( Waymarking in Romania )

Sightseeing a City in a Day

Day 2. 15 July 2005

Friday. I woke early for breakfast to make the most of the day to find myself disappointed to find the fifth floor of the hotel in thick fog. Reassuring myself that it is not raining and that this grey weather will most likely burn off soon enough, I head downstairs, chirpily, towards breakfast. Pausing at reception I am told that the forecast is for sun and 28 degrees.

Breakfast is served in a poolside room of modest grandeur; small details fashioned from concrete and painted in simple white. Starting with cereal fruit juice, this is followed by a platter of bread, meat, and salty, creamy, goats cheese; all washed down with a large mug of black coffee.

In the early hours following breakfast and before the shops and museums open at 10 o’clock, and whilst the fog still lingers, I reccy the town. My Rough Guide mentions two museums in Timisoara, the Museum of the Banat, which although it is to be found in the fourteenth-century castle, the curators have spared ‘no effort […] to make the voluminous display of historical exhibits as dull as’ possible. I decide to give it a miss, and instead settle on finding and visiting the Ethnographic museum, of which I have heard very favourable reports.

After a whirlwind tour of the modern, and tediously dull and uninteresting department store next door to my hotel (just to see what is there), I strike out north towards the old Bastion; in which it is said that the ethnographic museum resides. Within about five paces turning the corner, I find it. Old, crumbly, red brick it is built with sloping walls, and topped by a roof of grass and bushes. Constructed as a series of triangles, these structures used to circle the old city. Now, only two parts exist, the rest having succumbed to demolition in the name of town planning. This section, in the northeast of the town, is the larger of the two, and now pay host to an internet café, and English bookshop, and a other shops, including a car showroom.

Following the road round, the lanes cut through the old archways in the city walls, and I follow the road round the outside of the Bastion. I’ve passed a Violin Museum, but it’s closed, and browsed in an antique furniture shop, but as yet have found no Ethnographic Museum. Consulting my map again, I peer into ever door and window, ask in hesitant English and broken Romanian at cafés and magazine stalls where I can find the ethnographic museum. Nobody knows. Suddenly, thinking that I have found it, I enter into a vaulted brick chamber, only to discover that it is the back – or maybe the front – door of the antique furniture shop I was in earlier…

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