Romanian Currency

If you ever plan on visiting Romania, it might help to know a bit about the currency. Since I’m from the States, I’ll compare Romanian lei (singular: leu) banknotes to US dollar bills. There are three main differences between the two that I have listed below.

Romanian banknotes

Photo source: About.com

1) Size & Texture

Like euro banknotes, Romanian lei vary in sizes. On the other hand, US dollars are all the same size. US dollars are also made of cotton and linen, whereas Romanian lei are made from polymer, which is like plastic.

2) Visual Appearance
Romanian banknotes are very colorful compared to US bills. Check out this Wikipedia entry to see different versions of the Romanian leu over the past century.
Back in 1999, Romania had a special banknote made to celebrate the total solar eclipse that passed over the country that year (see below). Although this banknote is no longer in circulation, a friend of mine who visited Romania when it was still recognized gave me one. I’m very glad to have it! I love how colorful it is.

solar eclipse banknote

Photo source: banknotes.com

3) Value & Denominations
Currently, 1 US dollar is equal to about 3 Romanian lei. If you’re using an online currency converter such as XE or Oanda, look for RON (Romanian New Leu).
Romanian banknotes also come in the following denominations: 1 leu, 5, 10, 50, and 100 lei. 200 and 500 lei banknotes also exist but are rarely used.

Coins are also used in Romania, and they are called bani (singular: ban). There are 1 ban, 5, 10, and 50 bani coins. 100 bani is equal to 1 leu, just like 100 pennies is equal to 1 dollar.

Romanian-Coins

Photo source: About.com

So now you’re a little more prepared to visit Romania! Don’t worry, it’s not hard to figure out once you get there. ūüėČ

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Friday’s Findings: Statue of Decebalus

Photo source: Wikipedia

The Statue of Decebalus (Romanian: Statuia lui Decebal) is the largest rock sculpture in Europe and is located on the Danube River near the city of OrŇüova, Romania. It took twelve sculptors ten years to complete the statue, which is a whopping 131 feet tall!

This massive sculpture was made in honor of a man named Decebalus, who ruled as the King of Dacia from 87-106 A.D. He is considered a legendary hero in Romanian history.

The largest rock sculpture I’ve ever seen like this one is South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore, which is only 60 feet tall. I would love to see the Statue of Decebalus!

Have you ever seen a famous rock sculpture?

Roundabouts: Do they work?

roundabout

If you’ve ever been to Europe, you’ve likely encountered numerous roundabouts before.

In the States, we have what are called 4-way stops. I had never seen a roundabout before ¬†visiting Romania, so needless to say, I was a little confused as to how it worked! But once we went through several of these roundabouts (some single-laned and some with two lanes), I realized they weren’t too complicated.

It wasn’t until I randomly came across a roundabout an hour away from where I live that I began to wonder which method worked better. Luckily, Mythbusters also wondered the same thing back in August of this year.

I’m not going to spoil the answer, so if you want to find out if 4-way stops or roundabouts are more efficient, then check out the video below! (Plus if you ever plan on visiting Romania, this will come in handy! ;))

Have any thoughts or experiences concerning roundabouts vs. 4-way stops? Tell me in the comment section below!

Friday’s Findings: Elie Wiesel

Quote

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Talk about motivational!

This quote was made by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor. He was born in 1928 in Romania and was held prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps during WWII. Wiesel moved to the United States in 1955 and wrote over 40 books, many of which focused on the Holocaust. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for speaking out against repression and racism among people groups, as well as acts of violence towards them.

The first step to putting a stop to anything is to choose a side and raise awareness. Elie Wiesel certainly understood that and lived it out!

Do you agree with his quote?

Stray Dogs

Some towns in Romania have a problem with stray dogs. Typically the idea is to avoid strays, but… there are some people that don’t always heed that warning.

*innocent cough*

But look at it’s face! How could you not show it love?

So I thought I’d share an entertaining tale of my encounter with one such Romanian canine. I did cave in and feed the dog pictured above, but the story I’m about to tell you is about a different dog (so don’t have any hard feelings against the cutie above!).

Once upon a time…

…I journeyed to the faraway land of Romania. (Okay, I’ll cut it out now and get to the story.)

The first time I went to Romania, my team and I stayed at a hotel that overlooked the town below. It was the summer of 2010, and they had not had much rain in the region. But one day while we were there, we saw the storm clouds approaching in the distance and knew we would soon be in for a downpour.

It wasn’t long before it started raining. We all gathered outside on the porch of the hotel since the cool air was a relief from the heat. Suddenly, a dog came running up onto the porch to escape the rain.

Now before I continue, you have to understand that this “stray” dog actually hung around the hotel and was considered a pet by the owners. I had seen it several times during our stay there, and since it was considered a pet, I felt it would be okay to pet the dog.

I’ll let you decide if that was a good idea or not…

Being the animal lover that I am, I slowly approached the wet, shivering dog since no one else was showing it any attention. The dog was wary when I walked towards it, but it didn’t growl or run off, so I cautiously started petting it.

It seemed like the dog was actually enjoying the rare show of affection, but that changed when someone on the porch thought it would be funny to bark in order to try and scare me. There was just one problem to this plan…

It scared the dog more than it did me.

Startled, the dog turned back and bit the closest thing it could find: my arm. It latched on for a solid two seconds before letting go and running off the porch. Needless to say, my adrenaline was pumping! To this day I’m still wary of large dogs, strays or not.

So kids, the moral of the story: don’t assume that you can go all “animal whisperer” on an animal that isn’t used to human interaction. But if you do decide to dismiss my warning, just make sure no one around is going to bark or make any sudden movements to scare the animal.

How about you? Do you have any crazy animal stories?

Friday’s Findings: Sarmizegetusa Regia

I’m not a huge history fan, but this Friday’s Findings was a pretty cool one!

Sarmizegetusa Regia (that’s a mouthful!)¬†was the capital city of the kingdom of Dacia (1st century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.). The Dacians were¬†an Indo-European people group, and their kingdom was located between modern-day Romania’s Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea.

Now, here’s the good part:

Despite the fact that Dacia was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 A.D., the ruins of the kingdom can still be seen today. Sarmizegetusa Regia has become a popular tourist attraction, even though it is in the middle of nowhere and lacks facilities for visitors.

Check out the pictures below! Looks like a pretty awesome place, doesn’t it?

Sarmizegetusa Regia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Also, here’s a quick reconstruction video of what the place might’ve looked like: