Romania road trip across the country


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 “Romania road trip across the country”

Tales of the past: unique photos from Constanta Park 1991

[citeste acest articol in Limba Romana AICI]

In my previous article about the Lost train line in the Park , I made a call out to all my readers asking for old scanned photos of the park and of the miniature train.  A few days ago Mr. Ray Wilkinson from Halifax contacted me. He was in vacation in Constanta, Romania in 1991, a short period just after the anti communist revolution and luckily he made coloured photos that he was kind enough to share. As a tourist he described his experience as beeing “real” , enjoyed the train ride and mentioned that in the post-revolutionary Constanta of 1991 there was still chaos and disarray (which sadly still is today after 28 years), but everyone was being friendly and tried to show them a good time.

I am sure that the young people of today that fill up the “City Park Mall” which is built on the spot where the first pic is taken, have no idea how the place looked like before.  Unfortunately the people of Constanta just don’t care that this park is gone, a clear evidence of this is the very small number of people that came to protest against the building of the shopping mall when they started the construction site.  At least we still got the photos and our memories, for the others all I can say is: Enjoy your shopping in the recently extended shopping mall!

Constanta Park

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Tales of the past: poze inedite din Constanta cu trenuletul si parcul in 1991


In articolul trecut despre Trenuletul din parcul Tabacariei ce numai exista astazi am facut un apel la cititori care au poze vechi scanate cu parcul si trenuletul. Acum cateva zile m-a contactat Domnul Ray Wilkinson din Halifax care a fost in vacanta in Romania in 1991, la scurt timp dupa revolutie si care din fericire a facut si poze cu film color.  Pozele lui sunt o adevarata mina de aur si ii multumesc pentru faptul ca le-a impartasit. Turistul strain mi-a povestit ca a avut parte de o experienta “reala” , i-a placut plimbarea cu trenuletul in vara lui 1991. In Constanta de dupa revolutie inca era dezorganizare (din pacate nimic nu s-a schimbat dupa 28 de ani, inca e si acum), lacul Tabacariei era mirositor dar toata lumea era foarte prietenoasa si incercau sa le creeze turistilor o atmosfera placuta.

Sunt sigur ca tinerii care umplu astazi City Park Mall nu stiu cum arata acolo parcul inainte sa se construiasca abuziv peste el si din pacate la majoritatea Constantenilor pur si simplu nu le pasa ca a disparut acest parc. Dovada clara a indiferentei lor fiind numarul extrem de mic de participanti la protestul anti mall din parc cand s-a inceput organizarea santierului (sau la orice alt protest daca tot vine vorba). Macar am ramas cu pozele si cateva amintiri , in rest plimbare placuta prin mall-ul extins recent!

Constanta Parc Tabacarie
Continue reading “Tales of the past: poze inedite din Constanta cu trenuletul si parcul in 1991”

Macel spatiu verde Constanta

Spatiu verde si haosul urbanistic cu care se confrunta Constanta este o problema serioasa, am ajuns unul din orasele cu cei mai putini metri patrati de spatiu verde pe cap locuitor din Europa. S-a ajuns aici in timp si cauza principala sunt constructiile abuzive autorizate pe spatiile verzi ale orasului.

O simpla cautare pe aplicand filtrul “doar locuinte noi” si excluzand mansardele, va da rezultate surprinzatoare in cartierele vechi de blocuri comuniste. Cu ajutorul imaginilor istorice din Google Earth, care acopera Constanta la rezolutie mare din 2005, se poate vedea clar ce a aparut in ultimii 11 ani pe spatiile verzi si din pacate lista este mare.  Daca marcam aceste constructii abuzive pe harta cu puncte rosii observam ca desi sunt prezente in tot orasul, majoritatea sunt concentrate in zona de Nord in apropierea statiunii Mamaia. Dezvoltatorii au adus statiunea in oras, aglomerand si mai mult o zona deja foarte aglomerata,  majoritatea imobilelor noi fiind hotele sau blocuri rezidentiale a caror apartamente sunt inchiriate de noii propietari in regim hotelier pe timpul verii. (lista detaliata dedesubt)

Mentionez de pe acum ca nu am nimic cu cei ce au cumparat propietati sau locuiesc in vreunul din imobilele de mai jos, clientul doar a profitat de oferta si nu are nici o vina pentru ce face Continue reading “Macel spatiu verde Constanta”

After six years at sea

After six years of life at sea all I’ve got to show are a lot of white hairs, a car, a plot of land, a few good and plenty bad memories. I dedicate this article to all young people who are considering a career and life at sea.
I made my first six months voyage in 2010 during my last year at the naval academy and I was among the lucky few who caught a cadet contract during the academy years… . Now that I think about it, I was among the lucky few from my class who caught a cadet contract at all.

I was happy and excited when I first left, it was my first grand adventure in life, the first time I was leaving home for such a long period, the first time I was going across the ocean to America and on my plane ticket was written Los Angeles. Los Angeles I didn’t get to see that time ,  I only saw the highway from the airport to the ship. The enthusiasm vanished in less than a week, when I realized that I would spend the next six months sleeping in a narrow bed in a narrow cabin, on a ship with a narrow deck, where everybody abuses you, where you work absolutely every day and where everyone only cares about their own skin.

[Read more after photos]

Just another normal sleepless night at work
Catching up with family in a free minute

I chose this career of life at sea mainly to get to see the world rather than for the money, but I soon realized that you get see the world only through airports transits, or when you are woken up in the middle of the night to assist with the ship’s docking maneuvers. You can also see it in your only 6 hours break time if you sacrifice your sleep hours and if your legs are still able to support you. Port views are usually limited to a large container yard, often far away from any town, usually a 25 $ taxi ride away from the city. There are exceptions of course, ports like Hong Kong or Singapore, where the port is practically the downtown area. On special occasions you get to stay one month in a shipyard, or sit idle with your engine broken down somewhere nice. Sometimes when you sign on or off from the ship you’re lucky enough to catch a few nights at a hotel, then you can really get to see and enjoy the city, but due to economic reasons this happens very rare. It happens sometimes to catch a long port stay in some places, where the cargo operations are very slow due to the management, but this is usually the case in third world countries where you don’t want to stay long, and you definitely don’t want to go the city.

Honk Kong entrance

In these years of life at sea I have learned, usually the hard way, that there is no justice on the ship. No matter how many rights and goodwill you have, you will still bite the dust. To survive here and climb in the ranks, you have to step on heads and be like a snake. And I also realized that in an isolated environment if you give the power to a mentally deranged individual who had a bad childhood, he will start acting like he is the master of a slave plantation and will fuck everybody, and there will be no one around to keep him under control.

But this isolated environment also creates good things: you will make tight bonds and friends that in an office environment would never happen. Apparently if you spend a few months, day and night in a small confined space with the same few people, you either become very good friends with them, or you will find a thousand ways to kill them in their sleep and throw the body in the ocean at night without being seen by anyone. If you’re not a racist you will probably become one, because most people on board are. This starts also from the shipping and crewing companies who assign ranks and set the length and wages of  your contract based on your nationality.

There is no more honor in this business, virtually all your life you will be a mercenary of the sea, in search of better conditions and pay. Before, each country had it’s own merchant fleet, manned with national crew. Nowadays you are likely to find yourself celebrating New Year’s eve somewhere in West Africa, among pirates, in the company of barbed wire, surrounded by Russians and Filipinos, on a German ship sailing under the Liberian flag. Isn’t globalization beautiful?

nationality doesn’t matter, on board we’re all in the shit
after years of life at sea nationality doesn’t matter, on board we’re all in the shit

And than there is the other life: the life ashore. Your time spent home between voyages, which may be shorter or longer, is not just a vacation, it’s basically a glimpse of your old life from before you started sailing, life that you are trying desperately to cling on to, but with each voyage it becomes more distant and unimportant to you. After 6 months on the high seas, you land in your country for 2-3 months and you simply do not understand what is going on around you. You missed your mother’s birthday, you missed the wedding of your best friend, you missed the latest movies … you missed a lot. And by the time you clear your head and start to adapt somewhat in society, your phone rings and you have to pack up and leave again.

Now imagine what it’s like to start a serious relationship in these conditions. Unless you’ve had your wedding in your early 20’s, or you are in a good consolidated relation with your high school sweetheart, you realize how damn hard it is to start and especially  maintain such a relationship. Be prepared to face situations like: you just finished a contract and come back home to find that your girlfriend is pregnant and already moved in with another dude. But the good thing is that because of these situations you will have a stronger character and you will cope more easily in future years. And more important you will know how to select and value those who remained beside you during hard times.

Years of  continuous non-interrupted daily work with  long hours, little and random sleep periods, eating food of doubtful quality,  extreme swings of temperature, years of living in a vibrating and rolling environment where your time zone can shift daily,  where the only available comfort you will find in alcohol and tobacco and where coffee in large quantities is your best friend, will have an impact on your body. If you managed to escape serious physical injuries and accidents, you can be sure that you will pay in other ways. Those many white hairs that appeared on your head are just the surface syndrome.

[Read more after photos]


There is also the good part of the life at sea that everyone is thinking about: the money! If you live isolated on a floating prison, means that you do not really have on what to spend the money you earn and you will put them aside. If you got some brains in your head and at the end of the contract you don’t not spend them all in one shot on a BMW,  after a few contracts at sea you can actually think about buying an apartment, a piece of land, or a house with cash down payment. So while your friends are struggling with credits at the bank for the next 30 years, you have a chance to avoid all of this. But as I said earlier, you will pay in other ways, whether it’s with your time, your health or happiness. It is the price worth it? … . That is for You to decide!

Perhaps I am being subjective here, and on other ships, at other companies, life on board is better. I write to you sharing my experience on container ships, deck department. But one thing is certain: nobody will give you back the time spent at sea.

If you enjoyed this article, check out also my FB page Fb  , where you can click on the Like button to subscribe.

Check out other expat lifestyle articles: Expat Marriage in England UK – Procedure and Costs , How to get your UK Provisional Learner License , Professional conversion for Seafarers – What can you work ashore?UK NINO – How to get it and how long does it take? , UK Immigration – how much does it costs to relocate to England? ,First 30 days in Hull UK as Expat ,France one year impressions , How to get PACS in France ,  Expat beginner’s guide to moving to France , First 48 days as expat in France ,  After six years at sea

Check out other trips: My TOP 10 Most Beautiful and Authentic cities in Europe , The London WeekFirst 48 days in Marseille France , Romania road trip across the country in 7 days Budapest Hungary road trip , Prague – dream vacation , Excursion Dobrogea: Enisala, Ibida, Histria , Vacation Madrid SpainTwo days in Jacksonville USA,  Paralia – Greece road trip,  Brasov 12.2014 ,  Buzau quick stop ,  Lepsa & Vrancea county ,  Chisinau city break ,  Nessebar Bulgaria ,  Bucharest weekends 2014 , Busan Korea ,  40 days in Cluj Napoca ,  Hunedoara Castle ;  Singapore 2013 ,  Brasov 02.2014 Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013 ,  San Pedro-Ivory Coast Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena trip , Salerno Italy , Cluj Napoca 2012Florence Italy , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta-ChileValencia Spain , Lima-Peru , Bremen Germany , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta Malta , San Juan-Puerto Rico , Barcelona Spain , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphorus by ship , Sydney , Melbourne Australia , Auckland New Zealand ,  San Francisco USA ,  Tauranga NZ

Alternative tourism: Detroit , Georgia , Burning gate of Turkmenistan , North Korea , Pripyat & the alienation zone   , Nouadhibou graveyard

How the other half lives :  KarachiGuayaquil  , Lagos

Dupa sase ani pe mare


Dupa sase ani pe mare m-am ales cu multe fire albe, o masina, un teren, cateva amintiri bune si foarte multe rele.  Dedic acest articol tuturor tinerilor ce se gandesc sa plece pe mare.
Primul voiaj l-am facut in 2010, eram in ultimul an de facultate si am fost printre putinii norocosi care si-au inceput cadetia din timpul facultatii ….daca ma gandesc mai bine am fost printre putinii norocosi care si-au inceput cadetia in general.

Eram bucuros cand am plecat, era prima aventura in viata, prima oara cand plecam de acasa pentru o perioada asa mare, prima oara cand mergeam in America iar pe biletul meu de avion scria Los Angeles. Los Angeles nu am apucat sa il vad atunci, am vazut doar autostrada de la aeroport la vapor. Entuziasmul a disparut in mai putin de o saptamana, cand am realizat ca imi voi petrece urmatoarele sase luni dormind intr-un pat ingust, intr-o cabina ingusta, pe un vapor cu o punte ingusta unde toti abuzeaza de tine, unde muncesti absolut in fiecare zi  si unde fiecare isi vede doar de basca lui.

[citeste mai departe dupa poze]

Just another normal sleepless night at work
Continue reading “Dupa sase ani pe mare”

Cursuri IMO obligatorii 2016 sau jefuirea navigatorilor

Anul 2016 probabil ca este anul jegmanelii la navigatori , anul in care managementul de la Ceronav si ANR se freaca pe maini si asteapta sa vina toti ofiterii sa isi piarda timpul si sa isi lase banii acolo. Si sumele de bani lasate nu sunt deloc neglijabile , de asemenea nici timpul necesar pentru aceste cursuri IMO, deseori iti ocupa cam tot “concediul” de la uscat .

Scuza oficiala este modificarea reglementarilor STCW intrate in vigoare anul acesta , modificare care trebuie sa o adopte toate statele ce furnizeaza personal brevetat. Bun, cu asta suntem de acord si nu avem ce face , dar modul Romanesc in care a fost implementat lasa mult de dorit. Conform noului ordin toti trebuie sa faca noul set de cursuri IMO , altfel vor putea naviga doar pana in Decembrie 2016. Haideti sa vedem principalele modificari si cum ne afecteaza pe noi in mod practic ele:

  • – introducere curs obligatoriu HELM: Human behaviour and deck/engine department leadership trough bridge/engine team management – un curs foarte asemanator cu celalt curs Bridge team resource management  , daca nu leit,  in care timp de  5 zile ni se vorbeste despre elementul uman de la bordul navei . Cursul costa aproximativ 1300 de lei , la fel ca si predecesorul lui. Continue reading “Cursuri IMO obligatorii 2016 sau jefuirea navigatorilor”

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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Propaganda ridicol de falsa despre Constanta

Am dat din greseala peste  filmuletul de mai jos de prezentare al locului bastinas de la malul marii. In general nu am nimic cu promovarea orasului, chiar o incurajez si e normal ca fiecare sa fie mandrul de locul sau de provenienta, … si e la fel de normal ca in astfel de filmulete sa scoti in evidenta partile bune ale orasului. Dar de aici pana la minciuni grosolane propagate de afirmatii ce nu pot fi sustinute in nici un fel, e diferenta foarte mare.

Filmul incepe cu afirmatia “Constanta este a doua cea mai mare aglomerare urbana din tara si orasul cu cel mai ridicat standard de viata” … nici nu stiu de unde sa incep. Pai in primul rand nu este a doua aglomerare urbana nici ca populatie , nici ca suprafata , nici la nivel de municipiu , nici macar la nivel de zona metropolitana. La ultimul recensamant din 2011 , Constanta a iesit cu 283000 de locuitori , locul 4, la distanta considerabila de al doilea oras dupa capitala, Cluj Napoca (324576 locuitori)  dar si dupa Timisoara si Iasi. Chiar si cu eroarea erorilor tot nu da mai mult,  si nu merge nici argumentul ca au plecat multi in localitatile invecinate , ca si in celelalte orase au crescut considerabil populatia localitatilor invecinate. Cat despre afirmatia ca avem cel mai ridicat standard de viata din tara , eu pur si simplu am izbucnit in ras cand am auzit. Ca nu stam prea bine nici la salariu mediu din oras, putere de cumparare, nici la spatii verzi , nici la infrastructura rutiera , sportiva , transport in comun, viata de noapte, activitate culturala, arhitectura  etc etc, deci nu stiu dupa ce standarde de viata stam noi bine ….poate daca ne comparam cu capitala Continue reading “Propaganda ridicol de falsa despre Constanta”

Trendul Vegan ajunge si la Constanta

Am descoperit de curand un local nou deschis in Constanta. Se pare ca trendul localurilor cu mancare Eco Vegana (Vegetariana) a ajuns si la Constanta  , am descoperit din greseala localul Camara cu Merinde de pe Bulevardul Mamaia numarul 180 , situat aproape de semaforul cu strada Ion Ratiu in directia Delfinariu. Localul introduce conceptul de supermarket destinat exclusiv produselor naturale Eco , preluat dupa modelul american Whole Foods. Desi la Bucuresti am mai vazut localuri de genul la Constanta cred ca este primul. Localul este foarte dragut amenajat , are o sectiune de supermarket si o terasa alaturata inchisa si incalzita , amenajata foarte frumos unde fumatul este interzis si unde se pot servi cateva produse. La terasa se poate servi un meniu limitat care se Continue reading “Trendul Vegan ajunge si la Constanta”