Last year on this date, I was in Pennsyltucky (er, Pennsylvania) at my grandparents' house, where I had some good ol' American cookin' and then watched fireworks in the park. Right now, I am in Bucharest, sitting in an office on the top floor of a cool old Romanian villa, with the radio playing a special July 4 broadcast (seriously!!) featuring songs like "Born in the USA." Actually, aside from a few things in the office - like a couple of newspapers written in Romanian and coworkers speaking Romanian - I could easily be somewhere in the US right now. It looks like the production department of an ad agency anywhere.
But I'm here, and I'm sure you all want to hear about it, so I'll stop messing around and get down to it. I arrived Saturday afternoon and Vlad's dad met me at the airport and drove me - at breakneck speed - to Cornu, a town about an hour outside of Bucharest where they have a summer home. Upon arrival I was greeted by Vlad's mom and hugs and kisses, but dad said, "MATCH! MATCH!" and we raced into the living room to watch England v. Portugal. I was exhausted and the match was really boring so I dozed off a bit, but after dinner I was wide awake again and prepared to be the only one cheering for France. Vlad's dad and his friend Lica are both ardent Brazil fans, and they were very sad when Zidane showed his true greatness and kicked some serious Brazilian butt.
Sunday was spent lounging and eating. The weather was deathly hot here last week, but it rained the day I arrived so now it's much cooler, though it's still sunny and warm. Sunday evening we returned to Bucharest and I was given the keys to an apartment (the one in which I stayed during spring break with Anosha and Kyoko) and a car. Vlad's parents rock. That night I met some friends for dinner at, of all places, a restaurant called Tapas Y Vino. Well, I guess that'll be the last Spanish food I have for a while. After dinner I ended up in a club somehow with Mihaela, who works at the company where I'm interning, and a number of her coworkers were there because the party was sponsored by one of the company's clients.
Around midnight I decided I ought to get to sleep, but unfortunately the strange noises outside (was that a VAMPIRE??!?!?!) and being in a new place kept me from getting any rest until about 4am. So much for being rested for my first day! The good thing is, I didn't really need to worry because my supervisor kind of forgot I was coming yesterday, so I waited for a long while, had lunch with Mihaela, waited a while longer, and finally decided to call it a day.
Today, on the other hand, was a vast improvement. I didn't get lost on my way to the office (yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get here, today only half an hour), I was shown to the production department and introduced to some colleagues, and I even have a desk and computer to use while one of them is away on vacation. Brilliant! I read through some treatments for some ads that will be shot this summer, checked out some budgets, watched some directors reels, and well now I'm ready to call it a day. A nice way to start. I think I'll be staying here for the week and then I'll move on to the production company next week.
Tonight I'll watch the Germany / Italy match at an outdoor terrace with a huge screen near the apartment, and I figure I'll do the same tomorrow night for France / Portugal. And speaking of soccer, I may even have found some guys that play on Thursday nights, thanks to another friend of Vlad's. Apparently they usually have a strict "no women" rule (they run away from their wives to play soccer) but I'm used to this and I'm looking forward to the challenge. They must be in desperate need of midfielders...
So that sums things up so far. Bucharest is simultaneously beautiful and grungy, and I like that about it. There are still bullet holes in some buildings from the revolution and there are mangy dogs wandering around the streets, but there are also incredible buildings and very friendly people. I'm looking forward to getting to know the city better and learning how to pronounce the name of the park next to my apartment, which I've been trying to do for 4 days now. Maybe by the end of August I'll have it figured out.