Observations about Romania

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Romanians like loud music with very fast melodic lines and lots of repetition. Our Caransebes hotel was hosting a wedding reception so we had several hours to enjoy the band. Car parking is no problem: you do parallel parking if there’s room and if not, you do angle parking. The reputed dangers of travelling here are overstated. We have been careful but do not feel at risk, except from traffic on highways. Modern supermarkets are present in most towns – Tesco, Spar, Carrefour. Mobile phone shops such as Vodaphone and Orange are numerous. WiFi is frequently available. Bars selling beer, soft drinks and coffee, but no food, are common in towns and villages. Food and coffee are generally good. We can get espresso in most places. The only bad faux coffee we have had was at the train station in Arad. It is not easy to find good bread. Smoking is allowed in cafes and restaurants. Accommodation is generally of a good standard. Three large towns we have visited, Arad, Lugoj and Caransebes, have big new Romanian Orthodox churches. We have seen one or two new sections of road with a bicycle lane. This seems incongruous and we guess it’s because of EU requirements.

Second hand shops that sell clothes from western Europe are in most towns. Arad has one in the main shopping street. Larger towns have big pipes along the footpath. We wonder if this is for hot water for heating – more research needed. Towns and cities can be grim places with bad roads and pavement, crumbling buildings regardless of their age and spaghetti style overhead wires, but most of them also have redeeming features, such as shady parks, pleasant outdoor cafes and at least some historic buildings and churches in good repair.

We can communicate adequately in English for basic things. We have seen Roma but usually sole operators who ask for money but move on when refused. Astrid spoke to us about the deportation of a number of Roma from Denmark recently, an action that apparently sparked a great deal of public discussion there, which she felt was constructive.

Romanian turkeys in a tree near Tincova

I wonder what it’s like for people to live in Romania with its many problems and its reputation as a poor and dangerous country. Raul is happy in his situation where he works from home for clients in Canada and the US. He said he wouldn’t mind going to live in Canada. Anita has lived in Germany and Greece for several years, and has returned to Arad to be closer to family and friends. Kristina has also lived elsewhere and returned. They are aware of their country’s difficulties but the things that keep them there are connections, obligations, their own history and a kind of acceptance that it’s their country for better or worse.

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