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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Day Trip to Arad

ROMANIA | Monday, 12 October 2020 | Views [32] | Comments [2]

This weekend we thought we would spread our wings a bit and explore somewhere outside of Timisoara. We didn’t want to venture too far but we did want to check out the Romanian railway system ahead of a planned longer trip at half term, restrictions permitted. So, we thought a day trip to Arad, a town 57km to the north of Timisoara sounded like a reasonable goal.

We set off early, grabbing an Uber to the Garda de Nord (the North station, which is located in the west of Timisoara, go figure!) as the sun was rising over the city. Just like to say that every taxi driver we have encountered in Timisora has been brilliant. They are really friendly, polite and most have some English, the taxis are clean, modern and very affordable. Such a change from our recent experiences of taxis in Addis. Anyway, we were dropped off at the station in time to buy a ticket for  the 8.25 am train to Arad and we soon found the right train and hopped on board. The train was modern, spotless and everyone was wearing masks, so we felt very comfortable and safe. The train left on time and it cost less than £3 return so we thought it was going to be a good day.

The train slowly rumbled out of Timisoara and as with most places, trains usually arrive and leave cities via the worst part of the city. Timisoara is no exception but we soon left urbanisation behind and entered into the countryside. Unfortunately, the scenery was not great as the area is pretty flat and the landscape is mainly agricultural land. Imagine getting a train to Norwich. We stopped at various halts, can’t really call them stations and a couple of larger towns. After an hour or so we trundled into Arad.

Arad station is much more impressive than Timisoara’s and is more of a hub for trains across Romania and also into Hungary. So I think we will be transiting here in the future on more than one occasion. We headed into town via a park with a man-made lake with a water feature and along the main drag, Bulevard Revoluiei. This wide road is very pleasant with a wooded area along the middle with trams rumbling up and down. The first area we came to was a square with many university buildings and the imposing City Hall. It was very impressive and we had already started to like Arad.

Further down the boulevard we arrived at Piata Avram Iancu which is Arad’s main square. Just like Timisoara, a lot of the buildings are under going renovations so the full beauty of the place was not apparent, but it is still a lovely spot with a few café bars at one end. We wandered from here down a pedestrianised street to the local market. The place was a buzz with Saturday morning shoppers and there was plenty of quality looking produce on sale. The place had a real community feel to it and people were stopping to chat to each other while they bought their goods. The market is over looked by the old orthodox cathedral, one of many churches in the town. From here we spotted an old tower in the distance so we meandered through the streets in that direction. Turns out to be an old water tower, they definitely made mundane buildings more pleasing on the eye back in the day. From here we stumbled on the Romanian-Hungarian Reconciliation Square which is dedicated to the people from those two countries who teamed up to defeat the Habsburg dynasty from  Austria. Apparently a lot of the architecture is from that era and in the Austrian style. In the quiet square are a couple of memorials to honour the people involved in the cause in 1848.

Our next destination was the River Mures. Again similar to Timisoara there is a river running though the town, except in Arad it is a proper wide river rather than a canal. As in Timisoara there is a walking and cycling path along the water way and lots of parks for recreation. We enjoyed a stroll along the river banks watching the many people fishing and doing tai chi. The sun was out now and we were beginning to warm up after the chilly start. As lunch time loomed we headed over the footbridge across the Mures to Ratio Beach restaurant. It is a huge place and was very quiet at lunch time. We bagged a table with a view across the river to enjoy our meal. The pasta was pretty average but we thought it was a great spot to chill for an hour or 2. Not that there was any grains of sand to be seen, but I guess they were going for the beach bar vibe without the nuisance of getting sand down your underpants. After lunch we thought we would check out the citadel. Our guide book made it sound very interesting, a star shaped fortification built in the late 1700s as defence against the Turks. We sauntered over to be greeted by barb wire and look out towers. Maybe they still fear marauding invaders but it didn’t look too inviting for the random tourist. I think the ‘Rough Guide’ could have pointed out that the citadel is currently being used as a military base and you are not allowed to visit it. Been like that since 1999 apparently and we have the fully updated edition of the guide! (Although I won’t get too upset with them as they thought my breakfasts at Morley House were excellent).

So, with no citadel to visit we had to fall back on plan B, a cool beer in the square, yes I know that is normally plan A but we were being good today. We ventured back across the river to the square and enjoyed said beverage while people watching. Time to wander back to the station and the train back to Timisoara. We have a really good day on our first excursion from Timisoara and we are excited about exploring more of Romania.

Ps. Further to my observation re taxis in Timisoara in this travel tale, when we got a taxi back from the station we got an old boy in a bit of a shabby cab. We explained in our pigeon Romanian that we were English, he then spent the entire journey ranting about Brexit. Well I think that is what he was on about. He was a great old fella mind and we couldn’t believe it the very next day when we got the first cab off the rank outside Union Square, it was the very same taxi driver. What are the odds hey? He didn’t say a word this time, either he had got over Brexit or my tip yesterday wasn’t enough and he was in a huff!

 

Comments

1

We're so envious. Romania is one of our favorites of the 160 countries we have visited. As Yanks, we had to return home from New Zealand in March and are still stuck here in the US. We've had world nomads blogs since '03, the most recent being journals.worldnomads.com/graynomadsusa.
Good luck and we will look forward to more of your posts.

  John and Connie Oct 13, 2020 11:33 PM

2

Hi John and Connie,
Thanks for your comment and glad you are enjoying our blog. Good to hear that Romania is one of your favourite places and we are looking forward to exploring more of the country. I'd say Bolivia, New Zealand, Nepal and Sri lanka are some of our faves. Hopefully we will get through this pandemic and we will be able to explore the world once again. Take care.

  steve_and_emma Oct 14, 2020 7:12 PM

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