Feels like so much happened within these days
1. Dropped my wallet (first time abroad! Forgiving myself) and frantically searched for it in the middle of the bus terminal. I looked up and saw the driver walking towards me, holding the familiar black rectangle in his hand. Seriously, luckiest girl ever! As usual, surrounded by amazingly helpful and kind people who guided me to train stations, people who talked to me, chatting about Romania and education (free till high school) and healthcare (‘free – but is it really?’) and quality of medical care (certain operations/diseases sought abroad eg cancer)
2. Hanging garlic like hanging dream catcher hmmmmm
3. Government – paternal leave 3 weeks (?!) and receiving a sum of money (50 euros for those who haven’t worked consecutively for a year) for 2 years
4. No elevators at all metro stations, no ramps, a cause for concern for mothers (services for encouraging motherhood)
5. Minimum wage 250 euros a month
6. 80-80% Orthodox Christians + abortion is legal + cohabitation / not marrying not as common (vs Netherlands)
7. Whole of EU does not have capital punishment
8. Landscape of Bran changes into a barren white – higher altitude lower temperatures = snow!
9. Dracula – Bram Stoker chose Transylvania, one of the three large regions of Romania. Irish writer Bran Stoker combined the mystery of Transylvania and the historical facts – Vlad the Impaler and his bloodsucking cruelty, folklore about vampires etc to convert Bran Castle into such a popular tourist site today. Shops selling Dracula cups and magnets, haunted houses; everyone’s tapping on this. If he hadn’t set it here, how would things be? This and Laos has got me thinking about how something seemingly small can make significant contributions to shape the economy and livelihoods of a place and for its people.
10. Roma people / gypsies
11. Romanian and Italian linguistic similarity
12. Fire broke out in a club and 400 people were stuck, 60+ people died – people were angry, prime minister was forced to step down. The buildings are old, not earthquake-protected, no proper fire evacuation routes, no proper checking. Because this has been a cause for concern for some time, when the fire happened people were really upset about it. Shops located in the old buildings shifted elsewhere, that’s why many of the shops have closed down.
13. Conflicting views over how to raise Santa issue
14. A girl from Moldova invites me to stay with her. She’s 24 and married, showed me this Mongolian friend she met before (Asians association?), said she’ll drive me around to show me the sights. Really warm, friendly and open. This is the first time I’ve received an open invite, hence noting it down 🙂
15. Piazza Romana is the hipster bookshops street
To be honest, Bucharest is not quite pretty. (Maybe because it was winter -it was cold, snowing, I wanted to stay indoors). I’m glad I went to Brasov and Bran.
I noticed this ‘volunteers’ signboard in the city centre
“The pretzel – in Romanian covrig, is probably one of the most common street foods in Romania. In many large intersections in Bucharest, there has to be at least a pretzel shop on one of the street corners. Pretzels are not just simply pretzels in Romania – recipes have been updated, and now you can have pretzels with fillings, and other products made of pretzel dough, and filled with different ingredients (sausages, cheers, apples, chocolate – well, not all of them mixed). Take the Covridog, for example, Covricheese, or Covriking, all brands and products invented by a company called Petru.
Most of the shops selling pretzels are local brands, no-names, although here are a few ‘chains’ as well, such as Luca and Petru. The name for pretzel shops in Romania is covrigarie, or a more fancy name, simigerie. Whatever you choose, the majority of Romanian covrigarii have very good ‘covrigi’
With RON 10 – or some EUR 2 – you can buy several covrigi which could last you for a few hours until searching for more.”
Ah, I miss these pretzel-like things. They were delicious and incredibly cheap. 1 euro (or less?) for the delicious, hot yummy bread sometimes filled with cheese, oftentimes (the ones i chose) filled with hot chocolate oozing out in this winter breeze. And so filling too, great for backpacker food. Yummmmmmmm
I learnt quite a bit from Alina. Motherhood / strong beliefs / issues in Romania / ‘raising a genderless child’
It wasn’t easy to find a suitable bus to Sofia, possibly because it’s winter… Or not. After some googling we found a website that had a suitably overnight-ish timing that allowed me to utilize my night more efficiently. Even though I was due to arrive at 2am, I took it. Only the website states the pickup point at ‘BUCHAREST’ – but no specific bus directions, none.
I emailed the company and I was pleasantly surprised to actually receive a reply the next morning.
The bus station in Bucharest is Filaret.
Have a nice day.
Etap-Adress AD / Grup Plus OOD’
At 7.30pm the bus starts driving from the Bucharest Filaret bus station.
At 9pm the lights turn on and a man collects our passports.
Reached at 2.13am!
The bus station in Sofia was really cosy, warm, you had to pay for the toilet, it had (unlimited) free wifi and the money changer was open. It was pretty good.
Here, I had my first encounter with Cyrillic alphabets. I was excited because I could pronounce some, having practised reading some cyrillic alphabet in the month before. I tried to read the signs, to speak them aloud. It was like a game.