After my little misadventure yesterday, I continues to wander. It was a day of exploration.
Buildings here are plastered with advertisements and obnoxiously colored banners; as if to boldly declare (20 years after the fact) that the country is proud to be done with communism. These do serve to cover up the drab, boring bloc-style buildings that are everywhere here, but it seems this society is trying too hard to Westernize. Of course, this is easy to say from the perspective of a Westerner- we don’t need advertisements all over our buildings to remind us that we live in a free and greedy society. Perhaps Romanians do.
Regardless, I found a part of the city that I am sure I will grow to love dearly in the months ahead. If I walk out of my apartment building, and turn right and then right again, I find myself on the main commercial strip of the sector (which I finally discovered is Sector 4). People run about and cars drive everywhere, and this young American girl finds herself feigning confidence while crossing the street and shopping at the market and going to the bank. If I cross the main street (with a fair amount of trepidation) there is an expanse of concrete that at first appears to be just that- an expanse of concrete. But with further exploration, I discovered that it is actually a park. Like many other European cities and parks, there is a “boulevard” of sorts down the middle, and grass and trees on either side. The sides are pretty hilly, and you can climb to the top by way of neglected stairways every so often. There was a horse and a playground and trails everywhere. I ventured about halfway into the park (walking south) before I decided to turn around and explore another time. There were fountains everywhere, a great many children riding bikes, and couples in every corner of every glance.
The thing I was most struck by, though, is the tragedy of this place- the history that is everywhere. Because despite the beauty, it still seems that this is a country trying to make progress at any rate possible. I wish I could have seen this place before the war and the oppression and the hardship. I can imagine that it was quite beautiful. Once the “Paris of the East,” Bucuresti is now just a city playing catch-up, and I’m afraid it might never make it.