Found a lovely new blog from an American here in Romania who is really enjoying her time here.
Probably my favorite quote from her curiously-written last post:
You will realize that, as of now, this blending in will be both to your advantage and terribly problematic. It helps because everyone speaks to you in Romanian because they think you are and therefore assume you understand. This helps your language learning a whole ton. However, sometimes they think you understand a lot more than you do and you end up with one of two problems.
The first is that when you don’t understand, people don’t think, oh you’re foreign, they think, oh you are really stupid. The second is you wind up not knowing things you should know.
Ah, that last line made me smile something fierce.
In less cheerful news, someone started screaming about how Belgium’s Foreign Ministry is describing travel to Romania:
Hoti de buzunare, caini maidanezi agresivi, carute la drumul mare si cratere in asfalt. Aceasta este Romania in ochii strainilor.
Or in English: Pickpockets, aggressive feral dogs, horse-drawn wagons on the highways and potholes. This is how Romania is seen through the eyes of foreigners.
As some people say: Sadly, No.
Belgium’s government has a very lovely pastel blue website and you can read it in both Francais and Nederlands.
Hoewel in dalende lijn, is de corruptie van sommige politieagenten een probleem. Ook worden reizigers soms lastig gevallen door valse politiemannen.
Bien que décroissante, la corruption de certains agents de police reste un problème. Les voyageurs sont parfois interpellés par de faux policiers.
I’ve noticed this same warning in both the British and American government’s travel advisories to Romania, all this concern about “fake police”. Heck, I’ve written about this both on my blog and in my book and I wonder where it’s coming from.
I’ve been traveling all over Romania for years and never seen a fake policeman, never. Not ever. Never even heard of it secondhand from other tourists or visitors. Never seen it mentioned in the newspaper. I assume it has happened at one time or another but it seems to be equivalent to worrying about a lightning strike – those happen too but hardly on the top of the list of dangers to be concerned about.
Just in case this is the first time you’re here on my site I’ll repeat my advice again.
If you ever have some kind of “confrontation” with police, legitimate officers or “fakes”, do not show them any ID, do not give them anything, don’t sign anything, don’t take anything from them (tickets, fines, whatever), do not do jack squat with them. If they insist on something, go with them to the police station. Period. If something truly and honestly is going on and it somehow involves you, go to the station. Walk into the big building with the words Politia outside and deal with whatever it is there.
Police in Romania only throw on the handcuffs and put you in the squad car when something very major has happened, and in that case, you should be well aware of whatever it was. The rest of the time they just talk to you. Stand there and talk it out however long it takes and you should be fine. They spend all their time harassing gypsies and Romanians, not foreigners, so you should be fine.
If anyone in a uniform, police or railroad official or bus inspector or anyone else wants money from you, do not give it to them, ever. There are no fees for entering or exiting Romania. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to pay any Romanian official who is not working inside a government building, period. Are we clear on this? Good, I hope so.
Really, the police in Romania are not in the business of shaking down or harassing or intimidating foreigners. I have no idea why that guy seems to think Belgium’s Foreign Ministry is full of invective against Romania – the website and the cautions on there are very low-key and mostly sensible, especially this line:
Sur la voie publique, la manière de conduire des chauffeurs locaux est souvent imprudente et imprévisible.
Now that made me laugh because it’s so elegantly stated AND true :D
Take a breather, folks. Not everyone hates Romania!