I had the unique opportunity to travel to Romania with a native Romanian as my tour guide.
I was able to see a far more significant portion of the country than a typical tourist would be able to.
Below are my first impressions of Bucharest, Romania, which make up the first of ten weekly installments from my adventure.
I left Newark's Liberty Airport on a British Airways Boeing 777 bound for London's Heathrow airport.
This was the most comfortable flight I have ever taken.
The seats had more room than most domestic flights in the USA, plus drinks and meals were included in the ticket price, as well as your choice of several movies.
The flight flew by!
I was not impressed with Heathrow airport. After getting off the plane, there were many security screenings and checkpoints to get back into the airport.
There were only a few eating/drinking establishments mixed in with several shops to wait out your layover.
From there it was off to a smaller jet for the 3 hour trip from London to Bucharest, Romania!
I landed at the International Airport in Bucharest, Romania, on August 7th, 2010.
Immigration and customs were swift and smooth.
I just got a smile and heavily accented, ” Welcome to Romania.”
Upon landing, I made two quick observations.
One, it was HOT.
The temperature there was mid to upper 90's with high humidity.
Second, most of the Romanian people were in very good shape and very attractive.
I have never seen such a large population of thin, gorgeous women. I liked Romania immediately.
As we drove through the streets of Bucharest, I was immediately struck by the stark contrast in architectural styles present in the many buildings of the city.
Many of the buildings were reminiscent of the Ceausescu era of Romanian communism.
The buildings were gray and drab with very plain and minimalistic looking lines.
However, sparsely intermixed within these lackluster buildings were some incredible, vibrant, and intoxicatingly ornate buildings that were spared the destruction of communism.
We then proceeded to an apartment complex where we would be spending the evening.
This was a large apartment complex consisting of approximately 15 buildings that all looked identical in the plain architectural stylings.
All the buildings were approximately five floors high, and each apartment contained a small balcony.
As with any big city, space is at a premium, and every square inch is fully utilized.
The apartments were approximately 800 square feet and contained a small kitchen, a living room, bathroom, and one to two bedrooms.
You certainly learn to appreciate the amount of space one has in the suburbs of the US when you see a family of four able to live and function in a one-bedroom 800 square foot apartment.
However, this confined space does not diminish the spirit of the friendly, courteous, and generous Romanian people as they learn to cherish other things in life than material possessions.
About the Author: Karl is a physicist and avid photographer who only recently decided to set out and explore the world with his camera. Catch more of his adventures at https://facebook.com/kbarth