First Impressions of Romania :) Timisoara!

Riiiiiight… I did it again. Another looong unexplained disappearance. So without wasting time on apologies and excuses, and promising that it will never happen again (because you and I both know it will 😉 ), let me just get on with it.

Romania alternately amazed me and disappointed me in equal doses. Since I had a ‘marvelous’ experience right at the airport when I was entering the country (which involved a scary looking immigration official yelling his head off at me… Delightful), you can’t really blame me for being the teensiest bit prejudiced and expecting, pretty much, nothing.

Well, much as I was hoping to be proved wrong, Timisoara didn’t exactly change my views. There was a lot of unexpected snow, and I’m not a winter lover. Why I didn’t do my research before going there is a question I still ask myself. But then I’m an advocate of the whole ‘unplanned’ thing. So I guess it was more fun that I got smacked in the face with a figurative snowball the moment my flight landed.

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So my trip started going downhill right when I left Milan. They told me at the airport that I couldn’t go on because I didn’t have proof that I was going to leave, unless I bought a reservation. Once that was done, I assumed my troubles were over. But, no. I had my encounter with aforementioned immigration official a few hours after that. And after that, trudging through the snow in the city centre, I had no hostel reservations and the person I was supposed to couchsurf with was suddenly not reachable (I don’t exactly remember what happened… I think the server was down, or there was no wifi, or one of our messages didn’t reach the other).

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After shivering in the snow for a few hours, I gave up on couchsurfing and went to find a hostel. Quick Google search + Google Maps, and twenty minutes later I was in front of Hostel Costel. THANKFULLY they had room, and the hostel was nice and non creepy (that’s not something I can say about the hostels I stayed at in Rome. Shudder!!!).

There were no free walking tours I could go for, so I just decided to go for a meal. When all else fails, eat. That’s my motto.

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I wanted to write about the food in this post, but I realised there’s SO much food to talk about… I’m going to save it for another time. For now, just look and drool!!

Everything is better after you’re full, no? I didn’t have much to do. It gets dark quickly in the winter so I just decided to make the most of whatever little time I had and walked around the city.

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What can I say about Timisoara? I don’t know much about it, frankly, and I didn’t get a chance to find out either. I can tell you it’s in Western Romania and is the third most populous city in the country. I can tell you it is called ‘Little Vienna’ for some reason (but I was in a foul mood that day and I refused to agree with whoever told me that). And I can tell you that it is a pretty city. If prettiness can show itself inspite of the snow, it’s a pretty city indeed!

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I didn’t want to dislike Romania, of course. Some of the nicest people I had met during my trip in the summer were Romanians- I couchsurfed with one in Munich and hitchhiked with a couple on my Budapest-Ljubljana journey. Add to that the prospect of meeting a Count Dracula kind of character, I had embarked on this trip with a VERY positive mindset.

But over the course of the day, I was quite disillusioned. At the hostel at night, I was glad the day was over and sat for a while chatting with the staff, the hostel dog and other guests (and one guy asked me such specific questions about Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal and Indian politics, I was very amused AND amazed).

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I lay on my bed that evening for a moment, still in my outdoor clothes, without even having brushed my teeth. The next thing I knew the hostel manager was waking me up almost 14 hours later so I could go catch the bus to Sibiu!! THANK GOD I had told him my plans!!!

Hoping against hope that the next day would be better did me no good because I missed my bus :/ Romania allows Indians with a Schengen visa only 5 days in the country, including the days you get in and out. To stay longer you need a Romanian visa. I could not risk taking any chances, because I could get into trouble. Major trouble!

Note to Self and Future Visitors who are reading this: Walking to the bus station is quicker than taking public transport. Atleast from Hostel Costel, which is actually further away from the station than the centre. I would have made it on time, got on the bus and saved almost 4 hours if I had walked!! I had to wait 20ish minutes for the tram to show up. And even if it had arrived right away, I’d probably still have reached JUST on time since the tram moved slower than I would have walked.

A cup of coffee in Timisoara’s city centre later, I managed to catch the next bus out of the city, glad to be one day closer to getting out of this country which wasn’t being very nice to me. Did I mention that there was a lady who just screamed at me at the top of her voice for no reason? Yup, that happened. I had no idea what she said cause she was screaming in Romanian, and I don’t speak it beyond basic greetings (Romanian has many words that are similar to French, Italian, Spanish etc) and ‘ceai’ (pronounced ‘chai’) which means ‘tea’. It’s weird how many unrelated countries use the same word for tea. Chai!! Off the top of my head… India, Romania, Turkey, Slovakia… China says ‘cha’. Okay, digressing. Stop 😛 But yeah, the scowl on this lady’s face and her fist shaking in front of me gave me a clue that she wasn’t really showering words of love :/I was just walking around, minding my own business, when she appeared out of nowhere and kept yelling till her voice faded out of my hearing range.

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High quality stuff, right?

But then, like I said in the beginning, Romania alternately amazed me and disappointed me. Because when I got off the bus at Sibiu, it was love at first sight. It was night and it was rather empty, but I couldn’t stop smiling. Let’s leave that for next time, agree?

So that was my first impression of Romania. I loved the food, but I need to dedicate an entire post to that, so I’m not detailing anything out now 😀 Hearty and meaty, AND cheap!! Always a plus 🙂 No trace of Dracula yet… But I still got four days to go 😉

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24 responses to “First Impressions of Romania :) Timisoara!

  1. I went to Romania a few years ago and loved it, but I agree that the weather makes a difference – it was Autumn and not snowing! We had fun walking around Bucharest then had a really nice couple of days in Brasov, with some fun visits to Dracula’s Castle and Sighasoara.

    • Ah I missed Sighisoara and just spent a night at Bucharest (reached at night, left the next morning!), but everyone said I’ve not missed anything. Your comment has just convinced me otherwise. I need to go back!!!

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  4. Interesting, I’ve heard various stories of this city. Shame you didn’t really get to enjoy it but then again, we all have these moments nothing seems to go the way you would want to … happy traveling!

    • Sigh, Emily, I didn’t :/ What a disappointment. And if you do go to Romania, ask me about the castles, because the famous Bran ‘Dracula’ Castle has literally nothing to do with him!

      • Yeah I had read that. The castle inspired Bram Stoker but I don’t think he actually ever saw it! There’s another castle there which has been linked to the real Vlad the Impaler who was not a vampire but has been linked as the inspiration for Dracula I think – I’d love to see that!!

      • Oh yeah!! The hostel I stayed at in Bran told me about it, but it’s not so easy to get to especially since I was alone, and I had major restrictions on how long I could stay. I just looked up The Historian, btw. Looks fascinating!!! I’m going to have to read it!!

      • Definitely read it! One of my favourite books. Vampires made grown up and educational! And there are some great descriptions of European destinations in there – it really fuelled my wanderlust 🙂

  5. I’ve heard good things about Romania but I’m sure a negative immigration experience could sour any trip.

  6. Oh dear you sound like you had quite and eventful time. I know that feeling of getting someone and too many crazy events all cascading just tire the trip and mood into one foul mess. Well lessons learnt I guess.

  7. I’ve never been to Romania, but it’s definitely a place I’ll have to visit at some point. I totally feel oyu on negative immigration experiences – mine kind of ruined my year in Russia 😦

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  9. Damn, it sucks you had such a bad experience there. I have a friend in the area, would have definitely hooked you up. Maybe you’ll give it another try when the weather is better? I want to go there soon, hope it’ll be a little better! 😀

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  11. IT seems like your experience here was not the best 🙂 After i read that most of the tourists go to big cities like Brasov – Sibiu – Sighisoara i somehow feel bad for them 🙂 because what really represents us in a good touristic way is the rural part, the homemade staff, the simple people that will hurt their hands in order to explain you something 🙂 not yelling at all .
    Not to say about the Danube Delta, when i got there this year i was speechless. If you ever come again to Romania feel free to message me and i will help you with all logistic problems 🙂

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