Y is for YaY, citY life!


Sure, to really see a new country one must visit the small towns, the areas forgotten by time. But that’s not to say cities don’t hold a certain appeal. They are centers of cultural influence — an amalgam of ethnicities and languages and order among chaos. For the curious tourist, they are the points of social life.

In Europe, unlike the U.S., the center of a city (downtown) is the place to be — in terms of housing or anything else, with the suburbs considered far less attractive. As such, you’ll see a huge discrepancy once you leave downtown. While technically still in the city, the suburb feel is more like that of a rural area — with undeveloped parcels, gray and black buildings, even unpaved roads.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but in Southern California no one I know wants to live downtown. We’re a state of suburbs.

But back to Europe. Romanian cities range from well-preserved medieval places to urban centers to a combination of the two.

1.  Bucharest is the largest city (capital of the country) — the cultural, financial, and industrial center. The place I called home for twenty years. You’ll see my old neighborhood in the pictures below (starting with the winter image; yeah, we had long winters).


downtown Bucharest


Inside the athenaeum-downtown        Bucharest National Theater-downtown


Old neighborhood in winter and summer (Piata Sudului/Southern Square)

2.   Constanta is a port on the Black Sea. A city of contrasts — ruins dating back to Roman times, an active nightlife, flourishing tourism and vacationing spot.



3.   Cluj-Napoca, or Cluj, is the unofficial capital on Transylvania. It’s hard to say much more than: this is a gorgeous city.



4. Iasi is in the region of Molvodia (east), and is one of Romania’s oldest cities. The city is famous for its history of education and a thriving publishing industry. It’s also a cultural center with plenty of museums. 

Iasi City Hall


There are many more cities — Sibiu, Sighisoara — but if I don’t stop here, I never will. Thank you for allowing me to be your guide.

~~~ One more post, dear reader, and it will be all over. While I’m looking forward to blogging on my own schedule, I will no doubt miss our daily interactions. Please, let’s keep in touch. Tomorrow’s post is Z for Zana, a magical creature who is a big part of the Romanian folklore. See you at the finish line.


Image credit: besteuropeancities.org; Romanian Anthenauem, Wikimedia, CC; National Theatre, Wikimedia CC, by: Julienbzh35; travelmichelin.com; CC BY-NC-NDLinera_68 goeasteurope.com; CC By Matei D goeasteurope.com; www.panoramio.com



46 responses to “Y is for YaY, citY life!

  1. Hi – i just found you through another A to Z blogger I follow. It has been an amazing month. Congratulations on making it all the way to Z! Your photos are very pretty of these cities.

  2. You are soooo right. I love living in the country, but I live in Germany and the city is where it’s at~!

  3. I’m not a big fan of my city, I would love to live in the country! But I can definitely see the benefits of the city :)

  4. A country girl at heart who has grown to hate cities–I don’t know why exactly. I guess it is the missing the beauty we had all around us and did not appreciate it then..

  5. Romania to Southern California seems like it would be a major culture shift in many many ways. Just based on what I’ve read and heard since I haven’t been to either. In Minneapolis, downtown is coming back in style. Many expensive condominiums have been built and are being built. Certain neighborhoods by certain lakes in the city are surrounded by mansions. Other parts of the city are viewed as undesirable by many.

  6. Silvia, I truly have enjoyed your posts and learning about Romania. It certainly is a gorgeous country. I have lived in So. California in Hermosa, Redondo, and Long Beach. After being moved as a child there from rural Washington state it was like falling into the Twilight Zone. I don’t know how you are dealing with the transition… as it is CULTURE SHOCK down there.

    I definitely prefer small towns and living in a rural, woodsy area, but near the water. I have to have my view of water…the bay, lake, ocean.

    I look forward to learning more about you. As for my “Z”… I’m worried it may be for “Zilch, Zero” and all done! Have a lovely day.

    • Gwynn, I used to live in Redondo Beach and loved the beach community, the weather (never had to use AC or heater). I’m not too far from the water no, but it’s a drive, no longer a quick walk. Thank you. Have a great day, and see you around.

  7. Hi Silvia – I too have so enjoyed your posts and time/space/place travelling through Romania..I looked it up on a map the other day – is it Moldavia sandwiched between Crimea and Romania.
    We travelled back from the mountains yesterday, and because we took a wrong turning, we drove through small towns and villages, instead of on the highway. It took longer because of lack of maintenance on some roads, but it had its own charm and serenity.
    So, another month that has whizzed by …
    Thank you for all your posts!
    Garden of Eden Blog

    • Susan, there is Moldova the country, and Moldova — or Moldovia — the region (in eastern Romania). The country of Moldova is indeed sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine (if we discount that very small region called Transnistria — autonomous territory). Crimea is right on the Black Sea, further east, a beautiful peninsula and definitely very close.
      Your trip through the woods sounds heavenly.
      Thank you so much for your friendship and the comments. It’s been a joy having you on board this month, and reading your thoughtful posts.
      See you around.

  8. Silvie, this is such a lovely post. I love European cities, even small ones, because of their history and architecture. Romania has some truly lovely cities. Thanks for showing them. :)

    • I think you are exactly right, Carol. That’s probably what’s different in European cities — the history and culture. If we just look at Rome, for example. Thank you for stopping by.

  9. I love visiting cities as well as the countryside. My dream is to someday live in San Francisco–for a short period, maybe 6 months-one year. I’d love to visit these cities in Romania!

  10. We live within city limits, but we are on the edge of town so we have a little privacy and room to grow here. ;-) I love to see cities as well as rural areas. all beautiful paintings of life.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

  11. Nice posting on some of the cities, S. They looks absolutely beautiful! Our downtown in Dallas is slowly being revitalized. People like to work downtown, but live elsewhere. But slowly they are moving back. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Romania. Cheers, D

  12. Yes, Tennessee is fairly suburb-y, as well. We rarely go downtown. Downtown is for tourists and 20-somethings!


  13. Wonderful pictures. It is truly a beautiful city and country. Yes, I live in NC and we have a lot of suburbs!

  14. Really like the Picasso quote. It would be a dull world without art or even photography, as you share, It opens a window to places we may have never been before.
    Where I live, being close to downtown is desirable, which is quite common in small towns. Our population is around 31000. Very ideal….and one of the reasons I have no desire to relocate to a larger area. We have quaint coffee shops and places to shop and dine and crime is low. I must drive 45 mins or 1-1/2 hours to reach large malls or outlet shopping, but it’s still worth it being in a small college town. It’s not always quiet with a large university dominating the landscape, which brings a lot of people to our football games and student events, but that’s okay too. There’s always summer :)
    Have enjoyed blogging with you in the A-Z! Sharon

  15. So, downtown is the place to be in Romania? Good to know.

  16. I’ve heard that downtown and urban areas are much different outside of the U.S., and that the highly-educated, affluent people tend to live there instead of poorer folks.

    My father’s side of the family comes from the Latrobe area in Pennsylvania (Mr. Rogers’s real-life neighborhood), and the downtowns of Latrobe and next-door Derry aren’t too much different from the rest of each city. There are just a few more businesses and homes instead of such a rural landscape. Where I live now, I don’t go to downtown Albany much since getting a car, since parking is so difficult, and all the one-way streets make it a bit difficult to navigate in and out. Some parts of downtown are still pretty nice and safe, but it clearly was designed in an era before people had cars!

  17. Wonderful travelogue! The smaller cities and towns are so interesting – easier to see their history. Great post!

  18. Ok, I was in the middle of a comment on the joys of city life when it disappeared. Technology sometimes has a mind of its own! I was admiring the spire on the church in Cluj – it looks a beautiful town.

  19. yes will keep in touch :D European cities are cities whereas in the US the downtown is often run down and not where any one wishes to be. Has to do with urban planning and since no time for rant now I’ll see you tomorrow

  20. It’s funny but yes, in Canada as well, most like to live in the “Burbs” and travel to the city for work. Unless it is a big city like Toronto, many smaller cities downtowns are actually suffering due to all the malls. Now in Quebec there is a definite European influence and it is so nice when one visits Montreal and Quebec City. Even the smaller towns seem to have a lot to offer. If I could I would live in Europe-that would be my dream as I love the lifestyle and the culture and history.

  21. What a wonderful post for “Y”! I can’t wait to visit Bucharest one day. It is true–cities in the U.S. are quite different than city living in Europe. I hope to live in Europe one day, which is interesting since I grew up in California! I have such wonderful memories of visiting cities like Budapest, Istanbul, and Paris when I was in my late teens and early 20s. So glad I discovered your blog through the challenge and intend to stay in touch! :D

  22. Glad you’ve included Kolozsvar :)) And liked your take on letter Y!

  23. internetreviewofbooks

    That’s an interesting observation about US cities vs. European ones. I didn’t know.

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