1). "Romania? I hear the food there is terrible."
I cannot be emphatic enough to adequately disprove this one. The food in Timisoara is excellent. Meat, especially pork, is usually the main course, with potatoes or polenta on the side. Meat is especially enjoyed in Timisoara now because of its scarcity under Communism. Delicious ciorba, or soup, can start a meal. What I have had has been flavorful and slightly "soured" with lemon or lime. Then salate de vinete, or eggplant spread, sort of like babaganoush, as an appetizer. And of course, homemage sausages, or mititei, with mustard and bread. Everything I've had has been hearty and excellent. But nothing compares to papanasi, my new favorite dessert. Papanasi is a fried doughnut with cheese and sour cream sauce and jam. It may sound simple, but trust me, it's mindblowing.
Pork, chicken, and polenta
Pork, chicken, potatoes, and pressed cheese
Beef and gorgonzola sauce with grilled eggplant and mushrooms, half eaten. My mom and I couldn't wait to dig in.
Our dinner table at Casa Cu Flori (House of Flowers) Restaurant
My beloved papanasi
2). "If you dress like that in Romania, you will get kidnapped".
Firstly, in my defense, OnStL is a casual office and I dress appropriately. Secondly, this myth was only mentioned in jest. Nonetheless I thought I should address it. Timisoara is a young city, due in part to the university here and in part to the availabilty of new and entry level jobs. Timisoara is also cosmopolitan, probably the most cosmopolitan city in Romania. Apparently this combination has made Timisoara a hotbed for painfully beautiful women. They're everywhere. I can't imagine any locals were phased by a singular young American woman. And kidnapping? I think not.
3). "Romania will be much, much different than Western Europe."
I had the privilege of living in Madrid, Spain, for a few months and travelling around Western Europe during college. Tmisoara is indeed a bit different than a major Western European city, but not in any of the ways people told be it would be. Timisoara is quaint and quiet. Anyone who has been to Paris or Barcelona knows that those cities are NOT quiet (ever). Timisoara is also cheaper than Western Europe. Romania hasn't adopted the Euro yet, and 1 Romanian leu (RON) is worth about .29 US dollars. So a 100 RON meal? about 30 US dollars. But walking through the beautiful Piata Unirii or Piata Victorii in Timisoara, it is easy to forget you're not in Brussels or Madrid.