Romania isn’t flashy but it’s amazingly friendly

No matter what, we found that Romanians are passionate and friendly, and were helpful whenever we needed it. Most of the time, except for the UK and Spain, we are the family that speaks very little of the language and we sometimes have trouble getting what we need right away. But in Romania anytime we ever had a problem there was always someone there to help us.

It’s as if they understand our plight as travellers, new people in a new place. Almost like our situation is the same as theirs. We witnessed a group of Romanians protesting in Rome and we felt a kinship with them, knowing we were about to be in their country in less than 2 weeks. There was a huge, peaceful protest that day in Bucharest (would we get to see history unfold there, we wondered?) and this group in Rome was showing their support.

To be fair, Romania is in a rebuilding phase and on the surface it is a place in need of a bit of paint and a polish. But, what it does have in spades is a proud (and sometimes bloody) history and a people keen to move forward in spite of their poor infrastructure. Traffic is bad mainly because the government makes promises it can’t keep and thus new roads are not built and more cars fill the roads as Romanians start to experience some prosperity.

We took a quick trip up to Brasov on the train and managed a conversation with an old gentleman who kept mentioning Nadia Comenici with pride (thank you Google Translate!). Our apartment there was in the flash part of town (the train station there is so seedy it made us nervous to be there, and we don’t scare easily) and our bus trip to Bran to see Bran Castle was amazing. The bus driver like to collect air fresheners and kept them all on the ceiling of the cab. My little bits of Romanian got us there and back.

Our slight misadventure on the train back to Bucharest from Brasov

One highlight was Andrei, the awesome person, now friend, who helped us when we got on the wrong train back to Bucharest from Brasov; supposedly there was a last minute announcement changing the track our train left from so we missed it and got on the wrong one. Halfway to Bucharest we were told by the ticket checker that we would need to pay for another set of full price tickets. Gasp. But Andrei helped us negotiate a better deal and we ended up talking to him the rest of the trip.

Andrei had just come back from New Zealand, ironically, and we looked at all his photos on his phone and missed home just a little bit! We treated him to dinner at Vibes Cafe in Bucharest in sight of our apartment (this place was a story unto itself, I got the feeling there was more going on at this place than we were privvy too, which is probably just as well). Again the Romanian hospitality meant my son got his Hawaiian pizza, the owner ran to the corner dairy to pick up a can of pinapple!, and the kids were entertained with the house parrot and video games in the adjoining activity room. Pretty sweet!

Thank you Andrei for saving us, and thank you Romania for being so helpful to us on our journey!

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Nathaniel Flick