A week ago we arrived in Bucharest, Romania. While living here for a year we will certainly encounter cultural differences. But it would be a shame to overshadow the physical differences. Among the many a few would be smells, layout of the city (including a lack of sidewalk space) and coffee.
We arrived in a heat wave. The smells are overpowering. Garbage in allies is rotting, I am sweating my gonads off, yet that is the extent. It is not the same as Bangkok, for instance. Where the smell of sewage seems to hit you every 10 meters. Our dog, Jethro, loves the smells. Specifically, the smells of Herastrau park. This is a well-done public park and, it is big! According to Wikipedia 187 hectares big with a 74 hectare lake in the middle (a hectare is 2.471 acres). Jethro probably has zillions of new smells to take in. There is a Japanese garden we still have to visit, several restaurants, a museum, a small fair with a Ferris wheel and much more. Here is a link to its page on Trip Advisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294458-d548240-Reviews-Herastrau_Park-Bucharest.html
The layout of the city and lack of sidewalks should be discussed as the same topic. Other than the obvious statement that older cities were not designed for cars. There also does not appear to have been a plan. I am used to a grid system. As we navigate the bending streets it has been a rare occasion when a straight line from one point to another is available.
Similar to many cities outside the U.S. streets will commonly have no sidewalk or a sliver of sidewalk. Where there is a sidewalk, even a sliver, cars are likely parked on it. Think of this circumstance combined with our son in his stroller. That is the difficulty. It works out in the end. But takes a week of getting used to. Bottom line, we have to walk in the street with our one-year old in his stroller, blind corners along with crumbling sidewalks and cars parked on them.
Coffee is part of the Romanian culture. Although we have not joined Romanians for coffee. At some point we shall. Just not quite yet. The coffee experience for me has been strong and is part of the smells of the city. Each day we have started it with a cup of joe. We bought a French press at the local Ikea. World, I ask you, what would we do without Ikea?!? Of course, I have been doing my unsalted butter in the coffee thing. This is related to my eating style that includes good fats for keeping me satiated. Today I am drinking that cup of coffee in a Starbucks souvenir mug. See the pic below. When I saw these mugs I had to have them for us. It was a splurge. But worth it.
Our time in Bucharest so far has been both difficult and rewarding. There were a lot of basics to get in place and learn. When it comes to what really matters these physical differences are minor. Keep in mind change is hard. The smallest shift in routine feels like it is magnified 10x due to bringing along a one-year old and a dog. As we push through each challenge we count our successes.
A tally of each would be lengthy, so we won’t get into that. Let’s just say the successes outweigh the difficulties. As the days pass we gain knowledge about our neighborhood, Cartierul Francez (translated as the French village) and our city, Bucharest.
Wish us luck!