It looks like Serbia will have a new government next week.
Parliament meets again on Tuesday, March 2, and it appears that Kostunica and his Democratic Party of Serbia will have the votes to form a government. Apparently the Socialists -- Milosevic's party, still -- are willing to support him, and he's managed to convince Vuk Draskovic and the G17 people to go along. (If you've forgotten your Serbian politics, there's still this old post to give the basics.)
The new government will include technocrats and hardline nationalists, monarchists and unrepentant former Communists, Milosevic's supporters and Vuk Draskovic, who survived at least two assassination attempts under Milosevic.
This should be interesting.
The warm weather has brought out the beggars and the homeless people.
The beggars never did quite disappear. Even in the coldest days of January, there were always a few of them around: the old ladies in front of the NIC supermarket, the man with the deformed leg by the church entrance, the lame man who limps from car to car at the stoplight on Callea Dorobant'. But suddenly there are more of them: gypsies, kids, gypsy kids, a kneeling man with religious medals in front of him (I remember him from last autumn), a barefoot teenage boy in pajamas who wanders among the cars when they stop to cross Iancu de Hunedoara.
I spent an hour and a half with Alan at the Kisheleff Park playground this morning. It was a beautiful day, so the playground was pretty packed.
A couple of random observations.
One, while Romanians are relatively standoffish compared to Serbs, they are very friendly, pleasant and polite one-to-one in this sort of situation. To give just one of several examples: there was an older woman sitting on a bench nibbling on breadsticks. Alan walked over, picked up one of the breadsticks from the bag (it was on the bench next to her) and began nibbling on it too. I ran over and began to effusively apologize. The woman could not have been more pleasant and gracious... indeed, at one point I thought she was going to offer us the whole bag, and I had to pretend to even less Romanian than I have.
Two... there was a funny thing with the slides.
Today is February 29th. That is, as everyone knows, it is Superman's birthday.
Here in Bucharest, it's been a warm and sunny day. Very warm and very sunny. In fact... I don't dare use the S-word. But I'll live dangerously, and say that it was very spring-like.
This comes after several days of warm and damp weather, which has washed away the last of the snow and brought tiny green buds to the tips of the trees. This morning we walked past a street vendor who was selling flowers, and we noticed bees buzzing around his blooms. The last couple of nights have been foggy, and in the evening we've heard the doves calling to each other. It's been sun and cloud, sun and cloud; in the street outside our house, Alan has been jumping into puddles with his yellow rubber boots, SPLASH.
It's almost like... an extended period of warm weather.
The President of Macedonia is dead. His plane crashed into the side of a mountain in Bosnia, where he'd been making a state visit.
I visited Macedonia a couple of years ago, and liked it a lot. Skopje, the capital, is an ugly little city -- it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1964, and rebuilt as a jarring combination of socialist blocks and Sixties modernist flying-toilet concrete fantasies. But the people were the friendliest and most pleasant in all the Balkans. And Albanians and Slavs were living side by side, if not in amity, then at least in glum mutual tolerance.
There's been plenty of violence in Macedonia, but it's never quite jumped the tracks. The country remains at peace, more or less, and one of Europe's best kept secrets -- the people are delightful, as noted, and once you get out of Skopje it has some of the most spectacular scenery in the region.
A Fistful of Euros has given a neat summary, with which I agree:
Throughout the recent Balkan wars, Macedonia was the shoe that stubbornly refused to fall. Wars in Bosnia, in Kosovo did not spread to Macedonia. The blockade imposed by Greece in the early years of independence did not rise to open conflict. Latent Bulgarian claims were amicable resolved. Chaos in Albania did not become contagion. Many reasons account for Macedonia's relative good fortune, and capable leadership is certainly one of them. Now the country's president has crashed into a hillside in Bosnia.
At present, Macedonia is doing something that no state in Western Europe has managed: running a state while accommodating a minority population that is (estimates vary) between one quarter and one third of the total. Good luck to them, and I hope that Trajkovski's successor can stay the course.
For the longest time I was worried about Alan's apparent speech delay. It took me a while to figure out that it was the move to Bucharest and the new baby which had rendered him speechless for a while. At the moment he's making up for those six months of stagnation with a vengeance.
Which got me thinking...
We have lots to post about -- our trip to Belgrade, my trip to Timisoara, Alan's new molars. But we haven't been getting around to it. Mostly that's because we've all been sickish this week... not sick sick, but sniffly (children) or sluggish (parents).
So meanwhile: I saw a squirrel today.
Ah, I can hear the American readers' eyes glazing over. But things are different here. Romanian squirrels are a completely separate species. They're black instead of grey, and small. They are rarer, and much, much shyer than their American cousins. You can see a few of them in the larger parks, like Herastrau. But to see one scampering around on rooftops and telephone lines is like... mm, like a suburban American seeing deer in the backyard. It's not wildly unusual, but it's worthy of notice.
So there it was, running along a telephone wire near the intersection of Strada Paris and Strada Washington. Barely half the size of an American squirrel, more like a chipmunk really. Attractive shade of dark charcoal grey. Tufted ears, very perky. It looked wilder than our squirrels somehow, and moved like it was in a hurry to cross dangerous terrain.
High point of the morning.
(If anyone knows what species these guys are, I'd be interested.)
It was so nice to be back in Belgrade. The people are so outgoing. The city is so full of life. The atmosphere is so upbeat.
We met friends and favorite places, ate once loved pastries at once loved coffee shops, and visited often frequented book shops. We strolled down the Knez to Kalamegdan. We spend an afternoon in Alan's old park. We saw our old house (still empty, waiting for us to come back maybe). Not once did I have to go down or up a single stair without someone jumping to help me with the stroller.
The Danube, oh, the Danube. I really did miss the Danube.
It was a nice visit. It's also nice to be back home. I can say "mulŇ£umesc" again without following up with "eh, hvala".
Lots of food for blog entries, when I'm less tired and less wiped. Flying alone with two kids is not much fun. It could have been worse, though -- I met friends on the plane who helped me and I didn't need to change any diapers. Heh.
Tomorrow, then. I promise.
We're out of town for the next few days. We go to Belgrade this afternoon, and will be there until Sunday. Claudia comes back Sunday night, while I will have some business in Timisoara until Monday evening.
We might get a blog post in there somewhere, but it's probably not the way to bet.
So, see y'all next week.
I know why Romaniaís economy isnít so hot. Itís because:
- everything takes forever,
- everything needs a gazillion plus one forms to be filled out,
- every single form needs a signature, and
- every single form needs at least one stamp.
I was at Astral.ro today to buy a cable internet connection. It struck me as funny that I had to go there physically so get the subscription but maybe thatís me.
I was there for 90 minutes. I had five different forms that needed to be filled and signed. I had to go to the cashier and wait for another twenty minutes all the while the woman worked on my forms, stamped them, handed them back me to get them signed a second time, collected my moneyÖ
Itís a very inefficient and highly customer unfriendly procedure. I mean Ė you want to give them money, why are they making it so difficult for you?
I ended up paying twice for the TV cable subscription which is a precondition for the cable internet and which we already have. Donít ask.
The connection setup will be done, well, in about four weeks or so. [Sigh]
When I talked to Doug about my profound insight into Romanian economics, he answered that this is precisely what he was working on this afternoon. Good for him. Good for Romania, too.
On a brighter note, I did find an umbrella stroller today. After two days of driving all across town and paying double the price as in Germany -- but we do have an umbrella stroller now. Happiness comes in many forms.
This week marks the 200th anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising, which began in February 1804. The Uprising began the long process of Serbia winning its independence from the Ottoman Turks, who had ruled the country since the 16th century.
Serbian history is so complicated that it's not easy to point to one date and say, here -- here's where it started. There was the First Serbian Uprising, which succeeded for a while but then was crushed. Then there was the Second Serbian Uprising, which succeeded partially and ended with Serbia getting partial autonomy. Then there was a long period of semi-independence, with Serbia still officially under Turkish rule, but with the Turkish presence and power steadily shrinking until nothing was left but token garrisons in Belgrade and a few other towns. Then full independence -- but not until 1878, a lifetime after the process had begun.
Another attempt to create an authentic Japanese restaurant in Bucharest, and given the quality of the food, this place looks like succeeding. Not cheap, but the excellent fare is well worth the cost.
In Your Pocket Guide Bucharest
We went to the Kyoto for our Valentine's dinner -- I'm a sushi lover and I wanted to see whether it was as good as people said.
And, yes, it was.
We were timid, so we ordered only a California roll and a salmon/avocado roll for sushi. Boy, it was good! "Very decent sushi," even Doug conceded and he's not easy to please sushi-wise. Having lived on a Pacific island with Japanese tourists being the main import, one does get spoilt.
Anyway, the rolls are highly recommended but as the City Guide said, it's expensive. The California roll cost 200,000 ROL which is about 5 Euros or 6 US Dollars. The salmon/avocado roll cost even more at 214,000 ROL which is roughly 5,40/6,30. However, the rice was just the right amount and nicely flavored and it had the typical sheen good sushi rice is supposed to have. The sushi was well put together and the fish was fresh.
Since I liked the rolls so much, I got daring and ordered an Unagi (eel) sushi. It was good but I like my unagi crispy which this wasn't. That's entirely my fault. I like the unagi from "Sushi Sushi" (in Bethesda, MD) best and just shouldn't order it anywhere else, ever. The toro and the salmon sushi from the next table over looked very good, though.
We also had miso soup which was quite good -- can't do much wrong with miso soup. It came with seaweed and beef strips on the side which was
My main course was grilled salmon which was delectable. Finger-licking yummy. Doug had some excellent eggplant nangaku, which is cooked baby eggplant slices with miso. The only disappointment here was that it wasn't nearly enough. About four slices of half an eggplant won't fill you up. Good thing we had the sushi as well!
Service was good and friendly, albeit a bit timid. None of the dishes came with any rice, we had to order that separately. That might have been an oversight on our side. However, we also had to ask for wasabe for the sushi and that should not have been necessary in my eyes.
The interior is unspectacular: generic Japanese prints, rather bare white walls.. Complimentary green tea and hot towels are a nice touch.
So, yes, it's pricey. Our entire check ran about $50, and that was without wine or dessert.
But we plan to be back because the food is great. Maybe for the lunch menu which has sushi more in our price range.
Still no government in Serbia.
You want details? Well, Kostunica still won't accept the Democratic Party into government. He'd be willing to cut a deal with Milosevic's Socialist Party, but his coalition partners -- especially Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal group -- absolutely refuse. (Since Draskovic was the object of several assassination attempts during the Milosevic years, this is understandable.)
We stopped at a little pharmacy today to buy some skin cream for David. A Romanian woman came in a few steps behind us.
Claudia went up to the counter and started to speak to the pharmacist. Then David began to fuss. Claudia bent over and gave him a few moments of attention.
The Romanian woman cut in front of us and started her own transaction. By the time Claudia had stood up again, she was already in the middle of her order.
This is actually pretty common here. Romanians don't do lines very well. "You snooze, you lose" seems to be the pervasive attitude; if you don't defend your place, someone will step in ahead of you. They're not easily embarrassed about it, either.
The first time it happens, you think you're dealing with one "rude" person. By the fifth or tenth time, you realize that everyone is operating on a different set of rules than yours.
Some random thoughts on this phenomenon:
No! is the name of an album I want to recommend to all those parents out there who cannot bear to listen to Raffi anymore. It's by They Might Be Giants, an alternative rock band from Brooklyn, and it's just great.
The band deliberately set out to make an album that kids and parents can both enjoy. As far as this household is concerned, they succeeded. The songs have basic rhythms that kids can appreciate and lots of clear, simple lyrics that even a toddler can enjoy. But they also are full of absurd, screwball humor that will keep parents smiling even after the 20th or 30th repetition. I mean, with lines like "I am not your broom, I am not your broom, I've had enough, I'm shaking off my chains of servitude" and "No means no, a thousand times no", what's not to like? And of course, there's the Fibber Island song ("Here on Fibber Island, our house is made of pie, our dog is two miles wide...").
My favorite, being German, is "Don't cross the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle of the block". (Someone was inspired by Rudy Giuliani?) Doug prefers "Robot Parade": "In a future time/children will work together/to build a giant/cyboooooorg..."
After some glorious days and nice, sunny, relatively warm weather, it's gotten cold again those past two days. This morning, we woke up to snow. Well, at least we have a little bit of spring inside the house.
Drat those Balkan winters.
The recent thread on Crooked Timber about what constitutes a good childhood got me thinking about whether or not my children will retain a nice memory of their kid years, and whether or not Doug and I are raising two future Republicans (our lingo for "totally screwed up" -- no offense intended to our Republican readers, of course).
Raising kids is always a challenge. I believe it becomes even more of a challenge when you're living abroad. One major problem is that you loose what child psychologists always praise as important for children: continuity and stability.
Moving every two or three years and traveling a lot is disruptive to their little souls, no doubt about it. We moved from Serbia to Romania when Alan just started to talk -- and he stopped cold. He lingered on the stage heíd reached for almost half a year, and only recently continued to make considerable verbal progress. It took me a while to figure out why he suddenly refused to learn talking. A new baby brother around the same time probably didnít help, either.
After weeks and weeks of Flippery Fish, we're Crawly Amphibians, yay!
And if this means nothing to you, you must spend lots of hours not logged on to the internet. Good for you. And, you know what, I might just as well log off and take a bite of that real life myself now. Off I go.
Alan in BraŇüov -- he's riding in the carrier on his Daddy's back and is having fun, as you can see. When we finally let him walk around, he found the only puddle in the street and managed to fall into it. Good thing his mother was thinking ahead and had brought another pair of pants. Of course, she did not anticipate the car sickness the next day... Oh, well.
Here are some pictures of the Black Church in BraŇüov.
The Black Church was built by German settlers from 1383 to 1477. It's the biggest Gothic building in Romania and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Originally Catholic, the church became Protestant after the Reformation in Romania. The church was badly damaged in the big fire of 1689. The roof was completely destroyed and the walls blackened, hence the name. Rebuilding the church took another 100 years. The churches possesses the largest free-swinging bell in Romania and the largest organ in Romania -- 4000 pipes, 4 manuals and 76 registers.
In front of the church you can see a statue of Johannes Honterus who led the Reformation in Transylvania in the 16th century.
The following pictures are thumbnails. Click to get the full versions.
The Black Church from two angles
The sign warning about falling stones, and the table
announcing the deaths in the German community.
But I have an awful lot of friends who are/go to Baghdad and I just found out that my ex-boyfriend is there also.
Doug's company is now starting to bid on contracts there.
[Sigh] In a year or two, who knows?
Me, I like Bucharest just fine, thank you very much.
ADDENDUM (two hours later): OK, the ex is actually safely back in Florida since January 30. Good. One less to worry about. (I worry about exes because I'm a nice person. Just in case you wondered.)
Imagine you travel through a country where your fellow countrymen have lived for hundreds of years and are now on the verge of extinction. I found this to be incredibly sad and it's not about German nationalism or prejudices against Romanians. It's about witnessing an almost 1000 year-long chapter of history coming to an end.
Sic transit gloria mundi -- thus passes the glory of the world -- is the inscription on the clock tower of the German cathedral in what once was Kronstadt and is now BraŇüov. Itís a bold and telling statement, and deeply melancholic. The so-called Black Church is falling to pieces. There are no more Sunday masses read. There are signs on the outer walls, warning the unsuspecting to stay away from the building lest he might be hit by falling stones. Statues are missing from their pedestals, the roof looks in need of repair. This once so powerful and rich parish is dying.
So last week Kostunica surprised everyone by turning to the Socialists -- Milosevic's party.
With their assistance, he and the other two parties in his coalition were able to elect a Speaker. So Serbia now has a functioning Parliament.
Still no Prime Minister or government, though. And the deal with the Socialists left a lot of people outraged. This is, after all, the party of the man who led Serbia through ten years of utter misery before being chased out of office by the outraged public in 2000. The Socialists got about 7.5% of the vote, but there's a much larger proportion of the population who, well, hate them.
And the Democratic Party is now acting all offended. It looks like they're betting that, once people have a little time to think about it, they'll realize that the Socialists are far more loathsome than they are. So meanwhile, they're not supporting any government. (Unless they're offered some ministries and such.)
So, it's still a mess.
The Aro Palace Hotel in Brasov is a a big old hotel built in 1939. Here are the good things about it:
1) The staff are unanimously friendly and helpful.
2) It has a great location just outside the city center, a few minutes' walk from the town square.
3) The exterior of the hotel has a rather charming '30s Art Deco look to it.
4) The rooms are quite large.
Unfortunately, the list ends there. The Aro Palace is overpriced. (I'm embarrassed to tell you what we paid, but it was way too much.) Several lights in the room didn't work. The toilet ran endlessly and then broke. The food was mediocre. The rooms appeared to have been designed for dwarves -- dwarves who liked lots of room, but dwarves. The shower couldn't be adjusted higher than about 1 meter 70 (5' 8") and the toilet was of that sort that leaves the knees a bit higher than the hips.
But those were trivial compared to the big complaint: the heat was off, and it stayed off all night. It was a very warm night for February in Transylvania, but it was February in Transylvania. And it got pretty damn cold in that room.
I was prepared to make a scene at the desk the next morning. But the staff were just so friendly and helpful -- again -- that when it came time, I couldn't. It's not their fault they inherited a junky building.
I do wish someone would reclassify the hotel, though. It claims four stars. Two would be more accurate, or one if they can't get the heat fixed.
I'd be less annoyed -- and I don't want to be annoyed; I don't want to be the sort of traveller who constantly complains -- if we weren't planning to go back there. I was hoping to find a nice place that we could return to again and again.
We did bring a couple of nice memories away. The two maids who fussed over David for ten minutes straight, for one. And the sight of the full moon from our window, setting over the mountains in the violet hour before dawn.
Still, if I want to shiver with cold while I'm watching the setting moon, I'll go camping. So, if anyone has any other suggestions for accommodation in the region, we're all ears.
We spent the weekend in Transsylvania and have much to blog about.
We went to BraŇüov (Kronstadt) and stayed there over night. Today, we took the back route through Bran -- Dracula's castle, anyone? -- and on serpentines between the Bucegi and the FaragaŇü mountains via PiteŇüti back home. The trip was truly spectacular and heart-wrenchingly sad and you can read all about it in the next days. And yes, the title of this post is meaningful. You'll see.
Fortified church in Cristian/Neustadt (Click to see full version)
However, right now we're very tired. The kids didn't take the mountainous roads very well -- David screamed for an hour and Alan puked all over the car, twice. The roads are scenic but very bad. We saw a lot and have to digest a bit before we can write about our impressions. So we are heading straight to bed now. What do you mean, it's only 9 pm? We have two kids under two, OK?
(Oh, and Doug has to run out because the alarm in the office went off and we live conveniently close by. Stupid alarms.)
Good night, world.
I ended up driving all the way out to Otopeni to the METRO (the big supermarket at the edge of the city) and found Aro milk there. I'm very happy -- I don't really care which milk we buy, as long as it comes in tetrapaks (boxes, for the Americans among us) and is homogenized so that it keeps for a while. I don't like to go grocery shopping every day -- I usually go once a week, buy tons of things and only add fresh veggies and fruit from the market as we run out.
Bogdan suggested Parmalat. Well. Besides the fact that I haven't seen it in the shops that I frequent, there was also that batch of milk that got recalled for health reasons in Italy but got sold in Romania. A friend's daughter got sick from it. No, I think we pass on Parmalat.
In any case, we have 30 liters of milk now, which should keep us for a bit. I just hope I don't have to drive to the METRO every week now.
I'm still wondering whatever happend to La Dorna. And why the shops, upon La Dorna's disapperance, did not stock other homogenized milk like Aro.
Oh. We'll never know. It's bugging me no end. :-)
One more thing. The street out to Otopeni is a two-lane street, split by a bulky plastic barrier. This barrier is always dirty, and I mean very dirty. Today I saw them being cleaned. That was nice. The thing that got me wondering was that the company cleaning the barrier was called "Eco Toilet Service".
Romania is full of surprises.
So the entire city is swept clean of homogenized milk. "La Dorna" milk, the milk of our choice, has disappeared from the shops. Nothing at Billa, nothing at the Selgros, nothing at our local Nic supermarket -- for two weeks now. The only milk you can buy at the moment is fresh, non-homogenized milk, mostly low-fat.
Kids need milk and kids need whole milk, so that's not so good. We usually buy milk in bulk, 12 liters of whole milk and 12 liters of low-fat milk every week. We drink and eat lots of milk, as you can see -- Alan, cereal, coffee, it adds up. We like homogenized milk because of food safety and because we can buy it in bulk.
Now we have to buy fresh milk every day which is annoying. It also comes only in these wobbly plastic bags which have to be emptied into a pitcher. We have these bags in Germany too but we also have special containers in which those bags fit. I asked for those containers at various supermarkets but got blank looks. Apparently I was asking for something really weird.
Reasons? Nobody seems to know. I don't think La Dorna went belly up -- I should have heard about that. Maybe one of our Romanian readers can enlighten us. Oh, and if someone knows a source of red La Dorna milk, I'd be grateful for a pointer.
Nothing particularly Balkan about this post, either. It's 11:30 at night, I'm still in the office. Doesn't happen that often, but then sometimes it does. I had a three-hour meeting that stretched to five hours, I got handed an extra assignment on short notice (Bechtel is coming to town. Make them happy), my deputy is working at half power because her son is sick, I got into a train crash situation with a couple of reports coming due one day apart. (Okay, that last one is my own fault.)
Here's something that has changed from my single days: I used to sort of like working late. I mean, not like like, but it was kinda cool having the whole office to myself. I could wander around in shorts and t-shirt, talk to myself, make pots of coffee just the way I liked them, noodle around online...
No more. Now I just want to finish up and go home. I miss my wife and kids. Also, "late" is a lot earlier than it used to be.
Okay, one Balkan thing. The office has a maid-cook-factotum: Carmen. Every morning, Carmen comes to the office early, an hour or more before the rest of us. She tidies up, empties the wastebaskets, and brews that crucial first pot. When I get in (much later), she's usually got a cup of hot coffee on my desk before I've read my first e-mail.
This is a subset of the general charming Balkan tradition of having either coffee or tea or mineral water served, rather formally, at every single meeting. I like this quite a bit, actually. (But it does require either a strong will or strong kidneys.)
Anyway. Carmen's coffee is -- whisper it -- not that great (Claudia's is better, of course), but there is something very nice and ceremonial about getting a cup of coffee handed to you right at the beginning of your work day.
Which, in this case, will be about nine hours from right now.
Off I go.
Today is the 111th birthday of Gaston Julia, the great mathematician and creator of the famous Julia fractals. Google is celebrating this with a neat little decoration on their logo.
Why is this worth mentioning?
Well, I remember my brother writing his High School graduation paper in physics on the iteration of a rational function f in 1987. Back then, the whole craze about what in German we called "Apfelmnnchen" -- apple manikins -- was just about to start. My brother told me that I could impress anybody by calling them "Julia fractals" or "Mandelbrot fractals" instead, Mandelbrot being the mathematician who re-discovered Julia's work and put the function into a computer in the 1970s.
I also remember him calculating fractals on his Commodore-64 computer, then printing them out on the needle printer at school. Boy, those calculations took days! How things have changed in over 15 years. Today, you can download the pictures from the internet in seconds.
Courtesy of www.nd.edu/~jmoody/fract/
Apropos of nothing whatsoever connected with the Balkans.
It's a gorgeous day outside. Sun shining, clear blue sky, the temperature is up around 8 or 10 degrees (high 40s for our American readers). Birds are singing -- singing! so sweetly! -- and people are walking around with their heavy winter jackets slung over one shoulder. The snow is melting everywhere and little streams of cold water are singing merrily in the gutters.
It's a lie. It's a sham and a trick and a delusion.
If today were March 2, I would tear off my clothes and roll happily in the mud. Well, maybe not. But I'd be very pleased.
But today is February 2, and that means we have another month of cold and snow and freezing grey wet slush cough spit miserable argh argh argh.
After a week of loud but fruitless negotiations, Serbia is still without a government. This means that the country still has no President or Prime Minister; and while it does have a Parliament, that body has so far not been able to accomplish anything at all. Effectively, the country has been without anybody in charge since the old Parliament dissolved in November.
On the other hand: the Serbian Statisical Bureau reports that December 2003 saw surprisingly rapid growth in the Serbian economy. In fact, the "month without a government" was the best month for Serbia's economy in the last five years.
We haven't posted for a couple of days because, well, we just haven't gotten around to it. Thursday and Friday were busy days because my deputy at work was out of the office -- her son is quite ill -- so I had to get into the office early and stay late. That meant more time alone with the kids for Claudia. So by Friday night we weren't either of us feeling like posting.
Saturday we decided to take it easy. So we got a babysitter for the kids, and we went to the Hilton, and we paid 11 Euros each. And we did the treadmill (me) and the steam bath (Claudia), and the swimming pool, and the hot tub, and the sauna, and all that stuff. And then we sat down and had a salad and read _Suddeutsche Zeitung_ and _The Economist_ like two civilized human beings. Ahhh.
Then today, Sunday, I had to go into the office for a few hours. Claudia did some shopping for a new phone (don't ask) and then studied for her Romanian class tomorrow.
And, well, that was the weekend. Zip, zoom, where did it go.
A note on downtown Bucharest: the merchants, at least in the ~200 meters of Callea Victoria north of the Hilton, are still a bit unclear on the concept of "retail strip". That is, at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon, about one third of them were open and the rest were closed. Guys: the idea is, you all coordinate your opening hours. Some more parking and a place to grab a snack would also help. This is another corner of Bucharest that has me muttereing to myself about "so much potential" and "if they'd only just".