Manholes, Dracula’s Castle, Saving Babies and a Romanian Comes Home

Very interesting little mix I managed to find here this morning whilst trawling the wires.

I found an interesting blog that is dedicated to nothing but manholes. Say what? Yep, those heavy round metal discs that cover entrances to sewers and the like, and yesterday the blogger did a feature on some Romanian manholes, with a lot of photographs, including several from my town. Amazing what we don’t even notice under our own feet!

Then I found this blog entry about what appears to be Americans (or Brits?) who decided to go to “Dracula’s Castle” (Bran) for Halloween, via Serbia.

Side note: Why are so many people traveling via Serbia these days? Hm.

Nonetheless, they seemed to enjoy their brief stay in Romania:

Completely out of it, we checked into our amazing lodge, and were greeted by the kind owners insisting that we have breakfast before sleeping. They brought out fresh fried eggs literally straight from their chickens, warm milk straight from the cow, and mysterious cheese straight from the goat.

After rest we explored Bran market and souvenir-shopped our little hearts out. We snapped pictures of Dracula’s castle during daylight and enjoyed Romanian funnel cakes in town – my fatigue was completely overshadowed by the amazing weather, company, and indescribably extraordinary surroundings.

Wait! After reading the sentence fresh fried eggs literally straight from their chickens this definitely has to be an American. Too funny! :P

Then they went to Brasov, easily my favorite city in Romania:

The next day we went to Brasov, Romania, a picturesque town with an adorable Sunday market, and enjoyed browsing the many stalls of homemade gingerbread cookies, delicious cakes, hot wine, cheese samples, and other traditional Romanian specialties. It was a beautiful afternoon, and stopped by the famous Black Church of Brasov – which actually is now Lutheran!

Yes it is a Lutheran church but it’s actually been Lutheran for about 400 years, so this isn’t exactly a recent change :P

And I see the Chocolate Chip Professor made a nice little day trip to Maramures and ended up buying two hand-made blankets (see link for picture). Can’t say I’d have a use for such a thing in my house but should keep him warm during the winter!

And this previously featured blogger is now back in Bucharest after a recent trip to the United States. Seems like she’s having a tough time, so hang in there!

Side note: The title bar of her blog has a nice map of Romania and Moldova. It’s just kind of interesting how it’s all of extremely northern Romania and doesn’t actually show Bucharest, where she lives :P

Then I found this narcissistic post from some American woman who thinks her support staff employee in Romania is secretly in love with her:

Marinas is the Romanian. He also has a predilection for sending me lots of smileys. His cyber-courtship was ambiguous until last weekend, when he msged me on Saturday afternoon while I was on Skype at one of my other jobs. “Hey Kat, how ru? You working on a weekend>?” Silly Marinas, of course I’m working! I always work! He asked me a question about a client of ours, but only as a segue into small talk. Nothing particularly memorable was discussed, but our casual weekend cyber-encounter gave him the courage to call me on Skype today to ask me a work-related question, which was “an emergency.” (It wasn’t.)

Sounds like Marinas wants to take our relationship to the next level: phone-love.

Side note: Marinas? This is a male Romanian name? I’ve heard of Marius before but never “Marinas”.

And yes, sometimes I do riff on the Do Gooders crawling all over this country but this post from two Mormons truly does warm my heart. They’ve donated a lot of time, money and energy into improving neo-natal care in this country, and there’s lots of wonderful pictures.

My favorite, favorite line from the post:

Every practice table was managed by a doctor who had been trained previously. Having Romanians train Romanians is very important.


Then this previously featured blogger made a little day trip to Oradea, a delightful little town. I was quite puzzled by this:

On the other hand, my surprise was to find out that prices in general are higher than prices in Bucharest, while wages are obviously lower. If you go to the restaurant, to the cinema, to the hypermarket or if you take the cab or the tram, you have to pay more than in Bucharest. So far, there was not a single situation when I could see the prices to be lower here.

As about the wages, there are a few people who manage to live well: those who have businesses in tourism, those with businesses in town and those placed in medium and high positions in the local administration. Plus, obviously, those lucky few working abroad.

Overall, a small minority – while most of the people hardly manage to get to the end of the month. I noticed many shops where you could buy cheap stuff – generally clothes – made in China. On the other hand, I didn’t notice important foreign corporations operating in Oradea. It is to no surprise, then, that many people are angry and hopeless.

What the f*ck? Are you serious? Okay I do admit Bucharest is admittedly cheaper on a few items, especially taxis and the public transportation system. But prices in the stores or a restaurant? What?

Oradea is one of the wealthiest cities in the entire country. Hell, I remember driving there years ago when it had the first shopping mall in the entire region, even before Cluj! And I was just there earlier this year and has all the “important foreign corporations” (whatever the fiddily f–k that means) that you’d find here. Besides Starbucks, what “important foreign corporations” do not exist in Oradea? Seriously, this is ridiculous.

Anyway, in other news, via Twitter yesterday I started talking to a Romanian guy who has been in the United States for over 20 years. He does still maintain ties with the “old country” and recently took his family here for a trip.

He sent me this link of the photos he took in and around his home town, the gorgeous city of Timisoara. Wow! Some of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen of this city and I’ve seen a lot. Definitely check them out!

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