As you might recall, this whole trip materialized rather unexpectedly – when one of my employers called and offered a free last-minute ticket to Munich. I was ecstatic at the opportunity, but with only two weeks to prepare, I had virtually no time to do my usual pre-trip research. So rather than departing with a fully highlighted and annotated Lonely Planet, I left with a crisp new book and only a general outline of a route; my plan was to read and fill in the details along the way.
Well, it wasn’t until today – as I actually passed over the border and into Romania – that I finally flipped through to its chapter. Suddenly I wished we had a lot more time.
I’d originally viewed Romania as little more than a “bonus country” – a convenient stop along the road from Serbia to Ukraine, and an opportunity to have a quick peek at a relatively untouristed part of the world (well, relative to Western Europe at least). Little did I know that Romania actually has an incredible selection of unique and interesting attractions – from picturesque medieval towns of Transylvania to lush wetlands of the Danube Delta; from Black Sea party resorts to traditional farm villages that still use horse-drawn carriages and cars are cause for surprise. With only a few days available, clearly there were some tough choices to be made.
For the sake of convenience and efficiency, we decided to skip Bucharest entirely, focusing our visit on Transylvania and its cobbled mountain towns – except for just one quick stop in Timişoara along the way. While Timişoara actually is a top Romanian destination, time was so short that we left ourselves just two hours to explore. I guess we’ll have to walk quickly.
Those two hours only reaffirmed our wishes for more time in Romania – but I’ll hold off on elaborating about the reasons until a slightly later post 🙂 For now, suffice to say that it was a great little town with a clean, safe, and beautiful central square. We had just enough time to stroll in, add one more foreign currency to our wallets, grab a quick bite, use the restroom, then rush back out of town to the train station.
And thus began what turned out to be the most challenging transit leg of the entire trip…