Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday morning in Lipscani

'My Way' played on a guitar and a violin by two buskers in Str. Lipscani. Oh joy.

When I suddenly had to visit Cuba in 2004 I began the habit of travelling. Before that I had travelled little and if I could to places unused to tourists, like Eastern Europe in 1990. I was therefore an innocent and it was only in Cuba that I saw that old towns in every country  feel like shops in a  multinational chain. In 2006 I visited the Balkan States in August and the old towns of Talinn and Riga told me exactly the fate that would befall Bucharest. (Vilnius which is a beautiful Southern, Catholic city far in the North, with a sprawling old town, still retained vestiges of humanity - in fact I loved it.) I am surprised though that inauthenticity and commercialisation did not happen to Lipscani ten years earlier and am grateful that I had the Old Town to myself from 2000 when I moved here to around 2007. Unself-consciousness has no place in the post-modern (whatever that means) world.

There is now a bar in Str. Lipscani called Havana and it reminds me of exactly the sort of bar you get in Havana. It is completely false in the same way that tourist bars in Havana are.

The difference is that in Havana only foreigners are allowed into hotels or could afford to got to tourist bars whereas here though there are some tourists the Old Town is mostly for Bucuresteni. I noticed the same phenomenon in Tbilisi - a lot of touristy restaurants and bars but no tourists. But nowadays you can be a tourist in your own town, if you eat out.

People who look for authenticity and shabbiness, says my friend Alexandra Cernatoni, are the most bourgeois travellers of all. It may be so.

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