Liz Wager: Romanian ramblings

Liz Wager I’m just back from a week’s holiday in Romania. If your idea of a relaxing break is designer shopping, things that run on time and predictability, then I recommend you stick to Switzerland but for unspoilt mountain scenery, delicious milk still warm from the cow* and an even warmer welcome from spontaneously hospitable and generous people, then you can’t beat the remoter parts of Moldavia. There is a real danger of regarding rural poverty as picturesque, and of failing to see the hardships because we are so entranced at stepping into a Brueghel landscape of ox carts, hand-built hay ricks and scythe-wielding farmers, but it is also salutary for rich tourists from industrialized Western Europe to ponder the valuable things we’ve lost in our rush for development and possessions.
The area we visited somehow escaped Communist collectivisation, and most families live on traditional small-holdings. These are usually bordered by sturdy and sometimes ornate fences and gates. Just outside virtually every property, facing the road, is a wooden bench. I hadn’t noticed these until our Romanian friends pointed them out, but then I realised they were a standard part of every homestead, often built as part of the fence. One day of our trip was a religious holiday (which probably passed unnoticed in the big towns – our friends told us there were over 30 a year) and as we drove past in the early evening, almost every seat was occupied by at least two or three people. Neighbours stopped to chat as they herded a few geese or walked a solitary cow to or from milking. These seats clearly served the purpose of local newspaper, community centre and corner shop all in one.
In the UK, even in warm weather, we hide ourselves in our private gardens and rarely speak to our neighbours. Our isolation is compounded by the fact that many of us rarely leave our homes except by car. I wonder if we should try building seats (facing the outside), going for a stroll in the evening and talking to each other – I’m sure there would be health benefits.
*PS In case you’re worried, we did boil the milk before we drank it, but it still tasted better than anything I’ve had in England.
Liz Wager, 12 August 2008

  • Dr Srinath Meadipudi

    I agree with Liz Wager about Romania.I had an oppurtunity to persue my postgraduate medical studies at UMF,Iasi which is one of the oldest medical University in the Moldovian region and I really had a good experiance with the people there, where some of them are poor but most of them are friendly and open.
    Romania is a beautiful country and I personally recommend to visit Brasov & sinaia in Transilvania and constansa which is near the black sea for someone who is planning for a great holiday.

  • Liz Wager

    My links to Romania also started in Iasi (which I first visited over 10 years ago). I envy you the chance to explore more of the country …

  • Michi

    Please accept my sincere congratulations and also my deep gratitude for the revelation of the Romania miracle called ‘life’. I am wondering what could be in a Western person’s mind when faced with the genuine Romanian ‘rurality’, which is unique, is incredible pure and – unfortunately – at the edge of the gap call ‘urbanicity’. The romantic picture you describe so well, is now under the Damocles’ sword of contemporary modern life. Certainly, I accept all advantages and benefits of civilisation, but preserving the purity of patriarchal life of the picturesque villages of Northern Romania (of Moldova / Bucovina, and Transylvania as well) is a must. Your role in this endeavour could be incredible important.

    Thank you again, and please come again.


  • Diane28

    Michi, what you mean? I might have not great english ability but unless I try to express clear about a topic. Romania It is great to visit and the rural area offer you a great oportunity to find some “clean nature”.
    About the first topic……With all my respect Doctor, If you lived in Iasi , If you visited Bucharest and Cluj you didn t saw the last models of BMW, the 3-4 stages houses, the ladies which look like on a cover magasine? Might be possible to find many poor people, but you should not generalize.

  • J B

    Well I am a medical graduate of the UMF Iasi, and I must say that I am more than delighted something about that part of the world is published here. It is indeed an amazing place and amazing people. I was priviliged to live there for nearly 7 years. The education was of high quality too. However I Was unfortunate enough to face a lot of negative comments from 1 or 2 ‘picky’ consultants here in the UK about training in Romania and makes me wonder, how would they know, they never been there? Just because its a former communist country, is not a reason to discount it. I hope more blogs and articles come to the foray about this part of the world.

  • Romania is very open area as compare to the UK. And after reading this sweet post, which create a sweet imagination of Roman lifestyle. I also want to go to the Romania.