Tidbits about Romania

I disappeared. I know. I know. I still have posts from mid March to publish. Gah! Oh well. I’ve been in Romania for 2.5 weeks now and it is lovely. I’ve been to three cities so far and heading to my fourth today, in just a few hours. Anyway, before I talk about what I’ve been doing (if I get around to writing those posts) here are some strange tidbits from my travels here, so far.

– Romanians can stare. It is seemingly a skill that everyone, at any age, is extremely good at. I still haven’t figured out what exactly they are staring at with me, but I think it has to do with my sandals. The look me in the eyes, then their eyes  move down my body to my feet, where they linger for a few seconds. Sometimes they’ll come back up to my eyes, others times their gaze moves to someone/ somewhere else. Always my feet though, the stares always linger on my feet. Sandals? Do my painted toe nails look like those of a gypsy? Even though it is definitely spring here and I am comfortable in a short sleeve dress and sandals, everyone else is in jeans, long sleeves and a jacket (and close toed shoes), and maybe even a scarf too. If it were this temperature in Boston, people would be busting out shorts and tank tops. No joke. Not here though. Not a single dress. Not a single pair of sandals. Nothing. My wardrobe choice is probably the reason for the stares. Unfortunately, I have 3 dresses and only 1 pair of pants. And given my bullet below, I don’t often wear the pants (plus it is seriously NICE out!).

– Related. Romanians don’t do breezes. They think a cool pleasant breeze gives you a cold. So. The trains, buses, houses etc. all have the windows closed, even when it is stifling. Also, it is obscenely warm indoors in this country. Every restaurant, museum, grocery store, cafe I have been in, I overheat. So, so hot. But God forbid we open a window. Even in the freaking gym!

– It rains. A lot. I guess probably as much as in April in the Northeast but coming from NZ in the summer where it barely rained, this kind of sucked. Sight seeing in the rain is not fun. Actually, I try to avoid it. It’s also cold. Well it was when I arrived. Highs of 45. Now it’s better, highs in the mid 60s to 70.

– I’ve been to 4 gyms in Romania, people don’t (re)rack their weights. This boggles my mind. This is probably The #1 Rule in Gyms in America, Rack your weights! They don’t unload their bars, the don’t put the plates back on the racks, the plates that are on the racks are in no particular order. I’ve seen 25kg plates on the upper part of a plate rack. A lot of gyms here also lack 1.25kg plates. Every gym also has a surprisingly large number of 15kg bars. Standard is 20kg. Once gym had exclusively 15kg bars. Another had a mix, and three people insisted that the 15kg bar was 20kg. I weighed it to be sure. Yeah, it was 15kg.

– Gyms are CHEAP! Average is 15 lei (just under $5) for a day pass. Attending three times per week, I pay less for day passes in a month than the monthly cost of a membership in the US.

– Romanians are seemingly obsessed with outward appearances. Okay, obsessed might be a bit of an overstatement. The benefit is there are LOTS of gyms to choose from. And they are affordable. Continuing with the staring- they do this at the gym as well. And okay, yeah, I am a girl in the free weight area which is rare enough, even in the US. Add in that I’m doing legitimate lifts with heavy weight and well, yeah, lots of stares. One guy asked if I was a wrestler! Never gotten that one before.

– Romanian food is….um okay. It’s simple. And while I appreciate the simplicity, I feel cheated when I pay for a bowl of polenta. It’s good, but it’s polenta. It’s a very hard dish to screw up, especially when you’re not doing anything terribly creative or innovative with it. So.. yes. Delicious. But simple. And loads of meat. LOADS of meat. Salami. Pepperoni. Pork. Chicken. I ingested more meat in my first two weeks here than probably the last 3 years of my life.

– Tomatoes. And Strawberries. Delicious. So delicious.

– Travel is mainly by train. There is a pretty extensive train network and you can buy tickets online (and the website is in English!). It’s very affordable. A 2-3 hr train ride is about 45 lei ($15-ish USD). My 6 hour train ride this afternoon is 66 lei. Overnight trains have a variety of classes that range from 80 lei for just a seat to 180 lei for a first class bunk.

For now that is all I can think of. Hopefully I’ll be better about updating, I make no guarantees though

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