On Romanian Language & Culture

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Bucharest, Romania Triumphal Arch - Bucharest, the capital of Romania, feel like a baby Paris. It's not a coincidence. Paris inspired the Romanians.

Hallelujah! That’s what I shouted when I first entered Romania. It was September 2004 and I had spent the previous four months traveling in countries that spoke languages that were either Baltic, Slavic, or Martian (i.e., Hungarian and Albanian).

For many moons I was hopelessly illiterate: my knowledge of Romance languages was useless and my ludicrously simple Russian was futile.

Finally, I found an Eastern European language that felt familiar and easy. Sure, I only understood about 20 percent of it, but Romania felt like a Latin oasis in a Slavic desert.

The Romanian language brings up the tiresome defining Eastern Europe debate again. We’ve primarily used geography to define Eastern Europe, although we’ve also considered Eastern Europe’s common historical connection to communism.

Still, there’s another way to draw Europe’s east-west dividing line: using the Catholic-Orthodox borderline. In that case, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, and Slovenia would all fall on the Catholic side, while Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, and much of the Balkans would fall in the Orthodox camp.

Religion in Europe: Map

Francis Tapon
Francis Tapon is half Chilean and half French and he was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He's been to over 80 countries, but he keeps coming back to this magical city because he loves earthquakes.

He spoke Spanish at home, French at school, and English everywhere else. He can get by in Portuguese and Italian, barely survive in Russian and Slovenian, and speak a few other languages.

Francis has an MBA from Harvard Business School and co-founded a successful Silicon Valley company that did robotic vision. He left his technology life to walk across America four times. He has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which "features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors."

Francis has written a couple of travel books including The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. He also produced a 77-minute video about his CDT Yo-Yo.
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