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).
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.
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