"Disappointed to find that much of central Paris now serves up the same street-level visual refrain as most American cities — Gap, Zara, Starbucks, Subway — friends visiting from Boston yearned for an urban adventure. Where could they go for a long weekend that hadn’t yet been subjected to the centrifuge of globalization? 'Bucharest,' I replied, and they laughed out loud. 'Bucharest!? Is there anything to see there? And what about the hotels and the food?'
'Trust me,' I told them, and wasn’t surprised when they returned three days later raving about the delicious strangeness of Europe’s sixth largest city (if you don’t count Istanbul and leave out Russia), which is a three-hour flight from most western European capitals. Vying for the title with Belgrade and Sofia, Bucharest is one of the last major European cities that hasn’t been pasteurized by gentrification or lost its soul to mass tourism. It’s an odd but lively mutt of a city — one that’s clearly seen better days but where something is also suddenly stirring. The locals love to have a good time, and the Romanian economy is chugging along pretty nicely."
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