Roaming Romania, Take Two

Old Nov 17th, 2014, 02:14 PM
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glad you're back with us again thursdaysd - but 78 steps? oh my.
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Old Nov 20th, 2014, 09:20 AM
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<b>Oct 13-16, 2014: Timisoara - Even Homer nods, but I <i>need</i> AC, all torn up, near miss</b>

Timisoara surprised me, because I quite liked it. Of course, when I planned to visit, I expected to like it, but after Cluj and Oradea my expectations had been considerably lowered. Then, there was an unexpected hurdle in even getting there, a bad hotel, and to cap it off, two of the town's three squares were undergoing a comprehensive renovation. So the fact that I still quite liked the place is actually high praise.

The transport problem was particularly annoying, as I could have avoided it, if the Deutsch Bahn website, which I have relied on for years for train timetables all over Europe, had not failed me. Truly, a stunning surprise, although it failed again, later in the trip, in Italy. This time, it told me that I could take a direct train from Oradea to Timisoara, but when I tried to buy a ticket for that train on arrival in Oradea, I learned that it only ran on the weekend! Therefore, I had to change trains in Arad, which I had no interest in seeing, and whose train station turned out to be in the midst of a major renovation. I am sure it will be a great improvement when finished - pieces of the first escalator I had seen since Bucharest was being installed - but meanwhile only the outer reaches were functional.

The hotel I had booked, the Savoy, was convenient for the city center (although not for the train station), but seemed rather tired. Worse, the AC in my room wasn't working. According to the front desk AC wasn't working anywhere in the hotel, since they had switched to heat some weeks before. I should open the window.... Right. With the temperatures in the mid 20s and a south facing room, that was a lot of help. The one night I spent there, it took until 23:30 for the room to become habitable. The other central hotels were full, so I moved to a pleasant if dated Best Western out near the train station and learned the bus system.

Walking into town from the Savoy I crossed a bridge, and then could hardly believe my eyes. Timisoara's Metropolitan Cathedral, rising out its surrounding trees, looks more like a fantasy castle. Or possibly a Saxon version of St. Basil's in Moscow. Either way, it significantly improved my mood, which was further raised by the delightful promenade (really, not a square), Piata Victoriei.

Piata Libertatii and Piata Unirii were also on my agenda, but were almost out of bounds for pedestrians because they were being resurfaced. So I spent quite a lot of time on Piata Victoriei, drinking coffee during daylight hours and something stronger in the evening, when the central fountain was bathed in colored lights.

I did do a little sightseeing. The citadel disappointed, having been over-renovated and now housing shops and cafes (maybe a preview of what Oradea's will look like when finished). The Permanent Exhibition of the 1989 Revolution held my attention longer, once I finally found it. It was unsettling to see streets I had just walked disfigured by tanks, bullet holes and even dead bodies. I considered taking a bus out to the Banat Village Museum, but since I had started limping, rather badly, and had already seen the village museum at Sibiu, I passed. I figured the limp was due to a dip in the pavement I had encountered a few days previously. Of course, I often have foot trouble when I travel, but this time, instead of a side-to-side injury, it was front-to-back. Still meant I was limping, and made going down stairs difficult.

Timisoara was my last stop in Romania, and I'm glad it was a good one, as on balance I had enjoyed my time in the country. Trains to my next destination, Szeged in Hungary, were not plentiful, and I needed to catch one at 7:30 unless I wanted to arrive in Szeged after dark. I planned to eat a quick breakfast and leave my hotel by taxi shortly after 7:00. So why, I wonder, did I set my alarm for 6:45 and not 5:45? An internal protest at getting up so early, perhaps?

Fortunately, another part of my subconscious woke me at 6:30, and since I had mostly packed the night before I was actually able to shower, dress, finish packing and eat something by the time my taxi arrived. Fifty minutes after leaving Timisoara I was back in Arad, but this time I got to stay on the train, although we did not go far before we stopped and spent another fifty minutes on passport and smuggling checks. Ten minutes later I was in Hungary.
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Old Nov 20th, 2014, 05:02 PM
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That first glimpse of Timisoara's Metropolitan Cathedral sounds entrancing!

And those moments when an internal clock saves one from a strategic error are priceless, aren't they!
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Old Nov 20th, 2014, 11:33 PM
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well, thursdaysd, though I've been fascinated by your take on Romania, i don't think that it's made it to the top of my "must visit next" list.

and i'm so sorry that your foot problems are continuing!
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 04:20 AM
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I am a bit surprised to hear you went to Timisoara. I thought it was a gritty industrial city where the revolution to topple Ceausescu began: interesting to see the bullet holes in the walls etc. I always like to see Where History Happened. That's what I thought as I walked through Bucharest too though the pace of regeneration is such that everything is disappearing overnight and the city resembled a building site when I was there 2 years ago. Sounds like lots of cities in Romania are similarly undergoing reconstruction. This doesn't make for easy sightseeing and it is always disappointing to arrive somewhere and find it all dug up.
Sorry to hear of your continuing foot problems but I expect things will look up once you get to Szeged.
I guess this is the end of Roaming Romania... is there another TR which will take us from Hungary onwards? I would like to read what has happened in the western half of your travels! Where are you now?
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 07:48 AM
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Well, the revolution did begin in Timisoara, but I didn't know it was supposed to be a gritty industrial city. More an outpost of western influence. No bullet holes in evidence now.

Thank you for the concern about my feet! They finally started behaving around the Graz - Ljubljana time frame. I am now in Nice, and just did five kms or so on Cap Ferat, so they are much better!

I was thinking of doing a "Happy Returns" TR for the rest of the trip, but am in two minds about it as I didn't go anywhere unusual. I will be blogging.

@annhig - don't move Romania too far down the list! I only went to part of the country on this trip, and Maramures and Bucovina in the north are well worth seeing. From this trip I would recommend Bucharest, Brasov and Siniai, Sighisoara, and Timisoara (after the renovations are finished, lol!), and Targu Mures if it fits in. For photos of the north, see:
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