|GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The unitary semi-presidential republic of Romania covers 238.391square kilometres. It is the home of around 19.511.000 citizens, of which 92% are Christians.
The currency is Romanian Leu, worth 1,63 Danish Krone and € 0,22.
Romania has a temperate continental climate in transition, marked by some oceanic climate influences, Scandinavian-Baltic, Mediterranean climate and Black Sea.
Amount the more interesting larger mammals are the Wildcat (Felis silvestris), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), quite some Gray wolf (Canis lupus), Golden jackal (Canis aureus), Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), a lot of Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Eurasian badger (Meles meles), European otter (Lutra lutra), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa), Moose (Alces alces), European bison (Bison bosanus) and Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra).
The flora is rich too; comprises around 3,450 species of vascular plants, which represents around 30% of the vascular flora of Europe. The three major vegetation zones in Romania are the alpine, steppe, and forest zones. I will be passing through all, but here are no particular species that i will be looking for.
2/7. I get up early to program the GPS for Romania, and then check the included breakfast. Except it turned out not to be included. It is a relatively short drive into Bucharest, although the traffic intensifies. It is mainly flat farmland with only a few houses.
The left front tire have lost pressure the last two days, and I get it checked. He take the wheel of, and cover it in soap water twice, without finding any leeks. Real annoying! I get away with paying €5, but I sure need to get some Leus.
I see two Lupo's, and try two garages, to get the left rare barring changed. However, both do not really bother, and I head on. I reach Bucharest, and it is in general a pretty worn-down city. While I look for a parking, I see two mechanics standing in front of an empty garage. It turns out to be a specialize place, only doing barrings! I have a hard time hearing the GPS from the growling, and it have to be done. They can fix it within four hours, and I get to see a bit more of Bucharest, than originally planned.
It is a short walk to the incredible - or insane parliament. A thousand rooms and a cellar you can race cars in! Well, I'm fresh our of Lupo, and settle for a look from the outside. Not only the parliament, but the buildings facing it, in a crest, are impressive.
Another short walk, and I'm in the centre of old Bucharest. Here are modern glass and chrome banks, charming old buildings and piles of sunburned bricks and rotten wood. As I have nothing special lined up, I just wander around and enjoy the nice atmosphere and old buildings.
I find a antique market, the cafe area, the demolition part, the river and some huge green squares. After lunch, I return to the garage, and the car is ready. Unfortunately, it still snarl, but there are of cause still the issues with gear oil, window frame, indicator glass, brakes and other stuff. I guess it had expected a full wellness treatment. It will have, when we make it home, for sure!
Next target is Sinaia, around 150 kilometres north. It is through a lot of settlement, most real worn down. I dodge Ploiești; a huge city. The farmland takes over for a short while, before the first hills. Most fields are huge, and the wheat have been harvested, and ploughing is the season.
Here, most houses have real bad roof, while a church have it in gold! God someone can afford it! I enters the mountains with goat herds and even more shitty homes. Sinaia is a little cosy town, but I head straight through to get to Peles Castle. It is almost cartoon like, and I walk a bit around the areas forest, souvenir shops and waterfalls, waiting for a glimpse of sun. A newly married couple are getting their photos taken here as well.
Back in Sinaia, I look for a hotel while I wonder
around the streets. Again, it is a mix of real fancy modern buildings, and
ruins. Some of the old houses are well maintained, and look so great! Others
are real ghost houses.
I have seen the town in half a hour, and see no reason to stay. The next sight is 50 kilometres away, and I hope to find a roadside hotel. I do, just one kilometre from the centre of town, and to the right price. And from my balcony, I can see some of the old, charming houses.
I get their two vegetarian salads, but have to finish with pancakes with Nutella, to get enough. It is a bit chill up here, despite it is only 860 metres. The nearby mountains are covered in clouds, and look real drastic, although without snow.
3/7. It is a real crisp morning, and I put the heater on. The left front tire is almost flat again, but the first gas station is just around the corner. I pull into the next vulkanizare, and despite he can't find a leak, I ask him to redo the plug the tire got from the outside, but now do it from the inside.
He start pulling the tire off with a pneumatic gun, but fail. Then he get a bigger one, but neither of the four bolds move. Then he find a manual tool with half a meter stick and a big hammer. But despite he stands on the stick, and hammer intensely, nothing happens. He find the two-hander pneumatic gun for trucks, although he warn me: It can brake the bolts. After quite some effort, they finally loosens.
Considering they were loosen yesterday, I guess he have so much over-done then yesterday. I am so glad, I didn't stand somewhere remote with a 20 centimetre spanner and nothing else. And now I hope the tire keep the pressure.
It is a fantastic drive the 50 kilometres to Bran, through low mountains with fantastic houses, small patches of grass and hay, conifers and horse wagons. Then I reach a vide valley, and here are more hay and a few fields with crops. The sun is nice and warm, and it turns out to be a great day.
Bran is a little town with a famous castle. I park right at the exit from the castle, and do a loop around town. Here are real quiet, but the castle only opens in ten minutes. The long line of souvenir shops are slowly opening, and then the hordes arrivals.
The castle; commonly known as "Dracula's Castle" does not really look like much from below, sitting on a real pointy but little outcrop. I try to keep in front of the rest, and enters the castle alone. It is a truly pleasure to explore inside. It is a maze of corridors, staircases, halls and small rooms.
It seems like the last inhabitant left around 50 years ago, and here are a few items from that time, and way back to 13th century. I climb the stairs, walk the corridors, and make a lot of photos. After a hour, I'm out, and do a short walk through the lower garden to get a proper photo of the castle from the outside. I get away without any bite marks - I think.
From here, it is 150 kilometres through partly Transylvania. The first part is still in the fertile valley with a line of really humble villages. Many houses are made of sticks and clay - and not recently. It is a narrow road without much traffic.
The storks are on every lamp-pole they get a chance to, and they have two to four chicks in each nest. As the road gain height, the surface get real bad. Big potholes, uneven areas that look like it have been melting, and sometime, one lane is missing. It start to be forest: Some conifers, some beech and alike.
In the distance, the higher Transylvanian Mountains are seen, some with snow on the southern side. In the next huge valley, the big town of Sibiu is found. It have a huge old town, and I start exploring it. The main streets are made into lines of tourist restaurants, but the magnificent old buildings are still here. And in the alleys behind, the smaller and less maintained houses make some great motives.
I soon give up trying to see it all. I just try to find the more interesting places - and lunch. It is not easy despite the amount of restaurants - when you are a vegetarian and want something delicious. I passed a restaurant on the way in, but their pianist scared me away. When I head back to the car, he has gone, and the girl offers me a special dish.
I get a pizza-like bread, covered in fresh herbs and letish along with olives, mozzarella and tomatoes. Nothing special, but it is actually great. The pianist is back, close enough till I can touch him, but it does fare from sound as high from the key-side, and he actually play well.
It is yet another 150 kilometre drive, and where I had expected a straight road, it is a huge U, due to the mountains and rivers - and lack of bridges. The first part is heavily used by trucks, and the traffic stop from time to time. In Tutulesti, I find out: I can't do the sights AND find my way to a hotel. I re-plan while stopped, and head towards Curtea de Arges.
The road splits up, and I head the other way of everyone else. Then the road narrows down, just to end as a gravel road. I had not really expected 30 kilometres of gravel, but it is a magnificent drive - except the surface of the road. This is rural Romania for sure.
Cows on the road, horse wagons with hay, people cutting hay by hand, flipping it over and stacking it on the fields. Here are lots of hens, ducks and even gees. A few donkeys, many horses, herds of sheep and an adder, crossing the road.
The fields are fenced by pointy sticks, some houses in timber, most in clay. Here are manual water pumps on the fields although they have gotten electricity. I can't put a finger on anything, which would make it more idyllic! I wished I had more time and a rented vehicle. With my own, I have to spend way too much attention on the road.
I eventually make it to a sealed road, and soon after to the little town of Curtea de Arges. I find a little hotel, and ask about the restaurant below. I understand; it will open at seven, and I start working on the photos. Then after seven, I learn; the restaurant actually closed at seven! The few other eating places closed at six! And while passing some shops, looking for a restaurant, they get to close. Well, beans and sweet corn along with some Oreos, it is.
I wasted way too much time on food hunting, and it is going to be real late again. Tagging the photos will be in batches (which I don't like), and the diary way shorter than all the days great experiences deserve. Bran Castle, Old Sibiu and Rural Central Romania.
4/7. I get a bit of a late start, but I needed to sleep. The nearby sight; Princely Court area turns out just to be piles of rocks and the lower part of walls, and I skip it. Next up is Poienari Citadel; another "Dracula's castle". It is a lovely drive through the countryside, and I guess I see ten horse wagons.
Poienari Citadel is closed, I can't figure why, as the signs are only in Romanian. I head on towards the large lake, up in the mountains along the Transfagarasan Highway. It is through dense forest, pass waterfalls and along a white river. The road runs on shelves, through tunnels and over bridges.
I stop several times and look at the plants, despite it is a bit nippy. The lake is not that beautiful, and I head back the same way. Poienari Citadel is still closed, and two locals translate the board: Closed by the police due to bear problems. Guess they sprayed too late this year?
In a narrow valley, the little village of Arefu is found. It is cosy and rural, but not compared to what I stumbled over yesterday, along the gravel road. Even along the larger roads, similar huts can be found. I stop at the river - mainly because there are no bridge, and it is my own car.
I return to the large lake, and head deeper into the Transylvanian mountains on the famous Transfagarasan Highway. It is just a two lane road, but it run through some amassing nature.
At first, it is mainly beech, then conifers, mainly pines. Here are huge flowering orchids and some large Asteraceaes, favourite by the bumblebees. The road goes from one valley to another, although they are narrow like gorges.
In around 1500 meters height, the trees disappears, and a green grassmat covers the mountain. Among the more interesting plants are the Common Butterwort; Pinguicula vulgaris. I only wished I could have more of the area in each frame, but it is so waste!
I reach the high pass at 2050 meters height, and here are a large lake and a restaurant. They don't serve tea, and I take a chance with a latté, while I watches the mirror lake and the clouds, coming up from below. On the other side of the pass, the very characteristic serpentine road head down the mountain on a rather tree-free slope. The British TV-thing; Top Gear called it "The best driving-road in the world" - and they might be right.
Further more; here are so many great views, waterfalls, interesting plants and minerals, crippled trees and even snow. Herds of sheep travel around in long, close lines, and clouds touches the peaks. I stop every hundred meters or so, but eventually, I make it down to the trees.
I finally make it all the way down, and then I have around a hundred kilometres to next sight. It is partly of familiar roads, but the other way, and with the sun in my back: Great motives all the way. It is through rather flat farmland, with humble houses and villages, storks everywhere and tiny fields.
I reach The Saxon Highway, famous for its fortified churches, and start looking for a hotel. The first ones are insanely expensive (one have several limousines and a Rolls outside), but when I meet the lakes, a strange building houses a fish restaurant and a hotel. I get a room in one of the round buildings, and head for the restaurant. Great food, and then I work. Despite the few hick-ups in the morning, it have turned out to be a absolutely great day. Arefu Village, Transfagarasan Highway with nature.
It is time to turn the page, and head into Diary 2 with northern Romania.