Arad, Romania

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Oroshaza was quiet with cool breeze and blue sky this morning. We breakfasted on hamburger and Hungarian taco (only one cafe open) and chatted with a friendly Hungarian couple who helped us with some vocabulary and pronunciation. Our road was quiet and flat, fields of corn, sunflowers and watermelons. We saw some oil rigs presumably pumping oil.

A setback occurred when Ian’s rear pannier bolt sheared off, requiring a reassignment of luggage and a cable tie fix. We were unsure whether it would be easy to fix this, but a stroke of luck! In Battonye, far eastern Hungary, a small quiet town on a national holiday, we happened to see a bike shop open (social gathering place for assortment of blokes), and in a short time the problem was fixed, free of charge. (We tried fairly hard to pay.) One of the blokes had a sickle in the carrier on the back of his scooter – more Aussie blokes should get into scything and sickling I reckon.

Mirakel Bike shop in Battonye, Hungary

Entering Romania was pretty straightforward involving getting passports scrutinized, and telling various officials about our trip. They were all friendly. Turnu is the first Romanian town so we stopped for a drink to celebrate our arrival.

The city of Arad could be seen from here and we rode on the shoulder of a busy highway through the ugly industrial area (similar to approaching Adelaide along Main North Road actually). Then through the Ceaucescu era residential highrise and into the centre. There are some grand buildings here and a pleasant atmosphere with shady trees, grass, cafes, trams.

The river Mures flows through the city, brown and muddy like the Tisza which it joins in Hungary. Arad has clearly had better times. Many buildings are in a decrepit state, but the main civic and historic buildings are well maintained.

We met Raul, our couchsurfing host, who lives in a flat on the 6th floor of an apartment building on the main road from the border. He is a real gem, an enthusiastic host who has lots of CS visitors. We joined Astrid, a Danish journalist who was also staying with Raul.

Together we went to a small local festival behind the apartment buildings where there was dancing, music, food and beer. The dancers and costumes were very good and we were also impressed by the saxophone and accordion players.

Romanian dancers in Arad

Accompanied by Raul’s friends, Anita and Kristina, we went to the city centre where there were food, drink and handicrafts stalls. We talked about Romania, relations with Hungary, European Union, Roma, the economic situation, Ceaucescu. Both Raul and Anita are self-employed, running businesses from home, in 3D computer modelling and wine cork importing respectively.

After all we’d read and heard, we were feeling some trepidation about entering Romania. We thought the roads would be wrecked with horse-drawn carts and knife-wielding gypsies. We’re pleased to report Romania a nice place to visit (though poor and run-down). Free WiFi is much easier to find here than Hungary or Western Europe.

Romanian has experienced a lot of history in the last century – many events from the Treaty of Trianon, Soviet era, Ceaucescu era, globalisation and financial crises are all adding weight to the country’s yoke.

Bicycle route:
Oroshaza, Hungary – Arad, Romania

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