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Saturday, September 30, 2006
It’s all in the Details

Being happy, being sad, succeeding or loosing, it all depends on insignificant details. The tone of someone voice, the way they smile when they talk, their paying attention to a hand moved carelessly, a sudden atmosphere change, a glance catching something otherwise overlooked…They all make a great difference between two courses of a same story.

A window suddenly popping on your screen with a few words written on it, they make your day better. And probably a few more after that day, when you leave on the memory of that small touch on your soul.

Thank you!

Tags: Alina, Alina Popescu, Personal

posted by Alina @ 10:10 AM   11 comments
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Breaking the Dracula Myth
What I remember most about my last visit at the Bran Castle is its being full with foreign tourists, most of them American. They come here with Bram Stockers stories in mind, hoping to see the castle of the dark prince draining people of blood to prolong his own despicable existence. They get to Romania, go to Bran, near Brasov, and reach a museum-castle actually showing the lifestyle and tastes of the Romanian Royal family. The Dark Ages are long gone from this castle and the only Dracula reminders are outside, where outdoor salespersons offer Dracula cups, paintings and other such souvenirs.

Besides being placed in Transylvania by Stocker, are there any reasons for calling Bran Dracula’s Castle? Well, Vlad did enter Transylvania through here with his army, as the castle history states. I also remember some stories of him being a prisoner at the castle for a while.

While searching for an invented ghost, those coming here miss out on the real story. A cruel prince o the Dark Ages, so cruel that no one dared to steal or kill in his country. Not out of an understanding of justice, but out of fear. We, new generations of his people, remember most of what was taught to us in school: he fought the Ottomans to keep them out of the country and of Europe and he impaled those he caught. No real mentioning of his excessive cruelty towards women and children and other such facts or myths.

Here are some excerpts of the Romanian ruler’s life. More on the subject, in English, on Wikipedia.

Vlad III the Impaler (Vlad Ţepeş : ['tsepeʃ] in common Romanian reference; also known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad Drăculea; November or December, 1431 – December 1476) was voivode (prince) of Wallachia, now part of Romania. His three reigns were in 1448, 1456 to 1462, and 1476.

His Romanian surname Draculea (transliterated as Dracula in foreign languages of the historical documents where his name is mentioned) seems to come from his father's surname Dracul; the latter who was a member of the Order of the Dragon created by Emperor Sigismund of Hungary. Vlad's family had two factions, the Drăculeşti and the Dăneşti, sections always having a feeling of rivalry.

His post-mortem moniker of Ţepeş (Impaler) originated in his preferred method for executing his opponents, impalement. In Turkish, he was known as Kazıklı Bey (Impaler Prince).

There are several variants of Vlad III the Impaler's death. Some sources say he was killed in battle against the Turks near Bucharest in December of 1476. Others say he was assassinated by disloyal Wallachian boyars just as he was about to sweep the Turks from the field or during a hunt. Still other reports claim that Vlad, at the moment of victory, was accidentally struck down by one of his own men. Vlad's body was decapitated by the Turks and his head was sent to Istanbul and preserved in honey, where the sultan had it displayed on a stake as proof that Kazıklı Bey was dead. He was reportedly buried at a monastery located near Bucharest, yet the exact place of his burial remains unknown, as excavations at Snagov monastery, usually mentioned as his final resting place, have found no human remains.

Photo originally uploaded on Wikipedia.

Vlad III Ţepeş is best known for his exceeding cruelty. Impalement was Ţepeş's preferred method of torture and execution. His method of torture - a horse attached to each of the victim's legs as a sharpened stake was gradually forced into the body. The end of the stake was usually oiled, and care was taken that the stake not be too sharp; else the victim might die too rapidly from shock. Normally the stake was inserted into the body through the anus and was often forced through the body until it emerged from the mouth. However, there were many instances where victims were impaled through other bodily orifices or through the abdomen or chest. Infants were sometimes impaled on the stake forced through their mother's chests. The records indicate that victims were sometimes impaled so that they hung upside down on the stake.

Impalement was Vlad the Impaler's favourite but by no means his only method of torture. The list of tortures employed by the prince is extensive: nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses and ears, mutilation of sexual organs (especially in the case of women), scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to animals, and boiling alive.

No one was immune to Vlad the Impaler's attentions. His victims included women and children, peasants and great lords, ambassadors from foreign powers and merchants. However, the vast majority of his European victims came from the merchants and boyars of Transylvania and his own country, Wallachia. Vlad Ţepeş committed even more impalements and other tortures against invading forces, namely Ottomans. It was once reported that an invading Ottoman army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube.

In Romania he is still considered by some to be a "savior" to the people of his country. He is also considered one of the greatest leaders and defenders of Romania and was voted one of "100 Greatest Romanians" in the Mari Români television series aired in 2006.

The Bran Castle was built for two reasons: protection against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, and its strategic position: being places on the main access road from Wallachia to Transylvania. Therefore the Hungarian king Ludovic I de Anjou agreed to have the fortress built in November 19, 1377. In 1382 the construction had already been completed.

At the beginning of the XVthe century, the castle is given to the Wallachian ruler Mircea cel Batran. On this occasion, the custom placed here was moved to Brasov. In 1426, the castle is returned to Transylvanian rulers who were to nominate the person administrating the fortress.

At the beginning of the year 1459 Vlad the Impaler’s army will pass through Bran to further attach Brasov. After these events and further Ottoman attacks, the fortress will remain under Brasov ruling.

Later on, as the fortress could no longer be a reliable defense, the border will be moved and Bran will loose its important role in 1836. In 1920, the castle was given as a givt to the Romanian Royal family, who will own it for 27 years. In the next 10 years, many architectural changes have been made to the castle, trying to transform it into a modern summer residence.

The Royal family brought electricity in the region, building a supplying factory in the castle area. Three phones were also brought here and an elevator was taking the castle’s inhabitants from one floor to another. Bran, along with the Balcic palace, was Queen Maria’s favorite residence.

Queen Maria has also turned the castle in a party place, many royal feasts being organized here. The queen left the castle to Princess Ileana after her death. The princess will then helped the castle develop in the 9 years she owned it.

Photo uploaded on the official museum site.

More historical details are also available on the museum’s official site.

Cross posted at Light Within.

Tags: Toursim, Travel, Travel Destinations, Romania, Bran Castle, Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler, Romanian History

posted by Alina @ 8:10 AM   11 comments
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Himalayan Journal
The online edition of the Evenimantul Zilei daily newspaper will host climber Constantin Lacatusu’s blog. The new featured blog will describe his ongoing expedition in the Himalayas.

The blog’s first post is dated Semptember 23 and up to now has been followed by two additional entries. Lacatusu will use this means to describe his experiences, including hardships right from the start (like loosing his luggage). Unfortunately the blog is mostly in Romanian, mixed with a few English phrases, therefore available for Romanian speakers only.

Photo orginally uploaded in Constatin Lacatusu's blog profile.

It will be a quite interesting blog to watch, quite original in the Romanian blogosphere. Posibly in the global one also. Has anybody heard of a similar blog: describing an adventure on a Himalayan peak in real time?

Tags: Himalayas, Constantin Lacatusu, Climbing, Romanian Climbers, Blogging, Blogosphere

posted by Alina @ 1:18 PM   9 comments
First Woman to be General Attorney after 1989
Justice Minister Monica Macovei (yes, also a woman), made a surprise nomination for the position of Romania’s General Attorney: Laura Codruta Kovesi, head of the Sibiu office of the Organized Crime and Anti-Terrorism Unit or DIICOT.

The future General Attorney will not have an easy job. She must reorganize the structure of the Prosecutors offices in order to increase their efficiency and solve many important files that have been halted due to the lack of an Attorney General.

Full story in Romanian here and a summary in English here.

The new General Attorney is also quite young, only 33. Maybe she will have the needed fresh and determined spirit to make all these changes for the better.

Tags: Romania, General Attorney, Women Officials
posted by Alina @ 10:20 AM   0 comments
Monday, September 25, 2006
Romanian to Climb Himalayan Peak Tsartse

According to Rompress, the Romanian mountain climber Constantin Lacatusu will start on a new expedition to the Himalayas, together with two German mountaineers Gotz Wiegand and Frank Meutzner.

The three men will try to climb Tsartse Peak (6,346 metres), situated in the north of the Kingdom of Nepal, near the border with Tibet, China, in the Himalayan group Dhaula Himal. Still unclimbed, Tsartse Peak is situated north of Dhaulagiri, in a region that is very little known and visited.

Constantin Lacatusu is the Romanian with the most significant alpine portfolio: first Romanian 8,000 metres ascent (Broad Peak - 8,047 metres, in 1992), first Romanian atop Mount Everest (8,850 metres, in 1995), the first Romanian private person climbing on an 8.000 metre high mountain (Cho Oyu - 8,201 metres, in 1998), first Romanian winner on the world's highest peaks (1993-2001), over 30 foreign ascents as a premiere for Romania, three world premieres, and 10 expeditions to the Himalayas.

Photo of Lacatusu originally uploded by Evenimentul Zilei

The story was first published online on September 20 by Rompres and today by Evenimentul Zilei. The Romanian daily also published an interview with the Romanian climber. Story and interview in Romanian here.

According to the same daily, the whole expedition, comprising of four stages will take 46 days and has an over 40,000 dollars budget. More than half of this amount, covered mainly by sponsors, are trasportation and accomodation expenses.

Let's all wish them good luck in winning this battle against nature.

Tags: Himalayas, Tsartse, Constantin Lacatusu, Climbing, Romanian Climbers, Alpine Sports
posted by Alina @ 5:19 PM   3 comments
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Sunday Nights

When I feel a Sunday afternoon coming, I prey not to be alone. Sunday nights are the moments when I am weak, when I’m lonely and always miss K the most. I have no issue in any other day and I have no idea why Sundays need to be so special.

It feels like the end of my world is coming and I would like to run away and hide. Well, for this week, even if I wanted I had no choice. K is in Istanbul and I have an early doctor’s appointment tomorrow. And thanks to la francophonie a road trip from Ploiesti to Bucharest early in the morning takes too much.

Saturday morning, after my trip to Medicover for my appointment, I took off to Ploiesti. Well, a maximum one hour and a half drive took 3 and a half…I felt mocked at. Why do we organize big events if we are completely incapable of handling them, or their rehearsals, without messing everyone’s life? Beats me.

It was raining, but it was warm in the car, good music, it all made the experience bearable. I picked my mom late, but she expected it as there were constant reports on this situation on the radio. So we got to my grandma quite late in the afternoon. I had plans to relax, read and study a little. It turned into a bit of reading and watching Desperate Housewives on my laptop…

This morning I played with the dog, said hi to the chickens and ducks, wandered a little through my granny’s yard and then started the road back, to Ploiesti and then to Bucharest. To find this disturbing Sunday night…But it will pass!

Photos to come, I hope. Smart as I am, I forgot my camera. So I took some photos with my cell. But I cannot find the file management CD…

Now listening: Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars…Thanks, Batty!

Just forget the world...
posted by Alina @ 7:29 PM   2 comments
Happy Birthday!
K and his twin sister Z were born some time ago today. So this post is dedicated to them, wishing them the world's very best.

And for you my love, an excerpt of my new favorite song, Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars.

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
posted by Alina @ 6:41 PM   2 comments
Friday, September 22, 2006
Watching the World through an Umbrella

On rainy mornings, 9 am seems like sometime late in the afternoon. Everyone drinking something hot, coffee, chocolate or tea, the lights open and a warm feeling you have from being inside while you see the clouds outside. I would simply love to spend days like this in bed, reading, writing and drinking warm drinks only.

Since K and I bought the transparent umbrella in Bran (the rain had caught us there), I love walking in the rain. It seems you get more light, you see everything, you see people approaching, although they only see bits of you, you look up and see the sky, blurry a bit because of the drops on your umbrella, but the sky is there to enchant your eyes.

And after it had rained for a while and the sidewalk is all shinny, you can also see your reflection while walking. Like in a mirror, seeing another you walking in a different reality with different Physics rules. A travel companion to smile back at you if you smile.

A little drop getting on your face before hiding under the umbrella, the fresher air, it helps you wake up easily. Rainy days are not depressing at all if you learn to enjoy their little pleasures.

Tags: Rain, Alina, Alina Popescu

posted by Alina @ 9:25 AM   9 comments
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Tourist in Romania Photography contest

HotNews is hosting a photography contest that has now reached its final phase. 101 photographs (any connection with the Dalmatians?) have made it into the finals and you are invited to vote for the one you like the most.

Click here to view all these photos of the “Tourist in Romania: what I saw, what I liked, what hurt me” finals . I’ve seen quite a few beautiful ones but I could not decide which one to vote yet. Will take a second and probably a third look.

Unfortunately, all details on the submitted photos (location, date when they were taken etc) are in Romanian only. And I could not find a link on the main page. The contest is not that visible from my point of view, although it should.

Tags: Photography Contest, Romania, Tourism in Romania, Travel Destinations in Romania

posted by Alina @ 2:53 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Bucharest, Happy Anniversary!

Capital of the Walachian and Moldavian region united under the name of the Romanian state since 1862, Bucharest celebrates today 547 from its first mentioning in an official document.

Vlad Tepes, also known as the Impaler or Dracula (let’s thank Bram Stocker for that), mentioned Bucharest in a letter dating from 1459. He built a fortress in Bucharest to hold back the Turks threatening the Walachian state. For more historical details, visit this link.

The event will be celebrated for three days, graffiti, movies, concerts, theatre plays and medieval art being included in the program. More details in this Evenimentul Zilei article.

Picture originally uploaded by Evenimentul Zilei.

For more views of Bucharest, please also see this older photopost of mine.

Tags: Bucharest, Romania, Anniversaries, Events
posted by Alina @ 4:24 PM   5 comments
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
How to Scare your Neighbors
Parking lots in Romania are a huge problem. Mostly because the lack of brains some construction companies experienced when building blocks. The issue is this: some do not come with assigned parking lots; or they come with to few. And it’s never clear enough which is which.

So, if you want to scare your ignorant neighbor, be a smart ass, wait till they park in a wrong spot, then start their alarm. At about 9 pm. Twice or three times. They will come rushing downstairs and move the car from your spot, although there were about 3 other empty spots beside the one you’ve already parked on.

Then act like you did nothing wrong, you just wanted the place you pay for and could not find a more civilized procedure. Did I mention there was no sign near that place? Other parking spot owners write their car registration numbers on them. Why would you? Paint costs, in the end.

Anyway, moved my car, after getting quite scared. My car is not set to have the alarm started when a fly passes by. This was the first time I actually heard it. Did I tell you I then almost woke up each time a different alarm started last night? The famous Romanian kindness, mocked to the core of it.

Tags: Romania, Parking lots, Buildings

posted by Alina @ 10:55 AM   6 comments
Monday, September 18, 2006
Teenagers' Take on Alcohol, Tobacco and Work Abroad

According to a recent migration tendencies survey conducted on teenagers (high-school students), one out of ten teenagers wants to work abroad. The survey was performed by the Philosophy- Sociology of the History Faculty within the "Dunarea de Jos" University in Galati and the results were published in the Evenimentul Zilei daily newspaper.

The most powerful reason to work abroad (given by 43% of the respondents) is earning more. Teenagers are convinced they would be paid more abroad than in Romania. Although 85% of the high-school students intend to continue their education, most of them are also thinking about working abroad after university graduation.

Of the respondents’ families, 62.3% have low incomes of up to 300 euros per month. Almost a third of these teenagers are decided to get a job immediately after finishing highschool. The original article in Romanian here and a part of it in English here.

The same Evenimentul Zilei published a second survey (Ro only) in today’s issue, with even more dangerous results. 20% of the girls and 27% of the boys with ages between 13 and15 are smokers. Moreover, 80% of young people aged 15-19 admit to having had alcohol in the past year.

The newspapers stated that most of the young people wanting to work abroad take after their parents. Most of them have at least one parent or relative working abroad. Is it the same in the case of smoking and drinking alcohol? Is the consumption of these two poisons so normal here that even 13 year olds are taking up such bad habits?

I have seen such children smoking on the street. They look so unnatural with cigarettes in their hands. They also frighten me. By the time they are 20, they would have been smoking for 7 years. What is there to do to stop them? A good anti-smoking campaign. One presenting all the damages and one aimed to adults and children as well.

What have we done against smoking? Well, we start prohibiting it everywhere. In my opinion, that is not a good idea. Outlining the state of being a smoker would be better. Separate seats, separate restaurant sections and a lot of campaigns fighting the smoking phenomenon.

These children are brought up in environments where parents, friends or relatives are smoking and who drink occasionally (weekends, parties, birthdays, holidays etc). They grow up to consider smoking and occasional drinking to be the real deal, the normal and beautiful life. I guess we all remembered the mixed parties, children and parents as well, sharing the same room and paying attention to everything our parents did.

If you see all those around you smoking and drinking, don’t you find it normal? Also, would you believe someone who smokes when he/she says smoking is not good for you? Thus the need for campaigns.

As for better wages and young people choosing to work in Romania, that’s a far more complicated issue. We should first acknowledge it, understand the reasons for it and work on them. What surprises me most is the similarity of reasons to leave. Seems like a tape replayed over and over again: earning more. What happened to the adventure spirit? To first studying abroad? To just visiting and striving to get a better salary here? The financial side of our existence is really becoming so obvious!

Tags: Romania, Romanian Teenagers, Smoking, Non-smoking, Alcohol Consuption, Working Abroad, Migration Tendencies

posted by Alina @ 1:55 PM   2 comments
Trip to Constanta
Dating back to 12.000 years ago, Constanta is the main Romanian port to the Black Sea. Colonized by the Greeks, the sea received its Pontus Euxinus name and the port, built on a Getic settlement, became known as Tomis.

The Roman leadership (1st-3rd century A.D.) helped the harbor develop in a quite active environment. The poet Publius Ovidius Naso, exiled here, brought more fame to Tomis. Although it represented an important Christian centre, it was also exposed to different lifestyles brought here by Huns, Slavs, Bulgarians, Petchengs, Cumanians and the last ones the Tartars and Turks. See more historical details here.

Views of Constanta today
Of the many tourist attraction the city reviels, on my short trip I could only visit a few. One stop was the Constanta Aquarium. Dating from 1958, the Aquarium presents species of the Black Sea and of the Danube Delta.
Although quite small, it can be an interesting pass-time. Don't expect to get very good pictures unless you have a professional camera. For those who have seen it before, as kids, like I did, resist the idea of visiting it again. The greatness and mistery you remembered might be lost.
Build in 1909 and launched in 1910, the Casino (Cazino) was designed by the architect Daniel Renard in 1903. Great symbol of Constanta, the Casino is the only building in Romania representing the "art nouveau" style. The building was rennovated from 1985 to 1987 and the original furniture was also changed.
Not to miss: Mamaia Resort. The closest one to Constanta, pretty crowded at the season peack (june-august). Presenting interesting ideas, such as this boat-restaurant, Mamaia is still one of the preferred destination on the romanian seashore. More pictures of Constanta and Mamaia here.
posted by Alina @ 7:32 AM   0 comments
Sunday, September 17, 2006
A Little Lost, Are We?
I do take pride in my being quite able to manage my orientation. That of course in places I know. I can never get lost easily and if I know the area just a little bit, it does not matter I haven’t been on a certain street ever, I will find it. I am also decent at handling maps, of course if I have some idea of the place.

But take that into Constanta and make it night time and all my knowhow is completely lost. So last night, after dropping Cris, her boyfriend O and her friend D in Mamaia, I wondered for more than an hour through Constanta, trying to find my way home. It sucked, trust me.

As I was also very tired, I was also asking for the wrong street! That was a fist in my whole life! Luckily, I was smart enough to ask about a store just across K’s apartment. And the taxi driver told me, eventually, that store was on a different street! This will be a lesson I will never forget! And from now on, I will do all the driving in Constanta and stop asking K to do it because I have the wrong shoes for it. I’ll just choose different shoes.

Other than that, this day we will spend at the seaside looks amazing: sunny, warm and bright! Much better than I had expected for September 17! So I am heading for the beach now, hoping to have lots of fun! Will get back with photos!
posted by Alina @ 11:02 AM   3 comments
Saturday, September 16, 2006
On the Way to the Aeaside
Now that the season is kind of long gone, there’s no time for the beach or enough heat to actually go into the sea, now it’s the perfect time for me to make a visit to Constanta :). Actually, I kind of needed the getaway and I am not the only crazy person wanting to get there in after mid-September, therefore we are going!

Will tell you all about our adventure when I get back!

Tags: Traveling, Romanian Seaside, Constanta

posted by Alina @ 2:03 PM   3 comments
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Keys and Baby Food
I read something today about the experience of small kids who had the house keys around their neck. That they were afraid of not losing it, that it tasted bad and that it was a huge responsibility on their shoulders.

I forgot this bad part about the experience. I remember playing outside with my key round my neck, on some red piece of something (couldn’t tell what material it was to save my life). I also remember the pride I was now big enough to have the key and to play outside before the parents came from work.

If I’m not mistaken, this used to happen when I was around 7 or 8 and it did not last long. My mom decided it was better to spend the afternoon at some friends’ house who could take care of me and make sure I ate properly at lunch time. I hated it…Couldn’t go home like the rest of my friends, had to go there! However, I only hated it on the way to their house, not once I entered.

They had this nice aquarium with golden colored huge fishes that I loved staring at. They also had a small child that I could play with, when she was not crying or sleeping. I also got to feed her and eat half of the baby food because it tasted sooo good. And of course, it was a mystery for everybody why the baby girl ate everything at her next meal. I knew!

I even made my mom, who I dared confess my sin to, buy me that baby food. Milupa banana flavored, if you must know, and used to have a bowl each afternoon. She only bought it once, as she refused to keep feeding baby food to me. So I continued stealing from time to time.

I stopped craving for baby food after we moved and I was coming straight home after school. I would still eat that food today, if it weren’t for the fact I cannot find the exact type anymore. And the prejudice that a grown up cannot possibly eat that!

posted by Alina @ 2:55 PM   8 comments
Feeling sick
I find it hard to say I am sick, I want a day off. If I can drag myself to the office and work with a 50% capacity, then it’s ok to come and stay at the office. Time passes slowly, so slowly I can hear it dragging its body through the room I’m in. And it’s been only 2 hours. Another deadly 7 (at least) coming.

K has a different take on this. You are wasting the company’s time if you go to work when sick and also yours (instead of getting better, you feel like shit, being stuck at your computer). True both ways, I guess.

And now I remember that smart doctor telling me it’s all normal! Feeling sick is never normal, nor is any kind of pain. The normal state is pain free.

posted by Alina @ 1:52 PM   2 comments
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Do Romanian banks know time is money?
Banks usually inspire security. Or at least they aim to. Lately I just feel frustration. I woke up this morning to go take care of this month’s car payment. As the bank opens at 9 am, right about when I should start working, I knew from the start I will go late to the office and would subsequently have to leave later. Fare trade, as long as it is not in vane.

I got in front of the bank at 9.02 am. They had a closed sign, but I looked inside, saw the people there, and they opened the door for me and changed the sign after this to open. I was the only client. Now why did I spend 20 minutes there with no result? Well because the personnel were still having coffee (only some, true) and because their software was down.

Now I understand that programs and applications have this bad habit of crashing on you. But I also know they did come there earlier, at least 30 minutes earlier, therefore they could have checked to software and called the IT help desk by then. Do I ask for too much? Definitely not.

And seeing the “No 1 in credits to natural persons” Capital article framed and posted really pissed me off more. Does customer care not count when these are awarded? It doesn’t, though it should. So, dear Volksbank management, I do love your car credit, but would love just as much to have an easier time when trying to pay it back to you.

Note: I know it is not abnormal to have this happening in Romania, I know more serious issues also occur. But I also know unless we notice and speak about all, nothing will ever change. A clear example: each day everyone in my company freezes while having lunch at the downstairs bistro. No one has even tried to find out to whom exactly we should complain that they are AC incompetent users.

Tags: Banking, Customer Service, Romania

posted by Alina @ 11:23 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Daily pieces of thought
An interesting day, reviewing texts and sending out press releases. Quite a treat. I’m also feeling proud to see articles I wrote getting published. Under different names, true, everybody here knows who the real author is. Although most of what I write is either pure documentation or marketing and PR oriented, I must admit it feels good to be writing again. I feel I am re-training skills that were so dear to me.

Other than that I am trying to have some balance between my rather busy schedule and my need to do nothing when I get out from work. Right now I feel too tired to handle anything more than what I really have to. The rest, if possible, will be indefinitely postponed.

I was recently talking to a friend about driving in Bucharest. He said that when driving here, one should focus on what the rest of the drivers are doing, not himself/herself. Just pay attention so that others’ mistakes don’t affect you. Most of the other drivers will do the same. I should know, yesterday morning I forced a woman to do just so. But unlike me, she did not stop after the first swearing. She kept turning and screaming and turning each time she could stop the car. Which was quite often as it was a little jam we were into. Well, I was sorry, I really was…But the amount of swearing, although I could not hear it, was a bit too much.

Sim is coming to Bucharest tonight. I was planning to go to the gym for aerobics, then pick her up, then go out for a short while, but I decided to skip the gym to gain some time. I’ll just go home to shower and rest for about 5 minutes and try to make the outing as short as humanly possible. I will wake up quite early in the morning and I’m not planning to deprive myself of rest too soon.

Other than that, I am quite sure I’ll go to Constanta this weekend. Seaside, here I come, now when going to the beach is not such a good idea anymore…

posted by Alina @ 4:41 PM   3 comments
Monday, September 11, 2006
George Bush gets more support from Romanians then from his countrymen

This piece of news from HotNews really made me laugh out loud:

"The German Marshall Fund of the United States survey revealed that the Romanians are the most atypical Europeans due to their high support of the US foreign policy and of the presidency of George W. Bush (42%) that exceeds the Americans’ (40&). Therefore, the Romanians support the USA world leadership to a high degree (48%) along the Dutch (48%) and the British (51%), who also consider that the NATO role is essential for their country’s security."

So are the US citizens waking up, while the rest of the world is put to sleep? It is easy to support things that have no connection to you really…We wanted NATO, then we wanted EU, whose enlargement is most supported by…yes, Romania. We want and support everything there is, but rarely stop to think of the consequences. I wonder who the respondents were. What income and what background they had.

It seems we strive to get accepted in all possible organization, just to gain some attention or respect even. In the end, what exactly do we stand for? No matter how great certain individuals might be, as a country (elected representatives or majority) we pick the worst causes to support.
posted by Alina @ 3:31 PM   3 comments
Weekend stories
This has been a quite interesting end to a tiring week. I think it should have lasted more, maybe one extra day?

My weekend started gloriously. Friday evening we were supposed to have our first aerobics class. We didn’t cause the trainer was on her leave and they did not put that on their site. That’s why we also decided to change gym to a closer one.

I then got home; I was practically sleeping while taking the elevator up. However, I didn’t fall asleep until around 11. And at 5 am I woke up with a killer throat ache (only my left side) that would not let me swallow without hurting enough to instantly feel sleep was out of the question. So I got some Coldrex in hot water and drank. It was good enough for me to sleep for another 2 and a half hours.

When I woke up the second time, repeated the Coldrex ceremony, got into my car and left for Ploiesti. I stopped in front of the beauty salon and while my hair was being died I was waiting for my mom to come with other pills. After the salon we went visiting some friends in a close by town called Urlati: quiet, green, beautiful house, amazing company! Then came back and went to see our neighbor whose birthday it was.

During this period I had been taking about four or five different types of drugs with little or no effect. I took a different type from our neighbor. But what really allowed me to sleep for about two hours with no pain at all were a few sips of “visinata” (a type of cherry liquor). Yeah, my throat is an alcoholic!

On Sunday, my mom discovered a new drug that I had not taken (as I refused all antibiotics as they are quite hard on my stomach) and it apparently, along with the one my neighbor gave me, did the trick. Now I am feeling a little better, a bit tired and feverish, but way better. And I no longer swallow like a turkey!

posted by Alina @ 11:11 AM   0 comments
Thursday, September 07, 2006
So you like books?

The autumn exam session has come and is now gone. Only one for me, the one I couldn’t get to (but had studied for it, ironic?). So took it today, with less studying than previously (knew all types of exercises, about 10 of them but not that much theory) and paid 20 euros for this treat. Because, yes, within my beloved second university, you have to pay if you flunk or miss an exam, regardless of the reason.

Anyway, as I was giving my paper to the teacher, I had to also show him the paid bill, so I took it out of the book I was reading. It was Mircea Eliade, India. He was surprised. “You like Eliade?” “Yes, among others”… “Which of his works have you read”. Said about 4 titles. He was somehow surprised, I could feel it. A student reading? A student reading and coming to autumn session? Good questions as he did not know I was older than most and did not flunk his exam.

Still, why is it so surprising that some students read books. Yes, few of new colleagues actually do it, but this was almost the same in high-school: some used to read, some didn’t. When exactly did those reading become an ever surprising minority? Riding the metro or the bus, I am surprised that I actually see lots of people carrying books and reading them. So to what do I owe this awe?

Going back to “India”, I usually don’t read the same book twice. There are too many I haven’t read, so it is to much of a luxury. “Idia” is an exception because it’s been so many years since I first read it (about 7 I think). And it is a very smart thing to do. As it is to some extent travel writing and a great reflection of India, both with it amazing and mesmerizing beauty and with it painful poverty. I will try to complete the review after I finish it.

posted by Alina @ 1:26 PM   8 comments
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The Way to Feminism?
There's this particular ad has been on my mind for a while. Each time I see it, I feel I have to say something against it.

The item on the left is a toy scooter (had no idea it was called that in English untill yesterday) and it the disputed item in the ad mentioned above.

Two school mates, a girl and a boy, are the main characters of the story. Basically, the boy is playing with his scooter. The girl asks him to lend her the scooter, but he refuses, saying he will give it later.

The next move the girl makes is to pull up a Hochland sandwich and say something like "Do you want a sandwich?", and then replies "It's with what you like" when asked what's it with.

The boy starts eating and the girl takes advantage to ride the scooter. And she says to herself, with a big smile on her face, "When I'll grow up, he'll let me drive his car!"

What happened to having her own car? Nevermind that, just have some good food around and you will have men doing anything you want! Easier, faster, no biggie! A good lesson for all the girls out there still fantasizing about getting it all on their own.

Tags: Feminism, Advertising, Lifestyle
posted by Alina @ 6:04 PM   9 comments
Monday, September 04, 2006
Sunday Morning Sun is Shining
As my Saturday was ruined by a complete moron, I was relying on Sunday to have some fun, together with K who came to Bucharest on Friday. The original plan was for us to get out of Bucharest, but he was a little cold I still was a bit tired, so we woke up late.

I woke up with this crave for milk and fresh bread, so got quickly dressed and went shopping across the street. I also prepared breakfast, something I haven’t done in quite a while, and then we decided to go out for a walk a little later. So we did, wrong choice by the way, as it had gotten quite hot by then. We stopped to a little terrace near the University for drinks and afterwards we walked back to our car and went to the mall.

We lunched at New York. Not one of my favorites anymore as they gave me the thinnest straw ever to drink lemonade. Of course it got stuck at every sip! Anyway, we then went to see Garfield 2. Funny and light, just what I needed. Oh, and the dozens of noisy kids…That was the downside.

After the movie we felt the need of a desert. So we chose Ruby Tuesday again. One day, I promise one day, I will finish that blondie cake. Up to now I can only get to a bit over half of it…But K did worse with his tall cake, so he has more to fight for :).

We then went home where I did a little reading and enjoyed the rest of my weekend. This complete leisure was exactly what I needed, to be honest.

posted by Alina @ 9:59 AM   7 comments
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Another moron
If you are wondering who the original moron is, well read here.

It was a wonderful Saturday yesterday. Hot, sunny, everything required to make you long to get out of the house. So I talked to K to have lunch together, packed my book and decided that afterwards I'd walk a little and stop to read in the Cismigiu park.

We wanted to eat at Pizza Hut as it is the closest to his office, but they were renovating. So we headed to a Turkish restaurant, whish was also closed...Ended up eating at McDonald's again because we did not have time to go somewhere else.

After lunch, I walked K to his office and continued towards Cismigiu. I had a silly, happy smile on my face, as I was enjoying every second of my day. I got to the park and spotted this quite place near the lake, beautiful view and everything.

After about 10 minutes of reading quietly, a guy asks me if the seat next to me is free. Well, there were dozens of other free seats, but as I didn't own the park, I said it was. I went on reading peacefully for another 10 minutes, then it started...

Him: Is your name by any chance Olimpia?
Me: (thinking I could kill myself if I would be called that) No.
Him: And you are not studying Philosophy at the University.
Me: No.
Him: How about a sister called Olimpia?

I started laughing at this point.
Him: Why are you laughing?
Me: Look, I don't have a sister called Olimpia, in fact I have no relatives with this name...
Him: No cousins either...
Me: Exactly.

Another 2 minutes of quietness, I thought he gave up.

Him: What book are you reading:
Him: Can you tell me the name of the book?
I eventually told him.
Him: Yeah, I read it, very nice...
Me: I am trying to do the same thing.
Him: Asked something
Him: Why won't you talk to me?
Me: Look, I am here to read my book. Not to talk. If I wanted to talk to any of my friends I would be someplace else, doing just that.
Him: Yes, but I am trying to make some new friends right now...
Me: I am not interested, ok? I am here to read this book, it's my only day I have time for it. So please let me continue reading.
Him: But can't we reach a compromise?
Me: Yes I could leave, but I'd rather not. I would like to continue what I was doing before you arrived.
Him: saying something about coming with me if I wanted to leave.

At this point I got angry, packed my books and got up to leave.

Him: Could I come with you?
Me (really angry by now): Don't let the devil push you to it!!!

Him, remaining on his seat, blabbering something about how mean I was.

As I was exiting the park, was thinking to find a different spot, it is a big park, anyway. Then I thought he might find me again, so I decided to leave altogether. I wondered around the city a little more and eventually got home. Bought some coffee and orange juice on the way and enjoyed my reading at home...Not my initial plan, but way better, as it turned out.

Tags: Alina, Personal
posted by Alina @ 8:18 AM   7 comments
Friday, September 01, 2006
Rural Tourism Means Buying a Village

For some, entering the tourism market in a country means investing in a local villa, or hotel, or building one of the above mentioned. For others, it means to first buy and entire village.

“An Italian businessman is planning to buy up a deserted village near the southern Bulgarian town of Ardino, so he could turn it into a centre for rural tourism. A total of two people now live in the village of Diadovtsi, although these used to be more than 600 a quarter of a century ago, private bTV channel reports. Most of the inhabitants have left for Turkey, leaving their properties behind.” Full story here - source Sofia News Agency.

You’d think someone investing that much has been researching the subject and has chosen from many similar villages (I am sure this is not the only abandoned one in the world). According to Sofia News, however, the Italian investor Paolo Bartali found the village by chance, fell in love with the scenery and the style of the remaining buildings and decided to turn it into a profitable tourism center.

I wonder, does passion and lots of money suffice to make an investment profitable? No proper previous research, prospecting or any sort of decision that is not “gut feeling”…We will have to wait and see.

Tags: Tourism, Rural Tourism, Bulgaria
posted by Alina @ 4:45 PM   10 comments
Out of the Metro Trance
The subway is usually one of the fastest and most practical means of transportation in Bucharest. But it puts you into a kind of trace: you see nothing, unless you want to pay attention to the people around you, who are often to close to ever want to pay attention to. So people get a book, a newspaper or an mp3 player and get lost into a private world. Then the routine comes: out of the house – into the subway train – our of the train – into the office and the way back home in the evening.

Yesterday, because of an accident my glasses experienced (a tiny screw that broke and I was deprived of my glasses for a whole day in front of the computer), I had to get off the train sooner, in Piata Romana. I went out and started walking, while looking for a shop to fix my glasses. Well, I enjoyed the sunny afternoon, I bought myself two books (btw Sim, found a place where they sell quite cheap books in English), found a perfect present for K’s soon to come birthday and was mesmerized about what I’ve been missing lately.

I decided I should take myself walking more often, as days like these are a shame to miss. Sure, love the metro because I can read, but anyway, it does sometimes seem like a trip into an outer/underworld, detached from everything happening on the surface.

Tags: Bucharest, Walking, Metro
posted by Alina @ 2:36 PM   4 comments
About Me

Name: Alina
Home: Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
About Me: "This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts". It's also where I feel free and my preferred means of expression.
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