Thursday, September 29, 2011


This was a neighboring train I passed by
From the moment my calf touched the ground in Constanta, I knew this would be a memorable trip.  That's right; my calf landed in Constanta first, as I tumbled down the train steps, dragged by two giant suitcases.  Luckily for me, my third and most heavy suitcase was being toted by the passenger behind me, who now undoubtedly thinks all Americans are crazy.  Throngs of people rushed to help up this poor American girl who couldn't carry her luggage.  My bags and myself were propped back up, and I awkwardly tried to corral all my bags towards the formidable steps down from the platform with as much dignity as possible, all the while wondering how on Earth I'd make it down these stairs and wishing for a single, functional WMATA escalator.  But God had my back and just knew my self-image couldn't survive a trip sliding down a double-height flight of stairs; a young lady about my age offered, in English, to help with a suitcase.  And then she managed to recruit a second woman so they could team carry my 70 lb suitcase.  It was a life-saver!

Constanta is a port city, so it was unsurprising to find a ship outside the train station
My landlady, Mihaela, met me outside the train station with her car and brought me to my apartment.  By car you can only access the apartment by driving down a complex system of one-way streets, but you need only walk up a flight of stairs and down a block to get to one of the main boulevards  It is cleverly disguised in an ugly, chipping cement building, but once you cross the threshold, it's like a magical new land.  

Well above the call of duty, Mihaela had waiting for me at the apartment:

The bowl of local fruit

  • Fresh flowers in a vase
  • A bowl of fresh, locally grown apples, grapes, and plums
  • Homemade wild black currant jelly
  • A fresh bar of soap (I really needed a shower and had none)
  • New dishes
  • A new towel
  • A new blanket for the bed
I really love the place; it's just perfect.


My bedroom

My living room

Dining room

The view from my balcony of the Black Sea

 After showing me around, Mihaela left to let me freshen up and then returned and took my to her apartment for a four-course meal.
  1. Bread, Romanian sheep milk cheese, Romanian salami, tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, all sprinkled with a Romanian herb similar in taste to Oregano
  2. Tomato, celery, and carrot pureed soup
  3. Pork chops, mashed potatoes, and spinach
  4. Homemade fig and walnut preserves
Romanian Wine I enjoyed with Mihaela
She then informs me that she wants to make sure I get settled without any kinks and that she will take me to any place I need to go tomorrow, as well as throughout the upcoming week.  We plan a trip to the piata (open air market) and then to the university where I will be teaching.  Now--after making plans to go to the market after breakfast, knowing full well I have a giant bowl of fruit to myself at my apartment---Mihaela then loads up a bag of food for me:
  1. Local eggs from traditionally-fed hens
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Cucumbers
  4. A pepper
  5. The remainder of the loaf of bread from dinner
  6. A huge block of the feta-like Romanian sheep cheese
  7. A dried bouquet of the Romanian herb
  8. A jar of fig and walnut preserves (Did I mention before that the figs are also locally grown from a particular old lady who only sells them at the piata every three or four days?)

I left stuffed and with a bag full of food that will last me a few days.  Now I just have to put away the +150 pounds of luggage I brought that is covering my bed.
Here's the proof: Champagne-flavored filling

In closing (another list), things I saw (some expected, others not):
Rumbling across the Danube
A glimpse of the Danube
  • An Obama bumper sticker
  • A croissant with champagne-flavored filling
  • Horse-drawn wagons (twice)
  • Lots of corm fields
  • A few vineyards (or one really big one) 
  • A road sign pointing out the way to Istanbul
  • The Black Sea

  • The Danube
  • A car driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • A mosque, temple, Catholic church, and Orthodox church all within 5 minutes

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