This past week, Allison and I drove to Romania with our teammates to visit our mutual colleagues there. Since Allison has already written a post about what we did there, I decided that it wasn’t that important to recap all we did, but instead thought I would reflect on our trip in a different way. Hence “10 Thoughts about Romania”:
- Romania has many small villages along the main roads. These villages don’t have tons of space in between them, so this makes traveling quickly difficult, since you frequently have to slow down to pass through yet another village or town.
- These small villages don’t have grocery stores, gas stations, or restaurants. When driving toward Transylvania, I wondered where they get all of their food. Surely they can’t grow it all themselves. Our colleagues later told us that every village has at least one “store” (i.e. probably part of someone’s house) where you can buy virtually everything you need, from bread to nails. The problem is, you have to ask for it, because they don’t have their goods sitting out.
- Yet another interesting fact about these villages: they only have one road. All of the houses line the road to the left and the right. There are no side roads. Past the houses on both side there are fields.
- Similar to Bulgaria, but more common, you often pass horse-drawn carts. I was tickled to see a sign on the highway that showed a cancel sign through a bicycle and a horse-drawn cart. The Romanians, however, don’t heed these signs at all, and I don’t think the policemen were too worried about it, either.
- Almost every house lining the one road in a Romanian village has a bench in front of it. When we were driving through on Saturday, it seemed like everyone was outside sitting on their benches and visiting with the neighbors.
- In many of the villages we passed through, people had set out tables with recycled bottles filled with what we assumed to be homemade wine. I think they were for sale, although it didn’t look like they were getting many bites. This is another thing I’m sure the police aren’t concerned about: I doubt these households had licenses for selling anything, much less alcohol.
- Romanians are obsessed with stamps, the kind that make a document official (our colleagues who have lived there for years confirmed this). I went into a gas station to buy a bottle of water, and the clerk wouldn’t let me away without stamping my receipt. I had to have proof that I bought that bottle of water. I guess they have much more serious problems with shoplifting than we do in the US.
- Speaking of bottled water, carbonated water seems to be very popular there. I know this is the case in Western Europe, but it came to my attention, because it’s definitely not the case in Bulgaria, where people drink normal mineral water.
- The Romanian McDonald’s has several kinds of McFlurries; the Bulgarian McDonald’s only has Kit-Kat. That’s not fair.
- Across the natural border between Romania and Bulgaria formed by the Danube there is only one bridge, which is south of Bucharest. I think Allison mentioned this, but it still eludes me. How is this possible?
One last thing that I must mention about Romania. I taught Allison how to do “The Brašov” and we got a picture to prove it. This one’s for you, Katie:
-James, the younger brother