The Unfinished Buildings

This week, my companion and I drove through Romania in order to reach a spa resort known for the thermal springs common throughout the area.

We visited for a few days, and it was well worth the trip. The mishaps and adventure time stories are coming in the near future, but first I wanted to talk about something I’ve consistently noticed about our travels through the countryside.

It’s the the bizarre amount of unfinished brand new buildings spread all over the place. It’s not a case of driving through poor neighbourhoods, I’m talking about all the empty buildings I’ve noticed in clearly fine areas, top locations next to major transport intersections, pleasant villages and so on. You’ll have all these amazing villas with flower gardens and fancy cars next to abandoned foundations. Classy-looking hotels situated in between near-finished buildings that are already being claimed by  animals and plants. Not old buildings forgotten about (although those exist too), it’s the modern buildings that catch my eye.

They finish buildings around here as often as I finish courses. *depressed sigh*

I’m not entirely sure what the reasons are for it. I’m told a possible reason is from corruption. At various times, politicians in charge of area renewal and building projects seem to have overlooked the conflict of interest of awarding the contracts to themselves/family, then seem to ‘run out of money’ with mysteriously little work been done and are never actually forced to finish them. See also: sketchy construction companies running off with money.

I’m also informed by others that at various points, housing has been outrageously cheap to invest in initially, but financial downturns caused made it cheaper to just accept some sunk costs and abandon work. There are also laws about the rights to build on land, where sometimes people start building something, then apply for permission to do so, don’t actually get it, meaning they need to abandon the project.

Whatever the cause, it feels strange and very obvious once you’re aware of it. I know in any area, no matter how nice, current construction is inevitable, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The first few times we drove out of Bucharest, I just assumed that perhaps only certain areas were going under these kinds of renovations, then someone pulled the plug, but nay. It would make for a deadly drinking game, spotting them. (For car passengers obviously, not the driver. I’m not a monster)

It’s not really convenient to jump out of a moving car to take pictures of them, and I suspect stopping the car would not have been a popular option either. But assuming I saw an average of 2 per minute of travel, you probably don’t have time to see 150 pictures of buildings either. Nor did I set out with the goal of talking about bad buildings, oddly enough.

I’m sorry. Here’s a pangolin to compensate for my failure.

It’s such a stark contrast, driving through towns and villages seemingly designed with pure whimsy thinking “wow, look at this fairy tale village… aaaand there’s another floor and a half worth of bricks and a rusty wheelbarrow”.

It also seems like a shame, so much potential for places to live that are just wasting away.

“Let’s have this in between the nursery and the fruit stalls.”

I know the reasons for them are probably mundane and boring, but it’s just a quirk I couldn’t stop noticing everywhere we’ve gone, and quirks are part of what makes exploring new lands interesting to me.

Ah well, next time I’ll actually arrive in Călimănești, home of many monks, swimming pools, and constant suspicion that the person next to you may have just passed some foul wind.

Sayonara for now!


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