Letters from readers: The center of Bucharest reminds me of the market towns of rural England
Malcolm Parry, a reader of Romania-Insider.com, sent us his first impressions upon arriving in Romania.
I enjoyed reading the piece in today's Romania-Insider.com about living in this country.
Because of romance, three weeks ago I moved from Bristol, England, to live permanently in Bucharest. My first visit for a week was six weeks ago, so it was a big decision.
What to expect? I did not know. I was tired of my routine life. I wanted something new. A challenge, perhaps.
Six weeks ago, I stayed in a cheap hotel on Bulevardul Timisoara; I traveled by public transport; saw the communist era apartment blocks; and how those local people appeared, mainly poor. This being my perception of Bucharest.
This time, I have been living in a hotel apartment in central Bucharest, near Piata Unirii, and, now, have moved into a modern apartment with my wife to be and our baby daughter, near the Gradina Cismigiu.
The center of Bucharest reminds me of the market towns of rural England some 40 to 50 years ago. A bit behind the times and in need of some care and money, which in the following years happened. It took England until 1960 to show signs of recovering from World War II, which ended in 1945, and my impression of Bucharest is that it will take at least another twenty years to fully recover from nearly forty years of communism. But there is ample evidence that where England was in 1960 and advanced, Bucharest is on that same road of recovery.
I love the old houses, many need renovation. I love the wide boulevards; the trees lining many roads; the ban in Bucharest of heavy and big lorries that are blighting English cities and towns; the apparent disregard of speeding restrictions; no traffic wardens to persecute the motorist; and the regular watering and cleaning of the roads. England is blighted by a Health and Safety regime instituted about ten years ago, which is controlling most everything that can or cannot be done, for example school trips and expeditions. The conditions of the pavements would not be tolerated in England: there would be many many insurance claims, but, I have not seen one person fall or stumble. Obviously, they take care.
I find the people of all ages so helpful, obliging, courteous, and smile when I try a few words in Romanian. They will take you to a location rather than just pointing they way, as happened to me on the metro at Piata Unirii. Despite drivers seemingly drive with their foot flat-down on one of two pedals, the accelerator and brake, they treat pedestrians with respect and priority at pedestrian crossings. In England this respect is less than it was, and I wonder if it is because of the 'discipline' of a restricted regime/lifestyle of communism in Romania, and the military service of young men in England from 1939 to 1962, the date when conscription into the armed forces ended, that is fifty years ago?
I am very impressed and have fallen in love with Bucharest. But what about the winter!!!!
By Malcolm Parry
(photo source: Arhivafoto.ro)