Romania, home of the language most closely related to Latin...left on the 4 pm train in a 3 occupant sleeper, very nice tho a bit cramped...arrived in Bucharest 7 am their time(having lost then regained an hour). We did not have a stop on our way into Serbia to xchg Bulgarian leva so we were very careful to spend or exchg Serbian dinar before lvg. the country. Now in the train depot very early we only had some Euro to purchase Romanian lei so we could get a phone card and call the French women who invited us to stay when we met them in Povliv, Marie Neige and Mathilde. We had tried to call them in Belgrade but were unsuccessful, tho Bon left a message...now here we were able to talk to Marie Neige and she said to get a taxi to the Hotel Ambassador where we met her and she took us to her small apt. where we stashed our stuff and then she took us on a tour via her car of the city! Mathilde we met later where we moved to stay since she has a much larger apt...they are both teachers in a French speaking school here.
After being here for 3 days and getting our leva exchged. and clothes washed and becoming friends with the two of them we are feeling quite comfortable in Romania. It is very western yet there is a huge gap between the haves and havenots,especially the elderly, the later subsisting on less than $3 US per day or less. Having overthrown their dictator(actually killing him and his wife - she being worse than he during "their" reign) of 24 years just 15 years ago and the regime following was not much better, it is only since the last election just over a year ago that things are hopefully looking up. Still bullet holes in building around the square where Ceacescu(sp?) gave his last speech and where they are constructing a monument to the revolution...a "black cross" marks where the first victim of the overthrow died across the street next to an Orthodox church dating from 1400.
We toured the second largest building in the world(after the Pentagon) which was the legacy of Ceacescu...only could view 6 "rooms" out of 1000...he levelled one sixth of the city to build his monumnent to the "people" begun in 1984(he was killed in '89) it is still incomplete...it displaced over 70,000 people from one of the most historic sections of the city...it is already deteriorating.
Architecture in this city is huge,baroque,French,and Roman...an incredible feast for the eyes everywhere!!