Discovering Romania

Manu Chao in Timisoara!

Another of the good things, that summer brings, are the music live… there are several music festivals and concerts almost every weekends around Romania. I went already to Electric Castle Festival in the county of Cluj the last weekend (but I’ll write about that later on, because this experience deserves a post by itself) and the last Wednesday, for example we went to Timisoara to watch Manu Chao.

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One of the things with which I enjoy the most here in Romania is that for any event whenever we get together a lot of friends from that great family which is EVS (and not only EVS, also friends that work or study here) so people from Craiova, Cluj, Oradea, Arad, Resita… from more than ten different countries met us for the Manu Chao’s concert. And it was a really great night: after one hard day due to the heavy rain that was falling during most of the day we arrived at “Muzeul Satului Banatean” and then the rain stopped and we could enjoy with  more than two hours of show in which we didn’t stop dancing.

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After the concert we went to the backstage and then Manu Chao appeared sharing food and drinks for all of us, taking pictures, signing autographs and the most important, talking with us, he was surprised to see a big group of friends together from so different countries. We explained him about EVS, about our different projects and also we were talking about a load of topics with him, I think everybody left the concert with a great satisfaction; after the great show they made on the stage, he was really kind with all of us, despite being a world-famous star, no ceases to be a completely sociable, talkative and close person.

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Ne Vedem!

P.R.

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Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer is Here

Summer is here and, as always, it has a good side and a bad side. In the good hand we can take a walk through the cherry trees that garnish the streets of Arad full of its red berries, if the weather is really hot we can go to the Neptun Lido, besides the fortress of Arad and have fun with the different swimming pools, someones with hot springs (smell of eucalyptus) another with slides and also there are several places to eat something and, why not, take a beer for only 2 lei!

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Another advantage that summer brings is the goods you can find in the open market a lot of fruits and vegetables very cheap (cheaper than the big supermarket chains where we are used to buy) and, definitely more tasty and healthy. Now is the best period to enjoy of the Romanian goods, it’s easier to eat better spending less money.

But not everything are advantages in this period for us, the schools and kindergarten shut down so we aren’t gonna work anymore with our children, after nine months we’ve taken a load of affection to them. We’ve tried to teach them and I think, in general, we’ve done a good job but, honestly, I think I’ve learnt more with them than they with me. Sometimes we forget the language is something else than connected words, the gestures, the looks, the expressions… children are able to remember you the worth of all of this. There are been 9 month full of emotions, hugs, dedicated drawings, smiles and tons of fun. We’ll remember them as, I’m sure, they’ll remind us.

Ne vedem!

P.R.

Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Gastronomy, Our Beneficiaries, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-Term Training (2/2)

After a Saturday very busy we woke up on Sunday to keep our trip, in this point Antonio joined us. We headed to the Brasov train station to take the train that would take us to Predeal bu,t due to the chaos in terms of platforms and trains information, we lost our train. Luckily we only had to wait for less than one hour for taking the next train. Once in our destiny we met with our mate Rita and another 8 known EVS volunteers from Baia Mare, Fagaras, Craiova… and we only were in the train station.

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After taking a cab, finally, we came to the Eden Hotel, where we were greeted by Carmen (our favourite hotel desk clerk) and where we met in the same hall with a lot of known ones, volunteers from Arad, Baia Mare, Bucarest… After this, dinner with a lot of known faces and to know the different groups in which we were gonna be divided. As in the arrival training some volunteers brought with them guitars so we started kind of party with live music. It was only the first night, therefore it was a very quiet meeting… we should to get ready for the very intense week we had ahead. The training elapsed very fast for us, We wouldn´t have minded stay some day more enjoying the hotel (we had jacuzzi in our room), the town and overall, spending more time with our training fellows, but like all good things, the training ended.

So we (Luca, Aga and me) left which was our home for the past four days to go to the capital of our hosting country, Bucharest.

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We came to Bucharest under heavy cold (-16º) and we saw the city covered by a one-meter- cloack of snow. Anyway we decided to go out and to know the city by ourselves, so we started to tour in the downtown, we headed directly to the world’s largest civilian building with an administrative function: Palatul Parlamentului. After that we kept our visit for some hours around the city, visiting the most important and known places in the city like Piata Revolutiei in the heart of the 1989 revolution. Since the building of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Ceausescu launched his latest speech. Nearby is the Roman Ateneul (1888) and hosts major concerts and the Central University Library in a neoclassical building, with marvelous art exhibitions. Anyway we didn´t have so many time and the weather was really hard so we finish our visit walking by the city and enjoying the architecture.

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The city center is a mixture of medieval, neoclassical and modernist architectural styles and buildings ‘neo-Romanian’ dating from the early twentieth century and a collection of modern buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. Most utilitarian part of the communist era architecture dominates most southern districts. Recent contemporary structures such as skyscrapers and office buildings complete the landscape of Bucharest.
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However, despite the cold weather, we ended the evening enjoying the nightlife of the city along with other EVS volunteers (from two asociations: Asociatia Culturala Ask Me and A.C.T.O.R.) … and it was really amazing, although many people had warned us that Bucharest is the most expensive city in country, you can find places really cheap and to have fun with not much money, some of this clubs are Kulturhaus and Panic! both close to Piața Universității. After two intense days our trip came to its end, but we still had time to meet us with some volunteers from Tismana whose we met in our arrival training and they came back to their respective countries after have finished their project. After that, we walked around the city for a couple of hours before to take the train that would bring us to Arad, promising ourselves back in town when the weather is more benevolent to enjoy the city in all its splendor and to meet again with our friends (whose aren´t few).
And, in this way, it finished a very intense week in which we met people from the 5 continents, we did more than one thousand kilometres and very many priceless new experiences.
Ne Vedem
P.R.
Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mid-Term Training (1/2)

The last week we were in Predeal again for the Mid-Term Training, and it was a bittersweet feeling. On one hand we can come back to the Hotel Eden and enjoy Predeal with a lot of EVS volunteers (we were 66) from the five continents (from Africa – Tunicia, Marroco-, from Asia -Nepal-. from Oceania – New Caledonia- , from America – Perú- and the rest from Europe), almost half of them were with us in the arrival training and we had met many others volunteers in these months in Romania; the sessions were, in general, better and more interesting that in the arrival training, the nights were more quite but maybe, more intense. On the other hand, we met with a lot of volunteers who will leave Romania soon and it´s difficult to meet them again in a short time; another negative side is that this training means we already spent the half of our time as EVS volunteers.

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I started this trip with Luca and Aga, we decided to squeeze the long trip to Predeal, and we made a stop in the amazing city of Sighișoara, we spent one day in this beautiful place roaming the narrow streets of the citadel, visiting The History Museum inside the Clock Tower and we even entered the house where the famous national hero Vlad Tepes was born, now reconverted in a hotel with restaurant. It looked like a good place to rest and eat something but the prices are prohibitively expensive for our pockets so we ended up into a small pension eating the most typical Romanian dish (șarmale cu mamaliga și smântână), it was my first time. After that we went to the train station, under the snow which began to fall minutes before, towards Brașov.

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In Brașov our friends were waiting for us in “Casa De Cultura a Studentilor Brașov” where they were helping to the “Incubator107 Brașov” in a multicultural event. There we met a lot of unknown volunteers (local ones, EVS from Craiova, Baia Mare…) and other ones already known, after this meeting our friends showed us the nightlife in Brașov (we already knew the city by day) so we went in a taxi to the downtown (it was my first time I was been driven under a snowfall) and we came to a wonderful place, at least for me, Beraria Ciucas. We ate and drank something to go after to another club: For SALE PUB, a typical irish bar where between beers and peanuts where we took shelter from the bitter cold that Brașov offered us that night.

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If in our first trip to Predeal we ended up spending the night in Brașov, this time we slept in Brașov just before going to Predeal. So on Sunday  came to Predeal… but that part of the story I will tell you the coming week.

It shall continue… (click here)

Ne vedem saptimana vitioare!

P.R.

Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Gastronomy, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revoluția Română

Today is the 24th anniversary of the Romanian Revolution beggining. Everything started in Timişoara, very close to our city, Arad; and soon spread throughout the country. It ultimately resulted in the violent overthrow and execution of longtime President of Romania Nicolae Ceauşescu, and the end of the Socialist Republic of Romania. Romania was under a hard authoritarian regime headed by Ceauşescu for more than 24 years.

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In the first years, the  Ceauşescu´s government is constructed based on repression, austerity, and grandiloquent investment a systematic abuse of the laws. All of this balanced with well proportioned odds at truculent nationalism, and feeding an open challenge to the Soviet Union. In parallel, Romania enjoys a more favorable economic situation, given the growing demand for food that the country is able to provide. Rural areas have abundant cultivable space and an equally nurtured human resources to work with.

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The leader becomes extremely popular, but never leaves aside the prerogatives of his secret agenda: Party infiltration continues stoking in every social sphere, while giving way to what would become the most feared secret police of the Eastern bloc, the Securitate. This context presents him with the opportunity to paint his figure with the brush of the cult of personality. Official propaganda (focused exclusively on his desires) refers to him with high sounding epithets: ‘‘The Great Conductor,” ”The Genius of the Carpathians” and ”The Danube of Thought.” And the structures fall under his complete dominance: the armed forces the intelligence services, police, media and economic activity in all its dimensions.

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After his visit to North Korea and China, Ceauşescu wants to transform Romania into an industrial power. For this purpose, initially proposes two major objectives: to increase the birth rate in the country and pay all external debt of Romania. He gets the first goal but the austerity programs to pay the external debt sorted by Ceauşescu, in early 1980, will pass the bill to the quality of life of the population and the rationing of food and heating (from energy shortages, many people die from extreme cold) will do that  the unpopularity of the government and the Communist Party soar. However, major riots don´t occur and the rate of social conflict remains low due to the high discretion displaying repressive leader. The agrarian program designed by the president reconstitution (‘systematization’) exacerbates the problem of food availability. But Ceauşescu not see it that way: the leader has lost all sense of reality. Continue with his agenda, and even conducts public presentations on farms and stables that have been provided previously well-fed animals and plastic fruits and vegetables.

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It´s such a day like today 24 years ago when started the Timişoara uprising from the Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Mitropolitană). The protest broke out to repudiate government persecution of a political opponent, embodied in the figure of the Hungarian Reformed church pastor László Tőkés whose had made critical comments against the regime’s Systematization policy and complained that the Romanians don´t even know their human rights to foreign media. State repression leads to the worsening of the social scene, and subsequent days are characterized by demonstrations staged by students, workers and ordinary citizens, who seem to have lost their fear. The Romanian flag with socialist shield ripped from its center becomes a symbol that runs throughout the country.To these reactions, the system responds with an increasingly brutal persecution and accusations of fascist coup and agitation‘.

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The last public speech of Nicolae Ceauşescu takes place the 21th on December in the central square of Bucharest. The president proposed to take advantage of what was called a public meeting to be tailor made ​​to condemn the events in Timisoara , and he did. Most citizens boos him and, in an attempt to calm down , advertises ridiculous increases in the minimum salary. But this is not enough: the masses react negatively and his security advisers recommend him that safeguards inside the building. The speech is broadcast live and direct around the country and although the air is removed and replaced with a still image, most of the population has realized that something strange is happening. Everyone naturally turns to the streets in major cities under the slogans of “Death to the dictator” and “Down with the government”. Communist Party committees are looted and set on fire documents.

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After that, Ceauşescu and his wife take a helicopter to run away but finally they were arrested by police just hours later. And have no doubt: in the streets, the army also failed to respond, whereas the main references of the state and its activists are executed on the spot. And the same forces which will lead to summary trial the president the 25th on December. After two hours they were executed by a firing squad.

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In the wake of the revolution, 1,104 people died, 162 of these occurring in the protests that took place from 16 to 22 December 1989 and brought an end to the Ceauşescu regime and the remaining 942 in the riots before the seizure of power by a new political structure, the National Salvation Front. Most deaths occurred in cities such as Timişoara, Bucharest, Sibiu and Arad. The number of injured reached 3,352, of which 1,107 are for the period in which Ceauşescu still held power, and the remaining 2,245 are for the period after the seizure of power by the National Salvation Front.

References:

http://www.analitica.com/bitblio/ramonet/conflictos.asp

http://publicaciones.ua.es/filespubli/pdf/15793311RD35322090.pdf

http://www.elojodigital.com/contenido/11391-senor-presidente-hay-una-revolucion-aqui-afuera-usted-esta-solo-buena-suerte

http://modestine4.blogspot.ro/2010/09/transylvania-5.html

http://www.wikipedia.org/

Ne Vedem!

PR

Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Like kids in a school trip

The last tuesday, we had the first “activity” with our new collegues from Zimbawe. It wasn’t an activity, it was kind of a trip, as I said already in the title; we went to the turnul de apa of Arad, our city!

The Water Tower it’s really beautiful and it’s a piece of history, a monument of Arad.

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It was built in 1896, located in Piață Pompierilor,  used to spread the drinking water to the citizens and it was able to provide it for all the city. Restored in 1927 , now hosts many art exhibitions and paintings.  The Tower is 38 meters high , built in the vicinity of the barracks fire,  and it was the tallest building in the city .

The project comes from the idea of the famous architect Miklós Ybl, who used as a model a dungeon of a medieval fortress . At the top was mounted a giant pool of water, which ensured supply to the entire city with drinking water.

The tower was in activity until 1956 and since 1990 it’s a private property.

When we arrived a kind man received us, he was our guide, an old man really passionate in his role as an “information giver”.

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In the entrance we can find a collection of city maps, some of them are really old, from the Austro-Hungarian empire, some are newer, for sure it’s really interesting to look at them to have an idea of the development of the city.

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It is possible to see a lot of curious and old objects in the different rooms of the tower, objects used in relation with the water, of course; we saw “strange” bottles and a lot of different pipes to pump the water into the houses, some old bidets (not everybody uses bidet, in Italy we do; for more infos click on it) and other small objects.

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In one of the floors it is possible to admire an art collection, there are paintings made from romanian artists and some great pictures as well.

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In another floor are exposed the different uniforms used by the fireman in different times.

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After climbing the small and narrow spiral staircases (some of you could have problems with vertigo), we arrived on the top floor of the building, a “giant pool” that can hold 400 tons of water. Before it was even possible to perform plays due to the perfect acoustic.

From this point of the tower we could admire a really nice Panorama, all Arad was under our sight, beautiful!

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The End…

Hey you, if you are reading this article and you are curious enough, just go there and take a look at the history.

Arrivederci!

Luca G.    

Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Our City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EVS TRAINING IN PREDEAL

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From 30 September to 6 October we were in Predeal for our EVS arrival training.

First I would like to write a short information about one of the famous towns in Romania. Predeal is a well known tourist destination in Romania, especially in winter, when many people come to spend the holidays. Predeal has 5 major ski runs, depending on the difficulty grade and it’s a town in Brasov County. It is the highest town and one of the most important mountain resorts in Romania.Image

During this week we had the possibility to meet a lot of volunteers (we were 85!) that are taking part in EVS project in different romanian cities. We met people that live in Bucharest, Baia Mare, Iasi and many other cities.

We were divided into 4 group, each group had 2 “coaches” and we had 4 sessions per day, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Ok, stop with the technical description!Image

It was a great experience, not only because of the funny atmosphere that normally is in the air when a lot of young people live together, it was great, as well, for the activities that we made in our groups.

We had the possibility to compare our points of view with other people, we learnt more about the EVS project and personally I knew more about myself, it was an intense stay even if it was only for one week!

One of the most interesting moments was the intercultural night in which each Country had to present himself in a funny way, it was really amusing and I really enjoyed to know more about countries that I didn’t know a lot about!

What can I say more, Predeal it’s a “legend” for all the romanian EVS volunteers, we were there and we really appreciated the town and  his beautiful landscape, volunteers, trainers, hotel staff, everything was perfect!

I hope you enjoyed this short thought about what we did,

See ya soon

La revedere!!

Luca G.

Categories: Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Volunteer´s life | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The bursting of a bubble”

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Having lived for the most part of my life in a small city in the interior of Portugal, the chance of going abroad can be presented both as an exciting and scary experience. The feeling of leaving everyone and everything behind, counters with the opportunity of meeting new people, discovering new cultures and most of all expanding one’s horizons through EVS Volunteering.

Somewhere along the road, after 4 hours of plane and traveling half Hungary by car, the first buildings of Arad come into view and with them a very peculiar scenery with an architectonic mix of the modern and the classic. Once inside the dormitories, time to get to know all the other volunteers and what will be the accommodations for the next 10 months.

Now that almost two weeks have passed much can be said about this experience. For starters being in touch with a multicultural group is something that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime, like getting to know a little something about others’ cultures and languages, sometimes thousands of miles away from our own countries. The support and commitment from our organization, Pro Prietenia is for sure something to be amazed as well.

Furthermore, the chance of visiting some typical places from Romania is always an interesting experience, such as the picturesque market in the city centre, where traders sell all sorts of goods every day, especially vegetables and fruit. Worth of mentioning is also the botanic garden in Macea (some kms from Arad) where one can see a most astonishing palace surrounded by beautiful nature.

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The palace at Macea’s botanic garden.

And of course one cannot forget about the special events that take place once in a while such as:

  • An incredible Flash Mob organized by people at Pro Prietenia that took place, first in the children’s park and then at Parcul Pandurice.

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The guys from Flash Mob
  • A concert from an excellent Portuguese singer (living in Romania for 8 years now) together with a brilliant 14 year old blind pianist at Loja bar, performing great classics such as Sinatra’s Fly Me To the Moon, some Romanian songs and even a Brazilian song Garota de Ipanema from Tom Jobin, which he dedicated to all the Portuguese speaking people in the audience.
  • Last but not least coming with Rita, the other Portuguese volunteer, to TV Arad to talk about our first impressions of the city and project as well as hopes and expectations, and.

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Me, Rita, and Cristina (Pro Prietenia’s project coordinator) at TV Arad

That’s all for now, even though so much more could be written about these first days, I’ll leave it for another time for sure.

La revedere…

 AS

Categories: Discovering Romania, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our trip in Timisoara

Uniti Salvam Rosia Montana

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Last weekend me and other two volunteers, Grazia and Pablo, went to Timisoara to enjoy the city, his historical places and his nightlife, why not?!

Timisoara is just 40 kms far away from Arad, it’s a beautiful city, full of history and his buildings and monuments testify it.

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(Thanks Pablo for these pics!)

It was in Timisoara that the revolution against Ceaușescu’s regimen started from (as told us a guy who lives there).

I have a friend  living there and she hosted me these two days, she is Elena and she is involved in a project which aim is saving Rosia Montana area from the exploitation of mineral resources that the Romanian government is trying to act in this part of the Transilvania region. Rosia Montana is an area composed of 16 villages and the Romanian Parliament is discussing in these days about a law that could allow to expropriate the inhabitants of the villages in an easy way without respecting those who live in this area, without regard to the right to housing that every human being has or should have. Elena has turned half of Europe to promote and raise awareness of Rosia Montana, and from the abuses that governments are making more and more often in various parts of the world, she was cycling in Sweden, Norway, Russia and many other beautiful places! That’s why on Sunday we join this demonstration, around the city. It was exciting for me seeing all that people together for a right cause, everybody wants to live in a world of peace and it’s beautiful to share these experiences with people!

I don’t want to be bored so let’s watch some video and pictures that me and my friends took of the event!

Luca

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Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, Volunteer´s life | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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EVS experiences in Arad

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EVS experiences in Arad