I arrived in Bucharest when it was dark, and managed to find a bus and navigate the metro system while thoroughly exhausted and slightly undernourished. (Really, Austrian Air, I have a dinner choice between chicken or ham, and your snack is chicken salad?)
I started to fall asleep on the bus, and as I dozed off, that demi-sleep stage started turning the Romanian spoken around me into similarly sounding English words. I woke myself up when I said “California” out loud. Alone at night, deliriously tired and vitamin-deficient are probably not the best circumstances under which to form an impression of a new city.
Upon exiting the subway at my stop, I immediately had my first encounter with one of Bucharest’s infamous feral dogs. Note to fellow dog-lovers in Bucureşti: Don’t make eye contact. (Most of the dogs I saw avoided humans, but some, like this one, are ANGRY at you.)
The descendents of family pets left homeless during Ceauşescu’s demolitions, the dogs have been a perennial problem for Romanian officials, whether because of the annual thousands of reported bites or Romania’s aspiring integration into Europe. Cullings have been enacted, proposed, prohibited – and protested. Animal rights groups such as PETA and IFAW have launched campaigns against mass lethal injections, and even Brigitte Bardot defended les chiens.
Kelli Schaefer – Black Dog
I got used to seeing them, though, and they didn’t seem to disrupt life too much. They did, however, disrupt my sleep – the barking was incessant at night. And an epic argument a few houses down from the hostel at midnight set off a “101 Dalmatians”-style barking chain reaction. The argument, between a man in a flashy sports car and a woman and her friends on the balcony, included 25 minutes of heated Romanian screaming and various objects thrown at the car. I eventually fell asleep (although I needed the help of my new iPod and Miles Davis).
Miles Davis – Flamenco Sketches