beginning to feel rested. That’s a good thing. 

Click on the link for the photos I took that day. 

Day 2

The second day was my first full day and something productive had to be done. With this in mind I set out to three different places. The National Museum of Natural HistoryThe Village Museum, and The National Museum of Romanian Art. I call this my museum day. One of the great exhibits in the Museum of Natural History is the butterfly exhibit. You’re in a greenhouse and butterflies are just all around you. The Village Museum is just a microcosm of how houses developed in Romania. The Romanian Art is almost like a sacred place. It was set up to be a very serious art exhibit. It was a very long day but I saw a lot and I had a great time. Click on the links above for photos. 

Day 3

One of the things I always look forward to when I visit a place is if they have an old town. Bucharest didn’t disappoint. While it’s made for tourist its architecture still retains its old world charm. Megan and I had a great time exploring Old Town

Cărturești is the major bookstore in Bucharest. To say that it’s charming and welcoming to its customers is an understatement. It’s one of those bookstores that you know you can spend your day in. Bucharest has two of them and both are worth a visit. Cărturești and Cărturești Carusel both have their own charming personalities. Even if you don’t want to buy anything from there just go and have a look. 

Day 4

I won’t write much about the fourth day because I’ll save it for the next post. I went to visit The Parliament and revisited Orygyn just to chat and say my goodbyes. I’d just like to say that the Parliament building is huge. It looks like a base of movie villain trying to take over the world. 

These were just some of the things I did in Bucharest. On my next post I’ll talk about the coffee and how it shaped my days there. Bucharest surprised me. It’s a place that has given me fond memories. 

Of Uber Rides and Bucharest

Everything was moving smoothly, there were no problems at the border and the bus ride was comfortable. For all intents and purposes everything was a greenlight and good to go. Bucharest! prepare youself for I am arriving!!!

Cue my actual arrival and just general sense of what the hell is going on?!? It was 3:30 AM the bus was on its way to another city and dropped me off at the city center. So here I am, in Bucharest with no cash and also a non working phone. I anticipated the no phone part so I downloaded images of the pertinent information that I needed. Even with pictures of maps I still didn’t know where to go, it was so late at night and I was just exhausted. Thankfully there was a hotel next to me that had that sweet, sweet wifi. Going in I asked for a room because I was just so tired,  I didn’t know where I was, and I just wanted to sleep. The room was just outside my budget so it was a no go. They were nice enough though to let me use their wifi.

With this in mind I was thinking, let me get an uber wait for the car at the lobby then problem solved. It worked…sort of. I was able to get an uber and apparently I put the pin in the wrong part of the map and George (my uber driver) was waiting outside another building for ten minutes. He finally found me and understably he was a little annoyed. George speaks English well so we started chatting. The basic script of where are you from? and what’re you doing here? ensued. I was just absentmindedly answering his questions knowing full well that this is only suppose to be a ten minute ride. I looked at his tablet and noticed that George was taking a different route when I asked why he just said “it’s ok I show you around the city.” No George, just take me to the hostel. To further add to my anxiety, at this point he shut down the uber app and said “I do this so you won’t get charged extra.” To say the very least panic mode has set in.

I kept telling George it’s alright no need for a tour just take me to the hostel. The man was adamant. He finally stopped because he got another passenger call from uber. He finally started going the correct way towards the hostel. Along the way he also got lost. The man got lost! And my anxiety was just rising. Here I am in Bucharest with no cash and no working phone in an uber car that just went rogue. I had the number of the hostel and told him to call it. We finally got there, we were only one block away… I just don’t know. He dropped me off and the hostel worker was waiting for me at the gate. At the end he gave his number and said just to call him if I need help. All that for a $3.80 uber ride.

That was my first night in Bucharest. It’s 6 AM at this point and I finally got a hostel with an AC. I crashed, and crashed hard. So, tomorrow it’s time to explore. I just hope when I use uber again I won’t get George.

A Lesson In Generosity. 

It’s close to midnight and I’m in a bus heading towards Bucharest. I’m struggling with what to write for this blog entry. Then I thought to myself if someone ask me what’s the one defining feature of my Burgas trip, my answer would automatically be: “it’s generous people.”

The original plan was to go straight to Varnas and hang out at the beach for a few days then straight to Bucharest. Burgas happened because of a Facebook comment. Dimitar, an old friend from my South Korea days announced that he lives in Burgas now and he invited me over. I haven’t seen him in about 7 years. I always love it when I travel and I meet people from my SK days. So, with no hesitation I bought a train ticket and headed to Burgas. 

To say that I was warmly welcomed is an understatement. Dimitar and Ania allowed me to stay with them and fed me during my entire stay. Just look at this meal: 

Ania is an absolute genius in the kitchen. This is just lunch! Bottom line is that she can cook! They both opened up their home and welcomed me to their family and for that I’m eternally grateful. Also, look at their little guy. I was teaching him English and he’s a great student! 

I also came at a  opportune time because Dimitar was celebrating his birthday and I got to meet all these great people.

It was a great time had by all to say the least. Two of those great people are Artem and Nadya. They’re another great couple. I ran into them in the streets and guess what they took me in and fed me. Nadya is also a great cook. So, the lesson I learned is that Ukrainian women can cook very, very well and Ukrainians are generous and welcoming. 

Also, I got to meet Micky and he’s a good dog! 

All of them opened up their homes and for that I am eternally thankful. 

The one thing that I wanted to do in Bulgaria was to visit The Black Sea and I did. It’s beautiful and a great place to swim in. My days were just filled with going to the beach and going to the beach some more. So, I’d say everything that I wanted to do in Bulgaria has been done. 

Look at that water! 

Without the generosity of the friends I’ve made I know that trip wouldn’t even be half as good. They made my time in Bulgaria worth it and the memories that I’ve  made there will be always with me. 

Now, I’m on a bus headed to Bucharest, Romania and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me. 

Eastern Europe And Blogging

     It’s been a long, long time since I’ve blogged. The last time I did was during my early days in South Korea, all the way back in 2006. It didn’t even last long too. It just lasted about a year and I fell off the wagon. 

    Eleven years later and here I am again. I’ve restarted blogging. First, as an exercise to have a record of my travels. Second, to keep my people updated, and lastly to keep me sane. It’s a safe place for me to get my thoughts out there in the world. These are my reasons, and you know what? It just feels good. So, here it is my first blog post. 

    As the title says I’m in Bulgaria right now. The first country of my Eastern European backpacking trip. I’ll be in Sofia until Saturday night then I’m headed to Burgas to meet a friend and I’ll see how long I’ll stay. This post is just an announcement that I’m back to writing again. I’ll write on my second post on why I quit my job and why I’m backpacking Eastern Europe. In the meantime click on the links to see what I’ve been doing here. 

https://goo.gl/photos/FA77rCrop5p3AtwR7
https://goo.gl/photos/nuKtu7UabapoH18s5