Very early, I dressed and traipsed to the supermarket because I had no milk for my coffee. Milk comes in bags here. I'm always afraid they'll tip over and spill everything but, in fact, they're pretty well-constructed. I settled in and drank my espresso with milk and a bit of sugar and read for awhile.
I met Florin around 1pm for lunch but neither of us was very hungry so we went to a coffee shop called "The Living Room" and had a coffee. After an hour or so, we went down the street to a rather fancy restaurant for my birthday lunch. We had a typical appetizer, kind of like antipasto, with tomato and cucumbers, olives, a couple of kinds of cheese and several kinds of ham or salami, and a semi-hot yellow banana pepper. It was accompanied by chilled tzuica which is plum brandy and quite strong. After the appetizer, I had a dish with chicken leg, roasted red peppers, leeks flavored with a piquant mixture of soy sauce, worcestershire and balsamic vinegar. It had a nice bite and was served over rice. We drank the house Romanian red wine which was very good. We finished with, you guessed it, cappuccino (I've been spelling it wrong throughout this blog)
We took a long walk in increasingly heavy rain to see the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral. We got there towards the end of a service. The service was well-attended but not crowded. I am really sorry I can't show you pictures of the inside of the church because it is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. Here is a picture of the outside:
We stayed till the end of the worship then walked a ways to a small monastery church but didn't stay long because it was crowded and dark.
We walked to see the Parliament building, outside of which Florin had given a speech during Pride. It is a huge building dominating a hill. It was really too late in the day to be taking pictures but I have this one that I tried to clean up a little bit.
We had been invited to a small family gathering and took a taxi there, arriving around 7:30. Our hostess, her mother (a psychiatrist), another couple, Florin and I, had a wonderful evening of eating and visiting. Often the conversation swirled around me in Romanian and I could only pick out words here and there, sometimes enough to get the context but I didn't feel strange or left out. I was really comfortable among kind and welcoming people. I had another glass of tzuica and then contented myself with apa minerala, the ever-present sparkling mineral water.
I arrived at the apartment around midnight and had skype calls with my sister in Florida and my good friend, Naida, who is looking after my house and cats in NY. I text chatted with Reid, my grand-nephew and Paul for a half hour or so and then went to bed, fully satisfied that I had had a memorable birthday.