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TTF Talks: A Romanian experience

I have known Kévin for a year now as we are workmates. I have always appreciated a foreigner coming to live in Romania and I was curious to find out how he would define and describe his Romanian experience. So, here you have a full and honest presentation of a Frenchman on the Romanian land.

For a start, please introduce yourself and say how long you have been in Romania. What do you do here?

My name is Kévin Raynaud. I am French and I have lived in Romania for almost a year now. I teach French at the University in Timisoara.

View over the Danube Gorges in Romania
The Danube and the Iron Gates

What did you know about Romania?

It is not my first experience in Romania as I already worked in Bacau, on the other side of the country. Hence, I knew already quite a lot about Romania, but not the Western part.

What is better and what is worse than your expectations?

I love the kindness of Romanian people, the way they are open and nice towards foreigners. Every person I meet has a story to tell, and it is very easy to communicate. About the country, I like the fact that the beautiful places aren’t crowded with tourists, some of them are still very wild.

On the other side, the infrastructure is often quite bad or even absent, and some people will try to scam foreign tourists (taxi drivers, for example).

The Romanian experience: Ochiul Bei
The turquoise water at Ochiul Bei

Where have you been in Romania? What were your favourite places and why?

So far, I have visited lots of places: Moldova (Bacau, Iasi), Bucovina, the Black Sea with Constanta, the Danube river with Tulcea and in the South (Orsova, Drobeta-Turnu-Severin), Craiova, Timisoara, Arad, Oradea, Transylvania (Brasov, Bran and Rasnov), Cluj, Alba Iulia, Sighisoara and recently the Maramures region, and some others… Of course, Bucharest also.

It is hard to choose one place within all these as I love all of them, but the kindest memories are from the Danube Delta in Tulcea. This place is like a dream, full of wild animals and incredibly beautiful landscapes. For cities, I really like Timisoara and Brasov, the most beautiful cities of Romania in my opinion.

The Romanian experience: the Danube Delta
The Delta is heaven for birds
The Danube Delta is rich in fauna
Bird in the Danube Delta

What about the stereotype saying that Romanians are very hospitable and friendly?

To be honest, that is a stereotype that I have heard in almost every country… as everyone wants to persuade themselves about how hospitable they are! So, I wouldn’t call it a stereotype, as people that never visited Romania don’t know about it.

This comment aside, as I said previously, as a foreigner you are generally very well received in Romania, you will meet a lot of nice people that will ask you about where you are from and why you are there.

What do you believe about driving in Romania ?

I must say it is not the easiest country to drive in, especially because of the poor quality of a lot of roads and the uncaring behaviour of many drivers. But it is not the worst I have ever seen either!

Please tell us three things you like about Romania.

The people, the language and the covrigi (some sort of pretzels).

Covrigi are part of the Romanian experience
Home-made covrigi here, but Romanian covrigi can now be found basically at every street corner; photo:

Please tell us some things you dislike or some negative experiences you had.

Overall, only two things really bother me in Romania: the really low quality of a lot of infrastructures (not as much in Timisoara, but still) and the uncaring behaviour of some people (that you can find in any ex-communist country).

What is your favourite Romanian food?

I love Romanian food, but as I said before covrigi got my heart. Simple, yet delicious dish, with so many possibilities.

Would you recommend the country to your friends?

I already have, and most of them visited me and fell in love with Romania, as I did.

What could Romania do to be more visitable?

Invest in infrastructure, in tourist information and directions (it is sometimes ridiculous), realize it is a wonderful country.

On the other side, it is quite nice to enjoy visiting Romania before it becomes a touristic country as a lot of drawbacks come with it.

Brasov is a must when visiting Romania
View from Brasov downtown; photo: Ana Partene

Can you summarise your experience in Timisoara and give some recommendations?

I have had a great time in Timisoara, as I had everywhere in Romania. The advice I would give to anyone visiting is to not hesitate and talk to Romanian people for a complete experience.

Another tip is to travel by car: even though the roads are sometimes clumsy, traveling by car in Romania is already a trip. You’ll get lost into beautiful landscapes and it will be a much greater experience than traveling by train/bus.

Now after spending this time in Romania, what is the general and most powerful feeling that Romania gives to you?

I feel very good in Romania, like home. I don’t feel like a foreigner or out of place. I feel a lot of love for this country.

Timisoara is part of the Romanian experience
Timisoara; photo: @aleks_lunev

What are some of the misconceptions you most often hear about Romania and how do you feel about them?

A lot of people confuse Romanians with Gypsies and I always get very angry with this misconception as it is simply stupid to confuse two definite people from two different continents.

What do you like about Romanian culture, history, customs? Please give us some examples. 

I love how Romanian people still have a lot of traditions and customs and they are proud of them. The young generation continues to follow the traditions and it is very common to meet people with traditional clothes or to witness a traditional concert with music and dance.

I also love Romanian language. It is a unique, beautiful, easy and complex language that is always a pleasure to my ears.

Thank you so much Kévin for your feedback!

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