8 Weeks, and the Cinema Bug finally caught up with me...

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May 7th 2015
Published: May 7th 2015
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Going to the movies in a foreign country can be an experience - will the film be in English, or dubbed? Will there be subtitles? How much will it cost? Are there concessions? Previews? I usually try to go to the movies while I'm on my various world travels. First, I like movies, and I want to keep up with the good ones. And second, it's a great cultural experience. Some places have reserved seating only - you purchase a ticket for an individual seat (which is how a few theaters in America do it) - or they have a general admission policy (which is how most theaters in America do it). In Romania, I've had both of these occurrences - with The Avengers in Cluj, I could sit where I wanted, though only the front row had enough knee room; with A Little Chaoslast night in Oradea, though, I had to purchase an individual seat ticket, and the system outright lied to me - it said all the seats in the middle were already taken, but I glanced around the small room (60 seats, max), and there were plenty of available seats. Maybe I got the "foreigner" treatment?

Both films were in English - I dare say that 90% of the films advertised in the 2 theaters I've visited were American or British. The subtitles are fun, but distracting. With Romanian, I find that I can pick up some words that might be useful for talking to people, so that's helpful. But even though I don't speak Romanian, or even really read it that well, I still glance at the subtitles without even thinking. They're there, so my mind thinks it needs to read them. I have to consciously will myself not to look at them. The ticket price at the theater in Oradea is a little higher than in Cluj, which surprised me, considering Cluj is so much larger than Oradea. But my theater here is in the mall, and it's got at least 6 theaters inside, and the facilities are much newer and nicer (not just a single theater from the 1980s in the bottom floor of a high-rise apartment building). Even so, I still only paid about $4 for a ticket for a 7 PM show. And concessions? Wow - a 1-liter coke for less than $3, and popcorn or candy for less than that. They're not trying to break the bank here. In America, the cinematic money is made on those concessions. That doesn't seem to be the case in Romania, and I'm grateful for that.

Speaking of the Romanian language, I've been doing some observations, and I find it fascinating. First, it's a Romance language, so it's descended from Latin, like Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, etc. But it appears that they still have noun cases, like Latin (where the noun's ending tells you if it's the subject, possession, direct object, etc), which the other Romance languages lost in the Middle Ages . For instance, in French, if you want to say "the water's" (as in "the water's edge"), you'd say de l'eau - the preposition de + the noun l'eau (the water), indicating possession; in Romanian, you just change the ending of water (apă), so it becomes apei. Another odd thing is that the definite article ("the" in English) is attached to the end of the noun! So, to say "the chair" in Romanian, you have to literally say "chairthe," but that's how they do it. I was seeing stuff like -ul or -uri or -ului on the ends of nouns I recognized, and it finally hit me that those must be "the" on the end. There are differences in the sound from the other Romance languages, as they all have such differences, and they're reflected in the spelling of words. I think that Romanian sounds most like Italian, but only in minor ways. They pronounce the ci- as "chee," like Italians - so cinema is pronounced "CHEE-neh-mah" in both languages. Lastly, every other Romance language I know uses a variant of si for "yes." But Romanian has taken over the Slavic word da - I mean, wow. If you're not fascinated by all this, you should probably not consider a career in linguistics.

So, I've done all the things that I think were worth doing in Oradea (pronounced oh-RAH-deh-a, with the stress on the 2nd syllable). It sprinkled at various times this morning and early afternoon, but I was usually near enough to some trees to make it okay. I don't mind getting wet, but my camera does. There's a little park complex about half a kilometer from my hotel, near the train station, so that was my first stop. They have a Baroque palace that functions as a museum, although
Moon ChurchMoon ChurchMoon Church

The yellow and black orb shows the moon's phases
the side that's not open to the public has all kinds of wonderful graffiti. Next to it is a very yellow Roman Catholic church, but it's being repaired, so I didn't go in. They probably would've wanted money and wouldn't have let me take pictures anyway. Then I proceeded down Republic Street, which has lots of buildings that need to be repaired, too. Between my hotel and the river, though, is a pedestrian area of Republic Street that has all kinds of Art Nouveau (early 20th century) buildings. It was nice to gawk. Once across the river, I wanted to get some pictures of Union Square, since it has bright-colored buildings and an impressive statue in the center. Unfortunately, they're doing some construction there now, and most of it is blocked off. I did my best to get a decent shot, but you just can't get the rubble out of the frame. Right next to the square is the Moon Church, built in the late 18th century. It has an orb on the front of it that reflects the current phase of the moon! And they had an open door, and no admission charge, and no signs forbidding photography. So, I got a picture, the first of its kind in all of Romania. Enjoy that. I walked through the December 1st Park and saw some other statues before heading across the street to the fort, but other than a nice little public garden out front, I couldn't find a way to get inside. So, I hopped on a tram (my first in Romania) and went back to the Mall for the theater.

I saw The Age of Adaline, which I think was just okay. The beginning and ending were a bit cheesy, and I hate voiceovers that provide all the expository material. I get that you only have a certain amount of film time, realistically, and some things you need to straight up tell the audience, but that was not the best way to do it. Everything between those 2 parts, though, was really good. It's a good date movie, so I'm glad I was the only one in the theater - until a group of 3 college-aged girls showed up during the final minute before the movie actually started. But hey, the cinema was running a special today, and I got to see the movie for only $3, and I splurged on a large coke with large popcorn, which together cost all of $3.50 - I mean, I wouldn't believe that if I hadn't experienced it myself. So, yeah - new movie with large popcorn and drink for $6.50 - I can hardly find movies for that cheap in Athens (and I mean just the movie, no concessions) unless I go to the mall theater, which only shows movies that have been out for 2-4 months already.

While at the mall, I took the plunge and bought my first book of the trip - a Romanian phrasebook. I know, I've only got 2.5 more days here, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I wrote all those things about the language at the start of this blog entry this morning, while I was waiting for it to stop raining. And when I got the chance, my curiosity won me over and I got this book. I hope it spurs me to come back to Romania in the future - aside from Cluj, there really hasn't been a place that I just never plan on going back to. And my cabbie last night couldn't stop extolling the virtues of the Black Sea beaches of Romania. There's still plenty to see in this country.

Lastly, my hotel. Okay, I'm only paying about $23/night here, and it's way better than a hostel. I have my own bathroom, in the room, and the tub is the size of a hot tub. But even though there's an a/c unit in the wall, and it turns on, it does little to cool the place down. And yesterday, it got up to 88 F here. The hotel is situated on 2 floors of a building, all around a central open area - it's not called Hotel Atrium for nothing. But when the lights are on in the atrium, the curtains here don't do much for keeping it out. And there's absolutely no curtain over the (small) window that looks out of the hotel. Not to mention the hell-hound in the people's yard right outside my window - I'm just glad it got some sleep between midnight and 7 AM. So, last night's sleep was not the best I've had on this trip at all. The breakfast was meh, but it was included in the price, so I won't dicker about that. The hotel doesn't really have much else, though, so I guess that's why it's so cheap. The reception people speak very little English, and they have no maps or other tourist info. All that walking around I did today? That was from memory after studying the online plans of the city. Unbelievable.

Tonight, I may walk back down Republic Street - they have some bakeries and such, so I might get some good bread or pastries and people-watch. Now that I've got this new Romanian phrasebook, I may get lost in it, too. I already used some stuff when I got a cab back from the mall today - and I think it made a difference. I may also climb into the hot tub and listen to some music with a cold drink. Or I might do all of these things. Last night in town - and I know I'm such a partying fellow...

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