Bureaucracy at it’s … finest?

Our Christmas story from two years ago, when we travelled 1900km to give birth in a more comfortable environment had quite a tail. 

It’s bureaucratic chaos at it’s peak, I think. Noa was born in the Netherlands, but we were already registered in Romania. On top of that, we all had COVID and weren’t allowed to exit the house, but we did have to report her birth at the municipality within three days. So our daughter has been reported by my mom, as she was the only one on the same address that was allowed to go outside. Luckily we had a loophole like this, but it did start our journey in the bureaucratic maze.

Next, we needed to get Noa her passport, so she could travel back with us to Romania. Another challenge, as either we would’ve had to wait for 5 or 6 weeks to get a first appointment, or we could go to Schiphol, to get an emergency passport. Little did we know that in order to get such a passport, one would need a Dutch social security number (BSN/CNP), which Noa didn’t have, because we, her parents, already lived in Romania. However, we persisted and showed our flight tickets for the end of December and we got her a temporary travel document. 

We changed this in Bucharest for a real passport, so we could register her with us here in Romania, get her insurance settled and start with vaccinations. Or so we thought. 

The insurance wanted proof of Noa not being insured in the Netherlands (all kids are insured with their parents, and we were already insured in Romania, so why would Noa be insured in the Netherlands?) and we tried and called everyone and everything we could think of who could help us. After a year of calling back and forth, someone at our old insurance company said something about the SVB, and we contacted them. Since Noa still didn’t have a BSN (SSN/CNP), this also gave a lot of extra issues, as you need this number to ask for investigation. 

Turned out she was born an orphan according to their administration. However, the first woman who helped us, did help us to work around this issue. Unfortunately, since we weren’t linked correctly, the investigation got an extra delay of 8 weeks before they proceeded after we sent them the additional information they requested. 

End of October however, we got the note that she was not insured and we could try again.

So we went to Casa de Sanatate, and expected another disappointment. However, this time they quickly found Noa in the system, added the document and she was registered. It felt surreal to be honest, that something we’ve been struggling with for almost two years was suddenly all fixed and done.

So as soon as we came back from the Netherlands we tried to register her with the GP, only to find out Noa was in the system as being 101 years old. We got desperate, thought maybe it was the doctor who wasn’t good with computers. But we called people who we knew might know more about it, and they did! Even better then expected… They had endured the same. So again we went to Casa de Sanatate, asked them to manually adjust this and thought it fixed, but on her birthday Noa still was 102. We called, the guy who fixed it for us while we were at the doctor’s, and he could assure her that she was registered right in their system, so she could start the vaccination program.

Of course that was the exact moment that Noa started to sniffle a bit (after 45 minutes inside!), so again we returned without the result we were hoping for.

But last Monday, everything was finally resolved. The doctor called the company that provided the system, they fixed the error for her and now Noa and Cato both got a 100 years younger (I have to admit they looked insanely good for such old ladies!). And, more importantly, Noa finally started on her vaccine-program. Even more important with an outbreak of the measles in the area.

New beginnings

The last item I posted was from January 2021, and the last draft from September that same year. Of course a lot has happened, I mean, it’s been over two and a half years!
Too much definitely to cover in just one post. So let’s split it up. In the next few months, I’ll try and update you on the following subjects:

-my pregnancy in 2021

-the birth of our second daughter in December 2021

-our huge (never ending) to-do list we made for 2022 (and years ahead)

-the opening of the campsite in 2022

-our progress so far in the last two years

-moving abroad and how this affects us

-cultural differences we encountered

-our daily life in Summer

-our daily life in Winter

With these new beginnings of blogposts, I think it’s good to start where we left off, in 2021.
Covid was still an issue. We were recently very disappointed by the seller of a house in Blajeni, and were close to give up on our dream to buy a house in Romania. This wasn’t the first time the seller of a house raised the price after an agreement and this didn’t give us a good impression of Romanian people.
However, shortly after we found another property. Somehow The Internet kept pushing us in the direction of this valley of Buces and after a while Matthias found another house for sale in this valley on some obscure site (to us, foreigners, at least). So in his best Romanian Matthias made an appointment to take a look at the house. I don’t remember exactly which day it was, but we were convinced we had an appointment somewhere after 10 in the morning, they’d be home all day.

Turned out his Romanian wasn’t too good after all. The owners had just returned back home after waiting for us for 2 hours, when we called them at 12.30 to ask for directions, since we ended up in Grohoţele de Sus. I remember we learned a lot of Romanian that week.
Anyhow, the ice was broken and we ended up buying their house. In March we could move in and in June we could sign the papers. Shortly after, the truck with our stuff arrived, and we were kind of embarrassed really. While living in The Netherlands it never seemed like that much, but now that we had a bigger house and seen another way of living, it was overwhelming. True, a big part of the truckload was filled with the yurt we ordered from the Netherlands, but still, so many boxes…  

But in between, life had it’s own surprises to unbox…

How time can move both fast and slow amazes me

It’s been a while since we last gave you an update on this platform and a lot has happened in the meantime.
The lockdown got extended for another two weeks. By the time we got out of lockdown, the Netherlands got in. But we did manage to get ourselves a residence permit, and with that, we could apply for health insurance and import the car. We were warned about the Romanian bureaucratism, but the residence permit was given to us rather fast, which gave us (idle) hope for the health insurance. Remember Asterix getting permit A38? I’m pretty sure this is where they got their inspiration. But we managed to pull through and apparently we have insurance now.
We also went back to the house in Blăjeni, but the owner didn’t want to sign a pre-contract. She already started with getting the paperwork and she expected everything to be ready in March, so it would be a waste of everyone’s time to sign a pre-contract. She trusted us, and gave us her word for it, that the deal was set. We were going to be her new neighbours.
Then we had Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Christmas was very intimate, with just the three of us. But we skyped so much, that I think we had more actual conversations than during a more usual Christmas. And with New Year’s Eve we went to Runc, to celebrate with friends and friends of friends. We hadn’t had such a good New Year’s Eve in years, which probably has something to do with expectations.
Shortly after, we started to actually explore the surroundings of Sibiu. We went to Cisnădie, which has a nice Saxon vibe, and to the Astra museum. This open air museum gives you insight in how different regions each have their own building style and shows how people used to live in the old days. OK, cross that last part, because there’s still plenty of people living like they used to seventy years ago. However, you get an idea of what kind of house would fit in into the surroundings and how to restore or adapt a house in style. We sure had a lot inspiration and a nice walk to go with. If you ever visit this region, this is worthwhile.
Last week we also went to see our future house again, to take some better pictures of the barn. However, things aren’t too clear anymore whether the woman actually wants to sell her home at the designated price to us after all, so we started looking around again. There is still so much for sale in the surroundings, that we’re quite sure we’ll find our dream spot after all. However, with a next house we will make sure they will sign a pre-contract, promising us to sell to us without raising the price last minute.
So there’s a lot going on, and we have no idea where we’ll find ourselves in two months. However, we managed this far, and we’ll get through this just as well.

A house!

Well then, we’re in Romania for five and a half weeks today. The first two were spend indoors, because of the self-quarantine. The second two were thus easily more interesting. We first went out to visit friends in Runc, where Matthias quickly found something useful to do. After that, we made sure that the rest of the time spend in the apartment would be more comfortable than the first two weeks. All in all that already took us a few days in total, especially because we didn’t know where to find everything we felt like we needed.

Then, Matthias took me and Cato to see the valley where we thought to have found a house prior (the one that “they” didn’t seem to want to sell after all), and the valley on the other side of the mainroad. Both were stunning. One of these was definitely going to be our “backyard” if we had anything to do with it (luckily, we do). We left our phonenumber with a passerby in valley nr 2.

We were given a contact from someone who kind of rolled into doing the work of a real-estate broker. If anything was for sale in valley nr 1, he’d know. We were a bit pessimistic about it, since there was nothing on olx, the Romanian marktplaats or craigslist. Then how would he all of a sudden know more?

Turns out, he does. And not everything for sale is on olx, or even properly online. In short, we found something. And as soon as we get out of lockdown (Sibiu is in local lockdown for two weeks), we will sign the pre-contract, so as the current owner can start the procedure to get the papers in order for selling. To us. And then, we’ll have a dreamhome in disguise.

It hasn’t been lived in for 30 years, and you can tell. The walls are ok, but the ceiling has had some serious damage when a tree fell through the roof (years ago, the roof is fixed, the ceilings aren’t). There are bats living in what used to be the kitchen. There’s been dug a hole in the livingroom by something. The paint needs some serious touching up, and the plaster needs fixing on the outside of the walls. But the foundation is good. And since we probably would have wanted to change everything about every house we would’ve bought, it’s probably for the best that there is no plumbing yet. Yep, no bathroom, no kitchen (as we know it), but two wells and a little stream. But hey, location, location, location.

This winter we will still have to remain in Sibiu, since it’s undoable to live in this house as it is with a 7 month old baby. This Spring we will set up a yurt to live in, while changing the rooftop of both the house and the barn. The barn will then be transformed into three studios and facilities for camping guests, after which we’ll work our magic on the house. We’re excited!!

The road goes ever on and on

So here we are. I’d like to say we left Monday morning, but it was almost 2 pm before we picked up our cats and set off for Romania. However, we never travelled this road this fast. There were a few roadworks, sure, but they didn’t cause the usual traffic jams. And we passed a few borders along the road, which usually is a sure resting point. This time, things were more formal (we had to sign a quarantine-form), due to Covid, but because less people were travelling this road, the waiting time was very, very short. (Except for trucks, their line was a few kilometers both ways) All in all it took us an astonishing 19,5 hours to drive from IJsselstein to Sibiu. The cats were happy it was over, Cato had slept pretty much all the time. We were exhausted.

And then we were in Sibiu. A lot of people ask us: what does quarantine mean in Romania, can you still go grocery shopping? Well, no. But just like in the Netherlands, they deliver groceries to the door. And, unlike in the Netherlands, they deliver within the hour. And of course there is the option to order take away. Yay.

So we’re kinda stuck here at the moment. No big deal so far. We’re tired and happy to get some well-deserved rest. If all goes well, we can go outside again next Friday. And then at least we’re so much closer to our next home, to our goal. Yes, I think it’s fair to say we’re happy.

Are you nervous?

Before today I’d definitely answered that question with a positive “No”, but suddenly things start to creep up my mind.
Two weeks to go ’till D-Day, and so far I’d managed to stay stressfree (or at least I told myself) by thoroughly planning three different scenarios. Plan A, B and C. You might as well consider them F, G and H for all I care, because no, our current plan A wasn’t The Original. Sounds annoying, but it gave me the ease of mind that we’d figure out an entirely new plan if things would change.
And things do change again. We keep an eye out for all corona-related news, so we can swiftly adjust if needed.

In the meantime we’re thicking off boxes of our still expanding To Do list (mostly just getting more detailed really). We’re rounding up projects and try to empty our pantry and fridge. We’ve said goodbye to a lot of people and made some treasurable memories along the way.
Most of our stuff is packed now, which still leaves us with an awful lot to pack next week. However, the end is in sight. A nice prospect.

I’ll be happy when we’ve tackled this first hurdle. By then, we can start to realise how nervous we actually were now. But to keep our sanity we’ll still answer the question above with a firm “No”.

About the headers (Part 1)

While C. is asleep on my chest, I seize the opportunity to tell you something about this website.

At the top of this site, you’ll see a photo. What photo exactly, I don’t know, beacause it’ll change as soon as you refresh the site. (You just did it, right?) But of course these photo’s aren’t chosen at random. They’re chosen because they represent aspects of Romania that we liked, that we fell for. That made us decide to move there.

For instance, there is this picture of a red rooftop cabin near a lake. It’s a weatherstation in the middle of the Făgăraș mountains nowadays. The lake is called lake Bâlea, or more precise Bâlea Lac. In summer, this lake is accessible through the Transfăgărașan (another one of the photo’s), a motorway that was called the most beautiful road in the world by Topgear (season 14, episode 1). That road is also called Ceaucescu’s folly, because he insisted this road from the south to the north was build, so that if war ever broke loose, he could transport his army from south to north or the other way around faster. Fourteen, mainly young people were killed building this road, but eventually Ceaucescu had his way.

Apparently he really enjoyed this birdview of the valley on the northside, ’cause now he also wanted a summerretreat in the mountains, near this beautiful glacierlake. One was build for him and his close ones, another for the staff. Nowadays there are three cabins, all with a red rooftop: one weatherstation, one mountainresue station and a restaurant.

Another picture is taken in the centre of Sibiu. You see a few old houses with peeling paint in the foreground. It gives us a mix of a medieval/ south European/ old German vibe. It’s a lovely town to discover if you’re ever in the neighbourhood (all is relative). The town has a friendly looking marketsquare and a nice museum (Brukenthalmuseum) with a lot of art and biological objects on display. It even has a few Dutch painters in the collection.

There is also this picture of Râpa Roșie, or Red Ravine. Natural erosion has given this place it’s characteristic red, rocky appearance. It’s quite big and definitly something to see for yourself. Though it’s a bit hard to find and you need a robust vehicle to get there, it’s a lovely place for a little hike and a picnic.

Now that C. has waken up my attention is needed elsewhere. Next time I’ll tell you more about the photo’s and about the name.

4 Weeks until departure

Just 4 weeks until we leave. Tickets are booked, the apartment settled and we put some of our stuff aside which we think we might need the first couple of months. The rest of our belongings goes into storage and will follow as soon as we’ve found a house. While packing we need to make sure what goes into which box, so when we need something a bit earlier (tools etc.) we can easily grab it from the storage and take it with us before the big bulk is coming.

That big bulk will be brought to us with a transport company, for which it’s needed to have a, kind of, detailed list of all our belongings. Now I’m OCD’er enough to have a very detailed list of all our books, but the rest of our stuff is going to be quite a big job. How to describe all those memorabilia etc? Besides, I already packed a lot of stuff when we were selling our house, but what’s inside those boxes, you tell me. That’s going to be a tough time digging my memory, which isn’t at it’s best at the moment. (On the positive side: it’s going to feel like Christmas XL while unpacking in a few months 🙂 )

There’s also enough stuff we say goodbye to, like plants. Time to tidy up the rooftopterrace and clean out the gutter. But also time to collect the last few items from our parents house, and return things we’ve borrowed. Finish up a few final projects, so we can either take it to Romania, or leave it here with others. Does this part sound a bit chaotic? It’s still fairly organised compared to what’s going on in my mind.

In the meantime we also say goodbye to people and places. Sometimes by going to places we’re familiar with, sometimes by finally trying that one particular restaurant. The Kleischuur in Gouda, for example. Really good, mainly vegetarian and beautifully laid out food for a fair amount. Such a shame we didn’t even try this place before.

All in all no need to get bored yet.

First steps

Hi there, so nice of you to join us here!

We are a Dutch couple with a babygirl and two cats and we are going to move to Romania. Things are getting pretty serious now, and more and more people ask us to keep them updated. So here we go.  We’ll try and update as soon as there is something to update about, but no promises. 

This’ll be our journey. Are you with us?