Michael Fraser interview
Last week, Duncan shared his funny experience from Romania. This week we’ll discover the story of Michael Fraser.
Michael Fraser was born in Belgium to a Military Scottish Father and English Mother, now only having a British passport. Spent his young life in Germany and studied from 11-18 years old in Loughborough – England.
At the age of 32, he is running and co-owning a 3 level pub/club & pub called ’Mojo’ in Centrul Vechi in Bucharest. It has been open since October 2009 and is still going strong.
Michael Fraser interview:
1. When and how was your first visit to Romania?
I first came to Bucharest on the July 4th, 1999 for the summer. I came because my father worked in the British Embassy and as I was still at School, I had my first opportunity to come here during my summer holiday. My first day was fantastic, starting at the American Ambassador’s residence for 4th July celebrations. Then onto what was a great bar/terrace called ’Sydney’ in Piata Victoriei – after that is pretty much a blur, as was the rest of the summer, all I know is that it was fantastic. A 17-year-old in Romania for the first time, having no idea what to expect, seeing the girls, the beer prices etc… The reasons for loving this country have changed a little since then though 😉
2. What made you stay in Romania? / Why Romania?
After my first summer in 1999, I came back for both Christmas and Easter holidays when I could leave from school. From the summer of 2000, I decided to take a year off from University and spend it in Romania….
3. Did you come alone or with someone?
The reason I am here is that of my parents, but they left one year after I arrived and… I stayed.
4. How was your experience in Romania so far? / Tell us about a little about your experience in Romania.
I have been here close to 15 years now and have invariably loved every minute of it. I can pretty much guarantee that I have had a more fun and experienced life than anyone I went school with – I am sure they would begrudgingly agree with me 😉 I myself worked in the British Embassy for 9 years before I got into the bar business. As anyone knows, Romania isn’t the easiest place in the world to run a business, especially for a foreigner but, 5 years later we’re still very much here. I have traveled all over the country and what a beautiful place it is! Every Romanian should at least be proud of what they can offer to travelers – I just wish we could promote ourselves a little better. I especially love living in Bucharest because we are 2 and a half hours away from the seaside one way and 2 and a half away from mountains the other way. Not many capital cities in the world can offer that.
5. I assume it was challenging to move to another country. Have you given up to something?
I am very much an open minded person so the move really wasn’t that tough. I had my parents for the first year and have gained a lot of friends along the way. This is my home and I am very happy and proud to say that!
6. What was the hardest thing to do after you came here?
Learn the language! I am still learning now. I speak Romanian but not half as good as I would like to. Languages and us Brits don’t mix well – that’s my terrible excuse anyway!
7. What made you fall in love with Romania?
When I first arrived… I cannot deny the obvious contributed to my desire to stay here, I truly do love living here and have met some amazing people along the way, some assholes too but they probably say the same about me 😀 of course, the nightlife, the parties, the beautiful women, the weather were reasons to stay but it was much more than that also. Romania is my home and I like/dislike it for the same reasons as most Romanians.
8. What is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Romania?
9. If you’d had to leave Romania, what you would miss the most?
Life! I cannot imagine I would have the same fun exciting life l live now if I lived somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked very hard for the life I live and continue to do so. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Of course, I have had lots of encouragement from my wonderful parents but I have worked hard to be in the position I am in now. I have been flat breaking living here most of the time but still managed to have drinks with my mates and go partying – that and rent is where all my money went. I am reasonably comfortable now but anything can change so I will work hard to keep Mojo as good as it can be!
10. Some people say Romania is ”different”. Why is that?
Romania really is different! But different can also be a good thing! Romania was very different to any place I had lived before but it’s a fantastic country with wonderful people.
11. Romania would be a better place if…
…people on the outside knew how great it is!
12. I think many people said to you ”why would you go to Romania” or ”where is Romania” and so on and so forth… If someone would like to come to Romania what would you say to them?
”Come! Don’t believe what you read in the papers or watch on TV. Romania is special – I have been here for 15 years for a reason!” My friends wondered why I was here but then came to visit me – they now know why!
13. If not Romania, then where?
Don’t really know. Maybe America!? Or in a grave six feet under….
14. Do you have any funny travel stories?
I am sure I have hundreds. People tell me I should write a book because of all the stories I have gathered along the way. The problem being, I don’t remember half of them because they probably happened when I had had one or two drinks J Every year I go to Vama Veche for first of May – What a weekend that always turns out to be! If someone filmed my friends and me for that weekend down in Vama then this would be a lot easier to write 😀
15. What’s next?
I plan on staying in Romania for some time yet. To continue to make Mojo a brand and a success. To stay happy and hope that they stop taxing staff their hard-earned tips 😉