We squeeze into a packed minivan in Brasov for a boring, eight-hour ride to the city of Timisoara. Marilynn and I expect a short stay at that city, which seems a necessary stop to make travel arrangements on the way to Belgrade, Serbia.
Our hotel sits out of the way on a dark, dreary, dirty street. Hooded silhouette figures of humans lurk on the sidewalks at night during our walk to find a restaurant. We’re lost. An old man’s elderly dog barely makes it across the cable car tracks before the train misses his ass by six-inches. The man scowls at me?
Finally, we find “Casa Bunicii” where I enjoy roasted duck over duck fat marinated cabbage with spätzle. Mare orders porcini mushroom spätzle in a cream sauce seasoned with sage, leeks, and garlic. Delicious! However, a ham hock from city center is more photogenic.
A short walk in the light of morning reveals a bright, new world of fabulous architecture, parks, gardens, and three public squares.
Timisoara sits at the crossroads of East and West, bordering Hungary, and Serbia. The region’s motto, “Tolerance and Understanding,” excites and refreshes us – a couple of Americans a long way from home, during a tumultuous time.
Renewed energy, along with pedestrian walkways through the city squares, surrounded by diverse architecture, restaurants, bars, and friendly people, convince us to extend our stay.
This melting pot of different cultural heritages has never experienced an ethnic or religious conflict. It was the first city to revolt free of Communism in 1989, after the fall of the Berlin wall.
Today, Romanians, Hungarians, Serbians, Bulgarians, Jews, Arabs, Italians and Rromas (Gypsies), live in harmony while practicing active cultural and religious lives.
We sip Timisoarana beer at our favorite watering hole in the Piata Unirii Square, where Roman Catholic and Serbian churches face each other. Tolerance and understanding are inherent here, in the Banat region of Romania.
Tomorrow, we hop a four-hour train to Belgrade Serbia. Ron Mitchell