Go West… To Timisoara, eventually

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August 30th 2008
Published: August 31st 2008
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30-08-08 Go West… To Timisoara, eventually

It probably seems as though traffic gets more than its fair share of commentary in this blog, on days like this it’s no surprise. We had seen large queues of traffic heading the other way when we were coming into Romania, unfortunately now it was our turn to join the queue. It took us 9 hours to drive about 200 miles yesterday on one of Romania’s main highways. There were road works ever mile or two, in all they must have ripped up 100 miles of road, this when school holidays are ending and Romanian Italians are heading back to Italy was not a good mix. We lane split when we could but generally it was single narrow lanes and no hard shoulder, and coping with the Romian Italian driving was a bit of an issue. The Romanian Italian’s had some really interesting interpretations of road laws, unfortunately they seemed to have a strong feeling that a motorcycle is a scooter, and they tried to muscle you out of your lane when ever possible. We waited at times 15 minutes completely stationary waiting for signals to change, a couple of times fights broke out, this seemed to impress a lot of the guys who would run hundreds of metres up the road to watch, I guess it brakes up the monotony. Only another two minor accidents on the road again today (not us!).

If we had kept driving our planned 5 hour trip from Brasov to Timisoara would have taken 14 or 15 hours. We stopped at a road side hotel for the night and travelled with much lighter traffic this morning. We have been really genuinely surprised by the excellent tourism facilities in Romania, roadside hotels and restaurants are very reasonably priced (for a foreigner) and much higher standard than what you would get on the motorway in the UK.

Timisoara is known as Romania’s “first free town” it was here that the revolution began to topple Ceausescu. All day we have heard car horns blaring - it is their tradition for the newly married couple to drive around in a line of cars with car horns blaring, it feels as though we have seen about 20 separate weddings today, the wedding parties walk all round the old town having their photos taken here and there before heading to their reception.

Timisoara has some really interesting and varied architecture standing in some of the piatsas you feel as though you could be in Italy, but some of the building would not be out of place in Prague, Vienna, Turkey….. you get the picture. It kind of summarizes our experience of the country, it is very outward looking - economy, fashion, food, this is a very stylish European city but without the pretence. We have felt genuinely welcome in this country. People are positive and outward looking, very keen to chat, even if we each can’t understand what the other was saying. We could easily spend a few more weeks here. This country will develop rapidly, but we hope the genuine warmth of people will remain, and the people in the small villages don’t become jaded by the rapidly increasing wealth of their city cousins. We would highly recommend a visit to Romania - just allow plenty of time (and patience!) if you intend to drive.

Beer update - this is the home of Timisoarenna, a highly drinkable pils, at little sweat and honey coloured - at about 50-100p for 500ml, great stuff….

Tomorrow we head back to Hungary - Pecs in the very south of the country on route to Croatia.

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