All started with a cheap ticket. 13 euros to Timisoara is quite okay, I think. And it is close to Szeged, where we were going to spend Christmas. The only problem: the discount price was for the 13th of december. Thus, we decided to use this chance to travel a bit Transylvania, where Abel had never been before and I’d been about 20 years ago.
Our first destination was, due to the plane, Timisoara. We spent here 3 days, way too much for this town. The Christmas market was charming and I really enjoyed the Hungarian theatre (an ensemble I am fan of). Abel is a hero in my eyes, he survived the 3-hours-show without a bad word. It was amazing!
Being a Hungarian, for me it is always an interesting cultural experience travelling to Transylvania.
We also went to the local market for some Zakuszka. Mmmm. However, the streets were all under construction and it was hard to get around. There were no street lights, which can be disturbing if you can expect huge holes every few meters. And the first night we went out we had our worst culture shock: all cafés, bars and even restaurants were smoking!!! Non-smoking areas are pretty much non-existent or not separated. Thus our social life during this trip was rather limited.
Basically we spent these three days with hunting some veggie food, visiting the christmas market every day and organising our trip to the next destination. We needed a lot of time and energy for that, as you might have gotten a glimpse in a previous post.
But finally we made it: we got on a train and made it to Sibiu. Also known as Hermannstadt.
As much as Hungarian language helped us out in Timisoara or in Cluj Napoca, in Sibiu it was German that many people spoke, at least to some extent. It used to be a German settlement, however, the owner of our accommodation happened to be of Hungarian origin. (We also realized at this point that German is simply not a language that you can be nice in. A strict and arrogant old lady turned into a nice and sympathetic person when talking in Hungarian).
Sibiu was a relief in our trip. It is pretty much a German city with some exotic flare. Meaning it had a good public transport, quite clean streets and vending machines for tickets that were even working. After our first few days in the region we were quite happy to take a rest and just enjoy everything: we had lovely studio flat with a view on the snowy Fogarasi mountains (if I am not mistaken), we discovered a Romanian cabbage pancake, where the owner invited us to try other traditional pancakes as well. We need to figure out the recipe, as they were delicious. And we found a wine shop where we also got invited to try some local wines.
As we went in december, the town also offered a nice Christmas market. The emphasis here was not so much on selling things, but on getting together and having fun. Or so it seemed. And the festive lights were something gorgeous!
What I liked most about Sibiu was its houses. Most of the rooftops there have “eyes”, which gives you a quite paranoid feeling. Let me show you what I mean:
As much as we enjoyed it, we planned only 2 days for Sibiu and to tell you the truth, by the end we also got a bit bored, as it was just organized. We continued our trip to Cluj Napoca.
Due to the bad public transport, buses and trains being cancelled, bus stops that are nowhere marked and our disgusting accommodation (I still don’t understand how we could book such a place, as I always check the recommendations first)…we decided to leave a day earlier. So we had only a bit more than a day in Cluj Napoca.
We took our chance to go to Turda as well. Being winter we were not so much into the gorge, we preferred to visit the Salina / Salt mines. A crazy piece of architecture, very special indeed.
My opinion about Cluj is rather vague and probably greatly influenced by the bad accommodation. And again, we spent most of the time organizing our way back to Hungary. To any point of Hungary. With any type of transportation. Although it’s not far away, it’s not as easy as we thought. Cluj is somewhere between Timisoara and Sibiu, at least from the point of view of organizedness. To keep it short: it had a nice christmas market with an ice rink for skating, right on the main square. Also you could find little artisan markets in the surrounding little streets. In general there are many shops with handmade things, it’s worth to check them out. The city seems to have a cool nightlife, we saw a lot of pubs that we would have loved to enter. There was only one constraint: the terrible amount of smoke!
It’s a pity we did not go in the summer, some things might have turned out differently. And it’s a pity we did not rent a car to get around, some things might have turned out differently. Even though it was not a travel of 100% pleasure, we are grateful for the experience. And we’re also determined to go back sometime in the future.