Romania - May 1—May 15, 2001

2009 Introduction

This was what I thought about Romania in 2001 after my first visit to Bucharest, Constanta, and Brasov. The country is very different now and so am I; a lot of what I wrote on these pages now strikes me as pretty naive. However, I have resisted the temptation to revise these words in order to preserve both 2001 Romania and 2001 Me.

Since 2001, Romania has joined the EU, a Ceasescu-era Dacia is a nearly extinct species of car in Bucharest, pirated media is no longer sold on the streets (since everyone just gets it online these days), the Unirea shopping center in Bucharest has transformed from warehouse to thoroughly modern mall, and the once-unbeatable women's gymnastics team is now a little more human.

My original 2001 narrative begins below.


My May 2001 Trip

When I originally announced plans to travel to Romania, my American friends usually asked two questions. The first—"Where is Romania?"—was easy to answer. Romania is located in Eastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea. Transylvania, popularly known in Western pop culture as Dracula's stomping ground, lies in the northwestern section of Romania. Romania has mountains in the north, the Black Sea to the east, and lots of farmland.

The second question was —"Why are you going there?" I will deflect that answer with some questions of my own. "Why all the questions? You a cop or something?" Just read the following, and I think you'll agree that the experience of traveling in Romania is a worthwhile one.


Bucuresti (Bucharest)