What a great day yesterday. I really didn't see much other than a short (by European standards) walk to do some shopping with Daniela. The city is incredibly big (the fifth largest in the European continent) and more dense than any other city I have seen. Whether your home or your gravestone you are literally directly next store to your neighbor. Most of the day was spent with Daniela's family and they made me fall in live with Romania. I have never ever seen such hospitality. I see why people who have been here say they come back every chance they get.
The day started to a traditional Romanian breakfast. Though I have and will be after this trip a devoted vegan I knew coming here I would have to "cheat" and eat a traditional diet. Boy, what a great place to cheat! I will preface this next section by saying I have always hated meat. Even as a child I would get a salad instead of a happy meal. Having said that all the food including the meat is incredible. They use fat instead of sugar for flavor and everything melts in your mouth. A traditional Romanian breakfast consists of bread, cured hams and cheese. The food here is not radiated, flavor enriched, preserved, homogenized, genetically modified and basically completely devoid of everything that happens to American food. Breakfast was followed by stove top espresso. Yummy! I am generally a tea girl but have been taught about espresso by my husband and no coffee shop can compare to the espresso here on Strada Sighorsia!
We then left to exchange money and do a couple of errands. People walk as they drive. Hurried, impatient and will cut you off or pass you if they feel you are not doing it right. The same with lines in store. They stand right next you and will jump in front of you if you do not fight your way to the counter. Daniela said this is left over from the communist food line days where jostling and cutting the line meant you and your family ate instead of going hungry.
Thinking of communism, Romania is capitalist now after years of a brutal communist regime and I enjoyed talking to Daniela's brother Rado about the transition from communism to capitalism. I can't comprehend how such a transition could take place. The government supply's every single need albeit very very poorly if not at all and then they are not there. You must find a way to do things you have never done. I think all Americans should hear the history of Romania. The old saying those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it.
The exchange rate is in our favor. Due to the hospitality of my hosts I have to fight to pay for anything. I managed to buy two bottles of sparkling water at 4lei or $1.22 American and a large box pastries from one of the best pastry shops I have been to for the family at 16lei or $5.24.
The rest of the day was spent sitting out in Daniela mothers former driveway that has been converted to a patio. They have arbors over the top of it with grapes growing. You sit outside and talk, drink, and eat grapes off of the vines. Rado brought plums from his orchard about a mile outside of Bucharest. They were so different than American plums and absolutely amazing, I ate at least six.
Thinking of plums many make a homemade brandy (akin to our moonshine) from plums or sometimes apricots. It is a traditional drink for a toast served in a glass about 1/4 the size of an American shot glass. Not wanting to offend and it being from Rado's orchard I being a non drinker decided to give it a go. Wow. It is strong. After my first very tiny hardly not enough to swallow sip I found out it was basically 70 plus proof. That sip hit and all I can say is if I had any more than a sip I would have been on the floor. I must say I am retiring again from drinking firmly ensconced in the knowledge of my welter weight status.
The dinner started with delicious bread (how can you not love a country that eats bread all day long. Honestly it is like they have given the middle finger to Atkins). Having said that Romanian women are gorgeous and make super models look plump. I have no idea how they eat and drink this way and stay a negative 0 in size. My size four frame looks absolutely gigantic here. They are also dressed to "impress" and go everywhere completely made up. Back to dinner it started with the most amazing soup made from vegetable , dill and bone marrow. It was like drinking liquid heaven. The main course was cabbage rolls. I have never ever ever ever liked pork not even bacon but the pork in these rolls literally melted into a creamy delectable goodness. Dessert was plums covered in pastry and rolled in chopped nuts. I love how things are not overly sweet so you can really taste the flavors and not just the sugar.
Today we are off to site see in Bucharest.