#ExperienceBucharest was a great event happening in 13-15 May 2017 promoting Bucharest, and we were part of it. Bloggers and influencers were invited to talk, discover and spread the news about Bucharest. We helped at organizing the event and offered some special tours for them.

Let’s see how our guides experienced Bucharest with our special guests. Today is Carmen’s turn. We asked her to share with us how was her day at Vacaresti and here is what she said:

I was the guide for Vacaresti  – the urban delta tour and I truly enjoyed it! I had a lovely crowd prepared to explore the wild area between the blocks. Also we had a special guest from the Vacaresti Natural Park team –  Cristi Lascu, the well known chief editor of National Geographic Romania for years, now a dedicated  ranger happy that after four years of hard work this place is protected by the law.

Vacaresti is the first urban natural park in Romania and the only one of it’s kind in continental Europe. It is the unbelievable story of how nature can bring back to life an abandoned urban area creating un unforgettable experience for visitors and a beautiful island for flora and fauna.

We started our visit with a coffee stop at our hosts, Gloria Jeans Coffee next to Caru cu bere – where our NGO’s touristic information point is located – Bucharest City Info. The caffeine gave us some extra energy as we were planning the visit. First I shared some stories about the area and the how it got to the stage of being forgotten.

Vacaresti was a neighborhood full of gardens but not in a very attractive area of the city. It transformed a lot: in the area we had one of the most beautiful monastery with the same name starting with 1720’s that in the 1850’ started to function as a prison, together with a hospital and some workshops. One of the people imprisoned was the initiator of the legionnaire movement in Romania, called the Michael the archangel, as that was the painting on the walls of the church that resisted in his cell.

In 1974 they started to renovate it to become a museum but after the 1977 earthquake new plans appeared. Ceausescu decides to demolish it and the entire complex is demolished by the end of 1987.  In 1988 they start the construction of an important sport area and of a lake. As it is higher than the Dambovita river and the quality of the 5km dam is poor, the lake was never full. The construction of the channel coming from a different river stopped after the ’89 revolution together with the entire project.

For the next 25 years there were some projects trying to reshape the area but nothing was actually done for those 190 hectars.

In all this time nature came back little by little in the swamp, helped by the spring and the ponds there.

But in order for us to see that, we started our walk to the metro station and met Cristi Lascu, wearing his ranger costume.

As we reached the green area surrounded by the gray dam, our special guest started the story of how a couple of friends started to promote the beauty of this unknown place and how difficult it was to get to this point. After four years of studies, lobby, exhibitions and efforts on the ground, The Association Natural Park of Vacaresti finally becomes the administrator of this area.

I loved the questions and how captivated our guests were hearing the story of the last four years. Then we started our walk inside the park on the green path, between the ponds and high grass.

As we were taking great nature pictures in the heart of the city, Cristi was doing his job as a ranger when he found either a fisherman or other visitors on the way. Fires, garbage and fisherman were and still are the main concern of the people who started the campaign in 2012 to convince the public and the authorities that Vacaresti deserves and needs to be protected for the over 100 species of birds and many others.

We finished our tour at 17th floor at the observatory where everyone enjoyed the great perspective over the entire park and the urban landscape around it.

My personal reward after this day was the spark in Cristi and our bloggers eyes when they discovered this place. I felt like everyone really liked it, enjoyed the nature walk and wanted to promote it in a responsible way. I can’t wait to read their articles and be part of how Vacaresti is promoted worldwide . So, thank you Haley (from www.borderlass.com) that even if you had some walking challenges you joined us for the adventure, Veruska  (from www.anconitano.com) and your husband for a very positive mood, Hana for the adaptability, Nina (from www.whereintheworldisnina.com) and Steph (from www.thepinkbackpack.com ) and Maria for the interest, Iulia , Alin, Alex and Vasile for the local support.

And thank you all, my friends of this day for your questions, time and beautiful pictures ( very original ones, in infrared, made by Alin – www.allinpopescu.ro and shared in this article ). Hope to meet again soon!

This place is free to visit but make sure you do it in a responsible way, respecting the parks rules published here at parcnaturalvacaresti.ro . Special thanks to the Vacaresti Natural Park Association.

If you want to discover a bit more about the history and nature you can always contact us for a guided tour at Bucharest [a] walkaboutfreetours.com