Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Layover in Bucharest

One day, not too terribly long ago, we had a couple of hours to explore Bucharest, the capital of Romania. We didn't know where we were going or what to do there, but we had a fun time hanging out all the same.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


When you move to a new country, you spend a lot of time not knowing how to do things. You don't know how to shower without a shower curtain. You don't know how to eat the whole tiny fried fish staring up at you. You don't know how to use the washing machine with its unknown symbols. If only there were step-by-step directions with pictures for all those little things we don't know how to do…

I have to admit that we definitely felt superior when we saw these directions for cereal. For the first time in months, we were the ones who didn't need instructions. When our friend saw our cereal box, she showed us this hilarious video of a comedian feeling superior about the directions that exist on pop tart boxes. Perhaps there are some Romanians out there who appreciate the instructions...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pictures of Pașcani (and Nearby Monasteries)

Here are some photos of our new town. When we came to visit for the first time, Sarah's principal took us to visit a couple of monasteries in the area as well.

As you can see from the panoramic shots of Pașcani itself, it's not a terribly small town, but not exactly a big city either. A few of these shots are taken from our apartment (on the 10th floor). Another one is taken from the top of Scarile Mare, a giant staircase in the middle of town. The town is basically split in two, between Dealul (the hill) and Valea (the valley).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

101 Stray Dogs

Everyone agrees that Romania has a stray dog problem. According to some, many dogs were abandoned when Ceaușescu forced people to move into bloc apartments. Now, packs of dogs roam the street. Many nights I'm reminded of a clip from 101 Dalmations. I wonder what alert is being sounded each night…

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


On our way to visit our site for the first time, we were able to stop in Brașov. It is an extraordinarily beautiful mountain city in Transylvania. While many cities in România have a distinctly Soviet feel to them, due to the bloc apartment buildings that were constructed during communism, Brașov looks and feels like a medieval European city. Unfortunately we did not have too much time there, and the tourist sites we tried to visit were closed because it was a national holiday. That just means we'll have to go back!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Parcul Chindia

The most historic part of Târgoviște is Parcul Chindia. We had been there plenty of times, but never actually did a tour of it until late in our stay. When our counterparts came to meet us, we decided it was the perfect excuse.

A decent source of information about the tower and princely courts is Wikipedia.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tennis in Chindia Park

It wasn't all work and no play during training. I was able to get away for an evening of tennis with some trainees, volunteer leaders and a language instructor. I was hoping to learn a few new curse words in Romanian, but no luck there.

One strange thing to me was that the tennis court cost money, and quite a bit by my new standards. A court was 30 lei per hour. Since I played one-on-one for two hours, I had to pay a full 30. That's only $10 US, but it was enough to keep me away for the rest of my time in training. To put it into perspective, a 1/2 liter beer is usually about 4 lei (or $1.25).

The tennis courts are in a public park called Parcul Chindia, which literally means Sunset Park. It is a very historic area. I'll have more photos from the area tomorrow. The first statue is of Vlad Țepeș, aka Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula. The second statue is his father, Vlad Dracul. These guys lived back in the 1400s and are heroes of southern Romania. The tower, called Chindia Tower, was begun during the reign of Vlad Țepeș and the ruins were probably his royal courts.

Thanks to Jovanka for the tennis action photos! I was too busy getting crushed by Chris to take any myself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mânăstirea Dealu

One day, a bunch of us walked to a monastery near our town. It was constructed in the early 1500s, but many of the interior paintings are 20th century. Some of my favorite paintings here are very modern and done with pointillism. On the trek up to the monastery, there was also a beautiful view of the city of Târgoviște from the hillside; Mânăstire Dealu means Hill Monastery.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Arriving in Târgoviște

Here is the first set of some long overdue photos. We finally have stable internet, so I plan on posting links. These photos are all from the city of Târgoviște, our home town for the first couple of months.