Impresii de final – When America meets Romania – Part VIII

Impresii de final – When America meets Romania – Part VIII

Pentru că nicio călătorie nu poate rămâne fără şi mai multe impresii, l-am întrebat pe Anthony cu ce gust a rămas după săptămâna petrecută în România… 

Would you come back to Romania some day? What more do you want to see?

Yes!! I want to really badly. Romania was an amazing experience and I certainly hope to come back one day to peer at another layer of Romania’s beauty. I feel like after one week I still only got to see a small glimpse of the country. I’d like to see everything! I’ve heard great things about Maramures, Northern Transylvania, Timisoara, Cluj and areas near Hungary and Ukraine. I think I’d also like to check out the Romanian Riviera (including Costanta), though I’ve heard mixed reviews. I’d love to see the Romanian Venice in the Danube Delta and would like to see a lot more of the nature in Romania (which is gorgeous). I’d also like to see areas off the beaten path like those near Moldova.

What do you think about Romanian food? What did you like the most? And what did you dislike about it?

I like the Romanian dishes with meat but I disliked any meal without meat. The mamaliga or polenta was something that I won’t miss and I don’t like Romanian food with lots of fat attached to the meat. I thought Kürtőskalács (kirtosh) was great and a very unique type of food (and so big!). I also loved mitsch and sciorba di perisoara (and the cheeses too!). I think what I loved most of all was how cheap and natural the food was. I could get rainbow trout fillet, smoked young ram, a jug of fresh lemonade and sheep cheese for like $5 at a nice restaurant. In the US $5 can’t even get me a gross Big Mac from McDonald’s. And while American food is high in fat, preservatives and chemicals, Romanian food was very fresh and local.

Tell me something about your trip in Romania that you’ll never forget! 

I don’t think I’ll ever forget Ferdinand the Bull and his love of flowers

I had never seen the cartoon before I came to Romania and by the end of my trip I had heard the phrase a bazillion times, especially when I got overzealous and couldn’t stop taking pictures. Next time I come to Romania, I definitely want to smell more flowers.

You’ve alrealdy told me about the places that you liked. But what city or place do you think was awful?

I don’t regret visiting any place. Of all the cities we visited, there weren’t any I disliked. While driving, we certainly drove through towns that were industrial, gray, gritty or boring. But every country has those towns and they certainly didn’t alter my view of either Transylvania or Romania.

How do you see the Romanian culture and the people living here compared with other cultures that you have met? Where you surprised by something in particular?

I found the Romanian people to be some of the friendliest I’ve met. They seem very happy to show off their country and their culture. They also have very warm personalities so I never felt apprehensive speaking with them (like in Morocco) or felt bothersome when I asked a question (like in Spain). They are very humble and curious and seem very down-to-earth. The culture seems to be a very unique blend of traditional and modern and old and new. I was surprised to see a church standing right next to a rather risque poster of a naked woman. In another part of Bucharest I found it humorous that there was a sex shop next to a Christian bookstore. I also found the architecture to be indicative of the culture: an ancient set of walls mere steps from an ultra-modern office building. Young people wear flashy American clothes and have their modern technology like in any other country but the older people could come straight from the Soviet era. It’s very interesting how Romanian culture is a mold of not just young people with their modern trends but older people who are more religious and traditional. It will be interesting to see how Romanian culture changes in the coming years. It seems one facet of the population is looking one way (ultramodern shopping malls, subway lines, trendy bars) while another part is looking another way (especially evidenced by that gigantic church under construction next to the Parliament Building).

Would you recommend to a good friend to visit Romania? What would you say to him?

It’s weird because at the university I’m attending (Johns Hopkins University SAIS in Bologna, Italy), I’m surprised how much people already actually know about Romania. Just today I spoke to my American roommate from North Carolina who spent 2 years in Timisoara, Ploiesti and Bucharest as a Mormon missionary and who is fluent in Romanian. I also spoke to a friend from India who spent 6 weeks in Romania in Oradea for a program. And I spoke to a Romanian herself who is working for the European Union Monitoring Mission in Zugdidi, Georgia and is from Timisoara. So just in the small group of people I’ve interacted with recently, many know about Romania and have been to Romania and love Romania. So you’d be surprised how many have already visited!

For those that haven’t, I’d absolutely recommend Romania. It depends on the friend, however. I was fortunate to have an amazing host who could recommend me places and teach me about places and so my trip to Romania went off without a hitch. I think somebody without contacts in Romania would struggle more. The language barrier is tough and using public transport would probably be a trainwreck (rather than being driven everywhere). So I’d only recommend it for more experienced tourists or those who truly want an adventure. It’s definitely not for people who have never been outside of the United States of America or for those who don’t have a tough skin (or for those who want a very structured trip). But if you like adventure, if you can adapt to unforeseen events, if you can plan things out in advance and aren’t averse to tough challenges, then Romania seems like a treasure of a place to visit in my opinion.