6 Major Things I Learned about Romania after Traveling for One Month in Europe

6

I have just returned from a one month trip in Europe together with my family and, even though tired and still dreamy, it’s time to get back to work! Although some details about the trip itself are a must, I decided that the first article about our trip in Europe should be about things I learned about Romania during the time because such a trip is indeed an eye opener.

Most of the things that I will list below are usually important for those who are already living or planning to live for a longer period of time in Romania. Otherwise, I am sure that the Cons won’t really be felt and the Pros will feel even better. So let’s not waste any time and let’s see the 6 things I learned about Romania after traveling for one month in Europe.

1. Romania is indeed very cheap
A while ago, I did a price comparison between Romania and Spain and the conclusion was pretty much surprising: the food prices in Spain were similar or even cheaper than those in Romania.

Although that is generally correct (even though we didn’t visit Spain, we went through some expensive European countries like Germany, Austria and Italy), you will probably still spend a bit more on food in the Western Europe than you would in Romania. It all depends on what you eat, but if fresh fruits and vegetables are part of your daily menu, then you should know that they are extremely expensive in the rest of Europe compared to Romania. For example, when I got home, I bought three green onions and a kilo of fresh tomatoes for about 1 Euro. In the countries mentioned above, I would pay a bit over 1 Euro for the onions alone.

So even though most supermarket products are cheaper or similarly priced to what you can find in Romania, things even out as part of a balanced diet. One big bonus for Europe: the organic food in supermarkets is usually A LOT cheaper than in Romania.

2. Food is not the only cheap thing in Romania
If the monthly food budget would be roughly the same in Romania, other expenses would be a lot higher. In Vienna, I paid 16 Euros for a three day public transport pass. In Bucharest, a 7 day ticket is less than 4 Euros and a monthly pass is 18. From the few ads that I saw, rent is way more expensive than Romania and generally, if it’s not food, it’s more expensive than in Romania.

3. The beauty of Romania
Many Romanians know that their country is one of the most beautiful in the world. I personally believe that things have changed at least a bit and the saying should definitely go hand in hand with “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Indeed, Romania is a beautiful country if you are there for the raw, unaltered and sometimes kitsch beauty. The beauty of hills and forests, the authentic peasants guiding their sheep while wearing weathered traditional clothing, the original houses built in the 1940s and never renovated since. I personally prefer Munich with its flawlessly clean streets, buildings that seem to have just been built – colorful and full of life, not grey and dull like most buildings in Romania, built during the communism. The difference comes from the money each country has to invest in its looks and its pretty much obvious that Romania is the poor member of the family.

4. Romania is really dirty
I am lucky enough to live in what might be one of the cleanest cities in the country, but generally people in Romania still throw garbage on the streets and leave things behind instead of throwing them away in a bin. In smaller cities, you will rarely see people picking up the poop after their dogs, and Bucharest isn’t doing great in this area either. Overall, Romania is dirtier than most of the countries we saw: Hungary, Austria, Germany and Italy.

5. Romanians are always in a hurry
Some say that it’s the Latin blood that we all have. Whatever the truth is, Romanians always seem to be in a hurry. They always seem to have something on their mind – some place to reach and get there FAST. It was only in Vienna where I saw a similar approach to life. Everywhere else, all people seemed like they were taking a long, lazy stroll during their days off. I think that this is a healthier approach since stress is never good and I really hope that it’s something I can bring in to my daily life.

6. No country is perfect
Until going on this pretty lengthy trip through Europe, I didn’t travel much and every time I left the country, I was in vacation mode. I only saw resorts, beaches and the perfect, flawless aspects of the countries that I had visited, therefore believing that Romania is the last hell hole on earth. The truth is that, mostly, it’s the person living in the country that chooses to make it perfect or a nightmare. And I realized that no country is perfect, even though I only spent just a few days in each city that I have visited and even though they were, generally, more impressive than Romania – probably because of the novelty factor, too.

In Romania, we say that German cars are the best and they never break down. In Munich, a German car broke and was pulled over and it was me and a guy from Australia who helped the German driver push the car to the side of the street. In Vienna, people were always in a hurry and rarely smiling, and in their subway stations and trains always smelled like horse poop. In Budapesta, the old buildings – even though beautiful had a relatively low level of living thanks to no privacy, no sunlight and crammed spaces. And so on.

In other words, if you really want to, you can see a lot of imperfections and find a ton of reasons to complain for anywhere. Living for 30 years in the same country, seeing the same imperfections over and over again might result in you ignoring all the good and nice stuff that actually makes that place great. The beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, as I already said. And you can choose to see the beautiful things in the ugliness or make all ugly beautiful.

I have had my fair share of life lessons during the trip and I am extremely happy that I managed to turn this amazing thing into reality. In the end, I couldn’t wait to get home even though I had an amazing time in every city that we visited. Home is where the heart is and, strangely, my heart is, right now, in Romania. I would still love to live in what I still call a better country in Europe but for the time being, I am happy to be home. Romania is not the best country to live in, it’s not the most up to date country in Europe and it has its fair share of major flaws, but you can make it work. Or at least give your best shot.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is just an absolutely wonderful post! Firstly.. I am so glad you, the Mrs. and baby C. Are back safely! I missed your posts :-). Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. We can choose to make ourselves miserable wherever we are, or we can choose to make ourselves happy with what we have. I’m so glad that the trip gave you a new appreciation for Romania. Funny about the dog poop, same here in Spain, same in Malta and l hated that part of Paris too. I just can’t understand why people do not pick up after their pets ..it take 2 seconds.. Welcome back!!!

  2. Calin:
    Welcome back! We missed you! I figured “Wife Romanian” made you stow the laptop so you’d enjoy your vacay more;-) How did Eric make out? Is he a good little traveler?
    It is interesting the no-holds barred reflections you have of your country, and the places you visited. (Pix, pix, we must have pix!;-) I am most curious about Rijeka, Croatia. That is a place on my radar–I hear Croatia has a low cost of living and more temperate weather than Central Europe.
    Were you able to stay within your budget, or did you have to dip into the piggy bank? What were your impressions of the various railroads? Do you think sometime you will come to the USA? (Let me advise where to go.) Do you think Airbnb is a good service? Would you consider putting your apartment up on the site? I’ve heard of some real war stories, but you’ve actually used the service.
    Re dirty–I think people all over should take more pride in place. We’ve got some real pigsties here. I understand Singapore is the place to go for “no dirt.”
    Thanks again for sharing your opinions–they are most enlightening!
    ~Teil

    • Hello Teil! It was actually Baby Romanian who decided to smash my iPad which was needed a lot for my work, so I decided to take that at a sign and enjoy the vacation. We were, anyway, outside for 8 hours a day if not more, always tired and never in the mood for writing 🙂

      I will write some in-depth articles about the trip, but to answer your questions, I found Croatia slightly cheaper than Italy or Germany, but way more expensive than what I expected. We had the worst weather during our stay in Pula and Rijeka, the latter keeping us inside quite a bit. The city itself is really small but charming. However, just like all of Croatia, it’s on the hills and unless you really like climbing a ton of stairs and going up and down the hills (by walking if you don’t have a car), I would not recommend it.

      I always wrote down our daily expenses and looked to stay within budget, so we managed to do so. The trains and railroads are great all the way from Hungary to Italy, then things dumb down a little bit in Croatia, Serbia and, of course, Romania (but Romania seems to be better than the first two).

      I would love coming to the US, but right now the costs for the plane tickets alone are discouraging to say the least so we have to start saving some money. There are also rumors that the Visa requirements for visiting the US might be removed sometime in the future, so I’m waiting for more on that too 🙂

      We had absolutely no problem with AirBnb and we were pleasantly surprised with all our hosts. We did make sure to choose hosts that had a lot of positive reviews to reduce the chances of bad experiences. I am considering putting our apartment on AirBnb, but we’re still debating if that would really be a good idea (since we can only share a room – and our city is rarely visited by anybody, anyway, ha!)

  3. Welcome back! I missed you too. Those other blogs you suggested we read while you were gone ranged from “okay” to “what the…” but your blog is still the best.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here