courtyard in Bucharest

Part 1: Going East

Some weeks before I left for my five month university stay in Bucharest my mother suddenly asked me where I take the courage from. I was surprised - travelling and living abroad is something a lot of my friends like to do, it didn't occur to me that it was something courageous to do.

But when I thought about it, I became a bit nervous. I had been to Romania before, and knew enough about it to not spend too much attention to those people who only associate it with poverty, and with the sad images of half starved children in orphanages and the bloodshed of the revolution against the Ceausescu regime that had circulated in Germany in the early nineties.

I knew I liked the country, but the fact that I was going there by myself, especially the fact that I was renting an apartment for which I had no contract, just an agreement with the owner via phone (and the last and only time I spoke to him had been some weeks ago already, as well), made me a bit nervous after all. But then, I had been looking forward to this over a year.

A friend of a friend gave me a ride from Berlin to Arad, where we arrived around noon on a cold but sunny Saturday end of February. While waiting for my train I could take in the atmosphere of the Arad train station, of people selling things or hanging out in an empty field in front of the station, while some stray dogs ran in between them. I couldn't yet guess how pretty the centre of Arad with its Habsburg architecture is, I would discover this during my second visit in July, towards the end of my stay in Romania.

I boarded an international IC train coming in from Hungary, which was a luxurious choice. In Romania, there are four types of trains: IC trains are the fastest, but also the most expensive ones, and only go to the biggest cities. The Rapid and the Accelerat are about similar in speed, but the Rapid is more expensive and also more comfortable. The Personal is the slowest and cheapest, and goes to all the small towns and villages. While seat reservations on the other trains are required, people can still get on a Personal when all seats are already taken, and thus these trains can get quite full. But at the same time for me as a foreigner, the Personal always seemed the most fun in an adventurous way.

Pat 2: My new home

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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