Monday, June 15, 2009

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

To paraphrase Axel Munthe (The Story of San Michele), there is a Toronto qui s'amuse, but if you happen to belong to the Toronto qui travaille (loosely speaking here), it becomes another matter. A sizeable part of our editorial board is away. The other, left behind, is just green (which, in a different ecological context, and along with frugal, in the same contextual crisis, are the in mots du jour, at least for now).

We've always planned to post lifestyle articles in this blog. Many business magazines and their Web sites have such a section. It shows you what you can do with the money you made investing (while subliminally promoting that warm fuzzy feeling that anyone can make it, and big), or perhaps what you're missing because of the money you lost investing. Today, we're optimistic.

Here's a brief report put together from the latest generous dispatches from the field sent by the above-mentioned globe-trotting segment of our staff.

Viennese café on a tranquil Saturday morning
Viennese café on a tranquil Saturday morning

Remembrance of verses past:

  Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women...
  There's a lobby with nine hundred windows...
  There's a piece that was torn from the morning
  And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost.

  Take this waltz, take this waltz,
  take its broken waist in your hand.

Cappuccino at a Viennese café
Cappuccino for one cup and two mouths, €7

That's exactly what you do when you find yourself in Vienna's airport with five hours on your hands. You put up €16 (return ticket) for the CAT and in as many minutes you're in the heart of the city, on the Terrasse.

Bega Canal, Timişoara
Bega Canal, Timişoara

Silviu Brucan is remembered for his 1990 contentious Nostradamic moment, when he asserted Romanians would need 20 years to become accustomed to democracy. Timişoara, for one, seems to be already there, when comparing it to even a couple of years ago: the city is clean (Bega Canal included) and full of flowers, government buildings underwent renovations, new construction shows taste, and everyone is busy working (On Corso, yours truly and the local retirees being the exception). And cars, only recently an impossible luxury, have become a necessity in the new capitalism.

Democracy is coming to Romania. The miners charter gave way to Vienna charter flights...
Crişcior, Romania
Crişcior, Hunedoara County

The green motif at its pastoral best. Outlasting the golden one, just as rich, of yesteryear. It brings to mind the opening lines of the ballad Mioriţa (here in the translation of W. D. Snodgrass):

  Near a low foothill
  At Heaven's doorsill,
  Where the trail's descending
  To the plain and ending...

The pristine air, the distant barking, the roosters' early-morning proclamations complete a picture that sends you back in time to an innocent, now seemingly unreal, childhood. "I sometimes stop and call to mind the customs and people there used to be in my part of the world at the time when I had, so to speak, just begun to put a foot over the threshold of boyhood." — Ion Creangă.

Cluj-Napoca from the distance

Back to business. One Canadian dollar buys you 2.6 Romanian lei (RON). An issue of Fortune magazine will set you back RON 33, so you may feel a bit richer with just Ziarul Financiar, or the new Forbes Romania. In a debate on B1 TV the consensus was that another 20 years and 500 billions (mainly for infrastructure) are still needed for Romania to reach the level of the Western world.

RON 600 in four days on restaurants, cigarettes, cabs, and books seem by all accounts money well spent.

Alba Iulia
Transilvaniei Boulevard, Alba Iulia

Oh well. Summertime. And the bloggin' is light...


  1. The world is indeed tiny by internet standards.

    Thank you financialtactics "qui travailles" for this excellent post.