Aldi’s ‘Perfect Aussie Christmas’ takes place in … Romania! (Budgie smugglers included)

The fortified Saxon church in Biertan, Romania. Photo from Wikipedia.

The fortified Saxon church in Biertan, Romania. Photo from Wikipedia.

It’s not often that you get a Romanian connection in Australian television advertising, but here’s one. German grocery retailer Aldi has produced an advert about the “Perfect Aussie Christmas”. It’s supposed to be set in a (fictitious) Scandinavian town called Julbacken, but the real life location in the advert is Biertan in Transylvania, Romania. According to some reports, the centre of the nearby town of Mediaș was used in filming too. However, the most scenic bits, in which you can see the historic fortified Saxon church (pictured above), are definitely set in Biertan. And yes, you can hear Romanian in the advert too.

The ad looks at the sort of things an Australian might do over Christmas (where it is bloody hot at the time of the year) and transposes them to Europe (where it is bloody cold). Hence there is a surf lifesaving team dressed in “budgie smugglers” * – the swimwear much favoured by our Prime Minister (and Bernardo too, I might add, when he does his  swimming). And there are demonstrations of cricket games and impersonations of hopping kangaroos.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the “Duni” wooden shack is, that is a “dunny” – an outdoor toilet. For some reason, in early Australian housing, the dunnies were set up in isolation away from the rest of the house, usually right at the bottom of the back yard. Going to the toilet in the middle of the night must have been laborious, and scary for the kids.

Here is the advert in which Romania is looking good …

Unfortunately I did not get to see Biertan on my visit to Romania last year. The language course I did there included a cultural outing from Sibiu to Sighișoara (the other famous Saxon citadels in the region) but not Biertan, even though it is only about 10km off the main road. I believe Biertan is now included in the itinerary. I will do it next time!

* The Urban Dictionary says budgie smugglers is ‘Australian slang term for men’s tight-fitting Speedo-style swimwear. The ‘lump in the front’ apparently resembles a budgie when it is stuffed down the front of someone’s shorts.’

Going from Biertan to Sydney, Australia, here is a fun look at budgie smugglers … and you can see why Australia is such a popular destination for Europeans at Christmas time – the beach and surf looks fantastic. I’ll smuggle my budgie this summer.


Useful expressions in Romanian, like oral sex tomorrow, perhaps

View of Sibiu

A view of Sibiu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am currently in Sibiu, a picturesque city in Transylvania, doing a two-week language course and really enjoying it. Because the pupils come from all parts of the world, our teacher and text books explain the finer points of Romanian (and believe me, it needs a lot of explaining) in both English and French, and there are Italian and Spanish people in the class as well, so four of my five Romances languages are getting a good airing. I am trying to chip in with a bit of Portuguese too.

I am supposed to be doing homework daily, but of course one has to explore the city as well in the cool of the evening and then one has to eat … I have just had a “Transylvanian Pork Feast” washed down with a glass of nice Romanian red wine, countered by a “cafea” – coffee – and it has just gone midnight, so I don’t know how much I can do before my attention wanes. We will see. I will jot down some of the things I have found most useful since my arrival in this country on Saturday.

Romanian has some accents that are difficult to locate on a non-Romanian computer, namely s and t with commas underneath them – ş ţ – to give a hissing sound – and little hats sometimes on a and i –  ă â î  – giving them more of an “uh” sound, a bit like a groan which you might utter if you are punched in the stomach. However, often Romanian themselves don’t use these accents (more out of laziness in informal contexts, such as when sending an SMS or an email) and some text books, I note, use an ă where others use an â, so expect a lot of confusion and frustration with these.

I have already covered the verbs to be and to have (a fi şi a avea) here in the post “Being Romanian gets the knees up…” and have given some of the common greetings here in the post “Limber up for the limbă română”, where I seem to have got my accents wrong. Or, more accurately, the text book that I had in front of me then had different accents than the ones I have in front of me now.

Here, in no particular order, are some other useful sayings:

  • Habar n-am = I haven’t a clue/I have no idea. Great for when people ask you for directions, or when your Romanian teacher asks you something.
  • (Eu) aş vrea o bere I would like a beer.
  • Aş vrea încă o bereI would like another beer.
  • Ceai cu laptetea with milk.
  • Scuzaţi-mă / iertaţi-mă, nu vorbesc românăExcuse me / pardon me, I don’t speak Romanian.
  • Vorbesc engleză, vorbiţi engleză? I speak English, do you speak English?
  • O zi bună / o seară bunăHave a nice day / have a good evening.
  • Nu face nimic / nu-i mimic / pentru nimicThat’s OK, it’s nothing, no problem, etc etc.
  • Bine v-am găsit!Nice to see you again. (Literally, so good I found you).

Lastly, something you should be aware of. Mâine means tomorrow, but the combination of vowels makes it very difficult to pronounce (there is no exact equivalent in English, it’s a bit like “muh-weeny”), and Romanians often laugh when they hear a foreigner say it, because foreigners (străini) often mispronounce it as muie, which means oral sex. Once you are told this, you become so nervous and self-conscious about getting the former right, you try too hard to say it correctly, that it inevitably comes out wrong. All I can suggest is if you are talking about tomorrow, do it discreetly in hushed tones.

Pe mâine – see you tomorrow!