Once I turned in my final grades and had a last meeting with my chair, I headed off to the far western side of Romania to visit Timișoara. The flight on BlueAir is cheap and takes approximately 30 minutes. Timișoara is the third largest city in the country and is home to West University, which was home base for a couple of our senior scholars this year. The city also is credited for the start of 1989 Revolution, which resulted in the ousting of Ceaușescu and the end of communism in Romania.
I had booked three nights at an apartment on the main plaza (Piața Victoriei). Since I arrived too early to check-in, I spent a couple hours at the Iulius Mall and even saw the first half of the new (but awful) Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. My apartment turned out to be a small, one room studio, rather spartan but sufficient, and conveniently located across the street from the Orthodox cathedral, which I visited and was amazed by its majestic interior and sheer height: it’s the tallest building in the city. Fortunately, there are plenty of eateries and grocers within easy walking.
Unfortunately, I arrived with a summer head cold and ended up spending too much of my tourist time in bed. A cold in 90-degree weather is just plain miserable, so on my second day I decided against pounding the pavement in Timișoara in favor of a side trip to Arad…all with delusions of a lovely scenic train ride through the pancake flat, western farm lands of Romania. I ended up on a regional train without no a/c, and every carriage was closed compartments. I shared mine with three affable gentlemen who were as amazed by my sweating as I by their aromas. Our attempts at conversation proved that I knew more Romanian than they English, but we smiled and laughed all the same. I got to my “boutique” hotel mid-afternoon and waited several hours for the heat to break before I headed out for supper and some exploration.
Today, I returned on another train without a/c (or even opened windows!) early enough for a leisurely lunch and then a load of laundry. I travel light and with little clothing; once I sweat through my changes, then I have to wash. Lucky for me, my studio has a washer, which is toiling away now as I write. I don’t know yet if I’ll feel like venturing out again. So it goes…sometimes you just have to listen to your body.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll fly back to Cluj and start packing up for my exit from Romania.