Back in Bucharest – And Happy About It!

by | May 6, 2023 |

After a three year absence (Drat you, Pandemic!) I’m back in Bucharest. I didn’t know what to expect after such a long time away. But after only a day or two I realized I still love it!

Back in Bucharest

The title image tells a story. The phrase Ca la noi la nimeni is short and sweet in Romanian but hard to translate as succinctly. Literally it’s: “Like us here is like no one else.” More colloquially: “Nobody does it like we do.”

If someone gets caught up in some god-awful bureaucratic mess, they’re likely to mutter “Ca la noi la nimeni.” The phrase usually has a negative tone, as in “We sure know how to screw things up here – and no one does it better.” The image on the poster is not a happy one.

However, there does exist a more upbeat version of the phrase, namely in a folk song:

Folk traditions here (and perhaps in most of Eastern Europe) have more currency than in Western Europe. Costum popular ‘traditional dress’ has its place and is often worn on holidays and festivals.

In case anyone in Bucharest wants to know, the title image poster is on Bulevardul Ștefan Cel Mare outside the Dinamo sports stadium.

In short, I’m happy to be back in the place where things are, as they say in the (American) South, “a half a bubble off plumb.”

Linguistic note: The word nimeni ‘no one’ is formal, while nimenea is informal.

Back in Bucharest

So, what to do first? Of course, see friends. Next up: brush up on the language. No, really brush up. So, I enrolled in RoLang School. I figured Tuesdays and Thursdays, two hours each time, might bring me up to speed. Good choice!

Back in Bucharest

Cristina, school administrator, me in the middle, and Cristina, my teacher

Back in Bucharest

I admit to being a language nerd. So nothing makes me happier than being in class and doing readings and exercises. Well, that is, nothing actually makes me happier to then go out in the world and use what I’ve learned.

I can recommend the school without hesitation. They have recently moved from their long-time location on Strada Tudor Arghezi 28 and are now on Strada Brezoianu 4.

Check out RoLang School

In case you’re wondering what the Romanian word for ‘nerd’ might be, I think the closest is: tocilar. A tocilă is a grindstone, and the person whose job is sharpening knives and such is a tocilar. You get the idea.

Back in Bucharest

Other than my Tuesday/Thursday afternoon schedule, I see my friends on a regular basis. These meetings often include restaurants, and there are quite a few good ones in my neighborhood of Piața Dorobanți. For instance, I can recommend The Tasting Room on Strada Puțul lui Zamfir 64.

The other night I went with a friend to try the new (to me) line up of bistros along the Dâmbovita River that flows through town. At the end of the evening I caught this image:

Back in Bucharest

This is Piata Unrii ‘Union Square,’ the central piața for the city. In the background is Palatul Parlamentului, the main parliament building. It used to be called Casa Poporului ‘the people’s house.’ The dictator Nicolai Ceaușescu got construction going in 1984, and it continued after his execution in 1989. It is the second largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon).

Leading from the fountain to the parliament is Bulevardul Unirii ‘Union Boulevard.’ Ceașescu planned it to be a meter wider than the Champs-Elysées.

The Palatul Parlamentului was controversial during its long period of construction and remains controversial to this day.

As a final note, my musings on the global reach of the word Sorry started in Bucharest.

Folk Dress and Folk Etymology


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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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