Between worlds:

From America to Romania

October 25, 2013  |  By Brian Kim, United States

Between worlds:

Photo : Wiki Commons

I arrived in Bucharest at nine in the evening, leaving the airport just in time to catch a glimpse of the setting sun. As a luminous glow descended through the wispy, feathery clouds and sank beneath distant horizon, I became keenly aware of the fact that, despite hailing from the second sunniest state in America, I had never before seen a sunset so breathtaking.

On a road trip from Bucharest to Brasov, the journey has as much to offer as the destination. Brasov is located in Transylvania, which literally translates to “across the forest.” Looking out the car window at the picturesque scenery of Romanian countryside and the Southern Carpathian Mountains, I immediately made sense of Transylvania’s etymology.

The rural areas on the way to the city were filled to the brim with natural beauty. Endless stretches of open space and sprawling swathes of lush green grass covered the countryside, providing a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of an urban lifestyle. In a city, pollution contaminates the air and large buildings dominate the skyline, stealing from us such simple pleasures as the rise and fall of the sun. Here, nothing stood between nature and me.

As rural became urban, I soon felt a tinge of reluctance to leave behind the peace and quiet of the countryside. Being taken away from the greenery, with its soothing and relaxing effect on the mind, was like being rudely awoken during a pleasant dream.

But Brasov had its good points too; it certainly wasn’t your average city. The stark contrast between tradition and modernity was evident everywhere. Cultural restaurants lay right around the corner from McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Fortified churches stood alongside apartment complexes built during Communist times. People walked at a leisurely pace on packed streets.

Beyond common modern day conveniences like electricity, sewage, and paved roads, Brasov boasted delicious food, friendly inhabitants, and a busy nightlife. Living in the city seemed to offer the best of both worlds, as it took only a brief drive to reach the countryside.

But it was also apparent that there was progress to be made. Paint peeled off buildings that were in desperate need of renovation, begging children held out their hands, and stray dogs wandered the streets.

However, the future is still bright. As the city continues to develop and the countryside struggles to exist, what lies ahead will depend on whether or not Brasov can strike an appropriate balance between the two.

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