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Timișoara, the largest and most important city in the Romanian Banat, has been inhabited since ancient times.
What's the deal?
Have you ever been so excited to see food that you forgot to take a photograph? Happens all the time to me, makes for a rather boring food blog… Solo travel is something I thoroughly enjoy but I often forget to document 90% of my experiences. I live in the moments, savouring as much as possible. Despite this lack of detail, I’m still going to throw recommendations out there as these are worth the visit.
Same with my accommodation, I wrongly assumed most people wouldn’t be interested in seeing the freshly made beds or the random balcony views. Lesson learnt, take more photos.
One of my favourite hostels was InVerve. Though they were mixed dorms, it was modern, bright and had huge lockable lockers. I saw a fellow traveller manage to fit both his massive hiking bag and rucksack in.
Clean, powerful showers, with enough space to actually be able to use them and large mirrors with multiple sinks meant it was easy to get ready. Whilst there’s no actual changing room, I managed to change inside the cubicle once the shower was off. A shopping tote or drawstring bag comes in handy for storing your clothes. Use flipflops and just dry your feet outside once you’re dressed. The toilets, though on the small side, were kept spotless and I never once found them to run out of toilet roll. The toilet poster with "when life gives you sh*t, flush it away" amused me.
The kitchen area is functional, with free tea and coffee. I can attest, the coffee was welcomed after partying! Clean-as-you-go, respect others and all is well. More tongue-in-cheek posters add to the fun vibe. I had a great bunch of people with me during my time here, there were many laughs shared. The beauty of hostels is the wide variety of people you can meet. I now have many new friends from all over the world.
The beds themselves were surprisingly comfortable, the privacy curtain being secured well enough to block the views of others. The one thing that blew my mind was the wire tray for your belongings – it was so practical! After so many sub-standard hostels, this was a creature comfort I hadn’t realised I needed. The tray was deep enough to hold my glasses, my power bank, and my phone. The lamp was bright, too so be mindful of that at 3AM.
Another place I stayed was Hotel Pensiunea Pura Vida, a 45-min walk out from Victory Square via Parcul Rozelor. This was a budget hotel that did the job. Slightly dated, it was clean enough but basic, my single attic room had its own toilet and shower. The aircon was needed in the heatwave but there was also a skylight. The room itself was spacious with a small TV, chair, desk with mirror, and double bed. Plenty of space for little old me.
A good location, there was enough nearby to keep one entertained. I walk everywhere so loved the longer walk into the old town. There is a Profi City minimarket downstairs where I stocked up on supplies.
The most beautiful apartment I have had the pleasure of renting in Romania, so far, was the Savoya. I ended up with an extended stay here as I was reluctant to leave Timișoara. A rooftop apartment in an old building, the setting is superb but be warned, there are a lot of stairs leading up to it. Situated perfectly for the main town, the whole atmosphere changes as you step off the street into the beautiful courtyard. The host was kind and spent a long time talking with me to make sure I didn’t miss any of the local sights, also giving me hints and tips about trips to the Danube. I loved being able to roll out, party and then come ‘home’ to this little bolthole.
Linked with Pensiunea Pura Vida is Hotel Exclusiv, next door. After travelling from Arad and arriving exhausted, I stopped here instead of exploring. I really enjoyed my meal, a hearty lasagne along with a Romanian Silva lager. Simple, tasty, and filling. Sometimes you just need some homemade style food rather than gourmet.
If you prefer a more upmarket food, read on.
I’d befriended a passing Italian in the InVerve Hostel and we decided to grab a beer together. Multiple shots later, this culminated in a culinary tour, hence us landing at Whisper Restaurant on our hunt for food. I ordered one of the most expensive steaks on the menu as I was feeling flash that day after weeks of budget travelling.
The recommended bottle of red wine was also ordered. The meat came out, smelling amazing, cooked to exact specifications (rare), while the sides of salad and potatoes were fresh and flavourful with subtle undertones of herbs and oils.
Oh, and if you want to know how to offend an Italian, just order an espresso with your steak. The sheer combination of shock and horror painted on one’s face as they witnessed this abomination has been etched on to my brain for eternity. I still chuckle about it now! I had ordered an espresso on arrival to Whisper to try and counteract the fatigue I was feeling. It arrived with my steak, perfect timing.
Symphony Café, situated on the edge of Piața Victoriei, with the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral looming in the distance, offers a wide range of beverages and desserts. I didn’t ask if there was any other food on offer, I dived straight in to a pistachio creation, with a side of coffee. Even as I sat there in the rain, my spirits rose with the combination of flavours and textures this dessert offered. A crunchy exterior and soft crème filling, it was just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. The smooth pistachio icing, framed by fragments of crunchy nut topped off the whole arrangement perfectly.
A lovely little cat café, called La Pisici, can be found in the heart of a neighbourhood. It wasn't an obvious site at first, but keep walking, it is there - just knock on the gate! I didn’t get a single picture of my coffee here, but it was lovely.
The tiniest of kittens decided to curl up on my lap and she took a real shine to me. When my coffee was brought out by Lucian, he laughed at the fact I had tamed the feistiest beast they had in their company. I spent hours here, conversing in Romanian and English, discussing everything from language, travel, and cats to everything in between. If you don’t go for the cats, go for the staff as they show genuine interest in their wards whilst also maintaining a genuine passion for customer service. The entirety of my visit was spent perched on a cushioned pallet chair in the garden, shaded by foliage. Blissful.
Recommended by a colleague, I made sure to visit La Pizza Napoletana. Just wow, what incredible pizza, the picture speaks for itself. Browned without being burnt, just crunchy enough to not be too doughy, fresh ingredients. Cooked to perfection, dare I say, it even rivalled the Italian pizzas I ate. I washed this down with a mild German beer, Warsteiner. Thanks for the recommendation, Rob!
I couldn’t fail to mention the shawarma at Pljeskavica Grill. Recommended to me by one of the locals, I came back here time and again when returning from nights out, the 24hour opening proving to be a great bonus.
Another budget restaurant I frequented was Spartan, their menu deals were great value. And they sell my favourite dessert - papanași! A traditional cream filled donut, this tasted amazing no matter where I bought it from, I highly recommend.
Timișoara offers value for money no matter what option of accommodation you decide to choose. There is something for every budget, and the travel costs are cheap. There are trains and trams in short walking distance. Flights to and from Romania are often inexpensive so you can combine these options if you don’t wish to drive.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and will return, I have plenty left to explore but also some favourite haunts to watch the world go by. Far too much fun, a whole lot of freedom and a favourable exchange rate meant that I was living my best life. Romania blew me away.