Week in Review: Week 11
This week we finished our visit in Budapest and made our way to Romania. Since we do not have visas for any country we are visiting, we need to limit our time in the Schengen Area to 90 days out of 180. Up until this week, all of our travel has been in the Schengen Area, so we are at a total of 74 days. We want to save a few days to come back to Germany for Oktoberfest, so we need to leave the area to ensure we have enough time to make it back in late September. Romania, and most countries south of Romania, are out of the Schengen Area, so this week marked the start of the next chapter of our travels.
We didn’t look into Romania too much before arriving, since we knew we needed to be in the area for 3+ months in order to reset our Schengen Area clock. So parts of this week were kind of a surprise, as we didn’t know what to expect!
Highlight of the week
Sharleen: Traveling with friends. We were fortunately travelling in Budapest at the same time as some friends from Calgary. One of Darrell’s work friends and his girlfriend are travelling Europe for 3.5 months before heading to Southeast Asia. We meet up with them in Budapest, and have now travelled to Romania with them. It’s been nice to have some company and other people to do activities with. It’s also great to listen to their travel stories, as they have visited a few places in Italy and Croatia that we plan to head to later in the year. We will be travelling with them for the next two weeks, then we are off to explore more of Romania, while they head back to Hungary.
Darrell: Cell phone plan. From worst last week to best this week! It might sound crazy that of all the things we saw this week, my cell phone is the highlight. But, on our first day in Romania we stopped into a Vodafone shop in Timisoara to see if they could help fix my phone issue. The customer service guy was great, and in his limited English we made out that I would need to get a new Romanian SIM card. Since we are planning to be in Romanian for 3-4 weeks, a month long SIM card was no issue. He walked Shar and I through the plans, and we couldn’t believe the rates! I picked a month long plan that provided 1500 local minutes, 100 international minutes, and 20 GB of data. The crazy part is that it only cost $7 CAD. The data was written as 20.000 MB, so we asked him at least 10 times to clarify that it was actually 20 GB. We couldn’t believe how cheap it was! At home we had a shared plan with 10 GB and paid close to $120 each month, so this seemed crazy to us. Just when we thought it couldn’t get better, they have a summer promotion, so I actually got a promo plan with 50 GB of data, plus unlimited Facebook and What’s App data. Crazy! I actually have no idea how I could even use this much data. Why are phone plans in Canada so brutal??
Least favourite part of the week
Sharleen: Luna. We have a French Bulldog who is staying with my awesome brother and sister-in-law while we are travelling. This is obviously the longest we’ve gone without seeing her, and I’m definitely starting to miss her! Especially because we see frenchies in most cities we visit, and right now in our Airbnb there is this adorable white frenchie. At least I get to pet her once in a while, which is great, but it definitely makes me miss our little monster.
Darrell: Roads in Romania. Before coming to Romania we were warned that their roads were not in the greatest shape. We’d heard everything from one laned highways, massive potholes, gravel – you name it! So we were prepared for some pretty terrible driving. When we crossed the border from Hungary, the highway remained in great condition, and it honestly wasn’t bad at all! The only downside was that a bunch of the roads are single laned, so it took longer to get places especially if we were behind a few trucks, but overall it wasn’t bad. That was the case right up until Sharleen navigated us off the highway on the scenic route to our Airbnb in Busteni. Man, these roads were rough! I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole for an hour as I tried to avoid thousands of potholes on the road. Some were so big our tire would definitely have fallen all the way in to it if we had hit them. It was quite the stressful and tiring drive, and I was very happy when we made it back onto a normal highway.
Favourite city/town/village visited
Sharleen and Darrell: Timisoara, Romania. As we’ve mentioned a few times, we really didn’t know what to expect in Romania. We had definitely been given a ton of warnings and cautions when we told people we were travelling here, and that actually made us excited to check it out and see/experience it for ourselves! Our first stop was a city called Timisoara. We had landed on this location as it seemed about halfway from Budapest to Busteni, and we thought it would be a great place to break up the long drive. We booked three nights here, and we couldn’t believe how much we loved the city! In a way it reminded us of Seattle, Portland, and Victoria. It’s a bit of a hipster town, with tons of craft beer, wineries, creative and awesome coffee shops, boutique bakeries, good food, and art/graffiti everywhere. There are also really cool buildings and city squares, which are colourful and full of cool architecture. We had so much fun walking around the city on our first day. It’s not a very big city, so we felt like after one solid day of exploring, we had seen all of the major sites in town. On the second day, we headed back into the city, and took our time enjoying the city centre. We had a great lunch, popped into a few shops, and sat on a patio enjoying some small batch cold brew coffee. It really felt like the perfect day. The city is also supposedly gorgeous at night time, but unfortunately it was thundering and lightening like crazy on our last night there, so we didn’t have a chance to head back into the town centre to check out the lights.
Sharleen: Charcuterie. On our first day in Budapest, we ate at a cool spot called 0.75 Bar & Bistro. It was really tasty food and seemed to be priced quite good. It was also the spot of Darrell's favourite meal from last week. So when we were wandering around on our third day in Budapest, we couldn't decide where to eat, so we went back to a place we were familiar with! This time we opted to get a couple of appetizer trays. One with veggies and spreads, and one with some meats and cheeses. I am all about these types of meals! This one was so tasty! We sat around at the restaurant or more than 2 hours enjoying the food and watching the people in the square that was right off the patio. We also chatted with an older American couple who was also travelling. It was fun talking about their adventures and sharing tips for travel. They had been to 71 countries! Overall it was the combination of food, drinks, views, and company that made this meal so enjoyable!
Darrell: Goulash. After a long day exploring Budapest with our travel buddies, we grabbed a bite to eat before we parted ways and headed home for the night. This was my first time having goulash in Hungary, and it was delicious! It was served with spätzle, which was also great, as the other times I’ve had it in Austria and Czech Republich it was served with bread dumplings. It was so tasty and rich, and had just enough heat from the hot paprika. I could definitely have a meal like this a couple times a week! It is the epitome of comfort food and is insanely satisfying! This was the only time I had goulash in Hungary, so I was happy I got to try it here at least once!
We’ve been busy travelling for 2.5 months now so we are excited to be in one place for 15 days! We are in a town called Busteni in Transylvania, surrounded by mountains and wildlife. On our second night here, there were brown bears just outside the gate of our Airbnb, hopefully we can get a pic of them one of these nights! We are happy to be in one place for such a long time, and are looking forward to exploring the awesome sights nearby. However, we are most exited to relax and slow down the pace of our travel.
We have nothing booked after this stay, other than Oktoberfest in Munich. We are thinking from here we will travel south to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Montenegro, so if you have any must see destinations in these areas (or nearby countries) leave us a comment and let us know!