Monday, August 16, 2010

Rummaging through Romania's Past

Monday March 15th, 2010
Today in German Jasmine my teacher was nice enough to give us a vocabulary quiz for extra points on our German exam. Thank heavens because I really needed those points after getting a C on my exam. But honestly that was a lot better than I thought it was going to be - so I was happy. :) I finally have confirmation on the Suceava tour of the monasteries. It has been a quick put together but I think things are settled now. It is more expensive than I wanted but, I know it is the right thing to do to make sure someone that knows what they are doing is with us in Romania. So far Emily and I have not been able to cancel our flight to Greece for the three of us because the airline thought we already cancelled our flight - which we didn’t - but that is what their computers say. Unfortunately that is not what my bank account says as they took out the money for the tickets. Planning, Planning, Planning.
Tuesday March 16th, 2010
Scrambling to make sure I know that everything is settled for this trip. I have never felt more unprepared for something like this in my life! But I guess this is good practice at being spontaneous and adventurous. At this point I know that in the next few days I will arrive in Bucharest and then go to Suceava and see some monasteries. I don’t even have a flight from Bucharest to Rome which is our next stop! But I guess things are the way that they are and you make the best of it! So scrambling to print of addresses, consulates, and tour guide pamphlets. :) 
Wednesday March 17th, 2010 / Thursday March 18th, 2010
The morning I woke up at 6 am and tried to make new plans with Mom over Skype for organizing Romania and Italy. Spent most of the morning doing research before I left. I went to Bergita’s delicious lunch where we had one of my favorite deserts a slice of her amazing light chocolately cake with super vanilla ice cream. Umm Umm Umm! Then I had German and Economics. I had to run to the train station to activate my Eurorail pass, but it was okay because the weather was finally nice in Salzburg (of course it gets nice when we all leave!). After Economics (I was a bobble head during it, as I was falling asleep) I printed last minute agendas and then headed home. 
I spent the night packing and doing last minute things. My train left at 3:45 so I took an hour nap between 1-2 am and then headed to the train station with my backpack and a big bag of food that my host mom gave me for Thursday and Friday. I won’t lie it was a little bit creepy walking down the streets to the train station at 3 am. It was a very eventful walk tho, it started with a falling star sighting above my house as I left, then a  black cat walked in front of me and a huge wind tunnel came. I met a few people on my walk that were coming home from St. Patty’s day fun. I got to the train station at 3:20 and wished that I had left later because it was so dark and the sounds of trains stopping and starting and workers walking around was a bit unnerving but all was good. I found my train platform (not 9 and 3/4!) and waited. There was a huge train there when I arrived that had cars on it for as longs as the eye could see. At 3:35 I followed some people down to the front of the track and thank goodness I did because there were regular train cars at the front of the train that I had been waiting to leave with cars on it! I found a cart with a lady and man in it and fell asleep for most of the ride. I hate sleeping on trains because it is always so pretty outside the window and I miss it! But I was so tired. I arrived in Vienna at Wien Westbahnhof (West Train Station) and followed the signs to the airport shuttle.
For 6 euros I got to ride in a charter bus to the station, a 45 minute ride but it was perfectly fine because I napped again. :) I was dropped off into the airport and it was pretty easy to follow the signs. I exchanged 30 euros for 203 liro (Romanian money) and headed off to be checked in. I was able to check my backpack in for free so that was amazing - I like AirBerlin! Security was a breeze and I was quickly   was at Gate 50 going to Bucharest. I met this really sweet lady and her older mother that  were Romanian while we were waiting. The mother was so cute she played with her rosary for a long time and walked around. The daughter who was in her forties probably tried to come up to me and talk in Romanian. She found out I did not know English but still was super nice and smiled at me while we waited. I had a list of Romanian phrases that she and I went over pronunciations with. It was really fun. I liked her a lot and she smiled - already a better start than Austrians. 
The airports in Europe (at least the ones I have been to) are so weird! You ride a shuttle to the plane and then walk up the stairs from the ground to the plane. I had a window seat but kept falling in and out of sleep during the flight. Some of the best views were of the mountains - so breath taking, and the little villages. Aww Romania! I couldn’t believe I was actually going there! It was so interesting to see the rural houses and farms and then the big crazy city of Bucharest with all of its horrible drivers!
I got off and picked up my luggage and found my taxi driver Christian from TaxiBucharesti waiting for me. Christian drove me to my hostel - Happy Hotel - and we had a great conversation. He told me to be safe from gypsies pick-pocketing me and cheating me on expensive taxi rides. He said that I really need to be careful as a young pretty girl not to be taken advantage of. He said to send him any questions I have about which taxi services, or tour prices, etc. Either really nice of him or he is extra good at ripping me off. He made me a bet that he would pay me $100,000 if I would drive in the city for one day and live. lol. I see what he meant because we passed a crash even on the way to the hostel. 
I got to my hostel and the owner was really nice and met me at the door when he saw the taxi. I took the my shoes off and chatted with the owner who apparently had lived in Texas at some point. There were magnets on the wall of American states. lol. I got up to my room which had the most flimsy door I have ever encountered! The door handle literally was falling out of the door and I am sure if you kicked it it would fall to the floor. I had booked a double room as I was going to be with Emily before she learned she had a final today - so she comes tomorrow. So the double room ended up being a 6 person room all to myself. The room was clean and beds comfy but definitely not a 3 star hotel. :) The door creeped me out as I was the only one staying in the room, and there was no lock on it! Thank heavens a family friend Susan, had mentioned to buy a door alarm! I used it and felt a lot better - but I am sure that the guys downstairs were wondering what the heck the alarm was that kept going off because it took me a while to figure out how it worked! In the end I did not even need it as it was a very safe hostel due to the staff - but hey I was scared! Basically all that day I stayed in the hostel. After an exhausting week of midterms I slept like a baby until evening where I talked with Seida for most of it over skype and watched Igor the cartoon movie. :) Outside my window it looked like a Halloween film with the full moon’s light hitting on the run down block of houses as stray dogs walked the streets and growled at each other. Yah I was creeped out. lol. 
Friday March 19th, 2010
Jane and Emily came to meet me in Bucharest today! They arrived around 1 o’clock when Christian dropped them off. Jane was at a different hostel as she booked separately so she met us later at our hostel. I had stayed in my room all morning, being scared to go out on walking adventure, so when I got downstairs to meet Emily the hostel owner was like, “Why haven’t you been out of your room!? Have you been sleeping this whole time?” I said yes even though I hadn’t cause I didn’t want him to know that I was scared. lol. Jane arrived about a half hour later and had crazy stories about her hostel owner becoming best friends with her already and something about crack. Oh Jane.
So we decided that we wanted to go out and see the Romanian art museum that was suppose to have a bunch of traditional art pieces and furniture. We had the hostel call a taxi and the man talked with the driver about where we were suppose to go, they kept going back and forth about the art place and an open air Romanian house museum that the driver thought we were going to. On our drive through downtown Bucharest we realized that with driving there are no lanes, at some point there were six cars across in a three lane area! What made me really sad was that there was an ambulance that was trying to get through traffic and was literally at a stand still. Made me not want to get hurt, cause I would never arrive at the hospital to get the hospital care that my nurse at school said “If you get hurt in Romania - go to another country for medical care”! The taxi driver finally dropped us off at a museum - the open air museum that we did not want to go to. But honestly I think the guy understood where we wanted to go, he simply did not want to drive there. So we paid our 7 lei to get into the museum that had old homes from all of the different regions of Romania. It ended up being very cool, even though we had not planned on going. The wood engravings on the homes were just beautiful, and I found a perfect little cottage that had blue shutters with white flowers painted on it! It was fun walking around peaking our heads out of windows and looking at the large diversity of styles of homes. We found a random semi-modern carousel that we just had to take pictures on the horses and two little metal cars that children are meant to sit in - that looked like they were right out of the book of 1989 by George Orwell - so communistic looking! The park started to shut down and we were shooed out by big, non-smiling Romanian security guards dressed in red military uniforms with large guns. I could not honestly figure out why so many would need such large guns to protect these houses but whatever - we listened to say the least! Once we were out we realized we needed a taxi and so we called the hostel to call one for us, and 10 minutes later a taxi arrived and took us to dinner at Casa Doina. We walked in and realized it was a really expensive restaurant but so beautifully decorated inside with almost Turkish looking designs in green and gold! The man even gave me a chair for my bag - it was a high class area. Too bad all of us were not highly dressed! But we ordered and all enjoyed a delicious meal! I had cabbage rolls with meat inside them which I would later find out was my biggest weakness in Romania - I just loved them! It made us laugh when our 100 lei bill was twenty dollars. :) Then we called it a night and called a taxi. But on our way home the taxi did not just go straight home so I was worried that either we were being taken to a different destination or he was just running up the meter. I hoped it was the second I could deal with that, and it was. We got home safe and sound! :)
Saturday March 20th, 2010
We had said good bye to Jane the night before at dinner, as she was staying in Bucharest for more days than us. Ends up she missed her flight to Turkey so she stayed in Bucharest the whole two weeks! Emily and I went on a tour to Brasov and Bran with a company we had booked online with Travel Romania.  
At 8 am we met the driver outside our hostel and got into his ‘80s car for our tour. We started driving and had the most beautiful drive through the plains and the mountains. We passed a statue of a wolf with two orphans drinking milk from it, and learned that that was the story of how Romania began. The roads continued to be horrible for our all day driving adventure, between crazy drivers who have no since of a law and pot wholes almost the size of my body we never lulled off to sleep to say the least! It was so surprising because we saw Coca-Cola snack shops everywhere! That was just about the only thing that we saw in the little towns as we made our way through little villages.  We had lunch outside the Brasov Castle at Popasul Reginei. We had a great view of the castle from our table and saw the animal pen outside with lots of chickens and deer! We were so surprised to find the deer. :) We tried to ignore the idea that those were probably going to be someone’s dinner later! We had the most delicious cabbage rolls with pork and a type of corn grits thing with a great donut thing with blueberries for desert! :) 
The castles were really basic and neat to see, you felt like you were living in the age the princes lived because when you looked out the window it was small cottages, fields - what I imagined a prince’s view would have been. I don’t think it has changed really all that much! At the base of the Brasov Castle there was a little open market with all kinds of beautifully embroidered white shirts, dolls, and people selling cheeses! I bought a doll set in beautiful costumes for my collection. :) 
In Brasov the Romanians battled against the Turkish and won over 50 battles. The one battle where the Romanians lost was when they ran out of water and had to surrender because they were located on the top of a mountain. In the future they made the Turkish POWs dig a well, they told them they would be free when it was done. Too bad for the Turkish that it took 17 years to finish!
As we drove we wandered through neighbors filled with brightly colored; oranges and pink flaking homes, with kids with no shoes and heavily worn clothes ran around and the elderly sat on benches watching the odd car driving through their town. It was so interesting to see this different world from my escalade driving, predominately upper middle class, suburban life I grew up in.
I started asking the driver questions about Romania because I was curious and I knew I had to write a paper about Romania for my European Union Politics and Economics course. ;) Our driver had lived through the Soviet occupation in Romania and had a lot of interesting comments and was very well informed, as he said he is always reading news - because during the Soviet occupation they did not receive information and when they did it was altered and highly monitored. Now he seeks all the information can, he said it was just so hard to know that there was so much information out there that was being hidden from you. He also mentioned that the only time that t.v. was on was from 8-10 pm every night. The only programs mainly were musical concerts! The information below is from the driver, I am not sure about all of its accuracy so just take it as you please. :) 
Some interesting things I learned; 
  • Culture
    • Romanians are there own special branch of Orthodox
    • On Easter when Romanians go into markets with hanging lambs, they have to be careful not to buy a skinned stray dog - apparently they look very similar!
    • 100 years ago Romania conquered Adrian people and Italians brought to Romania and the product of the mixing of Italians and Romanians are the “Roman” people
    • The Romanian language was surprisingly readable! It looked very similar to Italian or Spanish and I could read a menu for the most part! I was expecting it to be as foreign as Czech, Hungarian or Greek! It is because of the Italian influence from the people  brought to Romania. And thank you is Merci - French! It is a mixing pot of languages. Kinda fun. :) 
    • There are Coca-Cola stands everywhere on rural roads, as that was the largest American enterprise after the fall of the Soviet wall. It is like a Starbucks in America! :) 
    • In 2005-2008 real-estate went up drastically and everything collapsed! (Sound familiar Americans? :) ) And now you can clearly see construction left completely abandoned.
    • After the revolution against the Soviets there was a law created that orphans could not be adopted outside Romania because there were large problems with people trying to sell the kids. Today the general attitude is that it would be okay for children to be adopted outside Romania if it is what is best for the kids.
    • Agriculture is the staple of the Romanian economy - but it is mostly only makes the country self sustainable in the respects to food. 
    • In order to protect the trees on the sides of the streets Romanians (often the Gypsy population) paints a limestone and water combination onto them! It is the same paint mix that they often use on the country houses. The only downfall is that you have to do it every spring! 
  • Romanian History
    • King Carol was the first German King to rule Romania in the 19th century
    • Romania is a country split into three regions by the mountains. In the past they were ruled by three kinds with three different governments - Moldovia, Transylvania, Wallachia.
    • The Brasov Castle was the first castle in Europe that used electricity - from the stream near by. (Yet it seems like every country claims to have the first castle with electricity!) The Russians took it over during the Soviet rule, but the Romanian family got it back after the fall of the curtain and currently rent it out to the State for a museum that we visited. In 1918 Queen Mary united the whole country with the Transylvania region. She was Romania’s Queen mother that really worked for the people. They adore her. She placed a huge cross by the Brasov Castle to remember the Romanian soldiers. In WWII she fought the Germans out to protect Romania. 
    • Dracula anyone? Well there really was a Count Dracula that was born in 1431 that was from the Transylvania region of Romania. Dracula’s father was known as Vlood (The order of the Dragon) and he worked against the muslims Vlood had to rule during the Turkish invasion and he was a prisoner for 6 years by the Turks. When his dad died, Count Dracula came into rule. The people called him cruel but also fair. He established free taxes for locals, but high taxes for foreigners (mainly Hungarians and Germans). name was not Dracula. Dracula came to be his name because the Germans thought he was so evil because they had to pay taxes (which they had never had to do before!) They called him “blood thirsty” - do you see the movie and book coming into view now? :) Dracula means the dragon devil. 
    • The “Dracula Castle” that is on the cover of the book is the Bran Castle but it is not the real castle that Dracula lived in. Also during the times of fighting against the Turks, Count Dracula would have his soldiers cut down some trees in the forests the height of people and then clothe the stumps as soldiers! Pretty clever man right!? lol. 
  • Current Politics
    • Romanians saw that if they did not join the European Union, they would no longer really be considered part of Europe. 
    • Romanians are oddly not very concerned over the matters of Turkey joining the EU, while that seems all of the EU nations like Austria, and Germany can talk about (besides the Greece financial crisis!) Most of the immigrants to Romania are from poor African countries, Chinese, and Moldavians. 
    • Romanians are very grateful to be recently added to the protective area of the NATO air shield. I was worried about bringing up American military when I talked to him because so many countries have hostilities to us being in other countries but I was surprised by his response; “Why would we not want American military here?”. I was shocked! He said that America protects them from the world, especially Russia. He said that after the fall of the Soviet Curtain that Romanians were waiting for America to come and save them like they were saving all of the countries. But America only came 50 years late, compared to other post Soviet satellite countries. They said “We are waiting America. Where are you?”. It was interesting because the way the man talked he did not hint any hostility of America not coming earlier, it was the positive fact that they came and that they were still there that he highlighted.
    • He said that at the rate the country is going that the collapse of the country is near “I do not hope for, but I am afraid”, because of the economics, mentality of the people and government. 
    • In order to get money from the EU in the form of grants the application process is really difficult. But extra hard for Romanians as when the EU translated the rule book into Romanian their choice of words made it more difficult to receive grant money. So a large amount of money that is set aside in the EU for Romania to build up its country - is not accessible to the country!
    • Lots of Romanians are going abroad in Europe to bring money back to Romania for their families, but it is having a toll on the average family structure as children do not have parents at home - or even in the same country!
  • Retirement
    • He said that Romania is a country of retired people. 3 million people are working while there are 9 million adults in the country. Most of them retired early in their late 40’s from getting a medical paper saying they cannot work or bribes. 
    • The money does not come from the employers but from the state for retirement, and there is not enough people working for the country to really run. The state has to borrow money from the national fund to help support the retired.
    • He said the country will collapse by 2030 because a large population will reach retirement age. Their “baby boom” generation will hit retirement. Half the world away and sounds like a lot of the same problems as America!
      • The reason there were so many babies, was that in 1968 abortion became illegal and lots of children were dropped off to orphanages (which contributed to why Romania is still one of the countries with the largest orphan problem in the world!) and there were just a higher amount of children without this other alternative.
  • School
    • Elementary School is grades 1-4, Primary School is grades 5-8, High School is grades 9-12 and then college.
    • Teacher salaries are very low, the constant change of government makes lots of reforms of education so that kids have lots of gaps on their knowledge with the revisions of curriculum.
    • Our guide said, “We are a country of lawyers and engineers, but we really know nothing.” What a profound statement! He said that the level of higher education in Romania is so poor compared to other countries that if a college graduate from Romania leaves to go to another country in Europe that they will not find a job - because it is not “of satisfactory level”. In order to be considered for a job you really need three years of experience AFTER they graduate with a degree. 
After I had asked this man enough questions to make him want to tell me he was a mute, he kindly drove us to the train station and helped us to buy our overnight sleeper car to Suceava for that night. Good thing he did too cause there was no way we would have been able to communicate correctly with the lady behind the counter! It cost me maybe 50 dollars for a first class sleeper car for 8 hours! What a great deal! :) We were eventually dropped off at our Happy Hostel back in Bucharest, showered, packed, and headed in a taxi to the station where we caught our train to Suceava to see painted monasteries for the next few days! The sleeper car we had was very basic but so much better than we thought it would be! Minus the fact that I tried to roll down the window and the handle came off (we safely secured it on again!), and that we had to creatively strap Emily in on the top bunk so she didn’t fall out on the juts of the train against the track, we slept well!
Sunday March 21st, 2010
We arrived in the morning in Suceava and came off of the train to meet Sorin who was the Romanian that was to be our tour guide. We got off and somehow he found us (could it have been the touristy backpacks that gave us away amongst all the locals?) He kindly drove us to the hotel where we were to stay, down a dirt rode to a house with chickens in the front and a beautiful German Shepard chained up. We dropped our bags in our room - a very basic room that had a rosy hue from the curtains. :) Sorin would return at 8:30 so I went to get a coffee from the sweet girl working at the hotel while Emily took a short nap. I talked with the girl that was so kind and very curious about us. She spoke pretty good English and we spoke of how she had lived in Italy for a few years and had learned Italian and how she loved it so much. She did not look much older than me maybe 25, but you could she had aged a bit more through her rougher life style. I was surprised to learn that she had a four year old little girl, who I discovered was her world. :) It was so sweet because she brought me to her room to show me a picture of her blond pig-tailed daughter. :) Emily and I had breakfast - delicious scrambled eggs (the first eggs we had had since arriving in Europe - 3 months!) and enjoyed the best machine cappuccino I have ever had! We watched the black and white hotel cat sit in the photo perfect red framed window as we ate! : ) 
When Sorin drove up we left for a day of adventures! We drove a long while seeing the villages of the Suceava area discussing the bright colors of the homes, and the unique style of each. Each family builds their own home, so it is not the cookie cutter houses that we have in America! It is so refreshing. But it is easy to see that we are in an area of low incomes, in fact probably categorized as poverty in America. Almost all of the homes look like they are falling apart in some way, whether it be the concrete siding is falling off or the wooden roof has gaps. We drove through some of the most beautiful country sides, with thick green forests and deep valleys filled with golden winter foliage. Sorin says that Romanians call the forests their brother and they respect nature very much. During the Ottoman invasions Romanians would flee to the forests for weeks and  survive because of the hunting and gathering provided by the forest.  
We drive probably for an hour before we arrive at the first painted monastery. The Bucovina Region of northern Romania where Suceava (pronounced Suchava) area is, is known for their famous painted monasteries both on the inside and uniquely on the outside as well. Here is a brief history of the monasteries.
Stephen the Great (1504) fought for the Christian Romanians for 47 years against the Muslim Ottomans from invading Romania. He believed that every victory he had against the Ottomans was because of God’s will and he created a church to thank God. He was created a saint and many of the churches in Romania are now in honor of St. Stephen. St. Stephen had become the image of Romania. St. Stephen continued to build a church for every one of his victories and in the end Suceava ended up with 44 churches from St. Stephen. 
In 1527/47 (only like 200 years before our country was created!) Petru IV Rares (Stephen the Great’s illegitimate son) decided to decorate the outsides of the monasteries in the region with religious scenes from the Bible. The next year it became mandatory that all monasteries be painted on the outside.
We started off the day visiting the Sucevita monastery which is the largest and youngest painted monastery in Bucovina. 
Next we visited the Voronet monastery which is in the town of Gura Humorului. It is known as the “Sistine Chapel of the East” because of the beautiful frescoes. The blue of the paint on this monastery was so vibrant I loved it! Turns out that  that shade of blue in Romanian has its own name “Voronet blue”! Sorin our tour guide told us that like many other religions and groups of people the paintings were added onto the buildings so that the illiterate could understand the story of God and the Bible through pictures. The Suceava region is unique in that not only are the insides of the churches painted but also the outside! Inside most of the churches there are three rooms for the Romanian Orthodox church. The first is for the women which usually has women Saints painted on the walls, the next is the mens part with male saints and parts of Genesis are often found and then the last section that is only for the Priest. There is sometimes a room before the women’s section where we found the Bible in images for the 365 days of the year. I was surprised that many of the days had Jesus cutting the heads off of the a Saints, I never remembered to ask Sorin why! :( 
Then we drove through some of the Carpathian front range mountains to get to another one of the monasteries that we were to see for the day. We saw beautiful bee wagons where villagers move wagons that home bees in them from field to field to get honey and the land owners do not mind because then their crops grow better. This is an example of the team work of survival and collaboration that is so refreshing in Romania. We drove through the beautiful snow capped mountains and it reminded me of the Rockies I miss so much. We stopped at the top to take some pictures of the breath taking view and were landed right next to a huge communist remembrance statue of a hand with a gun wrapped around it. Its placement on top of this mountain landscape was really powerful! :) We walked around a bit and saw the men of a family selling their family goods. The grandpa had a table set up with the most beautiful jars of honey and preservatives while his grandsons tried to sell us hand painted eggs - as Easter was the following Sunday.

We continued down our mountain drive and came upon the village of Vatra Moldovitei where the Moldovita Monastery was. My favorite thing about this one was the Jesus’ Tree painting!
After that Sorin dropped us off at the Suceava Mall that use to be a chemical plant during the communist days. I am not sure if I would be making such a public building as a mall from a chemical plant! Looking out over the rural plains one could see the mall from far away with its largest smoke stack painted orange and yellow sticking out along the sky line! Emily and I went in and bought lunch and did some cheap shopping where I found a fun necklace for an American dollar - and some children’s books in Romanian. :) Emily and I were so surprised at how modern the mall was - it was just like it was out of America! Everything surrounding the mall is like time traveling into the past and then this little section is so modern! The inside had escalators, and clean walls, and bright advertisements! Since Easter was just a few days there were large fake painted Easter eggs lining the inside water fountain! Even the clothing of the people at the mall was everything opposite from outside the mall! It was a little pocket of the Western world!
Sorin picked us up and drove us to our hotel in downtown Suceava and suggested a little pub for dinner that was just down the street with live music. We took a nap and then headed out for a late dinner - down our dirt street that was under construction and had poor lighting to the pub. We had dinner in the dimly lit restaurant, watched a group of 20ish year old Romanians celebrate a birthday and ate our pasta while listening to horrible ABBA impressionist Romanian singers! lol. I was so surprised when I looked at the menu and was able to figure out what most of the meals were! I thought that I would be completely lost on the language but it was so similar to Spanish (that I only wiggled my way through in high school!) that we had an idea of what we were ordering! After dinner we stopped by a stand next to the restaurant and got the most delicious crape like roll deserts filled with Nutella and apricot jam! Emily and I headed back to the hotel in the completely sketch and creepy, dark, construction ally with stray cats all over the place. Needless to say - mom did not hear about that walk and we were power walking it back! :)
Fun facts of the day: 
*Merci is a widely accepted word of thank you in Romania. Multumesc is the traditional Romanian word, but you often hear Merci. Apparently in the 1800’s many Romanians sent their children to France to study and the word became a part of the Romanian culture when these children returned. 
*It is common for every family to have a well outside their home, it looks like a little house with a decorated roof. It was amazing to see 80 year old women dumping the buckets into the well and working so hard at such an old age!
*Lots of Moldavians try to get Romanian citizenship so that they may then receive the travel visa for work that Romanians get for being a part of the EU. They seek better lives in Italy, or Germany working hard. 
*The EU has brought some conflicts to the villages of people as it has sometimes disturbed their traditions and ways of life. One example Sorin mentioned was that since 2007 when Romania joined the EU, villagers are unable to cut the throats of pigs to kill them for Christmas dinners and now have to use injections. The villagers believe that it is worse with the injection and less natural to do such a process, and has cause conflict with their traditions.
*When lambs are sacrificed (mostly in the villages) at Easter and other special occasions the wool from the lamb is used to make the traditional wool hats (Cusma) that men wear in the winter. These hats look like a modern day beany in a way but they stick further up into the air. On Sundays the men wear their nice hats the ones that are the most shiny from the lamb wool. 
*I was surprised of all of the people using roller blades in the downtown part of Suceava. I felt like I was in an 80’s MTV video!

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  1. You look like you're having a great time! What I wouldn't give to walk a mile in your "boots"!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Very nice.Why bother to corect your post when you can remove my comment and stick to good old ignorance.

  4. If you would like to reword the section to be corrected I would be more than happy to replace it. But do not criticize me as an American being ignorant. You do not know me and you do not have that right to judge me. Thank you.

  5. when I was in college I worked for one of those hostels in Bucharest for a few months - the cheapest accomodation you could find
    I thougth its mostly students who come to Bucharest to have their exams who stay at these hostels, I was so surprised when I saw how many western tourists stay there. Because a decent hotel room is not expensive at all next to western prices. So westerners, when they pay the cheapest price in an already cheap country they shouldn't complain about quality
    and another small note - immigrants in Romania are insignificant, there are around 200.000 and more than half are moldovans who speak the same language as romanians