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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

A Short Break from Timisoara in Paulis

ROMANIA | Wednesday, 2 June 2021 | Views [21]

Paulis is set among beautiful scenery.

Paulis is set among beautiful scenery.

On the calendar there was highlighted a random holiday on a Tuesday, Children’s day I believe ( I’m still waiting for the day they celebrate Uncles), but what use is a holiday on a Tuesday? However, once in a while something good happens at the last minute and Emma’s school decided to make the Monday a holiday too ! So of course we hadn’t planned anything and wondered what to do. We decided to stay in Timisoara on the Saturday to make sure we could watch the Champions League Final ( the less said about that the better) and then head off on Sunday. We didn’t fancy a long journey so decided on a small village north-east of Timisoara called Paulis.

As per usual the trip didn’t get off to a perfect start. We arrived at the station in plenty of time and managed to purchase a ticket with no problem despite our poor place name pronunciation. Paulis is Polish apparently. The staff in the ticket offices at every station around Romania are typically older ladies who look quite stern and  left over from the communist era. However, they are always lovely and helpful, so looks really can be deceiving. Ticket in hand we made our way to platform five. There was a train already at the platform but it stated on the electronic sign that it was going to Bucharest and had a different number from our train. So we assumed it would be moving off and our train would be pulling in soon. Off it went and we waved it away, I checked my watch, that’s a coincidence, setting off at the exact same time as our train was scheduled to depart. Oh look the sign board has change, hey is that our train? We stood on the platform like a couple of lemons as our train tooted its way down out of the station. We caused a commotion and the kind staff realised that we had missed the train despite standing next to it for 20 minutes and they waved it down, amazingly  it returned for us to hop on. I couldn’t imagine that happening at Piccadilly with Northern Rail staff ! ( sorry Dave).

We were on a slow train but we sat back and enjoyed the scenery. The next dilemma was whether we were getting off a Paulis or Paulis Halta. The conductor seemed quite keen to know this even though we didn’t know there were 2 stations. A check of google maps showed the halta would be closer to our guest house. After a couple of hours ( including a long stop in Arad) the train pulled in at Paulis Halta which is a halt ( ie no real platform) in the middle of the countryside. This didn’t look promising as we tumbled off. Bit like the scene in ‘Trainspotting’ minus the vodka carry out! We followed google maps ( how did we cope without it?)  along a quite busy road towards Casa Miriam, our digs for the next 2 nights. We thought we were in the right place but could not see any sign of a guest house. A lady came out of a gate so we asked her where Casa Miriam was and it turns out she was Miriam. Result. Maybe a small sign outside would be helpful but perhaps it is a very exclusive gaff. Miriam showed us to our room which turned out to be lovely. It was huge with a massive seating area and spotlessly clean. There was also a full kitchen  we could use and a great terrace to relax on. At under 100 Lei ( £20) it was fantastic value for money.

After dropping off our stuff we set off to explore and to pick up some supplies. Paulis turned out to be a nice village strung out along a main road surrounded by bright green rolling hills. The road was really quite busy however, especially considering it was a Sunday, mainly trucks, probably heading through to Hungary. The small centre of Paulis was set around a large shady tree and had one bar with a few tables set out under the tree. Google maps said there was a Profi supermarket just round the corner so we headed there. Said supermarket was closed down. So much for Google maps. What to do? At least the bar was open so we went for a beer to form a plan. The bar turned out to be a small shop too and we managed to buy a bag of 70s retro snacks ( Monster Munch, Whotsits and Rashers but no Outer Spacers unfortunately) to keep the hunger pangs at bay and even a bag of croissants, so breakfast was sorted. We enjoyed a beer in the sun while we formed plan B. Again google maps said there was a petrol station further down the road and also a motel with a restaurant across the road from it. If that failed to provide more food options, plan C was a restaurant called  Roca Bruna further up a side road. We wandered down the busy main road but luckily there was a pavement and eventually came upon the petrol station. Not only did it not have a shop it didn’t have any petrol, totally closed down. Ok, off to the motel across the road, tables outside, looks promising. The door was firmly locked. Plan C had to work or else we were going to bed hungry. We headed up a leafy side road into a forest and up a hill. Didn’t look like a restaurant would be up here. A few cars passed us so maybe. We eventually saw the restaurant perched on a hill but there were loads of cars parked up. Strange, at least it was open but was a private function happening?

Roca Buna turned out to be a fantastic place. It was busy but they found a table for us on a lovely terrace with a view of the forest. This was obviously a place that people travel a fair way to visit on a Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed a wonderful pizza and a bottle of wine in the sun and were very grateful to have found this hidden gem. Fully sated we wandered back to Casa Miriam to chill out for the rest of the evening.

Our original plan for the next morning had been to wander down the road to the next town of Lipova to have a look around and check out a ruined castle called Soimos Fortress. However, it would be a fair trek down the main road and we didn’t fancy the constant sound of trucks rattling by. We would have to come back and stay in Lipova another time. Another plan was formed, we could walk up a back road to the next town called Ghioroc which boasts a tram museum and a lake complete with a beach as its main attractions.

The walk turned out to be very pleasant. This road was much quieter and we had stunning views of the surrounding countryside. There are quite a few wineries around here and we passed many fields of vines. We passed Bella Gazza Winery but it wasn’t clear if visitors were welcome so we carried on. To be fair, probably too early for wine o’clock even for us! We were really enjoying the stroll and every local we passed said hello. Very friendly lot round here as in all parts of rural Romania that we have explored. We passed through the lovely village of Minis and noted that it had a rather well stocked mini mart, so we marked that as a potential supply stock up spot on the way back.

We soon wandered into the centre of Ghioroc and it was positively buzzing compared to Paulis. There were shops including a Profi supermarket and stalls selling veggies and flowers. Of course there were at least 3 churches and they all started ringing their bells to indicate wine o’clock. I think you can get a tram from Arad to here and the terminus is now a tram museum so we followed the tracks to check it out. For tram museum read tram graveyard, the gate was padlocked and it didn’t look like it had been open for quite a while. We could see over the fence and there were a number of trams in various states of falling to bits.

Hopefully, the lake wasn’t closed too, we were getting peckish and were keeping our fingers crossed that the ‘beach’ restaurants that good old Google promised actually existed and were open. It was only a short walk from tram heaven across the train tracks to the lake. Now I’m not saying this is the most picturesque lake I have ever seen, as that would be a complete lie. It is situated behind an industrial zone but it does have a gravelly sand beach and some water and if you forget about what is behind you it is pleasant enough. Luckily there are a row of 5 to 6 restaurants and they looked like they had some life. We chose one and managed to order the platter for 2 which was enormous and very tasty. Pork fillet, crispy chicken, michi, spicy sausages, salad and chips. We couldn’t finish it all so we had tea sorted too. Although not the nicest place in Romania it was a decent place to sit and look at the water. I think it would be busy in the summer holidays as it seems geared up for kids with a fun fair and slides etc. We were the only ones there so quite a tranquil experience. We retraced our steps trying to beat the gathering rain clouds and made it back to Paulis before getting too wet to enjoy the rest of our time chilling on our terrace. We enjoyed getting out of the city and although not an amazing place we really enjoyed our stay. Casa Miriam was lovely and we really enjoyed our meal at Roca Bruna, so much so that Emma was talking about making a trip out there just to visit the restaurant again.


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