The Smell of Thyme – Romania Through the Five Senses

Here is the article  in Calatorii la Singular.

It has a very special feel to it, arriving at the Henri Coanda airport in Bucharest. It is highly probable that  many can relate to that feeling, be it expatriated Romanians or Romanias coming home from holidays. It has that ‘Romanian feeling’ that  completely absorbs me, wakes me up and excites me. Romania is a creative and dynamic place where I  constantly feel curious about what is next.   Lust for life is an understatement in this context ! Romania is  a place where all my senses come alive fully!  It is a sensual place, indeed. 

Read more about my personal experience with a country that came to be a second home for me.



Spring smells in a certain way. It smells of flowers that are blossoming and  it smells of the cool winter air being exchanged with warmer spring air. Yes, the air do smell in a certain way in Romania. When I come from Sweden and arrive in Romania it smells comforting and it is as Romania wish to say to me “ You are here now, you can relax”.  It is a soothing, embracing, calming smell and it tells me that I am in a warmer place than Sweden.

When walking around in Bucharest  I am often struck by the smell of perfume and after shave and I love it !  The smell of perfumes or  after shave  enhances an individual’s personality and Romania has a lot of interesting, intruiging, individualistic  personas  ! It is actually like going out to the theatre or watch a movie, when walking around the streets of Bucharest.  In Sweden we are sometimes too politically correct to use perfume and aftershave much, in public places. In Romania it is the opposite I love feeling the smell of Ermenegildo Zegna, when a man walks by, or the fantastic flowery wind in the air when a woman, who put on Chanel passes by, ready to impress the crowd  in the street life of Bucharest.  It gives zest, flair and exuberance to the city picture of my Bucharest.

Let me know tell you about another memory with regards to smell. The smell of cimbru, thyme. A dear friend of mine once sent me a big package from Romania to Sweden , with different food. It was for Christmas. Imagine me going out in the evening, to meet the bus coming from Romania. It was dark and cold, rainy and horrible. There I was, by myself, at the  bus station. When I got my package my expressionless face turned into a huge smile and my heart started to sing and dance. I could actually feel the smell of cimbru, thyme,  before even opening the package! The strong smell of thyme came with a message from Romania, to keep on dreaming , to keep on doing what I do with the rebranding of Romania, to keep on spreading the inspirational stories from there.  It was so much love and happiness in that package !  I am ever so thankful to have a friend like the friend who sent me that package.

Other smells that I connect with Romania is leustean, gratar on a Sunday afternoon, the making of ciorba de pui, Rom chocolate, and sarmale that is ready to eat.


Romania is colour. The contrast is, that Romania abroad is depicted in grey, brown and black. Romania abroad is dressed in negativity, and traditional massmedia has created  a discrepancy between  what  we see of Romania and what it really is.  Romania is Voronet blue, Carpathian forest green, Dobrogean sunflower yellow. Romania is a painting in pastel as Sibiu and it is passionate red -and it is multi coloured as expressed in traditional clothing. I see a Romania as a rich  and  abundant country. Rich in majestic mountains, rich in a delta culture and wildlife, rich in traditions and folklore, rich in legends and stories, rich in spirituality, rich in a still-alive village life where people live in synch with nature, and most of all, rich in humanity.  When I am in Romania I connect with my own humanity.  That’s how I see Romania.


The most intense sound for me, is the heart beat.

I hear the heartbeat of Romania, all the way to Sweden, every day,  and it makes me over the moon happy and deeply sad at the same time. Happy because I love my Romanian life when I am there and sad because I am not there every day.

I hear a fascinating language that sounds like the a river flowing. Sometimes hard, extreme and fast. Sometimes soft, gentle and elegant.  Romanian is a language that triggers my imagination. How did it develop , a Latin based language, in the geography where it lives . One needs to study history to find out the answers. I love the sound of the words ‘dor’ , suflet’, ‘dragoste’, ‘te iubesc’, ‘frumos’, ‘cu drag’,’draga’. I long for the day when I will actually understand the words of Eminescu.

Other sounds that I associate with Romanian is the sound of cow bells. I remember them from my visits to Transylvania. It is lovely to see the cows come home in the evening and you can hear them from distance. It is the sound of humans, animals and nature in harmony.

Something that I don’t think most people know is that I listen to Romanian radio every day. I have a few Romanian radio channel apps, downloaded to my smart phone. It makes me walk with ease and delight when I have my earphones plugged in and  I walk to a meeting, or if I put a Romanian music radio channel on, when I cook dinner at home, in the afternoon !

When I am in Romania I love to watch people talk in the streets. In the beginning I thought my friends were constantly angry with each other when they spoke, but then I understood how they spoke with each other with heat when heated up by the subject, with humor – eh….most of the time , with love and compassion when talking about a family member’s struggle and so forth. I hear different voices being used, representing different feelings and emotions , and I bathe in those  sounds.  In Sweden we hold back to not let too much feelings out and I never fit in that frame.


What does Romania taste like ?

It tastes the same as  poetry sounds to my ears.

Ciorba with the distinct taste of leustean on top.

Sarmale with branza , mamaliga and smantana.

Salata de vinete


Salata de boeuf


Fresh tomatoes with red onions, white cheese and chili.

Sunflower seeds.


An array of different melons.


Fresh fruit and vegetable from the garden



Oh, did I mentioned sarmale ?


Touch is the most painful sense for me, to write about.

Imagine loving somebody so much it physically hurts when you are not together. That’s how it feels with Romania and I.

Romania touched my soul when I was there as a teenager in 1985, and then Romania stayed and never left me. I find it hard to explain, but I will give it a try.

Romania touched me in such a way that I feel that I wish to  live life extraordinary every day because of what happened with me after I came back in 2011. It was as Romania was predestined for me. Written in the stars, if you wish to call it in that way. It was meant to be. Romania and I.

Romania shook me up and  challenged me in some  ways. I needed to revamp some of my previous look-outs and thinking about  things, especially everyday life things. I developed more sustainable habits. My approaches on  openness, leadership, creativity and who- to- trust also got challenged and later developed. I needed to grow more of me, and so I did. There is more of me now, there is more colour in the palette and there are more skills, thoughts, feelings, experiences that makes more of me. Only because Romania touched me.

Romania’s touch is so intense ! It is sometimes caring and calm, sometimes sensual and dramatic, sometimes simply beautiful in it’s natural way, 

My dor for Romania is so strong and my whole body recognize its touch  every day. It is the longing to a country that stirs every emotion inside me and made me more complete as a human being !

I thank you deeply and I hope that one day I will come and stay permanently !

Cu drag,


This text was first published in Calatorii la Singular. 

One thought on “The Smell of Thyme – Romania Through the Five Senses

  1. Dear Ms Yvette,

    I read this article in some Romanian newspaper and you made me cry. I love my conationals, but unfurtunely you are cursed with thid politicians that just sell the country piece by piece. Now I’m looking for another job, maybe it is Norway…but my soul will remain in Romania…

    Have a nice day 🙂

    Cu drag,


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