Just a few remaining blog notes from my brief stop in Romania:
- Romanian drivers are amazingly considerate towards pedestrians. Even on major roads or when they technically have the right of way, they always seem to stop and wave people by. It’s very friendly – and just about the exact opposite of drivers in California 😛
- While the main touristic centers of all three Romanian cities I visited have been very nice, clean, and as first-world as anywhere in America or West Europe, the country as a whole has felt quite a bit poorer than elsewhere I’ve been on this trip (save perhaps for Bosnia). Bus and train stations were generally quite unkempt, stray dogs numerous, and there seemed to be countless, shall I say “unshowered people” roaming about. Dirt roads caked with horse droppings were not uncommon, some areas feeling exactly as if they’d been frozen in time 100 years ago. Most likely this is not the impression you would’ve gleaned from the preceding few posts, which in general conveyed an exclusively positive opinion of Romania. And it’s true – I liked it there quite a bit. But I just thought I’d note that there does seem to be a very stark difference between the touristic centers and the slightly more distant “local areas.” As an example, just hop on a big tour bus and then on a local train – and see how different they feel.
- I know I mentioned this briefly already, but I just had to say it once more: the houses in Sibiu have some of the most interesting personalities I’ve ever seen. Their sloping shingled roofs bear eye-shaped windows that make you feel like each and every building is staring right at you. And although the paint is often cracked and faded, no two look quite alike – red next to blue next to green next to purple. It’s pretty interesting.
- Whereas Bosnia was overwhelmingly Muslim, Romania seems to be overwhelmingly Christian. Every little town has at least one church, typically many more; every taxi has a crucifix or Jesus emblem dangling from its rearview mirror; and even random fields or front yards feature images of the man on the cross. I’ve seen people tracing crosses on their chest at spontaneous times and for no apparent reason on a daily basis.