Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Volunteering and Exploring Bucharest

Volunteering has always been near and dear to my heart. I have volunteered all over the world with all different organizations: Cross Cultural Solutions, IVHQ, ect... This time I decided to branch out and try a new organization called World Vets. They are an organization centered around offering free spay and neuter surgeries to low income families and whatever-street animals they can nab off the streets. With over 500,000 stray dogs in Romania, it is a country that is in dire need of vet-care.

I flew into Bucharest a few days earlier than the Veterinarian Team so that I could play "Tourist" in City Centre - City Centre is the oldest part of the city, consisting of many churches and historic buildings. Sadly most of the city was ruined by World War II bombings and what wasn't ruined in the bombings, was later demolished by Communism ...... My taxi driver was my first introduction to Romania. He was so nice that he unplugged the Taxi Meter and offered to drive me from place to place for free. I figured that it was too good to be true, but it wasn't..... He drove me around for two hours playing tour-guide, I tipped him 20 USD, it was a great introduction to the city.

Everything in Romania is quite cheap (it is about 1/4th of what our dollar is worth), I had many choices when it came to finding a place to stay. I decided on a private room at the Little Bucharest Hostel right in the middle of the City Centre. My room was on the fifth floor. I had to carry all my luggage up never-ending flights of concrete stairs. But the VIEW was WOW! So worth it - Copper rooftops and dozens of historic buildings that went up in the 1700s.

There is so much history in this city - But like I mentioned earlier, so much of it has been lost. During the 1980's, Romania became increasingly anti-religious with the Community movement. This movement meant that any monument that reminded the people of their traditions and past had to be razed to the ground or, at least, hidden from public sight. This was the case for churches, which carried a lot of symbolism for Romanian people, and which started to be demolished one by one, along with entire neighborhoods. Seeing the architectural massacre, a group of people tried to convince the Communists that it was better to simply “hide” the churches from public view. A major contribution to winning this argument was a technique developed by construction engineer Eugen Iordachescu. He enabled entire buildings to be literally moved from one location to another, sometimes hundreds of meters away from their original location. Eugen saved dozens of churches this way.

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