This past week I had the pleasure of spending three days in Romania. Based in Bucharest, I was warned that Romania wasn’t really a place that people called “beautiful”. I beg to differ.
While it resembles Belgrade or Thessaloniki in terms of its rough-around-the-edges appearance, Bucharest certainly retains some of the charm that comes with the territory; as they say, the people make the place.
Romanians are spectacular. Loud and open, but still reserved and not overbearing. It’s quite a feat to balance those things in this part of the world.
While in Bucharest I met people that rank among some of the most interesting humans I’ve ever come across. A young girl from Moldova, wandering somewhat aimlessly as she searched for work- and happy to finally have someone to speak to about something other than her employment status. An older man, from Timisoara, Romania who had traveled the world. He spoke like a professor, sharing perspectives and lessons from his travels. Before leaving he gifted me his prayer book, complete with a dedication to me out of appreciation for my love of learning. I spent my 20th birthday touring Transylvania with a young couple, engaged this past January, who left their corporate jobs to start a tour company; even with strangers in a strange place I felt like I was among friends. Romanians seem to have that effect on people.
There were countless others, and I will share more as I continue to reflect on the experience, but it may take weeks before I can do justice to these people and their stories. For now, these are the thoughts I’ve been able to articulate:
1) like Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania has branded itself as having 'too much history'
2) Romanians seem to have adopted the rhetoric that all humans are the same. It is hugely heartwarming.
3) people understand what makes them happy and are unafraid to avoid things that do not
4) the culture reminds me of Italy, though it retains distinct Eastern European influences. So it goes.
5) I have never felt more welcome in a place in my entire life
To sign off, whoever said Romania wasn’t beautiful clearly hasn’t been there. Between the people and their history, I was astounded by the beauty of the place. See photographic evidence below.