Saturday, November 19, 2005

10 Things We Love and Hate About Romania

Moving to a new place stirs a lot of emotions. Good or bad impressions are quickly formed, but they fade with time as we adapt to the new place. We've been in Romania for over a month, so we decided that now is the best time to take stock of what we love and hate about this place.

So here it goes, in no particular order, what we love and hate about Romania.

10 Things We Love:

1. Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers - the vegetables here are amazing! Organic is the norm; we're hoping the small farmers will survive the mass production revolution.
2. telemea - fresh sheep or goat cheese that melts in your mouth.
3. kindness of strangers - we've met many people who considered us their guests and wanted to genuinely help us.
4. generosity of friends - what would we do without friends like Titi, Florina and Adina? We've decided that friends are absolute necessary ingredient to a comfortable living here.
5. haystacks - they dot the countryside, giving the place a fairy tale feeling.
6. folk art - traditional costumes and houses are beautifully decorated, even functional, ordinary everyday items are richly decorated.
7. patience with bad romanian language - Romanians are pleasantly surprised when a foreigner (like Amynescu) speaks their language.
8. the Carpahtians - the mountains are beautiful and for the most part undeveloped and wild.
9. hitchiking - this is an effective and inexpensive way of transportation in some parts of the country. We've used it many times in Bistrita.
10. young, smart people with lots of ideas and curiosity about the world around them.

10 Things We Hate About Romania

1. bureaucracy - people who are unwilling to think outside the box and always point to some higher authority.
2. bad service - rude waiters, even people at the tourist information kiosks are sometimes rude.
3. evil taxi drivers - only in Bucharest, so far; they will charge you double the fare if they sense you're a foreigner (that's if they even want to take you in the first place; they won't even bother for a short ride)
4. abandoned cars - they're everywhere, blocking the sidewalks, parked on the streets, a real nuisance and an eye sore for the entire country.
5. phlegm - we've never seen so much spit on the sidewalks. Could it be related to the fact that in Romania 46% of men and 24% of women smoke regularly?
6. pollution - from diesel fumes to cigarette smoke, your lungs will be put to the test.
7. driving - we still can't figure the driving rules in Bucharest, perhaps because so many people tend to ignore them.
8. pretentious bars, cafes and shops - places where well connected Romanians go to see and be seen.
9. uninspired architecture - entire neighborhoods of ugly, communist era apartment blocks
10. things that sorta' work - low-quality, locally made goods; and there are no exchanges and refunds.

We'll revisit this list at the end of our stay here to see how our impressions change over time.


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