As an ideal alternative to being responsible and saving money, I have been traveling Europe since the middle of September. Although this continent generally lacks the vivacity of Asia and Latin America, something keeps me coming back – maybe it’s the dairy products. I traveled with my father in Paris and Budapest, and we spent a rather intense month together in Italy. I could talk about Paris, which was charming, electric, but probably not worth the 3 Euro espressos. Or I could talk about Budapest, a city I had reviled after an earlier visit, when a drunk Hungarian threatened violence against me for reasons too dumb to explain, but which I have now realized is filled with quirky, acerbic, and weirdly charming personalities. I could talk about Naples, which stunned me with its unexpected and delicious pizzas and its sidewalks filled with garbage and poop. Or about Pompeii, which amazed me with both its sheer size, on the one hand, and with the intimacy and detail of its domestic wall paintings, on the other. I could share my trite and predictable love for Rome, with its mix of millennia-old sophistication and inimitable Italian liveliness, and the miraculous fact that even the poshest restaurants in the center will still sell you a cappuccino for a Euro. But really, I’d rather talk about Serbian buses.
You might my say my real adventure began when my dear father flew back to Canada, and I flew out of Rome for the somewhat arbitrarily-chosen destination of Timișoara, Romania. Being located near the Serbian border, it was a cheap gateway to the Balkans (thanks, Wizz Air!), and also an opportunity to give Romania a second chance after my rather dispiriting first visit. Even with the beauty of the snow-covered Transylvanian forest and a certain railway cop’s charming disregard for protocol during my last visit, it was not a country that I had any desire to return to – but as it turned out, my weekend in Timișoara was absolutely delightful. I could talk about Timișoara’s low-key charms, its tranquil riverside, and its amazingly friendly women who disproportionately resemble supermodels. But obviously, none of this would be as interesting as talking about Serbian buses.