Reasons to be cheerful

If, like us, you’ve had enough of articles about Romania by foreigners which – when paraphrased – basically amount to ‘we like this country because it’s backwards’, then you have come to the right place. For this rant is intended to be the antidote to such clichéd rubbish, as well as a riposte to the loonies on the extremes of Romanian politics who see enemies everywhere, usually from the EU and possibly dressed in provocatively homosexual clothing.

Let’s take two simple questions:

Why then, do we like Romania? Why do we choose to live here?

They are questions we get asked often – as recently as last week in fact by a Romanian nurse at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting who was looking after our mother. She was insistent that we’d got it wrong. We had ‘gone the wrong way’, she said. Romania to England is the sensible move, not the other way around.

Truth is of course, it totally depends on the individual. For a Romanian nurse life might well be better in England. For us, life remains better in Romania than it would be in the UK.

Here are just five reasons why.

1. Cost of living

This is a list of five reasons but it could, ultimately, be reduced to just this one: Romania is a cheaper country than the UK in which to live. And whatever anybody might say, such things matter, hugely so.

Our modest income goes much further in Romania than it would in the UK. Replicating our lifestyle in London would take an income way beyond that we currently enjoy.

Of course, the UK offers potentially higher earnings, but that would involve getting a proper job and commuting to an office every day: something we don’t fancy much.

No, for a lazy bastard somebody who likes a relatively easy life and is prepared to forego a potentially higher income in exchange for having one, Romania is hard to beat.

2. Low taxation

Both income tax and local taxes in Romania are low. The flat rate of income tax has been at 16 per cent for a decade and no political party appears brave enough to even consider raising it. Indeed, all talk is of lower income tax rates, not higher.

Local taxes (or council taxes) are also cheap. For a four-room apartment in central Bucharest we pay 536.88 lei per year: that’s just under £87. In exchange we get two (yes, two) rubbish collections per week: read it and weep, Londoners.

The only tax which sometimes bites in Romania is VAT: stuck at a whopping 24 per cent for most items. It is set to fall this year, however, perhaps as low as 20 per cent.

3. A small state

There is much bureaucracy in Romania, as anyone who has ever tried to do any paperwork can testify to. Despite that, Romania is a country which since 1989 has by and large left its citizens alone to live their own lives. CCTV is rare. We don’t get messages telling us that ‘Your internet service provider has blocked access to this website’ when trying to search for torrents. We doubt we will see any Steaua fans (or fans of other teams) jailed for singing offensive songs any time soon. You can smoke where you like (not always, we admit, a good thing). There are no calls for the minimum pricing of alcohol.

4. World’s fastest internet

Which brings us nicely on to the internet. We now enjoy one of the world’s fastest internet connections, regularly topping 900Mbps. With two kids who spend half the day on various devices, and with us having to send enormous files to printing houses this is a massive bonus. Indeed, the latest issue of Bucharest In Your Pocket was sent to our printer from London: it took almost an hour to upload, so slow are internet speeds in suburban Britain. In Bucharest it takes a couple of minutes.

And then there’s the matter of cost again. In the UK we pay £35 for internet alone (with Virgin Media). That’s for the top speed they offer in the area (Wimbledon): around 75Mbps. In Romania (with Telekom) for the same money we get our high-speed internet, plus landline, plus IPTV with all sport and film channels (HBO etc.)

5. Bright, dynamic young people

Romania is not the worst place in the world to run a company. We had to hire a couple of new members of staff recently: it wasn’t difficult. We were inundated with applications from bright, dynamic, multilingual young people ready to work for a relatively small basic salary but with the potential to earn plenty more if they met their targets. We were able to select the best of the best.

What’s ironic is that such people are available in the UK, but they are often immigrants.

All told, we guess that what we are saying is that these are the best of times for Romania.

We really struggle to fathom the logic of the increasingly vocal pan-Slavists who rail against the EU, against globalisation and against the modern world in general, and who call for a return to ‘traditional’ Romanian values, which they feel are somehow being eroded.

What exactly do these Luddites want? A return to the shortages of communism, when people queued for hours in the hope of purchasing basic foodstuffs? A return to the fascism of the 1930s, when thuggish legionnaires roamed the streets killing people for fun? A return to the feudalism and the slavery of the 19th century?

No, despite the fact that the idiotic Victor Ponta remains the country’s prime minister, this is the best Romania there has ever been. (That might not be saying much, but it’s true). Of course, it could be much, much better – there are still awful levels of poverty in this country, not least in the countryside – and there is much to be done.

Yet let there be no doubt about it: today’s Romanian (or, indeed, Anglo-Romanian) children are the luckiest there have ever been. The wealth of opportunity they enjoy is beyond the wildest dreams of even our generation.

They are healthier, better educated, freer, will live longer and will be richer than any generation of Romanians before them. And there is more to come. What’s to complain about?

Cheer up you blockheads.


84 thoughts on “Reasons to be cheerful

      1. And it looks racist to me too, all those iffy chemicals sprayed upon us, designed to kill as many of us paupers as possible to keep the population down. Agenda 21.


  1. Well said Craig, although I think much of this only applies to us expats. It’s a different story overall for the typical Romanian.


    1. Yes, I wrote that: it depends on the individual. Romania has seen two million people leave over the past two decades, so it can’t be all good, but then the UK has seen millions emigrate in that time too. What is important is that people are free to emigrate should they choose: that’s one of the choices they have.

      The difference is that in the UK those who leave are replaced by those who enter: often younger and harder working people. If Romania had a more enlightened approach to immigration it too could replace the people it loses: there are more than two million Moldovans and Ukrainians who would no doubt love to come and live and work in Romania, not to mention Turks, Syrians etc.


      1. Sounds racist to me … But homophobia or mocking Romanian people on median salaries is ok, because I said so mofo.


      2. No such thing as racism. All made up mumbo jumbo straight outta de mouth of the monster lamestream media machine!


      3. I just heard a bit of news today: some small textile business in an even smaller town is looking forward to bringing Bangladeshi workers to fill up its ranks. As it turns out Romanians aren’t all that keen on working full time for minimum wage and, according to the story, minimum wage in Romania is about 10 times what the Bangladeshi would make in their own country.

        Somehow that sounds familiar.


      4. All I can say is I’ve been thanked far too often for helping make up for the brain drain here. And I really don’t do that much, to be honest. It’s simply a fact that the best-qualified Romanians follow the money and go elsewhere if they can. Here works well for me, at least, apparently they aren’t fans. Our educational systems are different. When I see a line for the bathroom that has 15 people in it and notice no one’s come out of a stall for 5 minutes, I think to knock. Romanian women seem horrified by this. Nine times out of ten, the stall is empty and has been the entire time. Our educational systems were designed to teach us different things, plain and simple.


      5. And with the bathroom analogy – the worst part is it has actually happened about 50 times, they always tell me not to check the door, then when it’s empty for the 50th time they tell me “Oh, you’re clever,” I get a ton of thank-yous, and in the end I’m just mad at myself because I wonder why the hell I humoured them for the first five minutes anyway. It’s seriously every single time. No one questions anything, which is BS. I was raised to question everything. BTW, this also applies to affairs.


      6. For some reason I feel it’s important to clarify here that I DO NOT WORK WITH ROMANIANS. At all. Ever. That’s a business decision, and not a particularly strange one at all if you happen to be a German to English translator. They aren’t on the same market I am. So I am limited to solely social interactions these days as examples.


    2. Especially so if you’re a wealthy ex pat like me, with my two luxury cars and pet linx.

      Although I’ve a busy social life and I’m in my prime, I spend most of my time on Bucharest life arguing with strangers and taking the piss out of Romanian people on median salaries.

      Some would say I’m a nasty piece of work, but I don’t care mofo. Just don’t threaten me with a cable car ride, as I’m scared of heights.


      1. There are some nasty pieces of work who use the Internet and infest this forum.

        When someone resorts to belittling others regarding income and perceived status it tells you a lot about their character.


      2. Yo Jeanette! The person you’re replying to is actually ‘CommonSense’ AKA ‘Roger’ who went through a phase of being sad on the internet and impersonating various posters such as myself and Geronimo following his ‘I WILL NEVER RETURN HERE’ meltdown. He seems to have really been broken by words…


      3. Impersonating posters and being hurt by words?

        Mmmmmm the above impersonated reaction to a post from someone who doesn’t bother him, all seems rather ironic 🙂

        Won’t be long until Craig bans you I’d have thought!


      4. As usual you’re once again ruining the forum.

        You only get one life, so why fill it with anger and frustration on someone you claimed doesn’t bother you?

        My views clearly make you angry, so if you’re so intelligent as you claim, why do you foolishly read them?

        Forgive me for doubting your claims of luxury cars, in your prime, intelligent, high salary etc etc … Because why would someone who was that – be on here daily getting so angry?

        Genuine question Anon, why do you allow yourself to be so angry?

        You’ll end up getting banned if you carry on.


  2. on a short trip to Brasov I used In Your Pocket which I found on a hotel shelf in my room. I don´t know if the hotel themselves put it there or a previous guest left it there. Not really a hotel, a “pensiune”. However, the brochure was informative and helpful. Tips on what to include: non-smoking pubs or smoking pubs that have a decent non-smoking section, not like Deane´s who have two tables isolated in a tiny room near the toilet. Perhaps there are none in Brasov, a taxi driver suggested I go to..KFC at the newly opened mall if I want smoke free


    1. Thanks, will keep the smoking comment in mind. In the Bucharest guide we do point out places which are smoke free, because there are some. As you say: I am not so sure there are in Brasov, yet.


  3. ” In the UK we pay £35 for internet alone (with Virgin Media). That’s for the top speed they offer in the area (Wimbledon): around 75Mbps.”

    By my calculation 35 pounds equals roughly US $52. My monthly internet bill came to $55 for service with a grand speed of exactly 3 Mbps (1 Mbps uploads) where I live in the US. Last month I upgraded to a whopping 6 Mbps for $65 monthly.

    How much does 75 Mbps cost in my city (by the way, the second financial center in the US)? Well, nothing, of course. Because no internet providers offer such a speed. The max is capped at 50 Mbps.

    How is this possible? Simple: big internet providers paying mostly right wing politicians (you know, the kind that never stop extolling the miracle of “free markets”) in the form of political campaign contributions. Then, said politicians pass laws favoring the big internet providers. The result: monopoly or duopoly level pricing in most of the US internet markets.

    See here:

    And especially here:

    So yes, Mr Turp it’s easy to be a fan of “free market capitalism” when it doesn’t actually rob you blind (or even worse, kill you – don’t get me started with the US health care insurance companies!). In the meantime enjoy your 900 Mbps speeds.


      1. Although don’t think I’m bothered enough to use a childish name of my nemesis, because I’m not going to allow an ill educated fool touch my nerves.

        However I like typing hypocritical posts and making myself look a fool.

        I’m still wealthier than the average Romanian and own 2 luxury cars and a pet linx.


      2. Hope it helps Roger, I’m not struggling with strangers on the Internet, and you’ll not find me allowing anyone to bother me or take up my valuable time.

        Does anyone know the definition of irony by the way?


      3. My pet linx has just had a litter, anyone interested?

        I can deliver them in my V8 Benz only if you don’t live at altitude, as I’m scared of heights.

        Oh and in case you think Woger is bothering me, not one bit, you won’t catch me replying to an ill educated fool like him.

        When I calm down enough I might start posting as Anon again, but I’ll stick with Woger for now, as he really hasn’t bothered me one bit.

        Got to go, I’ve a tram to catch!


      4. WTF, I thought we were supposed to keep it civil. I’m American, I live in Bucharest, I run a business over the Internet and did in the States as well, the Internet is vastly faster here, and yes, the US needs to improve infrastructure, but so does Romania, though we seem to be doing well in the Internet department. What the heck is your argument here, Woger? Really.


    1. More on Romanian Internet speeds:

      For those not bothered enough to click the link, the title of the article says it all: Romania has 9 of the world’s top 15 cities with fastest broadband internet. Ploiesti, Iasi, Bucharest, Timisoara, Galati, Constanta, Cluj, Oradea and Brasov are all in the top 15. The median monthly cost per Megabit per second (Mbps) in Romania is USD 0.71, as calculated by Ookla.


  4. Agree wholeheartedly with the post and many of the same reasons you stay here are the ones that I use to argue with people every day. With that said, I’m not a big fan of the tax structure here. It’s fine for a person running their own business, but when you add employees (as you’ve recently done), you start to see the disconnect in the taxing structure. Paying an employee 1000 lei (at the very bottom of a reasonable wage range if you ask me) means you’ll pay about 600 on top in employee taxes. Add a couple employees and you could easily find yourself taking a marginal business and turning it into a losing proposition. The ridiculous taxes are why so many people here work under the table – it’s not just greedy bosses (although there are plenty of those), but the simple fact that businesses can’t afford to pay 60% of an employee’s salary in additional taxes.


    1. ” but the simple fact that businesses can’t afford to pay 60% of an employee’s salary in additional taxes.”……………It’s ok because Romanian business men love paying that 60% tax. Don’t believe me? Craig said so. He said that there are two million jobs here going begging that need to be filled by Russians, Turks and Syrians.


    2. I fail to grasp how owning your own business makes the taxing structure any better. Am I missing something? If I pay myself a salary I still must pay the 60% in taxes unless taking an annual dividend at 16% income tax rate, 5.5% health insurance, and 3% tax on all money that comes into the business.

      You consider 1000 ron a respectable wage? Really?

      I also think it’s putting the cart before the horse to say that the reason for under the table payments is due to high taxes. It can just as easily be said that taxes NEED to be so high to compensate for the 50% of income out there that’s not being taxed. Don’t get be wrong, I hate taxes, everyone does. I think there needs to be a real crackdown on this untaxed income and a serious reduction in taxes overall to allow businesses to prosper and attract more companies to Romania. Kind of like the income tax exemption they allow for engineers in IT.


      1. If you own your own business, then you would be listed as an owner and administrator. Because you are not an employee and are paid the profits of the company, you do not pay the 60% employee taxes. However, you are also not involved in the state pension scheme (not necessarily a bad thing) and will have to pay your health insurance out of pocket (39 lei a month if I remember correctly). Your personal taxes will be 16% of the profits that you take out of the business as well as a corporate income which is decided by how you form the business (SRL, microinterprindere, PFA). If you’re a small business, then microinterprindere is probably the best option with a 3% of sales corporate tax with no salary payments.

        I agree with the IT exemptions that are currently in place – it’s an awesome idea and hopefully just the start of better support for freelancers and small businesses. And I’m actually not against taxes as long as they’re not exorbitant (PFA = a ridiculous 51% income tax). What I’m against is a tax structure that stunts the growth of small businesses, such as the current employee tax, which are desperately needed to fuel Romania’s growth.

        For an example, let’s say you have a small company that you’re running yourself and that’s producing 2000 euros in sales and 1000 euros a month in profit (so 840 after taxes). Not great, but not too shabby either in Romania. You’re at a point where you could expand your profits if you had just two extra employees. Assuming you’re paying those employees 1500 lei for a 40-hour work week (we’ll get to that later), your total cost with taxes would be 4800 lei (3000 salary plus 1800 taxes), or 1100 euro. Say having these 2 employees allows you to double your business. Add in the extra expenses and now you’ve got 4000 in sales and 900 in profit, basically the same as if you never hired the employees in the first place, so what’s the point of expanding?

        I’m not sure I understand your argument about under the table payments. What I believe is that many people do not officially register employees (or register them fully, which is more often the case) because of the high employee tax. What you appear to be saying is that employee taxes are high because of income tax evasion. If income tax evasion is the problem (yes, I’m aware it’s rampant), it doesn’t seem like an intelligent solution to compensate by raising employee taxes. Why punish those trying to create a better, more legal working environment?

        As for 1000 lei a month, I did say that it was at the very bottom of the reasonable range. I should have also specified that it would be for a 35-hour work week and an unskilled job. I’m sure you have met people in Bucharest working unofficially for 700-800 lei a month for 6 days, 60 hours a week. Ask anyone working officially for minimum wage (900 lei) how many hours they work. What I would really like to see is a better framework for hourly pay in Romania.


      2. As an owner administrator of an SRL, are you referring to taking the annual dividend on profits? As a foreign owned company this is only permitted once per year. How would the money be disbursed to the administrator? Perhaps you’re referring to something that I have overlooked and would gladly like to know. 🙂


      3. Also, the 39 lei for health insurance is based on minimum salary. Once you take profits, you need to pay taxes at 5.5% for health insurance.


      4. Yeah, the annual dividend is what I was referring to. It means that you always stay a year behind, but it also saves quite a bit of money on the employee tax for yourself as administrator. I guess you could pay yourself a salary as administrator, but even at a paltry 300 euros per month, you would still lose over 2k euros in a year. I also heard some talk (haven’t researched to verify and it sounds like a pipe dream) that the 16% tax on dividends could be scrapped in 2016, so that might be a pretty big swing.

        As for the insurance costs, I could be completely wrong, but I thought that if I’m not employed somewhere, then the 39 lei is all I need to pay and that taking the dividends wouldn’t change that. I’ll look into it as I hope I haven’t been doing it wrong for several years, which would certainly be possible.


      5. You pay the 39 lei (actually the amount varies according to what he minimum wage is) only if you have no other declared income in Romania.

        The cheapest way to do it is to employ yourself with a small wage, and then take dividends once per year. Why? Because if you already have a salary in Romania (on which you are paying health insurance) you do not have to pay the 5.5 per cent health insurance bump on dividends.


      6. ‘Assuming you’re paying those employees 1500 lei, your total cost with taxes would be 4800 lei (3000 salary plus 1800 taxes)’

        Only if you negotiate salaries net, and not gross. If you agree to pay someone a guaranteed net salary per month you create all sorts of problems. What if the income tax rate goes up? You would meet that: not the employee.


      7. Sounds like a nice way to hide how much of the employee’s work is lost in taxation, after all an employer will only hire staff he can afford and pay accordingly. That rate of 14% doesn’t seem so tasty after all…


      8. I think the point was that with rampant evasion, in the short term a country may have no choice but to raise taxes on the compliant businesses. The Laffer curve is a hypothesis, not a sure thing. I doubt any european country is at the point where cutting taxes increases revenue.


  5. Why would the most technologically advanced country not be able to update the infrastructure? Because the big Internet companies love this monopolistic status quo. It makes them lots of $ the easy way.


    1. Yea I agree, but there is hope in things like Google who are rolling out higher speed internet in some areas (google fiber I think)


      1. Or at least I really hope Google fiber sort things out quickly, I’d miss being able to netwank as much as I do already.


      2. Google Fiber is only available in two (smallish) cities currently. In the next 1 to 2 years five more cities will be added. The majority of the country will still be stuck in dark ages of internet speeds for the foreseeable future.


    1. Can I just be clear I don’t donate so much of my time to Roger because I’m bothered by him, he’s my little monkey who I like to watch dance 🙂

      He’s not angered me one bit, and I’m thinking of changing my name back to Anon, once Roger has had enough.


      1. I understand that their political leanings are anti-Western and traditionalist – this has been a major current in Romanian thought. However, pan-Slavism to me suggests a sort of solidarity with the Slavic nations of Europe and a sense that Romania is a Slavic nation. Given that Romania is not a Slavic nation, most Romanian traditionalist discourses tends to be nationalistic (in the isolationist sense), pro-Orthodox or pro-Dacian rather than showing any pan-Slavic sentiments.


      2. While there’s a percentage of the population that harbours certain anti-Western sentiments*, comparatively few of them are genuinely pro-Eastern or pro-Russian. As Mihai said, it’s got more to do with pro Orthodoxy and pro daco-roman ethnogenesis. As for pan-Slavism, this wasn’t even the case in the late 40s and 50s, when Soviet agents were infiltrated at every level of government, let alone now. They tried and failed, because… let’s just say that, historically, Romanians have never been fond of Russia.

        *There’s still a lot of people bitter about the way the Western world handled the Nazis before WW2 and the way this part of Europe was left in Soviet hands after it. You know, the old “western betrayal” thing. Then there are those that aren’t necessarily against the West per se, but are highly suspicious of the EU and NATO.


      3. I am not all that fond of Nato, but the EU has done so much for Romania it is strange to see people opposed to it, especially when they then portray Russia as an alternative model.

        What is most important – and encouraging – however is that while the likes of Capsali and Ernu can scream and shout against everything modern and civilised, most people outside of their small cults ignore them. Romanians are clearly now looking west, and not east. The west is the model they aspire too, not Russia.


      4. I’ve talked to a few people these last few years that seemed to view Russia as a model; what it usually boiled down to was that they bought Putin’s image as a strong leader who cares about his country and is willing to fight for it, even go to war for it. Basically, it was less a matter of Russia being a model, as it was a matter of Putin being a model for what Romania needs.

        There’s still a strong undercurrent in Romanian society that craves authoritarian, if not dictatorial, strong arm leadership. The Great Man that will push Romania forward even by force and against some people’s will, if needed.


      5. So basically anybody who dares to question neoliberal values. I’m not sure what Ernu has to do with slavism — presumably you associate “the left” with Russia, even though presend-day Russia is a crony capitalistic states with (surprise!) a flat tax, unlike developed western european countries.


      6. Hardly, no. The Pan-Slavic movement was and has since the 18th Century been an important force in this region. Romania might not be *as* into it as its neighbours, but really, you should hear some of the things people – educated people, at that – were telling me about Crimea a year ago. Really.


      7. It’s pernicious, by the way, and I don’t think a lot of people are aware of it consciously. I dated a Romanian guy my age (now 30) briefly about a year ago and happened to be reading The Last 100 Days (which is by no means a great book, btw) while travelling with him on the train from Cluj – well, it was a long trip, and at some point I bothered to mention that people starved under Ceaucescu. This very educated young man took serious offense to that statement, and dragged me to the dining car, where he interpreted three separate interviews for me with middle-aged CFR employees who were all quite happy to tell me how things had been better for them under Ceaucescu. If you don’t understand why that is pernicious, then I really can’t help you.


  6. Great article! Very much looking forward to living in Bucharest for a few months. Spent a bit of time back in the UK recently, can’t see any benefits to living there at all. 900 MBit internet, here I come!


      1. Nope, he wouldn’t create a whole Google+ profile for the sake of trying to hide under yet another new identity.


      2. He must have been learning off me Phil. I’m naturally articulate and educated to a level higher than most on here.


  7. I’m curious if the intelligent person who wrote the strawman arguments (and the insults) at the end even knows what the real Luddites stood up for… As to the implications that “if you’re against me you’re with Putin!!!!”, I’m surprised such despicable attacks can get published. But, of course, this is Romania, home of the brainwashed


    1. Which ‘insults’ are you referring to?

      The Luddites were reactionaries who opposed progress. The pro-Russian brigade who want to drag Romania out of the EU and back to the 1930s in the name of ‘tradition’ are no different.

      As for your comment about ‘I’m surprised such despicable attacks can get published’, all I can say is you have given the game away there. In your world, you’d clearly not have people speak freely. Thankfully – in no small part thanks to the EU – such days are over in Romania. Get used to it.


      1. Well, like most ideologues you know only the cliches. “the Luddites themselves “were totally fine with machines,”… They confined their attacks to manufacturers who used machines in what they called “a fraudulent and deceitful manner” to get around standard labor practices” (

        Suggesting that anyone who disagrees with you is a “slavist”, communist or fascist isn’t really an honourable tactic. And, while you may not know it, Romanian law prohibits insults (“idiotic”). I don’t mind so much the words, but if a Romanian wishes to respond in kind (fair game, right?) they have to worry about breaking the law.


      2. I have been sued twice in Romania (and I have been victorious twice): I am well aware of the law. To win a case, Ponta would have to prove in court that by using the word idiotic I had somehow damaged his honour. Given that we are talking about the prime minister of the most corrupt government in Romanian history, whose own doctoral thesis was heavily plagiarised, I think he has already damaged his honour more than any casual insults ever could. Besides, there are several million Romanians who would no doubt queue up to offer a judge any number of reasons exactly why he deserves what he gets.

        As for replying in kind, I don’t care. Yes, I am fair game: I have no problem with that. Read these pages and you will see me called every name under the sun. I have even seen my children insulted. Did I sue anyone? Did I fuck: life is too short for such things.


      3. Yeah… the main point was not resorting to strawman arguments (“my opponents would like to “) and name-calling (“my opponents are communists, fascists etc”, substituting emotion for rational discourse). Those are despicable tactics.


      4. Fourteen ministers or former ministers of the current administration are currently in prison, on trial or being investigated for corruption. Can you tell me another government that can match that?

        Also, please do not make the mistake of thinking opposition to the current government means we automatically liked the previous one. I was just making a statement of fact: this is the most corrupt government Romania has ever had. Disprove that statement and I will delete it. Until then, it stays.


      5. Craig. Don’t you find it ironic that it is exactly during Ponta’s tenure so many of his ministries were convicted. No, nothing? You do read the news right about hundreds of millions stolen by Basescu’s minions, don’t you? Nastase is pathetic compared to the so-called right wing capitalists.


  8. Bucharest is indeed unrecognizable these days. For the first time, the center of Bucharest no longer looks like Eastern Europe. The buildings and streets have gotten a facelift, the wires are gone as are the dogs and Romanians often dress better than their Western European counterparts. Romanians drive nicer cars too. Romanians have transformed themselves in every way. It’s as if the city I knew is long gone. Since around 2011, Bucharest hit a new period. Romanians look different now, they carry themselves differently, they’ve traded BMWs for bikes. The city looks different with new streets, no wires, no dogs, bike lanes, all sorts of hip cafes and bars (even no smoking ones). Everyone has cameras and wears the latest fashions, many have the iPhone 6 and Apple laptops. There’s an altogether different spirit about the place as if Bucharestians are finally reclaiming the city that Ceausescu took away from them for so long. At the route level it’s about economics it seems to me. Money doesn’t just buy new cars, it can buy a new found confidence. Many have traveled widely and globalization seems to finally be hitting up Bucharest, albeit in a sophisticated way. Bucharest is transforming itself at a speed you never witness in the West.


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