Saturday, 6 August 2011

Day 11 in Romania: glad to be in Timisoara

Day 10 in Romania

The sleeping car was nice. The other person in the car was a woman. The cars are neat becuase they have little sinks that are hidden below the table. They also provide you with a toothbrush, toothpast, shoe shin clothes, and hand wipes. The ticket was a lot more than I had anticipated. People had told me that train travel was cheap in Romania, but I guess it depends on which train you take.

The P is the Personal train and the worst. Next comes A which is Accelerate. Then R which is Rapid and better. IC is for intercity and finally comes EU which is Eurocity. I didn't see any Eurocity ones.

Anyways, mine was a rapid train and a round trip ticket cost about 100 euro, which is a far cry from the 30 that people had told me it would cost. Though you're paying for three things: the ticket, the reservation, and the bed.

I had a map of Timisoara and directions to the hostel. Since I got in around 6am and it was light outside, I decided to walk. I don't really trust taxis. It was a bit hard to find. Getting there was easy, but there were no signs or anything outside. It was a new hostel, they'd only been open a couple months. Luckily, I had the address, so could actually get there.

It's called Freeborn Hostel and it's an apartment. They have 3 rooms, one with a queen bed, one with 6 bunks, and the other with 8 bunks. All nice and clean, huge closets to put your stuff in and you can lock the door. Very bright and airy with lots of happy colours like green and yellow.

It's owned by two brothers. I met one of them, Raul. The other one was on vacation with his wife. Another girl worked there, her name was Claudia and she spoke English very well even though she was still at university. Raul also spoke English very well.

My first impression of Timisoara was that it's much nicer than Bucharest. I took a bit of a nap since I didn't sleep well on the train. Usually I sleep pretty well on trains, but this time I didn't. It's probably because the train jerked around and starts and stops and makes horrible screeching noises when they put on the breaks. Afterwards I went to Victory Square, Liberty Square, and Union Square.

I also saw the Metropolitan Cathedral, which kind of reminds me of a cross between a candy house and a Russian Cathedral. The inside is amazing. I tried to take photos, but they didn't turn out at all. There's gold and ornate details all over the place. They have a gold altar with paintings on the walls and ceilings, statues, but no pews. I guess there were so many people that it was standing room only. They did have some straightback very uncomfortable wooden chairs along the walls though. One thing that I didn't like was how commercial it was. There were candles that you could buy and lots of religious knicknacks from rosaries, to pictures, to postcards and a lot more. They had a priest there for confession too. Lots of people were constantly coming and going and crossing themselves and kissing statues. They're very religious, but it's a bit hypocritical since they don't really take care of their country, at least in Bucharest they don't. You'll see someone passing a church and crossing themselves a dozen times, but then they'll go and litter or pee on the street.

There were two other churches that I saw: The Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. My mother says her family used to go to Orthodox services and the only thing she remembers is the hard wooden pews, incense, and the 3 hour sermons. At that time you couldn't pray to God, you had to go through the priest during confessions. You also couldn't eat meat on Friday, now you can. It's amazing how much the church has changed when they realised they were losing people. The Orthodox church was closed and the other one had a gate near the back, so I could only go in so far.

There was an older Danish guy who played the stock market and a young Chilean woman who worked in tourism and was travelling for 6 months. The Danish guy was trying to go everywhere in Europe over time. He had about a month of travel time. The Chilean woman said that she didn't need a visa for Europe. Lucky here, Peruvians do.

We decided to all go out to dinner together. We went to a place called Acquarium, which was far away and on the 6th floor. I had pasta and they gave us free pizza, but made us each pay about 1 euro for bread. Still, we couldn't complain, the food was great and the restuarant was fantastic. We were underdressed in jeans and travelling clothes. We went kind of late and it was dark when we walked back. I don't think it was in the best of neighbourhoods, at least it wasn't nice at night. We saw gypsies and a man who was very drugged on glue. Had I been alone, there was no way I would have gone to dinner at that time. Though we were with the Danish guy who was over 6 feet tall, which really helped.

On the way back we stopped at Union Square where there was a free concert. We got approached a couple of times by gypsies, but that was it. We finally headed back home at 11pm.

Be sure to read about what has happened so far. You can find everything in the quick summary of dates.

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