by Alyssa Smith April. 29, 2017 1155 views

Timisoara First impressions of Romania were not great. I got stuck at the airport because I couldn't find the cash point and no one spoke English, I felt strangely calm and didn't panic. After contemplating walking to the hostel from the airport, or staying the night there, I was able to find someone who helped me. I took a cab and got to the Hostel Freeborn safely and went straight to bed. Romanians, I have found, like to go to bed late and get up late; at 11:00 I was the first one out of bed. I decided to go hunting for the large farmers market to get some food and see some of the city. So, armed with a map and shaky confidence, I set off into the 80 degree afternoon. I ended up walking right off the map! After exploring a bit and getting subsequently lost, I found the the market and was overwhelmed by the Romanian. No English anywhere. Which is to be expected, but I was hot and tired and lonely and scared. After doing a brief walk around I hightailed it back to the hostel and started to deeply regret coming to Romania. I did notice an odd juxtaposition through my misery though; the buildings, though beautiful, were old and rundown, practically crumbling. But the streets were lined with audis and volkswagens. The people were very well dressed with smartphones in hand. It was just an odd thing. The next day I stayed at the hostel and tried to make a plan to leave Romania, however, the harder I tried to leave, the lesson of a plan I had. As soon as I started to plan to go through the country rather than out of it, things got easier. Eventually, after a pep talk, I dragged myself outside again to hunt down a phone charger and dinner. The weather was beautiful and lifted my soul. I explored the 3 town squares and got more and more curious. The city wasn't as threatening as the day before. Still daunting but more friendly. I successfully bought a croissant filled chocolate (that tasted like heaven in earth) which bolstered my confidence even more and found a phone shop. The girl behind the counter spoke English and we had a lovely little chat that lifted my spirits even more. By the time I made it to Union Square I was nearly giddy, drunk on sunshine, chocolate, and life. The atmosphere was filled with light. People eating dinner, getting coffee, going on a walk. The next day I was bound for Sibiu; things didn't go as I planned. I had a wonderful morning socializing with the parkour group from Bucharest who were staying in Timisoara for an event. They were all very cool and gave me some good tips. The morning went down from there. Despite leaving an hour before my train, I still missed it. . I got lost and the lines were too long and when I did get through no one spoke English. The next train didn't leave till early the next morning. Discouraged and near tears, I hauled my huge backpack back to the hostel only to find there was no room there for me. Luckily Hector (one of the guys who ran the hostel) helped me find and book another hostel. After soundly beating me in Mario Cart, he mercifully called me a cab to take me to the next place. I settled in there and made friends with the other guest two of which were also going early to the train station. The girl was headed to Sibiu on the same train as me and it was incredible to have some friendly company. Especially since it was a 7 hour journey (the trains in Romania are very slow). I'm so glad I took the train though. The countryside was incredibly beautiful and the mountains were amazing. Being in the mountains made my heart sing in a way that reminds me how integral being in untouched nature is to my inner soul. Romania got off to a rocky start but it's quickly becoming one of my favorite countries so far. 

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