It is quite appropriate to post about the country of Romania as tomorrow, Serbia plays against its neighbor in an important World Cup qualifying soccer match. My first impression of the country was the same as when I visited neighboring Bulgaria – “These guys are in the EU and Serbia is not?” It was most evident in the border crossing. Coming back into Serbia, the Romanian border post was run down and the guards very inefficient. Crossing into Serbia, the installations for immigration were better maintained. The roads were in better condition, less garbage along side the roads, and the villages and towns on the Serbian side were also nicer and better maintained. I know Serbia is not part of the EU because of politics and not economics or standard of living, but when compared to Bulgaria and Romania, they are EU-quality.
The Romanians were very friendly and we enjoyed the visit. The Romans had a larger effect on them than the Serbs. I wonder why? The Romans were also here in Belgrade. I also learned of the Dacians, one of the early groups in Romania. I would like to learn more about them as well as the Vlachs. I did notice a significant gypsy population, even in villages, which one does not find in Serbia where they are mostly located in the larger cities.
The Carpathian mountains were beautiful as well as the rolling hills of southern Romania. Very similar to the Serbian countryside, although we saw more pumpkins in Romania. We had to stop at a pumpkin patch and get some photos. It reminded me of the old Peanuts cartoon when Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin to come.
The boys climbed some of the Carpathians! We didn’t see any vampires, which is always strongly associated with Romania. We did see a girl at breakfast in the hotel rubbing garlic on her toast however. We will probably be back again.