Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Budapest, Hungary to Timişoara, Romania.

Just a quick one today. We are in rainy Timişoara, the 4th largest city in Romania. It is not too far from the Hungarian border in the Western part of Romania. Although I have been to Romania 3 times now I have never visited this city but I have always heard positive things about it. Interestingly, It is allegedly the birthplace of the 1989 Romanian revolution against communision which lead to the fall of Ceauşescu, and it is the first city in Europe to have had electric public lighting in 1884.

We had a long journey from Budapest yesterday and by the time we arrived it was late, dark and pouring down with rain. We decided a good meal and beer was in order so we set off in the direction of food. As it was raining so hard we pretty much dived into the first place we saw. Luckily for us it was nice and affordable. It was here that we befriended a group of French students currently studying in Romania. We tagged along with them to some bars and the next thing we knew it was 3am and we were stumbling back to the hotel! I have not met many French people in my time, having only been to France twice, so it was interesting to become acquainted with Julie, Marc and Emilie.

Unlike Alex, I managed to get up for breakfast, I was determined that as were paying for breakfast, I had to eat it even if I felt deprived of enough sleep and had a slight headache. Whilst Alex slept on I ventured out into the sodden city to explore. Stupidly, I followed the guidance of the Lonely Planet guide to Eastern Europe when looking for something cultural to do and I ended up in a history museum. The museum was nice enough, it was informative with lots of photographs and exhibits. Unfortunately it was in Romanian with no offer of translation to English or even German (which would have been some help) and as the Lonely Planet guidebook had neglected to inform me of this, it was pretty much a waste of time for me. However, I did spend a good 20 mins in the warm, sheltered from the rain which is definately worth the 4 LEU that i paid to get in!

What strikes me about Romania, everytime I visit here is how humane and kind the people here are. Today we were sitting (I am slightly ashamed to admit) in McDonalds and an elderly woman came in and bought a coffee. She did not understand the coffee cup, she didn't know how to open it and was really struggling with it. On the next table there were a group of Romanian women, they must have been younger than me. They immediatly offered to help her. They went further than that and when they ordered their food they came back with a complete meal for this old lady. I had never seen someone look so happy to be eating a Mcdonalds. There are many Roma children begging on the streets here too. It surprised me to see that although yes, many people just ignore them and tell them to go away there were a number of people who did help them. Give them money or food. From what I have heard the Roma community are often looked down upon and can be victims of racism so it is really nice to see Romania defy the stereotype and for there to be such a community spirit even in such a big city as Timişoara.

Religion also seems to be alive and well in Timisoara. Today I saw people queing to get into the Romania Orthodox Church here and when we went inside we saw people of all ages, teenagers, young men, Women, couples, children, the older generation flocking into the Cathedral throughout the day to pray and pay their respects.

Anyway, back out into the rain we go and back on the road tomorrow. We have travelled 1750 miles now!



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