I have gained a little bit of explorer confidence and I am straying further from my zone of comfort near my apartment in Unirii Boulevardul and the bus route to my school. I have discovered that around every street corner there are more straight, tree-lined streets with similar mushroom-grey or cream stucco-like faded apartment blocks. Most rows of apartments have small neighbourhood shops on the ground floor, some with newsagents, hairdressers and florists, others with gambling halls and patisseries selling petite pretty cakes.
I have found a super-market that I like more than all the others. It was a small walk from my place. To get there I cross over the six lanes of traffic in the main road and walk over the tram-lines in the street behind it. The tram lines are comforting and bring a kind of untidy order to the street. The clatter of the trams is pleasing and if you care to ride, which I do, the noise and jolting of the trams is not unpleasant.
I like my new supermarket because it has a pleasant plant shop in store, an in-store patisserie and because it is spacious and it has imported chocolates and rather expensive, health foods. The aisles are wide and not too tall. No-one has told me off there.
I don’t like the large Carrefours very much, they are tall and cavernous and resemble cold warehouses. I don’t need a huge shopping cart as I am only shopping for one. Today I visited one as I was looking for tea-towels and a thick duvet. On the way out, I annoyed the security guard by not wanting to go out of the shop into a multi-storey car-park to get out as I wanted to go down into the fruit and vegetable area downstairs, by walking back through the store. However, this was not allowed. I tried to surreptitiously enter the store again, but the guard would not let me. Instead he escorted me into the multi-storey car-park and walked me right out and pointed me towards the lift. We spoke crossly to each other in our different languages, me saying that I did not want to go into a multi-storey car-park and he telling me that he did not want me to come back into the shop, I suppose. I did not resume my vegetable shopping in Carrefour as intended.
I found a lovely boutique clothes shop in Lipscani in the Old Town. The shop has colourful junk jewellery and an array of over-sized large cardigans, vintage looking hats and designer tops and dresses which are put together at intentionally strange angles. The shop has a lovely white and ginger cat with a cute basket basket in the shop window and the ladies who work there seem charming. They are around my age, wearing vintage style hats and angular knit-wear. The smell of sandal-wood incense increases the ambience of the shopping experience. As I entered the shop, I announced my English presence as the cat went out of the door. I told the ladies that the cat had gone out. The lady smiled and said, “Don’t worry she will come in again when she wants.” It was pouring with rain outside. I admired the long woollen cardigans and heavy dresses, rather expensive but appealing, in the style of artsy teacher ladies. I chose a black scarf as I think I will need more than one scarf this winter. I thanked the ladies in Romanian, and they kindly laughed at my token Romanian attempt.
In other news, I have adopted the Romanian breakfasting tradition of buying a small pretzel like pasty called Covrigi on the way to work. The price of this item was 1.5 lei at the start of the week which is around 29p, but by the end of the week it had gone up to 2 lei, which is 39p. My confidence in ordering the item in Romanian has increased each day, mainly because I can read the name of the pastry in the window and practice the transaction in a real-life setting.
My workplace has installed a new coffee machine in our ramshackle staff-room, which was greeted with great excitement and approval by all of the staff -team.
The machine seems to be very hi-tech and it has coffee-beans in a see-through container at the top of the machine which really impressed us all. Nobody seems to mind paying 1 lei for a tiny cup of coffee. From my point of view, the day does go more smoothly, knowing that I don’t have to source a cup of coffee from elsewhere and I am certain that productivity and morale has increased greatly as a result of this simple initiative.