Our Romanian Working Holiday | Visiting a Place our Grandpa Has Been

One of the hidden blessings of living in the van has been the amount of travel we’ve been able to do. With limited bills and no worries of leaving a perfectly well flat behind, we can up and leave at any moment to experience a new culture/place. This time guiding us to a week visiting Timisoara, Romania.

With the month off truly being a time to write a dissertation and catch up on a lot of work for Heather, we weren’t really bothered with where we would head. After all, we would be spending most the time just staring at our computers anyways. Now, most people, in fact, everyone we’ve talked to about this trip responded to this in such a confused matter, wondering why the heck we would “travel” to somewhere new when we wouldn’t be exploring much anyways. But we’ll let you in on a little secret.. we’re kind of obsessed with getting out as much as we can, and take every opportunity to experience a new place. Have you caught on to that idea yet?!


And quite honestly, what better way to actually feel like a local in a place, than to set up in a flat for a week at a time, working as usual and then going out just once or twice to “see the city”? Yeah, you read that right. For the week we spent visiting Timisoara, Romania, we only went into the city twice. Once to wander around and go out to dinner after four days in the flat, and the second time was the day we were catching our train to Budapest.

But even so, we feel like we got to experience what it would be like to live in Romania. Was it cheap.. YES!! Was the city nice.. YES!! Were the outskirts a little like South America.. YES!!! We got a brief glimpse into the country, only leaving us wanting to experience more.


Visiting Timisoara, Romania.. but first, London 

After finishing up class and a few meetings on Friday (October 6th gosh that seem’s like forever ago now), we still hadn’t decided where we wanted to go for the month. We were waiting to see if we could find another last minute holiday with Thomson, before planning a trip anywhere. Though, come Friday, we still hadn’t found something that suited our budget and needs. With more options for last-minute deals from London, we decided to just head to London for the weekend to start our break.

{Traveler’s Tip… Thomson typically has really great last minute holiday deals, like when we stayed in Spain for a week, half board for $300 including flights! Check out their last minute deals here.} 

London ended up being such a blast! We fell in love with London after our first trip there and have been dreaming of spending more time there since – mainly to indulge in the amazing food London offers. On top of that, Heather has been really wanting to catch a train through the countryside here, so when we found a train from Aberdeen to London for a really good price heading out on Saturday, we jumped on the chance to kill two birds with one stone!

{Traveler’s Tip… Trains from Aberdeen to London can be super expensive, however, if you’re flexible with times and dates, you can find some really great deals.  Sometimes they’re even cheaper than the cost of flights when considering paying to get in and out of the city center. Check prices here.}


We stayed the weekend in London near Golders Green at a cute little AirBnB with the sweetest host, and had no plans but to eat good food and find the next place we were going.  As we got off the train, we were hurried out of the station because of a gun violence scare. (This turned out to be false from what we understand). But, the scare led us to finding a restaurant with a line well out the door. We asked the people in line about it, and everyone said, “Trust us, it’s worth the wait.” So we waited nearly an hour in line, and man… it was TOTALLY WORTH the wait!! (We actually ended up going back to this place again on our way back to Scotland too.. it was that good!)

{Traveler’s Tip… Eat at Roti King. It’s Malaysian food, and it’s to die for. With dishes under £8 it’s right on budget too! Find it near Euston Station.}  


The second and maybe even better surprise “food” we had in London this trip was from our favorite market – The Borough Market. We went there to get food, obviously, and then ended up finding a place with HOT APPLE CIDER!!! Oh. My. Goodness. I was SO excited to find this… It’s one thing I’ve missed most about the fall season in Oregon, and couldn’t contain myself from getting a cup! I’m smiling now, rereading/editing this post again! 🙂 🙂


Okay… But What About Visiting Timisoara, Romania?!?

First.. why the heck Timisoara — we never even heard of the city before visiting it! But, if you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you probably already know we tend to let prices of flights/accommodation determine where we visit – like when we went to Poland. However, when we found the flight to Timisoara, we had more than just that in mind.

Heather’s grandpa spent some time in Romania years ago, and when we surprised our family in Oregon last February, he’d ask if we made it to Romania yet. After seeing how he talked about Romania, we couldn’t help but want to visit the country too.

Timisoara Travel Guide, Things to do in Timisoara, Romania, Timisoara Cathedral, arboursabroad

And thanks to good ol’ technology these days, we were able to FaceTime him while we were in Timisoara. As he shared his memories with us, I was nearly crying. He had come over here to serve the people of a country in a way most can’t understand. There was so much emotion in his face and voice, that when we got off the call with him, I couldn’t help but sit and ponder the stories he told. I sat on the balcony just imagining what his life was like while in Romania, and what our experience was going to be. How though completely different, it’s really cool how we can both share stories of the same country. It made me excited for the time where we can hopefully pass on our stories to our grandchildren with the same emotion in our eyes.

{Traveler’s Tip… We truly can’t explain the emotions we felt visiting a place our grandparent had been. If you ever get the chance to visit a country where a grandparent visited years ago, do it! It really takes the trip to a different level that’s more than just “travel”.}

Getting to Timisoara City Center from the Timisoara Airport   

When looking for traveler tips or things do to in Timisoara, we really didn’t find much information on how to get into the city. Like other places in Eastern Europe that we’ve visited, we found that it’s not a tourist hot spot. A.K.A. it’s just the place for us! We knew nothing about the city itself and had NO idea what to expect when getting there. After just over and hour delay, we landed in Timisoara after midnight, and were greeted with nothing!

Everything at the airport was closed. There was literally one cab waiting outside, that was gone with the first person off the flight, so a cab was out of the question. Our host had told us we could take an Uber from the airport, so we figured we wouldn’t need local currency, but with the late hour, no Uber’s were available either… we were in a pickle!.

{Traveler’s TipUber is a great way to get around the city. While there are cabs in Timisoara, the drivers try and scam you. With Uber, you don’t negotiate prices, and you pay with card through the app. Super easy and convenient. However, there aren’t too many in Timisoara, so you’ll have to be patient with availability of an Uber driver.}

After wandering around the airport, wondering what the heck we were going to do, a guy came up to us and offered to call a cab and share a ride into the city. If we’re honest, we were a bit hesitant at first. First off, where the heck did he come from, and, were we going to be safe or taken somewhere to be mugged? After talking with him for a bit we realized he was just a super nice guy also looking for a ride into the city, and decided it was safe to share a cab with him!


Visiting Timisoara, Romania — Yet Another Underrated City in Europe 

Most of our time in Timisoara was spent at the flat just outside the city. While we love our home on wheels, we needed to have a place where Jay could set up a workstation, stay up late, and just write away.

{Traveler’s Tip… AirBnB seems to be the most affordable way to stay in Timisoara. We recommend staying in the city center to really take in the city if you’re not on a working holiday like we were. If you’re new to AirBnB use this code to get a discount on your first stay and give us a discount on our next stay too! #winwin!} 

It was actually really nice staying in a flat the way we did. We got to experience what it would really be like to live in Timisoara, walked with other locals to and from the grocery store, and hung out on our balcony enjoying the view. There were loads of big bugs on the balcony, and one night we decided to try and throw them off the deck to feed the bats flying around. To our surprise, the bats LOVED them! We spent the next like 15 minutes finding bugs and throwing them off the balcony for the bats to swoop in and get! We’re still kids at heart! 😉


After four days in the flat, we finally decided to actually visit the city of Timisoara. Driving into the city we couldn’t help but laugh. We had been in our own little world for the first four days, we honestly were like little kids pointing and talking about all the new things we were seeing.

We asked the driver to take us to the center of town, and he couldn’t have picked a better place to drop us off! He pulled over right next to the Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral, we hopped out of the car with huge smiles on our faces, ready to explore the unknown.

{Traveler’s Tip.. Visit the Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral! It’s a gorgeous cathedral, and the inside looks like a Wat from Thailand, without a big huge buddha of course.}


With no idea what the city had in store and food on the mind, we got lost just walking down the streets in search of a place to eat. We quickly learned that Timisoara is seriously the cutest little city. We kept running into square after square surrounded by pretty buildings, loads of walking streets, and people just relaxing enjoying their day.


We were so impressed by how people friendly the city was. It seemed like all roads in the center were walking streets, and even had bike/skateboard lanes too!! We later found out (from one of our Uber driver’s) that in recent years, there’s been a huge push for Timisoara to be more about the people. The country has been working on making the cities (Timisoara being it’s second largest after Bucharest) a place that people can go and really enjoy. That being said, they’ve done a ton of work turning roads into walking streets and setting up inviting squares and places to just relax.

After walking around for a few hours, we really worked up an appetite. We’d read about a place in town serving really good Romanian and Serbian food, so we decided to check it out for a late lunch/early dinner. After walking over a mile to get to the restaurant, it looked as if the place was completely closed down, but we tried the door anyway, and praise the Lord, it was open!! However, not going to lie here, we felt SO awkward walking into the restaurant. The tables we set SO nice, and in our scrubby clothes, we were so out of place. We stayed anyways, and man, are we glad we did!
{Traveler’s Tip.. Have a meal at Restaurant Dinar. Our meal including a carafe of wine was only around 20 USD, and the atmosphere is really nice, after you get over the intimidating fancy side of it!}


One thing we quickly realized after looking at the menu was the absurd amount of meat dishes. I don’t think you could order a dish without heaps of meat if you tried. Even the salad had meat. But, the food was amazing, and the {boxed} wine even better! – When a place has good boxed wine you know it’s a good restaurant. 😉



Check out those dishes!! Heather got basically FOUR HAMBURGER patties of meat and Jason got TEN pieces of Serbian meat (and it was the small version of the dish). AND, we ordered the Romanian sausage just to try it, and for a dollar, THREE HUGE pieces came out. It was insane. Talk about a meat overload! Needless to say, we had dinner for that night and the next in just that one meal, and were happy to have a long walk back to the city center to walk off some of the food!


That night, we went by the church again to see it in better lighting and try and go inside. However, Heather felt a bit uncomfortable going in in shorts, so we just peered in from the outside instead. After making our way to the train station to buy tickets to Budapest, we went back to the flat, and worked the night away and all day the following day before hitting the city again for a few hours before our train took off!

{Traveler’s Tip.. If you’re planning to visit the Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral, be sure to cover your shoulders and knees, and out of respect, remove your ball cap. It’s a gorgeous cathedral inside and out, so don’t miss out on it!}

Leaving Timisoara, and Taking the Train from Timisoara to Budapest

When we were looking at where to go from Timisoara, we realized how close Budapest was. We debated traveling to a new part of Romania, but since Budapest has been a place we’ve wanted to visit for quite some time, we went there instead.

{Traveler’s Tip.. Book your trains at least one day in advance. While it doesn’t seem like they’ll get full, they do cost more if you book it the day of your trip. And you’ll be traveling from Timisoara Nord to Budapest Keleti.}

The day our train was leaving, we spent a few hours in Timisoara because honestly, we didn’t get enough the first time around! We went straight to lunch and got a killer daily menu including veggie lasagna and pork chops.


We were so happy to find the restaurant we did. It took us right back to South America where we were getting “Menu del Dia” for around 1 USD each, including soup, a main dish, dessert, and a drink. While the “daily menu” in Romania is around 6 USD each, it is still a killer deal and a great way to get a meal in! And… the outdoor seating along one of the walking streets made for the perfect place to people watch!


We literally ran to the train station running late per usual, happy to find out our train was running late too! And left Romania only hoping to go back and visit more of the countryside we heard so many great things about.


Going back through some of our old posts recently has made us a bit sad that we haven’t kept up to date with writing about our stories and experiences on the road. It’s so fun for us to go back and read things we would have otherwise forgotten about and see photos that take us right back to that moment in time.

While we’re going to still publish our travel advice and tips and more “travel guide” posts, we’re also making a commitment to share more of our real, raw stories with you. We’ve missed it, and are wondering if you have too. Writing these types of posts make us feel more connected with our friends, family, and readers by sharing our little snippets in time in the places we’ve been.

And trust us here, although we’re away, we talk about our friends and family often and wonder what you’re all up to too! We’d love to hear from you. From a simple hello to know you’re there, to a message on what you’ve been up to, we want to hear it all!

Hoping you enjoyed our story,

Heather and Jay

Visiting Timisoara, Romania, Disney, Cathedral, Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral, arboursabroad


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