A little gem in Serbia – Vršac

Hello fellow budget hunters,

Today I am going to share with you a little gem we found! We had enjoyed 3 full days in Timisoara and decided that we should have one big adventure before chilling at the weekend there. So on the Friday of our adventure we decided to visit Vrsac, Serbia.

I had researched trains to Belgrade but it took over 4 hours and we had to change at Vrsac, so by the time we were there it would be time for the return journey. Instead I decided we would go to Vrsac, explore somewhere new and attempt to understand yet another language! It looked very complicated but after finding some useful blogs we decided to visit Timisoara Nord station the afternoon before to save us rushing and me panicking in the queue the next day. Our return tickets were valid for 72 hours and cost 36.88 lei each (just over £7). The queuing system was a mess at the international counter and the member of staff disappeared for ages – however we knew the times for the trains and got our tickets.

Trains to Vrsac run twice daily, one at 7.49 which we got and one at 16.35. The return trains are at 10.25am and 18.35 however these are in Serbian time (-1 hour from Romania). So bright eyed and bushy tailed – or sleepy eyed and half asleep as the reality was- we climbed aboard the pleasant looking train at platform 1 for the 2 hour trip to Serbia. This was after I decided I really needed the toilet for the 3rd time in about an hour and ran off in search of a wc. I found one and had to reluctantly pay which I regretted after I got on the train to see a free toilet!

The train stopped in 7 places on the Romanian side before stopping at the Romanian border control and then the Serbian control (at Vrsac station). The Romanian border control took an hour on the way there (making us 45 minutes late in) and took 35 minutes on the way back despite there only being 8 passengers on the train! We were also entertained by the train information screen informing us it was 08/08/1997 – a date which would have made me a few days old!

After getting our passports stamped and returned we headed off into this little town, after the first half hour of walking towards the centre I think my partner was sure I’d lost the plot. In fact I know for certain he was convinced we’d spend the whole day in the kids playpark we passed. We were then stopped by the local police to settle a bet between the two men about where we were from!

 My main aim was to find the centre and exchange some pounds to Serbian dinar. Eventually the second place we found accepted them but only in £20 notes. We did have one but had only planned on exchanging 10.. Oh well. We suddenly became very rich.

We then headed into the tourist information and judging by the helpfulness of the staff – I don’t think they get tourists often, especially not English ones! They suggested the walk to the tower of Vrsac which would take 1-2 hours.IMG_2258

We stopped in a cafe for coffee and juice before realising that like Romania, not all cafes serve food! So we walked around the square and found a lovely pasta restaurant (we have a standing joke about Italian food being everywhere). The food was lovely and cost us 800 dinar which was about £6 between us. We then embarked on the walk up the hill.

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I was pleased I got to see the cathedral which features two spires and is stunning both inside and out. We then continued up the hill, vaguely remembering the directions of the lovely lady in the TI. Due to it being midday and the baking hot sun dehydrating us faster than we knew – I started to struggle after the steps. There is 400 steps up to the two beautiful churches on the hill of Vrsac. After that it is a footpath to the tower which we ended up losing and coming to the road – however on the way back we decided it was the only obvious path up. The views from the top were amazing and I would 100% recommend this gem of a place. The medieval castle is steeped in history but so differently treated than those of western Europe.

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After heading back down, restocking on water and refueling with icecream we headed back to the square to eat after seeing only pizzerias on our route. In the square we had drinks in another cafe and decided to eat at this Serbian style restaurant.. Taking our guess at the letters on the menu we ordered two meat platters. These were pork in 3 different ways and we probably could have shared but for £9 ish all together we were happy. It also meant we didn’t have to try and convert any leftover currency in Romania.

We walked back to the station which didn’t take as long and bought a few snacks at the supermarket opposite. We then saw the train arrive and the passengers from Romania wait to have their passports stamped before majority changing to the Belgrade train. By the time we got back it was 10pm but I feel we discovered a gem of a city, experienced another culture and language, and climbed/walked about 18km in a day. For anyone interested we spent around £17 each for the day there and were overfed! I also believe if you’re in Romania then 100% go and visit this little gem of a town! Well worth it!

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