31 December 2008
29 December 2008
On the main highway between Bucharest and Buzău recently, my friends pointed out the numerous roadside crosses memorializing those who died at each location.
We do the same thing in America, I said.
Yes, but do you have 67 of them in one stretch of road of about 55 kilometers?
The thing about that stretch of road is that it is, with occasional bends, dead straight after each bend, with clear views across the Wallachian plain. Except for one T-bone intersection on the exact middle of the inside of a curve just outside Buzău, where drivers turning left routinely block one or both lanes on the main highway curving to the right -- but that's a separate masterpiece of total idiocy by civil planners, who have deemed a traffic light or even curlicue on-ramps unnecessary where no one can see anything in either direction.
No, all those crosses line a straight road, where detecting oncoming traffic is no problem. There is, of course, no median to insulate anyone from people passing each other in lanes of oncoming traffic.
Along the same highway are quite a few signs warning you "STOP ACCIDENTELOR - VIAŢA ARE PRIORITATE." Literally, "Stop for accidents - life has priority."
You'd think this needn't be a reminder in post-communist Romania, but apparently it is.
And only for the accidents, as opposed to people who would've been OK but for someone else's daredevil stupidity on a straight stretch of road.
Romania highway fatalities
Posted by Frank Sellin at 1:12 PM
25 December 2008
I may be missing out on Silvester, the invigorating exchange of rocket-powered firecrackers in central plaza warzones located in many North Central European cities, but here in my favorite stomping grounds of Romania, I have discovered yet another pleasure on my fourteenth or so visit.
To wit, palinca. Not just the usual plum-based palinca, which is double-distilled hooch of rural origins (relative to the single distillation known as ţuica by Romanians and šljivovica to South Slavs), and thus prone to knock your socks off. Standard palinca has been my friend since 1994 and is thus, well, old news.
Rather, palinca brewed from apples, courtesy of my father-in-law's many work-related travels about the country. Not being the sort of snob capable of refined descriptions for gourmet magazines, I am limited to recommending that you go out of your way to try it if you can find it.
I have, of course, been filled to the gills with salty pork products, in standard Romanian Christmas accompaniment to said spirits. As well as with overly sweet pastries.
So while I indulge my heartburn, let me wish all you readers out there a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays / Don't Shoot Me For Being Politically Incorrect in between your holiday libations. And, given the limitations of my MIL's computer without the right photo software, I may not be able to treat you to lovely pictures of urban carolers and pagan ceremonies in Bucharest as soon as I'd like. But that should probably wait until you're less libated for viewing purposes, anyway.
palinca ţuica tsuica Romania
Posted by Frank Sellin at 8:25 PM
06 December 2008
If you're looking for Christmas libation fun of a German nature, you can find a whole bunch of recipes for variations on Glühwein and other assorted drinks here.
And if your German is, well, challenged, you might try the online dictionary Leo while you wait for your order of a good-sized Oxford or Langenscheidt dictionary.
Glühwein Gluehwein Gluhwein
Posted by Frank Sellin at 1:28 PM