Part 8:
Horses, dogs and markets

Tne thing that was a riddle to me for a long time were certain shouts or rather a singing I could often hear from my windows. When I finally asked someone I was told, that it were people, usually Roma, who went through the city with horse carriages to collect used metal people didn't need anymore, to build new things to sell in the markets. Romania's own recycling system, I was told with a certain pride.

Horse carriages are not an uncommon sight, even in the centre of the city. The major streets are off limits to them, but in the side streets one can see them every now and then. And once one goes to the countryside, they seem to still be the major means of transport in some of the smaller villages.
To some foreigners at least, the so-called "caru??" has thus become almost a symbol of Romania, a fact that is not liked by all Romanians. On an earlier visit to the country I had gotten into an argument with an old man in the town of Bra?ov, who saw the picture on my guide book - a city sign of Bucharest together with a caru?? in a red circle - as an insult to his country. "It portrays us as backwards", he said.

The street dogs, that I had heard so much about, on the other hand, never caused a problem to me. According to a newspaper, some 70 people get bitten daily, but apparently that happens more likely in the outskirts of town. Of course I saw dogs, especially when I left the immediate centre, but they seemed to mind their own business, as long as I minded mine.

I have always liked markets, and Romania has quite a few of those. In Bucharest, the one tourists are most likely to visit is the central Piata Amzei. It is somewhat overprized, but pretty. Before one gets to the stands selling different fruits, vegetables, flowers and similar things, one passes people without an own market stand sitting by the street and offering just one vegetable or one type of flowers, or other small things, while sitting on the ground.

A lot bigger and cheaper is Piata Obor, but I went there only once. Here it seemed, almost anything was sold. I was warned to watch my bags there, and the atmosphere was chaotic indeed, but that exactly made it fun. The markets I liked best though, were the ones I found on my visits to the countryside - but that is another story.

U.H., 2005, Berlin

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