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26 Sep 2003 :: Dial-up Cards.. [ more.. ]

19 Oct 2002 :: Here you are. The photos taken during the trip to Brasov have been put out to the photohunt section. Here you can take a look at the interior of the Bran and Peles castles... [ more.. ]

30 Jul 2002 :: Finally received the first e-mail from my great buddy Michael, who left to Canada several weeks ago. Here I told how we celebrated his leaving in Chisinau, and now we have an opportunity to read his first impressions of the city of Toronto... [ more.. ]

[ 11th Aug 2002 ] Marea Neagra | 4 comments | leave a comment

Finally, there is a report about our latest adventure called "week-end on a seashore". Actually nobody goes to the sea just for a week-end, but there are no limitations for such passionate explorers like yours sincerelly. I hope this note will help you to imagine the conditions at a Romanian Black seashore in more details.

Of course it was other way than we initially planned. The city of Constanta wasn't actually seen by us, since recreation in the port city almost isn't practiced here. Though from Constanta towards Mangalia by the sea-side there are a lot of resort places. They're called statiuni (pronounced statsiun' - the plural, but to make it easier, just "stations"). The major ones are Euforia Nord, Euforia Sud, Costinesti and Neptun. Since myself I heard a lot of good things about Costinesti, we went exactly there. In particular, among the good features of its there were hords of students. It was said that conditions were modest, but it was the most studentish place on whole the Romanian seashore. Also, the name. Well, it wasn't really KONSTinesti or something, but sounded well anyway :) So, we took train tickets and left Iasi. Since now I'm going to include prices for everything so that the readers can evaluate the economic part. I'm extremely courious to hear impressions about holidays in Romania, specially in the context of comparison with the popular resorts like Bulgaria or Turkey. It's a pity that travelling to mountains and to the sea here more and more I like it, while people from my own former USSR even didn't hear about beautiful places here. So maybe a detailed description of the financial part can make someone among real explorers travel through my current country of living. Well, lost the point. The tickets on the Iasi-Mangalia train cost 386.000 lei (about 12$) for a person, the 1st class. The train's schedule was very suitable, for it took exactly one night to get there, it left at 11pm and was on the place at about 7am.

We jumped into the train almost in the last moment of its leaving. Actually we mixed it up with another one with was standing near ours, but had just came back from Mangalia. Obviously it wasn't going anywhere. And while we were looking for people in the dark carriages, our train started moving. Well, it was quite an active start for a promising travel!

Hadn't done anything weird in the compartment. Having drunk some "Cinzano" with lemon we started thinking how to sleep. An interesting feature of seats in the Romanian "accelerat" trains of the 1st class was found. It was possible to spread them. I reckon it's worth to start explaining this phenomenon from the fact that the local railway differs quite a lot from our post-Soviet ones. The majority of the trains don't have places to lie down. A usual picture is a long corridor by the compartments. In each of them there are seats. In the 2nd class there are 8 seats, and the 1st has only 6. There were 5 of us, so we'd occupied a compartment exclusively without problems. It appeared that if two opposite seats are spred you got one horizontal place for sleeping. There was no space between the two, so I had no idea what if both passengers sitting opposite to each other wanted to sleep. Let's leave it to deceide to Ceausescu, or to the one who invented the trains. Though, by the way, I don't think they had something with the Romanian communist period, since they looked too similar like second-hand carriages bought in Germany. But in spite of their being second-hand, once again I was glad to see a specific thing about Romania which I like a lot. Everything here is made quite modest and minimalistic, but comfortable and in order. The floors were clean, windows were ok and able to be opened, there was soap in toilets and the pedal of washing away the johnny's contents :) was in its place. Yes, exactly the pedal I was suprised to find during our trip to Vatra Dornei. And after dealing with the seats we got an airdrome-like bed of size of the whole compartment were all of us fet. Romanians that were passing by looked with an interest through the transparent partition at us.

The morning arrival to the city of Constanta brought interesting views outside the window. There was a lot of brutally-looking industry that was changed from time to time with systems of bridges built specially to make it possible to pass trains and auto-transport below swaps. During quite a long time we were observing a long navigable water canal. In connection with the latter our colleague Lyubomir remembered a story that he heard somewhere. Like Ceausescu ordered to build the canal for his daugther, so that she could get from Bucharest to the sea with a yacht presented to her by an honoured foreign guest. I don't really know if it was true. Definitely gotta read a book about the history of the socialist period in Romania. Who knows, maybe I'll have to take into account the experience of the late local leader so that not to make similar fatal mistakes ;) Kidding. Though I think it's not that pleasant to die of hands of your own people. Quite a dark story. At the other hand if I was taunted this way myself like Romanians were in the end of 80ths, I would kill him with my own hands. So it's quite clear.

Despite of our initial willing to leave the train where we would find it better, we did get off in Costinesti. The plan wasn't that good, because trains in Romania usually pass suburbs of towns, and don't go through places, thus towns theirselves cannot be seen well from a train. Local railway stations seem quite modestly, but as I mentioned before, everything's usable and functional. Everything needed like benches, waiting rooms, booking and stuff is there. In our case there was no exception, the sea could be seen only somewhere in between stations, but in the resort places the train didn't pass along the sea-side.

Like it happened everywhere, just after getting off we saw locals proposing rooms for those come. I asked a guy how much he wanted for a place for 5 people, and he almost agreed to go with us to look at conditions, but a problem appeared which made us less attractive for those who made rooms available for tourists. We came only for two days, so the guy left quickly. However, noone told that looking for rooms through the town wouldn't work. "If everything is like at our sea-resorts", - I thought - "on every house there must be announcements about available rooms". And I appeared to be right. First we went along the central street where noone wanted to host us because of the two days period. Our questions about extra charge which was acceptable in the situation were answered negatively by several landlords. Then there was an old woman who proposed us a really crappy room for 200.000 lei (about 6$) for a person. There was no hurry, so we went along the shore and entered the town from another end. On strada Albatrosului (the Albatross street) a small tourist complex was found. It had several wooden houses that looked neatly and quite nice. The owner, a woman with black moustache first wanted 700.000 lei (21$) for a 4 places room, but when we told her about our two days limitation the price raised to 800. The reason was that she had to have the bed-linen washed. Our room took a half of a wooden house, and was furnished with a two floors bed, a table and a wardrobe. The room also had a separate and quite a descent bathroom with a shower. Thus, I dunno how to describe the place we stayed at. Probably it was something between a cabana (in Romanian - a little wooden house for tourists) and a three-stars hotel. There was also a proposition to lunch there, and it was accepted. A lunch cost no more than in Iasi, i.e. about 70.000-100.000 lei (2-3$). I quickly found understanding with the landlord, since the woman was from Suceava, a city that was located about 200 kms away from Iasi, in the same historical region called Moldova.

Now a few words on how the beach looked like in Costinesti. It went along whole the town starting from the right with a hotel of a typical architecture of Ceausescu period, and ended with a dark infernally looking ship to the left. Judging from the fact that the "Evangelia" ship was pictured on the majority of the locally produced postcards, it's a spark of the place. It was placed not that far from the shore, on quite a shallow bed, with two gaps in its body. It wouldn't be correct to say it wasn't a ship, but only remains, because it was preserved well. There were boat and yacht excursions to "Evangelia", but I swam there myself. Like everyone who made about 3 years of swimming (well, underwater swimming) I shouldn't had accepted any help with it. Well, read more below. As to the beach, the "topless plaja" (plaja is "beach" in Romanian) inscription looked promising. We weren't disappointed, because after we took our places, a lot of tits were possible to be observed around. Big tits, small tits, raised tits, lowered tits, with moles, without moles. Nice. At the other hand, sure, it was very easy to loose any kind of an interest to those parts of a woman's body after several days of watching. The water was quite clear despite of hords of people. I think it was related to the total absence of industry and navigation.

It was also interesting to walk through the town itself. Sometimes it's even healty in order to not to get burnt by the sun. Like I said above we found a room on a street which was called strada Albatrosului. Then I saw the Breeze street (strada Brizei) and a lot of other interesting names. Also, there were a lot of people on the beach and in the town who were handing advertisments of various parties. The majority of them were concerts of various famous Romanian bands. So, I was given an ad with an announce of a concert of "Voltaj" which I liked a lot. The same day in the evening they were supposed to be playing in the "Ring" disco. Would had been a pity not to visit such a thing.

The party started at 9pm, but having came about 11 we were not late. Still the "Voltaj" guys hadn't come. In spite of the band's popularity, entrance tickets cost about 40.000 lei (a bit more than a dollar). I went directly to the dance pool, but a man in a "security" shirt appeared in front of me and checked my pockets. It wasn't all, since there also were two ladies from the staff on my way who put something in my hand. This "something" was a condom. Still don't know why they gave me it. Being free from any kind of moral obligations of sexual kind now, I tried dancing and talking (in quite a good Romanian) not with only one Romanian lady during the party. But either they smoked something unhealthy before the disco, or my face wasn't ok for them, but I didn't manage anything. After coming back to Iasi I asked several Romanian friends of mine how I would be supposed to do it. The statement that they never managed as well as the answer. Quite a specific issue here that outside a disco it is much easier to meet somebody.

... the third hour in a raw was passing by while we were dancing. Half of our company had separated and went home, but two of us remained to wait the concert to start. A lot of various remixes were played, but the nostalgy was aroused by a single one - a very popular nowdays Russian song in Romania, "Nas ne dogoniat" (They won't catch us) by "Tatu". You can hear it once in an hour on the local radio, and the "Atomic" music channel shows the respective clip regulary. I heard they took an award on kinda European musical contest recently, otherwise no ideas home came they're so popular here. Several times after hearing us speaking Russian in the street, and also that I could express myself quite weill in Romanian, people asked me what "Nas ne dogoniat" ment :) But it's ok. Who knows, maybe there will be another phrase to add to a vocabulary of a middle Romanian besides of the "Nu zaiats, podogi" ("Beware, hare" - from a popular Soviet Tom&Jerry-like cartoon). Everyone seems to know it here. The already mentioned "Atomic" channel once made fun with its own variety. They said that if the clip would had been made in Romania, the "Tatu" girls would go not on the top of a tanker but in a "Porshe" of the last model with cellular phones in their hands. Though it's true that such a monotony is seen well here.

For those who interested (Romanians who appreciate the "Tatu" band and just for courious ones) here a whole album is available for downloading. Besides the "Nas ne dogoniat" thing there are 8 original tracks.

Finally, "Voltaj" came out on the stage. Singed live, made the people sing with them, and behave how they should had on a concert. The bas guy kept on extracting distortions from his guitar, the vocalist was jumping continiously. Nice show. The second guitarist of theirs gladden me with a piece of clothes he appeared to wear everywhere: on concerts, in videoclips and on tv-shows. You won't guess what it was. A t-shirt with the "CCCP" (USSR) inscription with hammer and sickle. I've got such a t-shirt myself here which I wear from time to time. Having seen it once at a store just couldn't help buying it :) The fact that the guitarist of Romanian "Voltaj" wears such a thing ment for me they're not snobs. Lyrics of their songs almost don't contain English words or expressions, though a lot of "intellectual" artists here like such a practice. After all, the "Voltaj" band is interesting for their lyrics too. Well, I mentioned English, because in the consciousness of a middle Romanian encouraged by TV first of all there is an opinion that Russian is bad, and Engish is good and fashionable. If TV would say something opposite, there would be no problem for him to think inverse. That's it. BTW, once the band wasn't allowed to give a concert in the Moldavian Republic. The authorities there had a motivation that the artists had a lot of equipment with them and could be going sell it :) As fas as I remember the Moldavian communists were already ruling and it was quite stupid to not to let in a foreign band guitarist of which wears a t-shirt with Soviet symbolic.

Only for the readers to be able to know one of my favourite Romanian bands, here mp3s of the coolest tracks of theirs can be found. It's recommended to start listening with "O lume noua" (a new world) and "Tu" (you). The last one is fresh, during several months it could be heard on various radio channels, restaurants and clubs of Romania continuously. Recently on the front page of their Internet site the musicians announced the release of the new album. The site itself is "Under reconstruction" so far, but the text "Din 15 august vei vedea noul site" says that it'll be possible to see its new incarnation on the 15th August.

Having went outside after the disco, I managed to describe the seen with a single phrase "A good band "Voltaj" is, a loud one". Because of 5 hours of music and dances we became a bit deaf. The night life on the streets was going on, and we decided to go night-swimming. It was really suprising to see that a lot of people walking up and down the beach about 4am. In the majority they were couples that went out from a shadow, swam and returned back to the darkness, sometimes gleaming with lighters and cigarettes from there.

Next day an attept to reach "Evangelia" by water was taken. It appeared to be a bit rusty, but still a strong ship with height of a 5-floors house. Yours sincerelly examined the deck, inside bays and the hold. There was an opinion that the kind of ship was called dry-cargo. Hopefully the photos will be ready soon and the most courious of you will be able to verify our version.

The way back started with the usual hurry. Since we didn't time our staying on a beach too well and the train appeared to leave from Constanta and not from Mangalia, we had to get to the port city somehow. First we tried looking for shuttles, but got tired and asked a taxi driver how he would take for driving 5 people there. The distance from Costinesti to Constanta is approximatively about 50 kms, if I don't mistake, and the guy wanted about 400.000 lei (12$) for it. Extremely cheap and easy it was settled. I was was expecting to talk to a provincial taxi driver who would start with unreal sums, like it was in Pascani - the place from which several times I had to get to Iasi. So, this time I even asked him once again if 400.000 was for all of us or just a price for one person :)

Unfortunatelly, we didn't manage to see Constanta since there was only half an hour before our train leaved. But what I like what I saw from a window of the taxi. There were wide streets, buses not of "Ikarus" type, and good illumination. For some reason there were no tickets for the 1st class sold half an hour before departure, and we had to take in the 2nd for 250.000 lei (7$) for a ticket with no places stamped. A ticket-controller who came to us tried to joke - he asked us why we were sitting, because the tickets were "without places" and we had to stand instead. "Ok" - I said, and when he started counting us to compare the actual amount with the tickets quantity, I got my revenge by saying the rest of us were under the seats. It wasn't too comfortable to sleep in the 2nd class compartment, and the two who joined us on the Barlad station made it even impossible by taking their seats. Nevertheless, we got home well, and till now I feel myself great. Thanks to the Black Sea, fresh air, topless beach, "Tatu" and "Voltaj" :)

The summary. It's possible to have a rest here, the conditions are very descent, the sea is clean, tits are various and the prices are ok. For the Russian, Ukrainian and EU citizens there is no need in visa to come to Romania. You'll be asked for a passport and 300$ cash on the border. Just a hint. If someone decides to change the usual crimean-bulgarian-turkish sea route this year after reading this small (huh, small? :) note, I will be glad to hear and possible to publish your impressions here.

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