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Romania road trip across the country

[CITESTE ACEST ARTICOL IN LIMBA ROMANA AICI]

It was the summer of 2017 and the weather was perfect for a Romania road trip. We decided to take advantage of our last vacation days and the available accommodation vouchers, so we jumped in the car and went roaming across Romania for a week. Our tour started at the “Danube Boilers”, stopping along the way at Orsova, Dubova, Timisoara, Deva, Hunedoara, Alba Iulia, Sovata, Praid, Sighisoara, Brasov and via Transfagarasan back to Constanta. As usual, the trip was planned on short notice and the accommodation was chosen from what was available through a travel agency.

Day 1: We hit the roads of our motherland, where, as I have mentioned in the previous article Road trip to Budapest, the experience can be excruciating and you will spend a lot of hours stuck in traffic on narrow 2 lanes national roads. From Constanta to Orsova we chose the route via Bucharest – Pitesti – Rm. Valcea with a stopover at Targul Jiu to see the sculptures of Constantin Brancusi. As soon as you exit A1 motorway in Pitesti, the ordeal starts and doesn’t stop until Timisoara when we return on the A1. Lately on the good roads of Romania we found loose gravel that is not compressed by the special machines, but rather by cars in open traffic, the kind of gravel that shreds your hood and your windshield in a million pieces  – WHAT THE FUCK?! The incident appeared on national news , hundreds of drivers got their cars damaged in the process and nobody was held accountable.

We chose to stop at Targul Jiu specially to see the sculptures of the well known sculptor Constantin Brancusi. The first unpleasant surprise we had was when we were driving to Brancusi Park but along the way we elegantly  drove past the Infinity Column. The column is in separate park on the opposite side of the city from the other representative sculptures , the Kiss Gate and the Table of Silence of the famous sculptor. Once in the park, after seeing the Kiss Gate and the Table of Silence, I left within half an hour because there is simply nothing else to do there. I can say that it is not worth the go out of your way just for this and the sculptures themselves are rather… unattractive. Brancusi’s works are not highlighted, and the only information that they actually belong to Constantin Brancusi are found on a small portable billboard in the park, you know the type of billboard you normally see in front on the terraces showing the daily menu. The Romanian authorities should take a visit to Brancusi’s workshop museum in Paris to get an idea on ​​how to display such a national value.

We go further on to Orsova and to the Danube Boilers. Orsova is one of the most beautiful cities we have seen on our side of the Danube, the river promenade that stretches all along the city is an absolute pleasure to walk, but the real star in the area, besides the superb scenery, is the recently renovated road that cuts the gorge of the Continue reading


Prague dream vacation

[CITESTE ACEST ARTICOL IN LIMBA ROMANA AICI]

Prague, a city that I always wanted to see and experience. I was always looking at the pictures of others and it seemed to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. After seeing it, I can say with all my heart that it is. The city offers beautiful landscapes, architecture, great old pedestrian squares, world class beer and bars where you can still smoke inside, and all this for prices almost identical to those in Romania.

From Romania there is no low cost direct flight to Prague, but the ticket on Czech Airlines is not too expensive, around 150 EUR per person bought a month in advance. Our 3-star hotel taken with TUI agency cost us only 121 EUR for 7 nights and not only it was very decent it also had breakfast included in the price.

From Václav Havel Airport to Prague city center take the AE (Airport Express) bus, the trip takes about 40 minutes and the ticket is bought directly from the airport counter and costs 60 Czech crowns (CZK) or about 2.3 EUR per person. I would advise to bring with you some Czech currency  in order to buy the tickets, otherwise you have to deal with the currency exchange offices in the airport that offer rip off exchange rates. You will get of at the “Hlavní nádraží” central railway station, which is a huge underground hub where you can access the buses, the subway, the S trains and especially the trams. I underline the trams because these are the main and easiest way of transportation in the city. The Czech capital is covered everywhere by tramlines, and they come every three minutes. The trams have dedicated stations and dedicated lanes, and around half of them are of the latest generation of Skoda trains. Tram tickets are found at any cigarette or food kiosk and are divided according to the length of time. A 30-minute ticket costs 24 CZK (1 EUR), and one 24-hour ticket costs 110 CZK (4.3 EUR) and can be used from the moment of validation on any line and any time you want until the expiration date.

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First 48 days as expat in Marseille

[Citeste acest articol in Limba Romana – click AICI]

 

One and a half months ago, I was packing my baggage to go to the airport again, only this time I was not leaving to board a ship for 5 months, but to a new job and a new life. I explained in great detail why I wanted to quit sailing in the much controversial and popular own article “After six years at sea”, so after the last voyage I made the final decision to look for something to work on land. I have ill spoken a lot about our country Romania (and for good reasons considering that people are working for 300-400 EUR / month and the government is ripping you off on absolutely every step of the way!) and I have seen too many beautiful and civilized places in this world during my voyages to ever settle there, so the only option left for me was to become an expat and luck had it to be in Marseille.

Most of my  CVs were sent in English-speaking countries, especially in the UK, but since the whole Brexit phenomenon, most companies  have been reluctant to hire East Europeans. Fate decided that the lucky interview would land me in Marseille, France, a city of which I did not know much about , in a country whose language I ​​vaguely understand and speak. It was this or other positions somewhere in South Africa or Mexico so guess what I chose.

I only had sea experience on my resume so the only way to make the transition to land was to remain in the maritime business. I will not say the name of the

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Primele 48 de zile in Franta ca expat / First 48 days as expat in France

[TO READ THIS ARTICLE IN ENGLISH CLICK HERE]

Marseille dupa 48 de zile de locuit.

Acum o luna si jumatate imi faceam iar bagajul sa ma duc spre aeroport , doar ca de data asta numai plecam la vapor pentru 5 luni, ci la un nou job si o noua viata. Am explicat foarte detaliat de ce numai am vrut sa navig in mult controversatul si cititul articol propiu “Dupa sase ani pe mare” , asa ca dupa voiajul trecut am luat decizia definitiva de a imi cauta ceva la uscat. Am injurat mult tara noastra Romania (si pe buna dreptate considerand ca se munceste pe 300-400 EUR si guvernul te jegmaneste absolut la fiecare pas!) si am vazut mult prea multe locuri frumoase si civilizate pe lumea asta in timpul voiajelor ca sa ma pot stabili definitiv acolo , asa ca singura optiune era de a deveni expat afara.

Majoritatea CV-urilor trimise au fost in tari vorbitoare de Engleza , mai ales in Marea Britanie , dar de cand cu Brexitul se cam sfiesc firmele sa angajeze Est Europeni. Soarta a facut ca interviul norocos sa ma aterizeze in Marsilia, Franta. Un oras despre care nu stiam in principiu mai nimic , intr-o tara a carei limbi o inteleg vag. Era asta sau alte pozitii pe undeva prin Africa de Sud sau Mexic asa ca ghiciti ce am ales.

Fiind doar cu experienta pe mare , cam singura cale de a face tranzitia la uscat era sa raman in domeniu maritim , nu voi zice numele firmei dar fiind in Marsilia cred ca nu e asa greu de ghicit. Asa ca imi rezerv dreptul de a comenta si implica in orice discutie despre shipping , mai ales ca acum am acces la o perspectiva mult mai generala a sistemului , nu doar de pe vapor la fata locului , voi reveni si cu detalii de la locul de munca mai tarziu.

Mutarea nu pot zice ca a fost foarte grea , avantajul de a fi obisnuit cu impachetatul la tot ce ai nevoie intr-o valiza si plecat la aeroport dar si firma a fost foarte sustinatoare si mi-a oferit o luna o Continue reading


Budapest road trip

[Citeste acest articol in Romana AICI]

We wanted to avoid the big crowds of the National Navy Day back home so we decided to leave for the extended weekend on a road trip to Budapest. Like any good idea, this trip came to our minds during a drunken night in Vama Veche. All being said and done, on Saturday morning, two couples were in my car, on our way to the border with Hungary. From Constanta to Budapest there are about 1050 kilometers, of which only 218 km are on national two lane roads and not on the motorway, namely Olt Valley between Pitesti and Sibiu entrance, and the missing A1 section between Deva and Faget – Dumbrava. In theory you should do this trip in 11 hours, in practice we live in Romania and it’s baaaad , very bad. I recommend a lot of patience and cold blood, on the Olt Valley I lost at least 3 hours in the still traffic, blocked between coaches and an infinite number of cars on both lanes, bringing the time up to 15 hours. Once you cross the ring road of Bucharest and the Olt Valley and you reach the A1 highway from Sibiu, it’s clear roads from there. The new section of A1 highway goes all the way to the border of Hungary at Nadlac and on to Budapest. The new border crossing point at Nadlac has enough lanes and works like a drive-in, just show the id or passport at the booth and go on. Immediately after the border at the first car park on the M43 motorway, you need to stop and buy a vignette.  A 10 days pass will cost 2975 Forints (10 EUR) and if you buy it from the Internet you pay this price, if you buy it from the parking lot you will pay EUR 14, as we have discovered. The roads and the highway system in Hungary are impeccable and everybody drives very civilized on lane 1, lane 2 being used on short intervals only when you overtake a slower car from lane 1. Lane 2 is not always busy and when you’re on it no one will come in your back and flash you insistently, but will rather wait calm until you finish overtaking and come back on lane 1 or at worst they will turn on the left signalling to alert you that you keeping the lane busy. The GPS assistance is truly holy during this trip, especially in the city.

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Due to the fact that all the trip was planned at a very short notice, finding accommodation was a challenge. Unlike the previous visit in 2012 Budapest  , when all the travel package came at 100 Continue reading


Circuit in Romania cu masina

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Daca tot e vara si frumos am zis sa profitam de zilele libere dar si de voucherele de cazare disponibile si am plecat o saptamana prin Romania. Circuitul nostru a inceput de la Cazanele Dunarii cu oprire la Orsova, Dubova , Cheile Nerei, Timisoara, Deva, Hunedoara, Alba Iulia, Sovata, Praid, Sighisoara, Brasov si pe Transfagarasan inapoi la Constanta. Ca deobicei excursia a fost planificata din scurt si cazarea a fost aleasa din ce era disponibil prin intermediul unei agentii de voiaj.

Ziua 1: plecat la drum pe drumurile patriei , unde dupa cum v-am zis si in articolul anterior despre drumetia spre Budapesta , lasa foarte mult de dorit si pierzi foarte multe ore in ambuteiaje. De la Constanta la Orsova am ales varianta Bucuresti – Pitesti – Rm. Valcea cu oprire la Targul Jiu. Imediat cum iesi de pe A1 la Pitesti incepe calvarul si nu se mai opreste pana la Timisoara cand revenim pe A1. Mai nou peste drumurile bune din Romania se pune pietris care nu e presat de utilaje , ci de masinile din traficul deschis circulatiei, pietris care iti face tandari capota si parbrizul – TARA DE CACAT!

Am ales varianta aceasta pentru a opri la Targul Jiu sa vedem sculpturile lui Brancusi. Prima surpriza neplacuta am avut-o cand am vazut ca mergeam spre Parcul lui Brancusi dar am trecut frumos pe langa Coloana Infinitului. Coloana e in alt parc in partea opusa a orasului fata de Poarta Sarutului si Masa Tacerii. Odata ajunsi in parc, vazut si pozat Poarta Sarutului si Masa Tacerii , am plecat in maxim jumatate de ora. Pot sa zic ca nu merita drumul pana acolo si sculpturile in sine sunt foarte….. neatractive si anoste. Operele lui Brancusi nu sunt scoase in evidenta si singurele informatii ca ar fi ale lui Brancusi sunt pe un mic panou portabil pus langa, stiti voi genul ala pe care se scrie meniul zilei la terase. Autoritatile Romane poate ar trebui sa faca o vizita la atelierul-muzeu din Paris al lui Brancusi ca sa isi faca o idee despre cum omagiezi o asemenea valoare.

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Mergem mai departe la Orsova si Cazanele Dunarii. Orsova este unul din cele mai dragute orasele care le-am vazut pe la noi , pe faleza care se intinde la tot orasul este o placere sa te plimbi Continue reading


Budapesta excursie cu masina

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Daca tot am vrut sa evitam tigania de la ziua Marinei de acasa am zis sa plecam in weekendul prelungit, cateva zile la Budapesta. Ca orice idee buna , trip-ul asta ne-a venit in cap la o bauta in Vama Veche. Zis si facut , Sambata la 5 dimineata eram in masina 2 cupluri in drum spre granita cu Ungaria. De la Constanta la Budapesta sunt cam 1050 kilometri , dintre care doar 218 km sunt pe drumuri nationale si nu pe autostrada , respectiv Valea Oltului  intre Pitesti si intrare Sibiu , si bucata lipsa A1 intre Deva si Faget – Dumbrava. Teoretic ar trebui sa faci acest drum in 11 ore , in practica traim in Romania si e jaleeee mare de tot. Va recomand multa rabdare si sange rece , pe Valea Oltului am pierdut pe putin 3 ore in trafic bara la bara blocati intre tiruri autocare si un sir infinit de masini pe ambele sensuri , aducand timpul traseului la 15 ore. Odata ce treci de centura Bucurestiului si de Valea Oltului si ai ajuns la autostrada de la Sibiu se merge foarte bine , noua autostrada continua si la granita de la Nadlac si la Budapesta. Noul punct de trecere de pe austrada la Nadlac are destule benzi si se merge ca la drive-in , doar prezinti buletinul din masina si mergi mai departe. Imediat dupa granita la prima parcare de pe autostrada M43 , se opreste si se cumpara rovinieta. Pe 10 zile costa 2975 Forinti (10 EUR) si daca o cumperi de pe internet o platesti la pretul acesta , daca o cumperi de la ghiseul din parcare vei da 14 EUR , dupa cum am descoperit si noi. Drumurile si autostrada in Ungaria sunt impecabile , nu iti rupi masina la podete si viaducte ca pe Autostrada Soarelui A2 , si se circula foarte civilizat pe banda 1 , banda 2 fiind folosita pe intervale scurte doar cand depasesti un autovehicul mai incet de pe banda 1. Banda 2 nu este ocupata in permanenta de smecheri si cand te afli pe ea nu o sa iti vina nimeni in spate sa iti dea flashuri , claxoane , ci vor astepta calmi pana iti termini depasirea si revii pe banda 1 sau in cel mai rau caz isi activeaza semnalizarea pe stanga ca sa te atentioneze ca tii banda ocupata. GPS-ul a fost sfant si de data asta , mai ales in oras.

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Vacanta Praga

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Praga , un oras unde mi-am dorit de mult sa ajung. Ma uitam pe pozele altora si mi se parea unul din cele mai frumoase locuri din lume, acum ca am vazut pot sa zic cu mana pe inima ca asa e. Orasul ofera peisaje superbe , arhitectura si piete grozave , o bere de nota 10 si baruri in care se fumeaza, si toate acestea la preturi aproape identice cu cele din Romania.

Din Romania nu exista zbor low cost direct catre Praga, dar biletul la Czech Airlines nu este prea scump, respectiv 150 de EUR de persoana luat cu o luna inainte , iar hotelul de 3 stele luat prin TUI ne-a costat doar 121 EUR pentru 7 nopti si pe langa faptul ca a fost foarte decent avea si micul dejun inclus in pret.

De la aeroportul Václav Havel spre centrul orasului Praga se ia autobuzul AE (Airport Express), cursa dureaza cam 40 de minute si biletul il cumparati direct din aeroport si costa 60 de coroane cehe (CZK) adica 10 RON de persoana. Ar fi bine sa veniti cu putina valuta Ceha din tara ca sa puteti cumpara biletul, pentru a evita casele de schimb valutar din aeroport.  Veti cobori la gara centrala “Praha hlavní nádraží” , care este un complex urias supra si subteran, unde aveti acces la autobuze , metrou , trenurile S si mai ales la tramvaie. Spun mai ales tramvaie pentru ca acestea sunt principalul si cel mai usor mod de transport  in oras. Toata capitala este impanzita de linii de tramvai , si acestea vin cam din 3 din 3 minute , au statii dese si benzi dedicate, si cam jumatate din ele sunt de ultima generatie fabricate in tara de Skoda. Bilete pentru tramvaie se gasesc la orice chiosc de tigari sau alimentara si sunt impartite in functie de durata de timp. Un bilet de 30 de minute costa 24 CZK (4 Lei), iar unul pe 24 de ore costa 110 CZK (18 Lei) si poate fi folosit din momentul validarii pe orice linie si de cate ori vreti pana la momentul expirarii.

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Excursie Dobrogea: Enisala , Ibida, Histria

Desi vremea era foarte capricioasa ne-am hotarat Duminica sa plecam la plimbare prin Dobrogea. Vroiam de mult timp sa vad cetatile  antice Enisala si Histria , care spre rusinea mea de Dobrogean nu le vazusem niciodata pana acum. Drumul nu a inceput incurajator , imediat cum am intrat pe drumul spre Tulcea a inceput sa ploua greu , dar din fericire norii pareau sa mearga in Sud , inapoi spre Constanta , astfel ca printr-un noroc incredibil la putin timp dupa ce am intrat in Judetul Tulcea , ploaia aproape ca se oprise.

Prima oprire a fost la Enisala , unde se ajunge foarte usor: se merge pe drumul E87 care leaga Constanta de Tulcea pana in orasul Babadag si de acolo venind dinspre Constanta se face dreapta spre Enisala. Drumul a fost recent renovat si este foarte bun. Dupa ce treceti de satul Enisala uitati-va foarte atent dupa un indicator foarte mic si obscur care indica drumul laturalnic spre cetate…. noi din pacate l-am ratat prima oara. [Citeste mai departe dupa poze]

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Enisala

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Madrid Spania Review

[To view this article in English click HERE]

Desi am avut ocazia sa vad Spania in timpul voiajelor , imi doream de mult o vacanta in aceasta tara minunata ca sa o pot savura cum trebuie. Micile sederi si escapade prin Barcelona si Valencia au fost frumoase dar prea scurte , asa ca intre pauzele dintre cursuri am reusit sa evadez cu iubita 9 zile in capitala Spaniei, Madrid. Am zburat cu Wizzair din Bucuresti , si biletele luate cu o luna inainte au fost 100 de Euro de persoana. Cu Wizzair nu veti avea probleme atata timp cat respectati la litera limitele si conditiile companiei , mai ales cand e vorba de bagajele de mana admise pe zbor.

Am aterizat tarziu in tara si la gazdele noastre de acolo , carora doresc sa le multumesc din suflet pentru ospitalitate, si ne-am bagat direct la somn. Dimineata ne-am trezit cu o priveliste frumoasa a suburbiei Torrejon de Ardoz , care este un cartier nou de langa Madrid, un cartier linistit planificat si executat asa cum trebuie , plin de spatii verzi si parcuri unde Continue reading