My Romania Story - Bill Choudalos (Canadian): Romania is indeed the hidden jewel of Europe
As part of our Romania Appreciation Weeks campaign, we're inviting our readers to share their stories and tell the world what they love about the country. Canadian Bill Choudalos joined our campaign and filled in this questionnaire. Below you can read more about how his connection to Romania and what he loves about the country.
Bill Choudalos traveled to Romania for a three-week vacation and ended up staying for five years. He has a Romanian family and visits every two-three years. He calls Romania the "hidden jewel of Europe" and highlights the country's beautiful landscapes, and argues the country should market itself better to the rest of the world.
What is your name, and how old are you?
Bill Choudalos, 53.
What is your nationality, and where do you live now?
Canadian. I live in Montreal.
What is your connection to Romania?
My connection to Romania began over ten years ago. I went for a three-week vacation and loved the country so much - I stayed for five years!
My beautiful wife, Elena, is also Romanian.
Is Romania an important part of your life, and why?
Yes. Romania is a very important part of my life. My two kids - Troy (age 7) and Austin (age 3) - are half Romanian. We visit every two-three years. I want them to be proud that they are half Romanian. I want them to appreciate the beauty and the history of the country.
Also- I would like them to spend as much time as possible with their grandparents!
What are the things you like about Romania and why?
The beautiful landscapes. The people. The food. The culture. There are so many things I love about Romania.
Romania is indeed the hidden jewel of Europe.
The landscapes, endless and unspoiled.
The people - so beautiful. Even if they lack money or resources, they are eager to help. Romanian people are happy to invite you into their home and open their hearts to you. This is a beautiful quality that is missing in many countries.
The food? I can eat ciorbă every day and not complain. My mother-in-law is a great cook. Everything she makes is delicious. They cannot copy her dishes in any restaurant in Canada.
I love the friendly attitude of the Romanian people. This is a culture of openness that I really enjoy.
Of course, the one thing I love most about Romania is that it is where I met my wife, Elena. A woman that changed my life forever. I remember our first meeting in Bucharest, at Everest. Piața Romană. It was over ten years ago, but it seems like only yesterday.
What don't you like about Romania and why?
The negative media attention.
There are many crazy stories about Romania in the western media - most of which are nonsense.
Romania must do a better job of marketing itself to the rest of the world.
If you had to advertise for Romania as a country, what would be the top things you would mention to promote it?
The diversity and natural beauty. There is something for everyone.
If I am advertising to men...of course I would mention all the beautiful women.
From Bucharest, you can drive only two hours and enjoy the fine resorts at the Black Sea. If you love nature, it's a short drive to Sinaia, Brasov. You can easily escape and get lost in the beauty of Romania.
As a bonus, Romania is very affordable and easy to get to from all European countries.
What are your favorite places in Romania and why?
Transylvania is beautiful. I promised my seven-year-old son Troy we would visit Dracula's Castle. We did it two years ago. It is a memory that will stay with both of us forever.
I love Brasov for its location, history, and architecture. The Black Church comes to mind.
I also love the Black Sea coast. My sister-in-law always knows the best resorts and beaches, not too crowded.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Choudalos)