International traveling is a relatively new hobby in Romania. Escaping the country was almost impossible during the 1980s. The economic crisis of the 1990s made it quite unlikely that Romanians would leave their own country for reasons other than finding a job. After the beginning of the new millennium, conditions started getting more favourable. Now in 2008, there are plenty of low-cost airlines flying Romanians to destinations al over Europe, including the many places where their friends and family settled down in the 1990s in pursuit of a better life.
Since 1 January 2007, Romanians no longer need passports and they can freely travel anywhere within the European Union. Their interest in discovering Europe is catching up with the opportunities, which in recent years have only been used modestly. Most of the traveling is done budget-style, which includes using ways that are `too budget to be legal`. Interrail tickets are available at one-third of their original price ? just a matter of having the right connections and not getting caught because the serial number of the ticket is not registered as sold. Popular international destinations for young Romanians include the Bulgarian sea side, Greece, Turkey, but also France and an increasing number of European destinations.
..is looking for a summer job in the USA
Vasile (21) has other plans for the summer. `I am looking for a summer job in Boston. I did the same last year in Virginia. Work as a mover, then try to see a bit of the surroundings during two weeks of holidays. The money I take home will not last until the end of the year, but it does help me paying for my rent and studies.
Work colleagues Alin (26) and Caesar (26) think they will not be able to get enough time off work to travel abroad: `We have only just started working in our current job and we won`t be allowed to leave for anything longer than a few days.` Neither of them really minds: `We still have many things to discover in Romania, and after all, Romania is the country with the most beautiful girls so why go anywhere else?`
Staying in Romania
Florin (25) will have less trouble getting time off: `I`m good friends with my boss, so I should be alright. And the planning for this year has already been made and all of the company will close down for an entire week. If everything goes well, I will either head for the sea or to the mountains with a couple of friends. I have traveled abroad before, but only to Hungary. If I could choose a country to go to, it would probably be France.`
Tobias (21) is planning to stay in Romania to attend two big music festivals: `We will go to Peninsula in Targu Mures, and to a funk festival in Rosa Montana, staying there with tents, so it will be music and camping at the same time. I have been abroad before, but only to Hungary and one time to The Netherlands with my parents. I was only 7 years old at the time and I unfortunately don`t remember anything from that trip.`
Andrea (21) does not have specific plans for the summer. `I think we will go to some places in the mountains with friends. If one of them has a car, we will go by car, otherwise probably by train. Just visiting some places, nothing special. If I were to travel abroad, I would like to go to France. I have never been in another country, but from what I heard and saw, France should be a great country.`
Robert (26) stayed in Romania last year. `I went to the seaside but I won`t do that again this year. It`s too expensive and the services are quite bad. I don`t know what I`ll be doing this summer. Probably visit some friends in another country, maybe in Greece or in Italy.`
Horatiu (21) speaks good English, even though he has never been out of Romania. `And I won`t go to another country this year either`, he says. `I prefer to spend the free time with my family and friends, most of whom live about 100 kilometres from here. I have seen pretty much all of Romania, but I simply haven`t taken the chance to travel to another country yet.`
Many of the people I meet in Cluj want to go to France, have been to France, will be going to France or think of France as their favourite country beside Romania. Cristina (27) is for sure going to France this year to attend her friend`s wedding. I will probably plan some days of holiday around it and would also like to get to Spain for a week with friends.` Cristina has traveled far more than the average Romania, with a list containing the United States, Luxemburg, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Greece. `I used to go out with a guy from Texas so I spent some time there but didn`t like how all the cities so spread out. You can`t go anywhere without a car and it`s not cosy like many European cities are.` Cristina is not a big fan of the way Romanians generally think about traveling: `I like to just grab my bags and go, I don`t like to wait for people who have no money and no time. If I have to, I`ll travel by myself and it`s just as much fun.`
Bogdan (29) and Alexandra (29) will be going to Barcelona this summer: `We will be spending one week in the city, just strolling around. The second week will be beach-week. Romanians are starting to travel more and more and it`s becoming easier to travel as well. There have been direct flights from Cluj to Barcelona for the last couple of years now, and to many other European destinations alike.`
Bogdan does not always feel at ease when he meets Romanians abroad: `There are many of them in big European cities and they don`t all know how to behave. Some are begging and robbing and whenever I notice them, I prefer to start speaking English.`
Peter (21) hasn`t decided on his plans yet, but he intends to go to the Croatian sea side: `It`ll be me and my girlfriend and another couple in the car. None of us has been to Croatia, but some friends told me about it and it sounds like a nice place to go. I would also like to find a job for the summer. If possible one that is related to my studies in electronics and telecom. That won`t be easy, but we shall see. Also, I would like to spend some time with my girlfriend, because I don`t have much time for her throughout the rest of the year.`
Ana (22) and Mihai (23) are thinking of going to the Czech Republic: `There will be a big jazz festival, which is a good excuse to go there. We haven`t been there before, which serves as another reason. We will take one of our father`s cars, if possible, or take the train as a worst case scenario. We don`t like package deals. They are expensive and you don`t get to see much, which is one of the things that makes traveling fun. Many of our friends are now starting to think about going on holiday in another country. Mostly in summer, although some people may also go skiing in Austria. Or to Turkey in summer, while Greece is getting quite popular for honeymoons.`
Theodora (25) has not made any plans yet. Out of the many countries she has been to up to now ? Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy ? she prefers France: `I try to go abroad at least once a year, which becomes ever easier as the number of discount flights is expanding. We used to only be able to travel by bus, which is quite slow if you want to make it far. Romanians are starting to also discover strange far-away islands, but it`s mostly the young and the wealthy, who together only make up a very small part of the population. Many Romanians, especially the generation of my parents, have so far never been abroad. To some, it`s just too far away from their everyday reality.`
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