*** Wednesday, 01 Jan 2003 ***
Up after eight, fully rested. I looked out the window and saw several
inches of white stuff all over the ground and it was still snowing, although
lightly. Later, the snow ceased but the wind was still active. I could
see from the swaying trees that it was a strong wind and from how people
walked through it that it was a cold wind.
After cooking myself a cheese and bacon omelet, I decided to go to Herastrau
Park and shoot some video and then take the 41 trolley to wherever it
went. I did and it went somewhere that wasn't very pretty. It started
out well as the 41 went through some nice pre-WW II housing but then it
was all faceless 10-story apartment blocks. Eventually it stopped at the
point the line 47 started, heading in the same direction as the 41 had.
It went through more apartment blocks and then through a post-industrial
area, ending far away.
I took Line 8 which starts near the end of Line 47 and follows it for
a while but then went its own way but not to any place I could identify.
At its end I took the 23 and studied my map which showed that it was headed
to Piatza Uniri but it sudden turned on 11 Iuniei and headed away to heaven-knew-where.
So I got off at the next stop and walked to Uniri where I took the train
to University where I live. The weather was now so unpleasant, sharply
cold and gustily windy, that I decided that I would spend the rest of
the time indoors.
The wind was blowing leaves along the sidewalk this am, that scratchy,
tinkly sound; the scratching sound of dry leaves scudding along pavement.
*** Thursday, 02 Jan 2003 ***
I was up at 9 AM and well rested and rather enjoyed the idea that this
day was also a holiday here. I decided to go shopping at the Bucharest
Mall. Diana in the office had told me that it was in one of the dome-shaped
buildings that Ceausescu had built all over the city for poorly understood
reasons (something to do with eating) and she marked the spot on my map.
The Bucharest Mall and part of its extensive
I didn't know what to expect but I thought the trip would be fun anyway
so I took the M2 subway to Piatza Uniri and then the M1 to Dristor. Once
outside I saw Trolley 15 and hopped on it as it ran beside the Mall. In
five minutes I was there and noticed what a large parking lot it had.
Parking lots in general -- and large parking lots in particular -- are
a rarity in Bucharest. This was an interesting beginning.
I went in the doors and found a large building with an atrium covered
by a five-story glass-domed ceiling with a gift-covered Christmas tree
in the center. Escalators led up and down. Up led to a food court on the
fourth level with American (McDonalds beside the Colonel) and Romanian
fast foods. This was the real thing: An American shopping mall in Bucharest.
I started circulating immediately.
The look and feel of the place was genuine "mall" with large,
expensive stores, public spaces, and all kinds of shopping. There was
a cloth store, many clothing stores, a carpet boutique, Marks & Spencer
(even!). There was an 8 screen multiplex playing Harry Potter (in Romanian,
I think -- at least the posters were in Romanian) and a Game World filled
with video arcade stuff. I thought the finishing touch was the ten pin
bowling alley, "Rock & Roll Bowl". I could have been some
place in Kansas.
My big discovery was the Gima Superstore, a supermarket which was huge
and with wide aisles. I ended up buying some garlic and pepper cheese
(alas, no cheddar!), some heavy cream, Cappuccino Cremo, and some cheese-flavored
corn puffs. Now I have enough supplies to last a week!
When I exited I noticed that the ring-road around the building came complete
with speed bumps. It made me feel warm all over. I spent the next several
hours exploring Bucharest on its trolleys. I'll write about what the city
looks like later.*** Friday, 03 Jan 2003 ***
As if to fulfill the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, this morning
when I stepped outside I found all the cleared sidewalks and streets covered
in a thin coat of ice. Walked until I could take a trolley to work.
I started a listing of the books and reports in the conference room. My
efforts were cut short by the disappearance of the remaining documents.
Possibly Adrian packed them in his box. I hope so! [Later I learned that
*** Saturday, 04 Jan 2002 ***
I traveled linea 5 for its full length (one hour and a half) and then,
as I was starving by noon, I took the Metrou to Universitate and ate at
DaVinci's. I had mititei with French fries and it was pretty good -- even
if I was the only person in the restaurant. How do these places survive?
As usual, the menu had its oddities. I avoided the
Duet of leaves
Chicken breast cocktail
Greek style brains, and
Beef with wood ears
[Note: I don't make these things up!]
The term "Non Stop" -- it is supposed to mean "24/7"
-- is used frequently here but the stores in question seem frequently
to be closed.
In the afternoon I worked on emails and began working on my next Register
but became frustrated with an obstreperous DreamWeaver -- it would not
function as I believed it should and I couldn't figure out how to solve
A reader wrote about having a Chrysler Voyager minivan in Romania. I responded:
I can say however that parking in the central area (the old city, including
the Embassy area) is very much at a premium. The solution we use is to
hire drivers who baby sit the cars while we are somewhere doing something.
And did I mention the traffic? During the day it varies between very bad
and horrible. Public transportation on the other hand is fairly good but
complicated. (RATB has a web site with a system map at www.ratb.ro worth
looking at but it will probably be incomprehensible if you don't know
something about the city.)
I think you need to ask yourself what your "goal" is in having
the car. If it is go get around the city efficiently during the middle
of the day, I doubt it an attainable goal. And it will certainly be a
If your goal is to be able to leave for business trips and weekend/vacation
getaways on your time (rather than a driver's or a bus's or a train's),
then I think it an attainable goal.
The other factor is where you will live. The nicest area of the city is
on either side of Bulevardul Aviatorilor, north of the city center. There
are many embassies there (thus the appearance of safety) and more homes
than apartment buildings. It was built up in the 30s by people rich enough
to hire architects who sometimes knew what they were doing. It is a positively
good-looking area, though like all of Bucharest, much in need of a good
Now is that sufficiently confusing?
*** Monday, 06 Jan 2003 ***
There was another light coating of snow that looked pretty early but would
be brown slush very soon.
I had a wonderful nights sleep and awoke refreshed and interested in getting
to work early. The goal was good but the implementation was not. I decided
to take a trackless trolley on Carol I to my trolley connection. I don't
know the buses yet and made the assumption that they all headed in the
same direction. The one I boarded did indeed head the way I wanted but
100 meter later it turned at a rotary and, after much delay in the traffic,
it headed back from where I had come from. Not much progress.
I tried the process again and got going in the right direction but I misjudged
the stop I should have exited at and the bus went on and on and on to
where it wasn't worth going back so I ended up walking to work anyway.
Live and learn.
I discovered that I had completely lost an important file that I had been
working on for weeks. Thank God I had sent a nearly complete version to
Allen who had it on his computer. He emailed it back to me and soon I
was re-keying the suggestions that Adrian had given me and was on my way
to an updated file -- again.
The (second) plan is that we will move tomorrow into our new offices.
That is, if the re-construction is completed, and if the cleaning company
gets done by noon, and if the moving company delivers the new furniture
starting at noon, and if the moving company takes our stuff to the new
offices, and if, and if, . . .
The media report that expected inflation for this year is 14% to 18%.
Wow! It is hard to wrap my mind around that. Try to think about it and
its economic implications. The only good news is that it is down from
60% just a few years ago.