“Is That a Nest?”

That’s what I said when I saw this for the first time:

Huge nests atop power lines are not an uncommon site in Romania. These nests belong to white storks (yes, the very same bird that is associated with delivering babies), and can weigh hundreds of pounds! White storks can be four feet tall and have a wingspan of seven feet, so with two adults plus around four chicks, you can see why the nest needs to be so big.

Stork nests like these can be seen in other European countries as well, but they are very common in Romania. Have you ever seen anything like this?

The Delicious Plăcintă

As much as I love Romanian Joe candies, my favorite Romanian treat has to be what is called a plăcintă (plah-CHIN-tah).

Photo source: Food Crafters blog

A plăcintă is basically a type of stuffed pastry that you can get with either apples, cabbage, cheese, or whatever filling you want inside. My personal favorite is plăcintă cu finetti, which is a plăcintă filled with a chocolatey spread similar to Nutella. The cheese plăcintă (plăcintă cu brânză) is good, but Romanian cheese is oftentimes very strong!

During my trip to Romania this past summer, my fiancé and I took many trips to a particular plăcintă shop. The store owner was really friendly, and although he spoke little English and we spoke little Romanian, we all enjoyed trying to communicate with each other.

One day while at the piaţă, my fiancé and I spotted Dan, the store owner, in his plăcintă stand selling them people in the market. He was so happy to see us that when we tried to pay, he said in his broken English, “For my American friends… bonus!” (He meant to say “free,” but we got the idea. ;))

So if you ever go to Romania, be sure to try a plăcintă at some point during your visit. And try different kinds (if you can get finetti, I highly recommend it). Each person prepares them in a slightly different way as well, so be sure to try more than one. Plus it’s a great way to befriend local store owners. 🙂

Romanian Climate

I live in the Southeastern part of the US, so I’m used to hot, humid summers and wet, nearly snowless winters. Romania, on the other hand, is quite different.

Even though it can get really hot in the summer (especially with no air conditioning to help you cool down), the humidity level in Romania is relatively low. So if it’s a rainy or simply overcast day, the temperature can cool down really quickly. I’ve only ever traveled to Romania during the summertime, but even in the middle of summer there were some days where I found myself wearing a jacket!

Some days look like this:

…while others look like this:

Rain or shine, Romania is still pretty awesome. 😉

I have never been to Romania in the winter time, but it’s safe to say that my hometown in the South has never seen as much snow as Romania gets. In fact, last year Romania made international headlines with its record amounts of snowfall. A blizzard buried some villages in as much as 16 feet of snow!

Check out this article from The Washington Post to see more photos from the incident like the one below. I can’t imagine seeing (let alone dealing with) so much snow!

Photo source: Reuters

Photo source: Reuters

Being used to the humidity of the South in the US, I’m not a huge fan of the cold. But it is nice to not be nearly as hot walking around outside in the summertime in Romania as I would be back home.

What about you? What kind of climate do you prefer?

Friday’s Findings: Carpathian Mountains

Photo source: wakpaper.com

Any mountain lovers out there? 😉

I prefer mountains to the beach any day, so the Carpathian mountain range is one of my favorite things about Romania. It’s the second longest mountain range in Europe after the Scandinavian Mountains, covering parts of Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia.

The highest peak is 8,709 feet tall and is in Slovakia, but the Romania’s tallest peak, Moldoveanu, is not far behind at 8,346 feet.

I’ve never done any hiking in the Carpathian Mountains, but I would love to someday. People who have been to these mountains would probably say that pictures don’t do them justice, but for those of us who haven’t gone, they sure are breathtaking!

I found a documentary about the Carpathians that I’ve posted below. Check it out if you’ve got time and want to enjoy some amazing scenery!

To the Grocery Store!

So far I’ve only been to two grocery stores in Romania, one being a very large supermarket and the other a small-town store. They’re very similar to stores here, other than the obvious food differences.

Unicarm (above) is a small chain store that is very common throughout the Transylvania region of Romania. This particular grocery store is where I would usually go to get some delicious Joes.

Although largely similar, here are two differences I’ve noticed in Romanian grocery stores in comparison to American ones:

1) Produce is weighed and priced AT the produce section.
In every American grocery store I’ve been in, you simply bag your produce items and they weigh/price them at the checkout. Not so, in Romania! You can’t grab some bananas and expect to walk off to a checkout isle with them. They will tell you to turn back around and get your items priced!

2) You don’t get free plastic bags for your purchases.
In most American grocery stores I’ve been in (other than Aldi, which is actually a European chain), the cashier will scan your items and place them in a plastic bag. In fact, this is so common that I practically never return from the store without one. However, in Romania you either have to pay extra for a bag, or bring your own, just like at Aldi. Kudos to Europeans for being more eco-friendly!

I don’t have any pictures of the inside of Unicarm (take a second to imagine how touristy THAT would look), but I do have a picture of something cool I found over there.

Have you ever heard of chicken-flavored chips? That was a new one for me…

Romanian Language Apps

Bună ziua! (Good afternoon!)

Romanian is spoken fluently by around 30 million people around the world. It’s a Latin-based language, and it has (so far) been relatively easy for me to pick up on since I studied Spanish in high school and college.

For anyone interested in learning Romanian, I have listed below some helpful apps I’ve found. But even if you’re not trying to learn the language, it’s always fun to expand your knowledge and impress people with your foreign-language skills. Plus the apps listed below are free!

1) FREE Romanian Essentials by AccelaStudy

I downloaded the free version of this app back in 2011, but since then I’ve upgraded to have access to more vocabulary words. What makes this app so great is that it has a flashcard study option so you can review the vocab you’ve learned.

2) Learn Romanian by Free WordPower

My favorite thing about this app is that it shows how words can be used in different contexts. Plus it has a picture to help visual learners like myself.

3) Romanian Verbs HD by LearnBots

This app focuses on learning how to conjugate Romanian verbs. I’ve found it to be extremely helpful, especially since you can only get so far with nouns alone. 😉

Like most language-building apps, these three have an audio option to help with your pronunciation. It’s good to know the words, but being able to pronounce them correctly is what really impresses people!

Do you have a favorite language app you like to use? If so, share below!

Friday’s Findings: Cleopatra Stratan

Today’s “Friday’s Findings” is about a person rather than a place.

Cleopatra Stratan was born in Moldova but was raised in Romania when her parents decided to move there. Cleopatra is a famous singer who has released four albums since 2006.

The catch: Cleopatra was born in 2002. She hit stardom when she was only three years old!

She has been labeled as the youngest person to ever score commercial success. After all, being the youngest artist to receive an MTW award as well as score a No. 1 hit in a country is a pretty big deal!

Below are three of her most popular songs. Even if this isn’t your style of music, let alone your native language, you have to admit that she’s really cute and really talented! 😉