I don't think I've seen any yet, but I'm wondering if there are any Romanians on RFF, or people who are familiar with the country.
At the end of August I'll be in the Sucaea/Iasi area and later on Brasov. I was hoping someone here has any pointers on travelling, safety, costs and general attitude of civilians towards photography. I'm a student and I'll be travelling alone. I'll arrive in Iasi on the 19th, will travel to Moldovica and stay there for a few days, then back to Iasi and on the 25th to Brasov. (How easy/hard will it be to travel between these places?) I'll probably take a train, bus or plane back home on the 29th or 30th.
This is photography-related if you're wondering, as I'm going to these places to do documentaries for Belgian humanitary aid organisations and local Romanian projects.
Thanks in advance & cheers
I'm afraid I can't help with any details of your trip, but let me congratulate you on what sounds like an excellent opportunity! Have a great time, and do share stories and pictures when you get back.
Thanks BJ, I will!
Bumping this up one time to see if there's any lurking Romanians out there...
Best of luck with the project and the trip Jonas ! :) So far my summer project seems to be a documentary on how I paint my flat walls and (sit still...) ceilings !!!
I wonder how much more adventurous can one get :P
Just a bit of bump to keep this on top.
Maybe you should get in touch with Pherdinand, Jonas: although he's rather a "citizen of the world", he does have a Romanian passport.
What an exciting prospect - good luck with it!
Not Romanian, but I was born and raised in Moldova a small country on the east border (they also speak romanian there). I dont know much about Romania, but no one is answering and as Iasi is just at the border it cant be that much different. Probably as in any poor country (moldova is one of the poorest in europe) I'd be very careful about pickpocketing and wouldnt go out at night alone. My mother was once in Bucharest trying to sell some things on the market, and she said everytime she turned around something else was missing. She sold about a half of her things, the other half was stolen. Also dont leave your things unattended on the train and dont fall asleep for a couple of hours (if you are not in a coupé which you can lock) I am sorry to scare you a bit, but that's the kind of things we always watched out for on our train travels and even walking around in our own city (kishinev).
Other than that I am sure there will be amazing photo opportunities, beautiful places and landscapes, and generally people are very nice and very hospitable. I dont think photography will be frowned upon.
make sure you post some photos from your travels, and report about your experiences. Good luck!
Lynn was right, I am romanian by place of birth, and lived there for more than 20 years...
So what I can contribute:
First of all I've not been in the Iasi/Suceava region myself, but it's not very different from other regions of Romania regarding your questions.
Photography: The north moldavian monasteries like the one at Moldovitza, Sucevitza, Voronetz, and more, are well worthy of a visit. They are painted in byzantian style (i think) and kept/restaurated to an impressive level. They are not very far from each other BUT you need a car. Roads in that region are surprizing good for the country's average (don't expect motorways though) while public transportation is very bad, slow and rare in the whole country (although VERY cheap for a westeuropean wallet). Trains are okay, reliable, esp in the summer, but very old stinky and slow, and they don't go to too many places, especially the more hidden ones.
Train between Moldova and Transilvania (Brasov especially) are going on a LOONG way, you have no straight train connection from Iasi/Suceava to Brasov. By car it's much much faster.
If you choose trains, go for the IC or "Rapid" types - they are more expensive but well worthy the cost. You need the normal ticket and an extra "speed supplement" and a place reservation as well. The "Accelerat" type is the poor man's intercity... you can buy all kind of stuff on them, from ducks to axes, and they are crowded but cheap. The "Personal" trains are good only if you have to go to a small town/village where nothing else stops.
Brasov region: Brasov is an old saxon city (german name is Kronstadt) in the corner of Transilvania with some very old beautiful buildings -houses and churches - from the 13th - 17th century. The "black church" is the most famous one. The saxons were moved there in the early 13th century i think, from the Koln (Cologne) region, as border guards. They never really mixed with local people, nor romanians nor hungarians, and they built impressive fortified churches. In the Brasov region, out of the city, almost every village has a central fortified church, they are all worthy of a visit, depends on your schedule. See some photos I made in the region here:http://www.photo.net/photos/bacsa (kirchburg and kirchburg BW folders)
The Bran castle close to Brasov is a special tourist attraction, tied touristically to the Dracula legend but in fact it has nothing to do with the Dracula character. But it's a great castle in a great environment.
If you decide to go more north from Brasov, towards Transilvania, the mineral water region is on the way - many many small stations that have natural sparkling mineral water springs. You can try these for free of course, they are all different and unique. Bodoc, Malnas, Tusnad, to name a few. They are like Spa Rood from the Barisart but much more tasty;) From the Bucharest direction up to Brasov the train+highway goes through high mountains in a narrow valley, it's a very very beautiful route between steep rocky walls. Be sure to be there during the day.
People: in small towns and villages, people are extremely friendly and probably will be happy to pose for you, no matter age or occupation. In the monasteries you can expect the locals to charge you a fee for photographing, although it is not a consistent approach. The fee won't be much anyway. In the saxon fortified churches you can;t get inside, unless you look for the keeper of the key - usually close to the church an old person lives in an old house who has the key. You can ask anyone in a village, they will know who and where. Those people are more or less responsible to show the church to visitors so you can bother them, don't worry. But some behave very grumpy and impatient. They mostly do appreciate a few new Lei donated "to the church" -although i wonder how much of that will be spent on liquids;)
They are usually the very last remaining saxons in the village, since most left in the late 80s or early 90s.
People in larger cities however, that's a different story. In Iasi, Suceava, Brasov etc, people will not like if you just snap photos of them. In the same time the Iasi region is a relatively poor region of the country as unemployment rate is high. Watch out for your belongings and don't buy stuff from the people in the street. Also, try not to be generous with beggars esp with small kids, since they mostly beg for a "boss" and they are multifunctional - beggars, thieves, information carriers, even "tourist guides" sometimes. They can be very fast when they got your wallet or something else valuable.
Try to avoid outskirts of large cities if alone.
Don't feed/pet the homeless dogs.
Don't feed/pet the homeless dogs.
Don't feed/pet the homeless dogs.
Generally, you should be fine, with a bit of common sense.
Be prepared that policemen are corrupt. If they stop you on the street (by car i mean), they CAN find something to fine you for. They stop you for a reason, not just to waste time... But fines are relatively small; watch out for fines that don't come with a receipt and that are above 50 euro. If you talk nice but insistent and self-secure, you can get away without a fine in most cases. From start they think all foreigners are losers that will pay even if they have not done anything bad, but they can be convinced about the opposite.
Also, watch out for the old Lei - new Lei thing. It's a factor of 10 000 x between them. A new Lei is about 30 eurocent i think; but the old bancnotes are still in use. They are very much looking like the new ones - 1 Leu New is looking like 10 000 Lei old, but a bit smaller. If people see you have no clue for the value of your Lei, you might be in danger.
Cash dispensers work with international bank cards. My ABN Amro dutch "PIN" card is accepted everywhere unless the machine is malfunctioning in which case you are told so. Using it means about euro 2,50 off your account, per use. DON'T exchange money on the street, go to an exchange office or bank. If you use taxis, they should be MUCH cheaper than in Belgium.
Places to eat or drink are mostly okay, unless they look VERY strange. If you see normal looking people inside, with clean cloth and such, then it's probably a place safe to eat anything.
Young people in cities do speak english, or understand it, at least,or french, occasionally. They are shy but they can. Older people (40+), not much chance to communicate w them, unless you have a translator.
I hope you'll have a good time. I'm sure you will, in fact.
Oscar and Lynn, thanks for the kind words and the encouragements. Lubitel and Pherdinand, thank you both very much for the helpful advice. Sorry for being so late to reply; I had to figure some stuff out first: now my trip is more or less planned. I won't be visiting Iasi. I'll arrive at Moldovita the 8th of August and leave to Belgium again on the 17th; in between I'll spend four or five nights (plus travelling back and forth) in Brasov. I want to focus on doing two projects in-depth (health care in Moldovita, homeless and street kids in Brasov) instead of trying to do too much at once.
Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
There's a guy on the Leica User's Group (LUG) but I can't remember his name. Join up and find him--he's quite talented.
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