Thursday, April 24, 2014

Romancing Romania

We lucked out. Yesterday, when we arrived, I was skeptical about Romania. It is crowded, noisy, dirty, and hot. I was tired from 20 hours on a 1982 East German (ie USSR) train with poor toilet (singular, for 30+ people), nasty shower (ditto), and tiny quarters. But mostly I was tired from the heat and from hauling 20 lbs of cooking items plus 40 lbs of backpack a half mile+ in the noise and crowds and dirt and confusion. What a difference a day makes. First, I've figured out the unnecessarily complex public transport system, our apartment is spacious, comfortable, full and equipped kitchen, elevator, ultra-fast internet. And I slept 8 solid hours in the cool of an air conditioned apartment. Today when we went out it was cool and misty. About 50F. What a delightful change!!  We went to what we were told was a huge farmer's market. I was not impressed: I love these markets and have been to the biggest and best in North Africa, the Far East, Europe, and South America. So, I was prepared to be disappointed. I was wrong. HUGE. That's the word. Canton and Hasty - imagine an enclosed football field packed to the ceiling with every kind of item with just room to walk through. Then triple it. Then put a second story on a third of it with a more Western European market there. Wow!  The prices are a bit less than the US markets (maybe even 40% less), everything is fresh.  I took a photo of one tiny corner of one section of fish market because the aisles were wider for a better photo.  Unfortunately, it's a bit blurry. I also photographed the money. It's spelled Lei and is pronounced "lay".  Each one is worth 33¢ so R10 = US$3.33

And I photographed a bottle of Romanian Merlot. 2 liters (2.5 quarts) which cost R21.50. Like I had experienced in Spain 41 years ago, you can bring your own bottle or - as here - you can buy one from them. Amazingly, they also have the same system for un-pasteurized milk - right out of the cow!  Donna took a photo for her blog. I bought 1L of milk in the grocery this morning for R6. The raw milk in the market for 1L - when you bring your own bottle - is R.5. Yep US 17¢ for 1.2 QTS. 

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