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TTF Talks: Travelling Romania from one end to the other

Carla is a dynamic German student characterized by good mood and energy. I have known her for some time now and am simply amazed by the amount of extensive and various travelling in Romania (driving, hiking, city trotting).

Here is her confession on the continuous exploration of the country where she studies.

For a start, please introduce yourself and say how long you have been in Romania. What do you do here?

Bună ziua, eu sunt Carla – Hello, I am Carla.

I study in Timișoara at the Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy. Since I started, in 2017 a lot of things in the city changed, and I was able to discover some parts of the beautiful country Romania.

Carla, the student, with a newborn baby

What did you know about Romania?

I got to know about the possibility to study in Timisoara from a friend. He was already living here and gave me a nice picture of the city. But actually, in my mind I pictured Timisoara calmer and like a smaller town without a lot of possibilities or cultural life. I didn’t know much about the country and haven’t been here before.

What is better and what is worse than your expectations?

I love the many possibilities which I got because I moved here. The cultural events are affordable for students and the many restaurants and bars have menus for every occasion. All students in Romania get free tickets for the public transport and so, also traveling is very cheap and many places are closer to discover.

Rural Romania

Where have you been in Romania? What were your favourite places and why?

During my first year in Romania I went during Easter time to Transylvania. There we visited Sibiu, Medias, Sighisoara, Brasov and Bran. It was beautiful: all the old city centres and the beautiful landscape. It was also very nice for my German friends that there were German city tours available and travelling without knowing Romanian was very easy.

In summer I hitchhiked with a friend from Timisoara to Istanbul and back. We went the whole way from Vama Veche through to Constanta and Tulcea and spent several days in the Danube Delta, which is for sure one of the most beautiful places I have been so far. The Danube Delta was my favourite small travel in Romania. The nature is amazing and there are so many wild animals on the fascinating small islands in the delta! I hope that I will have the possibility to go there again.

The Danube Delta
Wildlife in the Danube Delta

Another time I went from Timisoara to Sibiu and I have been on the Transfagarasan and Transalpina, which are listed as some of the most beautiful roads in Europe. The view from the Carpathian Mountains was breath-taking and the hiking tours also very nice.

Another time I went to Bucharest and Bucovina. The landscape was again so nice and unique! There are old churches and nice hiking possibilities.

Bucovina monasteries are famous

We also did short weekend trips from Timisoara. We went close by to a lake, to the vine hills, to Straja and Muntele Mic for skiing, to Retezat Mountains and Baile Herculane for hiking and some other destinations.

I gathered a lot of beautiful memories during these trips. I love going through the villages to buy fresh vegetables, honey or seasonal fruit from the ladies on the roadside. The telemea (white cheese) with cucumbers and red pepper from the markets and the nice, different kinds of Romanian beers are always a good meal.

What about the stereotype saying that Romanians are very hospitable and friendly?

I had always very nice experiences with the local people. Even that I speak only very little Romanian it was easy to reach for help or get suggestions.

The telemea with vegetables is almost a national dish; photo:

What do you believe about driving in Romania?

Sometimes the roads are not so good, and you have to be careful not to hit a hole. Otherwise, I feel comfortable driving here. Romanian drivers are used to the roads and drive sometimes a bit faster, the traffic can be pretty messy especially in the city centres. But right now the Romanian state is building many new highways.

Please tell us three things you like about Romania.

Travelling, food and the multi-cultural inclusivity (Romanians are living in peace with the Hungarian, Austrian and German minorities).

Please tell us some things you dislike or some negative experiences you had.

I sometimes struggle against the old way of teaching in our university. Those structures do not change, and older people (same in other European countries) still think in a conservative way. I dislike that the Orthodox church is not open for the LGBTQI community, that psychic illnesses are very stigmatised, and Roma people are not well treated by a lot of people in the society.

What is your favourite Romanian food?

I love the fresh cheese, vegetables and fruit from the market. And the aubergine salad is sooo tasty!

Aubergine salad; photo:

Would you recommend the country to your friends?

Yes. I already did and a lot of my friends and family visited me. They were all surprised by the beautiful nature and the nice cities!

What could Romania do to be more visitable?

I think that a better railway service (the timetable in English and the possibility to book the tickets online) would make travelling easier for younger people.

Can you summarise your experience in Timisoara and give some tips?

In Timisoara I would start with a small tour around the beautiful city centre. A walk on the Bega river and a visit in one of the cafes. In the afternoon I would highly recommend a visit to the art museum or the small private communist museum “Scârț loc lejer”. Later in the day I would go to the German theatre or the Philharmonic Orchestra.

If you have more days to spend in Timisoara, I would suggest a visit in the Traian and Iosefin districts. Also, visit one of the many markets and try the pickled peppers or other vegetables. Last, but not least, the nearby bird reservation from Satchinez, a visit to Bazos and the wine hills in Recas are good options.

Beautiful winter sky in Timisoara

Now after spending all this time in Romania, what is the general and most powerful feeling that Romania gives to you?

I am very thankful for the privilege to study here and have such a delightful student life.

What are some of the misconceptions you most often hear about Romania and how do you feel about them?

That the country is too poor, unsafe and the language is like Russian. I think that people should come here and get their own impressions. For sure they will change their point of view.

Nature is fabulous in Romania

What do you like about Romanian culture, history, customs? Please give us some examples. 

I really like the beautiful architecture in Timisoara. The festivals, like for example the Christmas market, the Easter market, the flower festival and all the other nice celebrations which are held around the city.

The traditional music and folk dances which are often presented on public stages. When I was invited to a wedding, I even had the chance to learn some dance steps…

Flower festival in Timisoara

Thank you so much Carla for your feedback, and happy exploration!

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