Goodbye 2010

I'll spend this midnight in the same Revolution Square I spent it one year ago. And one year before that.

This is me saying to you: - All the best, my friends; see you in 2011.

With love,



There's been quite a while since I last actually wrote something here.

Today I feel the need to write, and I also think of the fact that this is perhaps the last occasion to do it this year. Time is running very fast.

The end of 2010 catches up with me being very tired. The break I had in November was welcome; however this month was pretty busy itself, my schedule was not easy at all and I had to figure out a way to carry on everything I had planned to myself. I suppose that's the way things are going to be around for quite a while.

You know the drill: the end of the year comes and, out of mere reflex, actually, I draw a line and try to see how to think about it and what to expect of the new year around the corner. In the short, I'm tempted to think 2010 was a good year which could have been only slightly better. But the truth is that 2010 was a very difficult year for my family, and I cannot overcome this. 2011 won't be easier.

This was a very good year as far as money is concerned. But that did not come easy. I have two jobs, I have a schedule for every single day of the week, there are quite a few moments when I burn out. I try hard to do my best. And I'm not very rich by Romanian standards, I'm just fine. Yet, I'm happy knowing that I am a man of no debts.

I do not have a personal life, I'm afraid. But I have a handful of very good friends, and I am blessed because of that.

Few words about blogging: 2010 was by far the best year so far - and you know, my friends, blogging really matters to me. I have reasons to believe 2011 will be even better. My intention is to adjust a bit the blog: to keep posting pictures of the city and of the places I visit, and to write more. That, however, will depend on available resources - above all, time.

As for 2011 and general prospects, I say this:

Exactly 21 years ago, the regime changed in my country. People had hopes and illusions.
Today, people lost their hopes, and lost their illusions. Last week, a desperate father of two children threw himself from the balcony in the Parliament's Palace debate hall, as the deputies were debating the budget law for next year.

In the present situation, the only thing we can do is to help each other and to care more about each other. That is the only thing I expect from 2011.

To all my visitors from Romania, the US, France, the UK, Germany and the other tens of countries, a heartfelt "happy new year".

With love,


Bucharest in photos

First tracks in the snow, this winter.

The snow, meanwhile, has vanished.

PS. It is not related to the post itself, but I spent today at church, then at home - reading, surfing Romanian blogs, listening to carols and discovering a song I really enjoy. I hope you will as well.

PPS. It is also the first day in more than three weeks when I was able to run again, after a nasty injury I sustained on December 1st.


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, guys.

Don't try to do all the "must" / "to do" and that stuff... just be happy and good-willing.

I hope you like carols. Because this is me and my friends singing to you.


Bucharest in photos

Ruins. The central part of the town is, unfortunately, full of them.

It goes without saying this is a great way to destroy a valuable cultural heritage.


Bucharest in photos. The city by night

I realized we shall celebrate soon 21 years from the Revolution.

I wonder somehow if people will celebrate, as some of them (unjustly) like to believe it was better before the change of regime. I just convinced myself that my co-nationals have a short memory - they forget easily, they do not learn from their mistakes, they do not plan the future.

One of the observations you make when reading Romanian history is that people in this space live in a continuous present, a place with no future nor past. Because I cannot possibly imagine how so many of us are eager to forget that more than one thousand perished for what we have now. How do we carry on their memory?


Bucharest in photos

This picture was taken, obviously, back in spring, near the Royal Palace....

Spring is my favorite season of the year. Which does not mean I don't like the other seasons...

In winter, the thing I like the most is to walk in the snow, while it snows. And in the summer, I like very much to walk through the rain.

With love,


Bucharest in photos

The problem in Bucharest is that, whenever you want to watch the sky, you have to get through the wires.

It is bad if you watch the sky, it is good if you read the Akamai's reports on the state of the internet...



As you can see, the face of my blog changed, as I was not very satisfied with the way the page looked like, lately - it had become a little too impersonal for my taste, looking more like a site and less like a blog.

I hope you will find the new page more personal and reader friendly; I tried to make the text and the images easier to perceive.

I also introduced a voting system for the posts - a thing I wanted to do for a long time now - and I invite you to vote whenever you feel a post is good or, on the contrary, irrelevant.

Do not hesitate to leave comments if you think further changes should be made. I want my readers to feel comfortable on this page.

In the end, the photo of the day: a concert in the Constitution Square, with the Parliament's Palace in the background. The picture was taken with my telephone, back in April 2009. And the one singing was Al Bano.

With love,

Bucharest in photos

Some paintings ... at an exhibition in Bucharest.


Bucharest in photos. The city by night

This is what should rightfully be the ancient center of Bucharest: Şelari street, corner with Lipscani.

In its current state, believe me, the primary concern of anybody visiting the area is not getting their feet broken.


Bucharest in photos

The Romanian folk band Poesis, in concert, two weeks ago, at cinema Scala in Bucharest.

It was one of my favorite Romanian bands as a teenager, because of songs like the one below - please listen to it, it is very beautiful. In fact, their entire 1996 album was awesome. I had it on tape, you know. And my surprise during the concert was to see that I remembered almost all the lyrics. I was also very proud to see Andreea and her quartet accompanying them for a part of the concert.



Bucharest in photos

Today is the national day of my country. Happy anniversary, Romania.

A few days ago, I told you what I believe about my co-nationals. This is the raw material and that's it.

But above all, no matter what, I am proud to be Romanian and to belong to my nation. And I hope that the trouble we have to face these days will soon become a part of the past.
In the photo, you can notice the eternal flame burning. To the glory of our soldiers.

And I add one moment: some people singing the national anthem of their country.


Bucharest in photos. The city by night

For comparison. The same Cocor building - with its extra-large LCD screen - photographed yesterday.


Bucharest in photos. The city by night

They say this is the biggest LCD screen in Europe at the moment. It might be true, considering it is a part of the 5-level facade of the Cocor building, located in - or just nearby - Piata Unirii.

The picture was taken back in December 2008, immediately after the LCD screen was inaugurated. Meanwhile, the stores inside was open as well, so you can shop there if you ever come here.


Bucharest in photos. Pilgrimage

The patron Saint and protector of Bucharest is Saint Demetrius the New, celebrated on October 27th, when  tens of thousands of people from all parts of Romania and from abroad come to whisper a prayer next to his coffin. You can find his relics in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest (and you have to know that lots of people, especially from Orthodox countries, visit this church every Sunday).

By every standards, Romanians are very religious people. In Europe, they can only compare to the Polish and the Maltese, in terms of religiosity. The problem is that the level of religiosity does not mean automatically that the religious faith is equally strong - as duplicity is an issue in most maters concerning Romanians. But do not be surprised if you find out religion is very powerful in Romania.


Bucharest in photos. Watching the game

Surprisingly, the event projected on the huge screen was not a football match, but a handball one.

And a song I really really like.

week'toriAl48. About my co-nationals

I've had a rough schedule lately. This is not an excuse; it's rather an explanation to my recent absence.

Today's post is about my fellow co-nationals. I'll put down what I came to learn about them so far. It costed me a lot to learn these things. A few weeks ago I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of one of them. So this was on my mind for a while, recently.

The things I do not like about Romanians, first:

- they are disorganized. This is visible as you walk on the streets. It is also visible if you watch them driving, for instance.
- they are egocentric.
- many of them do not like to work. That being said, there are many who really do, and many who work really hard; the concept of burn-out is not a mystery in Romania. But still, there are many who do not like to work.
- most of them do not like to respect rules. Or to respect the others.
- many have a bad impression about their country, while they have a good impression about themselves.
- they do not like to plan things, and I suppose this is the first thing you may see as you take the first step into the country.
- many have a lot to learn about good taste, as they really like kitsch - a rather common way of life around here, unfortunately.
- the worst thing, the only thing that ever made me consider emigrating, is that many Romanians envy the others so passionately, that their reasoning capacity is diminished. Out of personal experience, I can tell you there were cases when people tried to harm me just because they believed I was richer than them. And they did so even if their action did not bring them any advantage at all. Of course, this is not general, but it is really painful.

What I like about them, instead:

- they are not stupid (unless if they try really hard);
- they began traveling and opening themselves to the world. It basically means that, if you ever come to Romania, you should normally find people with a decent command of basic English, and occasionally other languages, such as Italian, Spanish, German or French. And this is a huge change if you look 20 years behind, as during the communist period only the privileged few were allowed to travel abroad;
- they actually have a rich cultural heritage, thus an identity which, rightfully used, could lead to a very fast and steady development of their country;
- they like to party. This might be actually a sign of superficiality, but to me this represents rather a sign of an easy heart.

You see, most of my co-nationals like to complain about their poorness. And most Romanians are poor, indeed. They will always tell you it is not their fault and they will blame the politicians - which is not primarily true. The Romanian politicians are indeed a disaster at this point, but they are in fact similar to the people they represent. Our main problem is not poorness; it is disorganization. It is not that we do not have money to spend; it is that we waste the (little) money we have and we blame others.

This makes that people who want to change things around here have only two possibilities in the end: they have to adapt themselves to the rest of the society and to appear as normal people, while invisibly trying to walk their way; or they have to quit and to emigrate - which represents their defeat, as well as the defeat of the country itself. Both these things happen today.

And then, there are those few who try to bring change without adapting themselves to the society. You tell me what is right and wrong here.


Bucharest in photos. A sea of cars

On Calea Victoriei, on a rainy evening.

Bucharesters love driving, let me tell you that, again and again.

On another key, I invite you to listen to one of the songs included into the national selection for Eurovision 2011. There are 13 songs in the national final, and this is the only one I liked. Enjoy.


Bucharest in photos

Entrance to the Cinema Patria in Bucharest. It was the night of a Holograf unplugged concert. Holograf is among the oldest Romanian bands still active, as the band appeared first time on stage 33 years ago.



I arrived here on Monday morning, after a journey of 12 long hours by train. I decided not to go further west and to spend my week off swimming in hot waters. So far, I can say, it is a good decision.

Oradea is a city of medium size located some 10 kilometers away from the western border of Romania. Budapest, Debreczen and Miskolc are much closer than Bucharest (which is situated some 600 kilometers away), so it is not a surprise that my presence here looked exotic to some. And 20 % of its population is ethnic Hungarian.

It is for the first time that I take contact with Oradea. I have to say I discovered a beautiful city, with a well-established urban identity, as most of the edifices in downtown were here already one hundred years ago.

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.

I was curious to see more about the cultural/entertainment life of the city. I went to see a movie on Monday, I listened to a concert of a Hungarian rock band yesterday and I went to the Philharmonic tonight. There is also a state theater here, but all the seats for the tonight play were taken, and tomorrow I'll be already on my way back. In the end, I can say there is some cultural life here, but sadly and yet unsurprisingly the cultural offer is not rich. On the other hand, there are some good pubs and a handful of decent restaurants.

As for the historical part,  I noticed, before coming here, that there are two synagogues in Oradea and that the Hebrew minority was very important here until a few decades ago, so I decided to ignore a little the relations between Romanian and Hungarian ethnics - which by the way seem rather normal and much better than a decade ago.

The Holocaust - effective in that part of Romania occupied by Hungary during the Second World War - and then the communist dictatorship reduced the tens of thousands to six hundred Hebrew inhabitants of Oradea today (the third largest community in the country, after Iasi and obviously Bucharest). I visited one of the synagogues and listened to the explanations of my guide. I saw the place where people were forced to take the death trains to Auschwitz. The community is struggling to survive as religious community, as most of its members are old and the youth is generally ignorant of the old Hebrew used in religious ceremonies. This is, by the way, a general trend concerning the Hebrew communities in Romania. Their main problem today is to gather the ten men necessary for the daily prayer.

A few words about Baile Felix. Baile Felix is a station located 8 kilometers away from Oradea where one can find hot thermal springs, many outdated two-star hotels built during the communist period - left as such during the last two decades, as they were administered either by the state or, even worse, by the syndicates - and a lot of small mansions. My honest advice is that, if you ever decide to come here, you should avoid the hotels and go to a mansion. I am fully satisfied with the flat I rented this week, and my only regret is that I am alone.

And a few photos.