The last part of my ten day visit to Romania was in the really beautiful city of Iaşi(pronounced “yash”). I’d seen the hectic bustle of Bucharest and the peaceful serenity of Suceava, so was looking for something in between. Iaşi was the perfect choice.
I stayed in the super comfortable Select Hotel. It is inside what once was a palace, today very well maintained. There are not too many rooms so guests (at least this one) got plenty of very attentive service. Breakfast was excellent and there is a very good restaurant associated with the hotel, too.
It was tempting to not stray too far from the hotel, but of course I was there to explore. My friend Mariana grew up near Iaşi (today she lives in Italy with her husband and two boys, but often talks about how beautiful Iaşi is) and had given me some good ideas of what to do.
I have to say this is one of the most interesting and beautiful places I have ever seen. To put some perspective on that, I have lived all over Europe and in Asia, have visited most of the “must see” places in the world and have experienced some very interesting stuff. In short, I was really impressed with the Palace of Culture in Iaşi. To start it is, of course, a magnificent palace built in the early 1800’s. It has gone through some renovations and changes of use over the years. Today it stands as pretty much the center of everything in Iaşi. Inside, among the 300 rooms, it houses 4 separate museums. Each of those is worth a visit and collectively they are fantastic.
It feels very strange for me to mention any kind of mall as something to see. But the Palas Mall in Iaşi is different. It is not just a collection of stores all under one roof. That is part of it but outside on the grounds you’ll find very nice places to eat, some exciting drinking holes, playgrounds for your kids, a park to take a nice stroll and a great deal more. When I was there the World Cup Football Championship was on so the pubs were especially fun!
Well, this is not something to see but something to enjoy. It is a traditional veggie spread (but that so very much does not describe how simply delicious it is!). I did not see it during my earlier travels in Romania, which is probably a good thing because I would have eaten it all day every day. Up above here, if you click on the word “zacusca” you should find a good recipe for it. Make it. You can thank me later.
Speaking of eating, of course I had to find some excellent places to get a meal or the visit to Iaşi would be incomplete. Here is what I found.
The first time I stopped here was just to have a beer and watch the activity in the large Unirii (Unification) Square. I looked at the menu and thought I needed to return later. Good decision on my part as everything served was fresh made, excellent and very reasonably priced.
It means “Old Pub” so automatically I was interested. I found it on the long and beautiful pedestrian street called Bulevardul Stefan cel Mare, which led from my Select Hotel to the Palace of Culture. They serve traditional Romanian fare all of which was excellent. The service was quick and efficient. There were plenty of locals eating there, something I always take as a good sign. Prices were super reasonable.
Absolutely without question the best meals I had in ten days in Romania. I said “meals” because it was so good I ate there twice. It is located just in the center of the city not far at all from the Palas Mall. Nice inside, also comfortable outside seating. The service was, as they say “spot on.” The waiter had excellent recommendations for wine pairings, and every bite was an absolute joy. A bit more expensive than the other places I dined, but sooooo worth it. I will keep Vivid on my Top Ten Restaurants in the World list for a long time, I am certain.
So after more than ten years of waiting, I finally spent ten days in Romania. All I need to say is I am going back soon. Put it on your list.