Euro shop: Miniprix finds

Those who know me know that I enjoy a good shop. This is not to say that I love spending excess amounts of money. To the contrary, I love to shop sales and find great stuff at a good price. This is my thing. I knew that my shopping in Ro. would be limited. Cata warned me that the quality of many products is low, the prices are high, and sales are rare. Fortunately he was a bit misinformed on the shopping here- there are some good deals. Miniprix sells clothes, shoes, and accessories; some of them have slight imperfections/defects. Today I scored an Old Navy pea coat ($13 USD) , leather nude ballet flats ($10 USD) and gorgeous leather riding boots ($26 USD). As far as I could tell my items are perfect- as was the price.


We've just returned from a week long stay in Mediaş , Romania. It is a town of about 65,000 people in the Transylvanian region of Romania. Meeting family and eating new foods (everyday) took a lot of energy. By the train ride back all I wanted was to have a meal placed in front of me that A) I recognized B) could pronounce C) knew for certain that I liked. Whining aside, I was really happy to meet Cata's mom, Viorica and the rest of the family.

Highlights of the trip:
-Drinking plum brandy at a table with Cata's uncles.
-Drinking fantastic Romanian wine (also at the table, frequently)
-Fresh made bread daily
-Visiting a village founded before America was discovered.
-Sitting in Cata's hometown Greek-Catholic church. Just briefly- we didn't catch the full 2hr service. Whew.
-Seeing a beautiful Romanian landscape through my train car window.
-Eating rooster heart. It was in my soup, as I was a special guest.

Now for the fun part, the trip in pictures:

Traffic jam on the drive back to Medias (coming from another village). Honking helped.

Scenic drive to the village of Zlagna, in Sibiu county, Romania. Strange to see the sky match the ground exactly. Sun, what sun?!

Billa is the big grocery store in town. It is about a 8 minute walk from Catalin's mom's house to the store. Saw these boys on the walk over.

This is the city center. Not seen in the picture is the quad where there are trees and benches.

Downtown Medias.

Downtown Medias.

On the train. The trip is shorter by car but we dont have one of those. Train it is! 7hrs one way. Yikes.

lunch at tushi doina's

Tushi Doina (tu-shee doy-nuh) is Catalin's aunt. Tushi translates to 'aunt' in English. I met her briefly on my first day here. Usually Cata goes over to his aunt and uncle's house each Sunday to share a meal and talk. I was excited to finally meet Cata's family (ok and a little bit nervous). The meal she prepared was so beautiful. The table was set with fine crystal and spirits. I felt overwhelmed that she had done all of this work for my visit. It was a very special feeling to be welcomed in such a way. The photo below was taken before we began lunch. It was the first course, followed by the main course (sorry no pictures of that one).

What a meal. Everything I ate was new, different and homemade. As luck would have it the first thing I tried was the most shocking. Ham wrapped around pure horseradish looked innocent enough. One bite and BOOM my eyes began to water, nose began to run and everything in me wanted to spit it out! Luckily the fire in my mouth subsided with a few gulps of mineral water. Whew...I think everyone got a good chuckle and the meal continued. I would say the Romanian meatballs were one of my favorites. They are called chiftele (keef-tele). They are fried meatballs. Yum. Following that we had a main course of Şniţel (shnit-zel) and salad. The snitel is composed of thin slices of chicken or pork breaded and fried. I was surprised to discover these two Romanian dishes consist of fried food.

Prior to this meal Cata and I stopped by an "office warming party" for an up and coming Romanian magazine called Decat O Revista. The founder of this magazine, Cristian Lupsa , is a Mizzou alum. The mafia is stronger than you would think in Bucharest. haha. Try as we might to bring a gift to the party, Cata and I could not find a store that sold just office supplies (and was open on Sunday). That is one big difference compared to America- in the US if you can think it, you can buy it! Here, stores are not as specialized or alternatively do not offer a wide range of products. There is no giant chain that sells just office supplies (Office Depot, Staples, etc). Here it is tougher to find the things you need. Also online store presence is almost non-existent. I suggested to Cata that we buy a phone book. Kickin' it old school over here.

Below, a picture of Cata and I at the park. Yesterday's weather was unusually warm. His uncle told me it is spring-like weather (in the high 40's). The sunshine felt great.


welcome flowers

We shot a music video today. Replace is a rock band whose members are all good friends of Cata. They asked us to help with their music video and we happily obliged. The video took place inside of Casa Presei Libere. It is a communist era building that housed the "free press". Today it is mainly office space and still home to many news outlets. Still the structure feels oppressive when you're standing in its shadow. Perhaps it is the thought of its history is haunting.

Above: After the shoot we grabbed some gyros. Best gyro I have ever had. I was surprised with these flowers as a welcome to Romania from Cata's friends. They look lovely in the apartment.


Mexicanca translates to Mexican (female) in Romanian. This Mexican female was ready to cause a revolution in Bucharest yesterday. "I refuse to believe that there are no tortillas of any kind in Bucharest" I told Cata. How could it be?! My chicken taco dinner, already half prepared, was in peril. The chicken and rice were taken care of, we just needed tortillas. You know that aisle in the grocery store that has international foods? Almost non-existent in Bucharest.

Things were looking worse after I realized that corn flour, used to make corn tortillas, is not created equal. Normal corn flour will not work, it must be Masa (the corn is treated with lime before being ground). I was more than willing to make my own corn tortillas if necessary. No Masa at our local Carrefour. Luckily we found flour tortillas sandwiched in between lots of Asian food products. Success! Taco night was saved, although I still have a craving for corn tortillas.

*UPDATE: Tonight we stopped by the market and picked up limes (instead of the lemon we had yesterday) and sour cream. They made all the difference. Taco night round two was even better. Yummm

just arrived: phone pics

I've arrived. My journey was long and stressful at times but I made it. So far I have been in the city for two days. It is a big city with lots of beautiful architecture. Things have been very busy here. Lots to do and take care of when you move to a new country. I am very glad that we got my cell phone on the first day. It is my first smartphone, I love it already. Here are a few shots I've taken so far. I promise more sophisticated photography in my next post. I really want to show you the beautiful buildings around town.

Couldn't leave the states without my trusty collapsible hand basket. This grocery store is a couple of blocks from the apartment.

Silly me taking pictures of beer in the market. They are 2 liters- HUGE. I couldn't believe it.
American Fail. Got a happy meal tonight. Goal is to limit any kind of Western food to once a month.
First day in the city I walked by this sign posted on the door of a clothing shop. "Why does it say USA?" I asked Cata. He laughed at me, "It says please close the door" USA=Door in Romanian :)

To Romania with love

All my bags are packed I'm ready to go...
Above: The Esparza family, January 9th 2011.

My story:

Girl meets boy.
Love strikes.
Boy moves to Romania,
girl (now engaged) follows suit.

I'll be living abroad for the first time in my life beginning January 11th 2011. Follow this blog if you want to see my adventures.