Another night driving alon aimlessly searching for someplace opened at 2am provided the perfect opportunity to stumble across this cafe over near gara de nord.
According to the sign on the door, Ramayana is open all hours. Great for us.. but what’s inside?
As it’s name may indicate, Ramayana is an specifically themed coffee shop where upon entering, one is greeted by a small foyer area that lets you walk either left or right into the cozy seating areas. Once seated on either the built-in style wrap-around seats, or stuffed circular ottomans, you’ll be able to comfortable look around, and up, at the multicolored fabric gathered and draped around the ceiling and walls. The stained glass windows add a touch of color to the candle-lit interior. We have returned for two reasons: the late night hours, as well as the best tea we’ve had so far in Bucharest. The tea we prefer as well as recommend is the “White Blueberry” which after it’s free “refill” or “rebrew” provides a grand total of around 18 cups ! There were three of us in our group and we were able to refill our teacups just about 6 times each through both brews. Wow. Not to mention it was only 15 Ron for the pot and that INCLUDED the re-brew. Of course, the secondary theme going on in this Arabesque cafe is the Nargila, or sheesha pipes.
Everyone at every table was participating in this growing pastime. While the sheesha was still some of the best in Bucharest, every flavor hinted of the prior flavor, as they seem to not clean the actual pipe part of the Narghelea. Happened to us four times in a row, so who knows. The finger-food is actually pretty decent by coffee-shop standards. It is frozen, so it stays reasonably fresh, then reheated in a convection oven. The baguette that I had stayed golden-crispy on the outside, while warm and chewy in the inside… bravo to that.
Str. Baldovin Parcalabul nr. 11
A new update on the hookah trend: When a few of our expat group traveled to Romania for the first time, it was very “entertaining” for us to see a hookah pipe in “real life” for the first time. This had always been something we’d only seen in movies or reserved for the Caterpillar in Alice In Wonderland. When our first pipe was set down in front of us we really had zero clue as to what to do next. It looked fragile and scary. We starred uncomfortably as our minds were filled with unknown worry. What would happen when we took our first “draw”? Would we break the pipe? Would we break our lungs?? Would we be laughed at by everyone we felt was starring us down??? The stupid Americans that have no culture and really no clue are about to embarrass themselves! Not so fast – we tried it, we loved it, we tried it some more… And just like that the Americans were converted. This is culture and “class” all rolled up in a hubbly-bubbly vase. It has been years since this first hookah experience of ours. Since then we have traveled around a bit more, and noticed – over time – that a once shunned “fairytale only” pastime was now becoming more and more “acceptable”. No it is not pot. No it is not a harsh drug. No it is not something that should be looked upon with slanted eyes from the powers that be. On one of our visits back to the States we decided that we needed to place online orders for some hookah pipes and the sheesha tobacco. We ordered both flavoured tobacco and the “dried fruit” herbal sheesha as well. This combined with a variety of different pipes and vases made for a very nice “atmosphere” in our real estate office Stateside. At the point of bringing our sheesha experience home to the States, we lured some skeptical friends and associates in with the scent of fruity smoke. Some smoked, most didn’t. Fast forward the clock and hookah is catching on. Coffee shops around the world are incorporating this element at record pace. It is becoming the “hot” trend in many forward-thinking (or backward thinking depending on how you look at it) cities particularly in the US. Who would have thought? We would have!