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All `bout the money

Having money or not having money was hardly decisive for the quality of people`s life during communist times in Romania. Everybody had money, and most people could count on earning wages that were similar to the ones of their peers. The comfort of life was decided by the overall availability of goods, rather than anything else. Having money is one thing, but there also needs to be something you can buy from it. Which was oftentimes not the case in the 1990s. The trend has now reversed. Shops are full, but many people`s wallets are not: a good reason to take a closer look at the way young Romanians think about money.

Posted by Bruno

Spare time is becoming a scarce commodity in current day Romania. The rapid economic growth requires people to choose: jump on board or miss the train. There is no time for bumming around, or maybe there is. Today, I am asking young Romanians what they do when all other obligations have been fulfilled.

Posted by Bruno

Until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the destruction of the Twin Towers, communism was seen as the greatest threat to Western civilisation. The positive sides of the communist system were systematically disregarded or even denied by Western powers. Hidden behind the Iron Curtain, Romania lived both the best and the worst of communism. Opinions about the communist years range between idolization and disgrace.

Posted by Bruno

Work in Progress

I ended my Bulgarian adventures in Varna and will continue my European mission in another `fresh` EU member state. Romania lived through many ups and downs during the 20th century is currently undergoing massive changes by its attempts to lift its economy and political system to European standards.

Posted by Bruno

While Easter is approaching in Western Europe, it is still more than a month away in Bulgaria. Like the Western Christian religions, the Orthodox Church calculates the day for Easter based on the position of the moon. References to the Gregorian and the Julian calendar are responsible for the difference in dates. Here`s a short story about Easter and some of the major other celebrations that Bulgarians observe throughout the year.

Posted by Bruno

Developing tourism

Anybody in Western Europe who talks about going to Bulgaria to spend this year`s summer holiday will probably be looked at in a strange way. Bulgaria does not yet have the reputations of a fully-grown tourist nation, but it for sure has lots to offer: beaches, mountains, monasteries, cave churches, Roman ruins, unspoilt nature and favourable weather conditions, all waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, Bulgarian politicians are not always very intelligent when it comes to taking advantage of these assets.

Posted by Bruno

Just like many other European countries, Bulgaria had only two state-owned television channels before 1990. In those days, Channel 2 only started broadcasting at 18h30 and children had to await the weekend to get to see some cartoons. Between then and now, the media landscape changed dramatically. Most Bulgarian households now have access to no fewer than 60 channels of all different kinds.

Posted by Bruno

Young Bulgarians are probably just as fond of drugs as their European neighbours. Whatever is available in Amsterdam is also available in Bulgaria, but consuming illicit substances is better not done out in the open. Just the possession of a few grams of marihuana is sufficient to get yourself sentenced to a few years in prison. Here`s some Bulgarian opinions on the subject.

Posted by Bruno

Buying favours

Corruption exists in everywhere around the world. In some countries however, it`s a lot more visible and obvious. Bulgarians can still expect to be made pay some extra money whenever they deal with police officers, doctors and teachers, but the situation has improved a lot since the mid-1990s when money could buy virtually anything ? including passports, driving licenses and diplomas.

Posted by Bruno

Sportswise, there is little difference between Bulgaria and most of the other countries I visited after Christmas. Football is sport number one, also here. Much to the disappointment of the Bulgarians, the national team did not manage to qualify for the European Championships which will be held in Switzerland and Austria this year. Fortunately, Bulgaria is not placing its bets on football alone. Bulgaria is used to collecting honorary metal in figure skating, chess and men`s volleyball.

Posted by Bruno