Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Today I would like to tell you about Romania. I didn't know much abou the country as a child (they didn't import anything eatable to USSR as far as I remember :-) but much later I used to travel to Romania quite often, both on business and for pleasure.

Some importnat political information: Romania boarders Hungary on the North-West and these two countries have centuries' long ethnic conflict going on with regards Transylvania region (now part of Romania). Both Romanians and Hungarians were inhabitants of this land and it was under Hungarian and Romanian rule at different time. Both countries claim the right for Transylvania and it looks like the conflict will never be resolved. If you want to avoid overheated discussion then you'd rather not mention this subject especially if there are representatives of the both countries in the room. Also a person born and raised in Transivania, with a Romanian passport but having some Hungarian roots will always consider himself Hugarian and would refuse to speak Romanian to you though he'll be perfectly bilingual. So beware - VERY sensitive issue!

In my mind Romania is associated with the word "romantic" because it is indeed a romantic country. It could have been the "France" of Eastern Europe if the years of communist reign and the struggle for survival after it hadn't scarred the country as much as they did. This country has it all: the mighty mountins, the Carpathians, the beautiful seaside; the wonderful Danube Delta, which is a part of UNESCO world heritage; amazing medeival towns and castles and welcoming people. Romania, like France, also has great wines, especially the sweet varieties, the most famous one is the semi-sweet white "Cotnari". But the infrustructure necessary to connect it all is much to be desired...

Bucharest, the capital, is not a bright spot on the country's map either, through no fault of its own, though: it was badly damaged during WWII and what was left of old Bucharest was completely destroyed in the earthquake of 1977... So the post-war communist-style architecture that you see there now is an ugly reminder of the difficult times the country went through.

One thing Romania is most famous for (or I'd rather say Transyvania) is Count Dracula: his real-life prototype, Prince Vlad Tepes had his residence there in the Bran castle. In fact the legend is so famous all over the world that Romanians decided to capitulize on it: in 2001 they announced building a theme park, Dracula Land, which they hope will attract thousands of tourists from around the globe. It's a controversial project since Romanian church opposes it (another thing why Romania is close to a Russian heart is because among all European countries only Romania and Greece as well as Russia have orthodox church vs catholic church in the rest of Europe), but if Dracula means money, the country is in desperate need of it! So keep on look-out for the news of the grand opening!

Good inormational websites about Romania are:

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