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ROMANIA    DIARY  2        

Diary 1

From the southern part and Diary 1, it is not time to start on the northern Romania.
I continue on the
Saxon Highway, and planned to reach the impressing church of Biertan. It is through farmland and small villages. One is especially humble, with tiny improvised brick- and wooden houses. Then I pass a forest covered ridge, just to reach another huge valley. Her are horse wagons and storks everywhere, and a few old tractors. The city-name-signs are also in German, and hob is grown on some fields. The starlings are starting to swarm, and I feel the summer is starting to end.

I start passing familiar buildings, and too late, I realises I have overshoot the target - with around 70 kilometres. I think it is the first time on this tour, one of my GPS-points have been off. Well, there are other churches... Next target is Sighisoara, but before long, I pass one of the 300 fortified churches the Saxons build: Axente Sever fortified church. This one is really iconic, and I turn in. A tall, round wall, lined with buildings on the inside. In the middle; an impressive church.

It does feel a bit abandon inside, but the writing is in German everywhere. The tower is open, and none tell me I can't climb it - so I do. The timber work, the brick vaults from above and the fine clock-work along with the views, is a great experience. Here are a little museum in the buildings along the wall: Clothing, tools from farming and alike.

I finally make it to Sighisoara, and it is a treat. All buildings seem ancient, copplestone streets and despite the amount of tourists; a great atmosphere. I guess parts of Germany looked like this, until the Brits flattened it. I see the high-town with the impressive tower, huge church and other big buildings - along with a lot of small. Then I head down town, and see some more. I guess one could spend a week here, and still find new old houses. Never the less, I get a lunch pizza, sitting on a bench at the square, and then head on.

The next target is the road it self. Or rather roads: 13A and 13B. It start with a pearl string of small villages. It seems like all houses are old, and most lamp poles have a stork's nest. Many houses are in wood, others clay or bricks, nicely decorated. After 80 kilometres of total idyllic country life, I turn into 13B, and houses get real scares.

The landscape changes into hills, covered in bushes and small patches for hay. The hills gain size, and beech take over. Even higher up, the conifers dominates. Then some barren hill sides turn closer and closer to the road, as they gain height. A stretch have quite some hotels and I guess; a lake for swimming. I ask for prices, but they are insane.

Then the road enters the narrow and tall Bicaz Gorge. A small river runs along the road - or under it, when the gorge get real narrow. I stop several times, but making photo of  gorge like this, is impossible. I get to the other side, and set the GPS for next sight, hoping to find a hotel before.

I find a sign in a little town, and what looked like nothing from the outside is around one hectare of restaurant, hotel, ball room and alike - all build in wood. By taking a room with shared bath, I get half price, and as I'm the only guest, I can live with that.

They serve food, and I get two salads, that doesn't really fill me, and then close to half a kilo frittered cheese, that really do. I sit at the porch in front, with 30 couches to choose from, but the mosquitoes drives me away - and it is a bit chill too. Same goes for the hammocks on first floor. Well, I do have a private room.

7/7. The plan is simple: Drive to Hotel  Dracula’s Castle and back another way: Can't go wrong, right? Just around the corner, I find a huge lake; Lake Izvorul Muntelui. It is dammed, and the dam is huge! From the top, there is a great view to the lowlands.

I follow road 15 north around the lake, and here are so many great looking wooden- and timber huts. I shoot some while driving bye, but others have to be made proper. The picket fences are everywhere, and hay seems to be the only known crop around here.

Here are a lot of churches, and they all seem to be different styles, while the houses are from around five different types. I spot a bridge, and while I try to get a good photo of it and its mirror in the lake, I find a group of happy little pigs. Well, they would be happier, if it wasn't for the wire in their snouts, preventing them from digging.

Within the lake is The Devils Rock, a column of limestone. On the other side of the lake, the crash barrier have almost rusted away. The surface of the road turn worse, but the views even better. I reach a bigger village, and it have a market. Mainly clothing and footwear. Everything from tiny stilettos to Wellingtons in size 52. A few stands have ducklings and watermelons.

The road turns into the Transylvania mountains and forest, and the number of huts drops. A huge river; Colibița is filled to the top with brownish water. Apparently, it have rained a lot upstream. I saw some real bad flooding in the news yesterday.
It actually start to rain in some areas, but not that heavy. 

I see so many nice motives, although afterwards, I have to admit: They kind of look alike. I pass a single bigger town, but drive straight through. Another huge valley also create a lot of hay, and nothing else. Well, here are cows and bees.

I finally reach Hotel Dracula’s Castle, which is really disappointing. It is a new hotel, and they haven't even bothered to try! And their logo is a dragon??? Anyway, I am peckish, and order a huge Greek salad. They still leave room for some pancakes with honey and walnuts and a mug of tea.

The plan was to drive another way home, but it is 275 kilometres and it have turned two o'clock. I find another route, partly the same as out, but half is new. Only 175 kilometres, and I ought to be home before six. Well, that estimate was before I found out; it is by a real bad concrete road, and when that ends, it is the end of sealing.

Then a gravel road turns into a messed up dirt road, due to the huge timber trucks. Too late to turn around, and I still hope the next turn will be into a smooth sealed road. Here are not much more than the flooded river and huge trees. Some small valleys and some of the mountains sides are for hay, and small huts are found scattered around the vast area.

I see a fox in the road side, and some ravens on a little opening. I more hear than feel I might have a flat tire. It is impossible to feel on these bad roads. But I was right; A flat. And now, I find out the spanner that worked on the steel rims, can't reach into the magnesium rims. Didn't think that far...

I'm in luck, as the lumberjacks are heading home by now. The first car don't have any tools, but the second have a huge toolbox, and he actually change the wheel for me. Great guy!
While he is at it, I spot some Fire Bellied Toads; Bombina bombina in a flooded area. The water is crystal clear, and it look so artificial.

I finally make it to a real bad sealed road, most of the car intact. I stop at the first volkanizare I see, and get the tire fixed right away. Then I head straight home - only stopping a few times, as the motives are just too good.
Back at half pass seven, way later then desired, but it have been a great day, and sure worth it.
Transylvanian huts and more.

8/7. I'm up real early, but I think it will be a long drive today; 270 to the border alone. It is through yet some more great countryside, then I reach the city of Piatre Neamt. At one light, the car badly starts, at the next, it doesn't. The big wire turns hot, and I guess I have a shortcut in connection with the starter.

I ask around, but is seems like all the mechanics are way outside town. Further more, it is Saturday, and I have to call SOS once again. Guess I'll be stuck here for the weekend. I hack someone's Wi-Fi and find a hotel, while waiting for the tow-truck.

Before long, the car is brought out to the big VW garage, way out of town. Because of some power-line repair, they have taken the day off, and Monday it is. I get a lift back to my hotel, drop the bag and start exploring the town. It is the capital of the province, and it should be a tourist town. However, I fail to find a single, despite I do most of the town.

I gamble, and find a cup of latte - although it is cappuccino as usual. While I sip it, I compile a rather long list of to-do things. A cable-car runs way over the centre of town, and I give it a try. It leads up to a mountaintop at 639 metres, overlooking the town - and nothing else really. Here are some forest, but fare from interesting. I get a salad and head back down to the centre of town.

I spotted a mall in the far end of town, right next to the lake. I guess that will be the right place to go on a Saturday afternoon, when most shops are closed. I need a proper spanner for the wheelnuts and some good sunglasses. While I'm out in that end of town, I have a look at the rather muddy river, but can't talk my self into the lakeside.

The mall could be a Danish one, and the car-parts are in the huge supermarket. I find several lug wrenches, but is it 17, 22 or 23 millilitres??? I go for the 17 which also come with a 22. I also find a deodorant: Alum crystal, and save around 80% compared to Denmark. Strange, as there are no perfume tax on it.

I try to walk slowly back through town, and stop for a cake. The Saxons have surely taught them how to make great cakes! Usually, I get so disappointed, but this one is way better than expected. Back at four, under some black clouds, I start on the to-do list.

At eight, I find an Italian restaurant, serving some nice pasta and a Volcano chocolate cake - not bad at all!  Idel in Piatre Neamt.

8/7. I sit and work at the computer till one o'clock, then I head out in the greyish day to find some lunch, and stock some fresh vegetables for dinner. A Formula 1 race in the late afternoon is the highlight of the day. While I watch it, it is hammering down, and I feel fine being inside. Still got some work left anyway. Well, a lighter and less stinky room would have been nice.

9/7. I get a taxi to the VW garage, but get there too early. Well, the door is open, and I find a place to wait. Then the crew turns up, and I'm told; they will try to have a look at it in the late afternoon. I was prepared for that, and have found another hotel, 450 meters down the road. That is convenient for now, but then I have three kilometres downtown. If it wasn't for the needed ATM, I wouldn't go there anyway. It is yet another greyish day, and I spend most of it, at the computer.

The room is slightly more expensive, but real nice, clean and light. Around noon, I walk back to town to withdraw some more Romanian Leu. It is really annoying not to know how much I need. They are rather expensive due to the bank-fees, and changing back is not really worth it.

While I'm in town, I might as well treat myself with lunch and stock some dinner. I get a huge wrap with falafel and find some fresh vegetables. The sun peaks through a few times, but not for long.
Back at the room, I work some more, and at four, I try the garage.

They think they have located the problem: A bad connect at the anti-theft devise, and that can cause the high temperature. I don't have the tools for that, but it would have been nice to fix it my self, and save three days and €85. Somehow, I feel the brakes are a bit less effective, but it might just be the two days of rest?

I head over to a field on the other side of the road, but here are not really anything interesting, and the wind makes it a bit nippy. Back to work some more....

10/7. I'm up early, as it is a long drive. I still think the brakes are a bit weird, and I consider waiting two hours for the garage to open. It might be the car's computer that have got it wrong, due to power failures. But I am just to impatience, and start on the 270 kilometre drive to the Moldovan border. It is yet another greyish day, and the fist 150 kilometres it through one town after another. I hardly see any farmland, only a couple of larger cities.

I stop to gas the car, hoping to use the last Lei, but I gas too much, and she can't take Visa for the rest: I have to pay all with Visa, and are left with 126 Lei. No chance I can spend all of them on food! I get rite of 14 for another RoVignette; road-tax.

I turn south, and the landscape changes: Now, it is huge hills with hardly any settlement. The few villages are fairly new, and I only see a few clay huts. Close to the border, a few have stray roof. Horse wagons are real common around here, and I even see an ox wagon.

Due to the darkish day, I do not make as many photos of the huge green hills, big rivers and livestock. I keep hoping the sky will clear, but in stead, it start to rain.

I reach the border at noon, but when it is my turn to show passport, the car hardly starts, and when it do, it will not take the throttle at all. I did suspect the brake problem to be computer-caused, and now I'm sure. I try most fuses, removing the battery for some time, tingling with a lot of things and wires under the hood, but I'm stuck.

The officers get a bit suspicious at first, but I just explain my problems, and they relax. Then I call a tow-truck - for once - and start working at the computer, while the rain falls. I guess I'm going to use the last Lei after all...

After three hours, we are brought all the way down south to Galati and their VW garage. It is about closing time, and I have to wait until tomorrow at ten to get a 200 Lie diagnose. I find a rather expensive hotel close by, but think I need some spoiling as well.

Hotel Royal do not have a restaurant, and the two receptionists are not sure about where I can find one! Their surprisingly slow internet helps me, although there are no restaurant, where it was supposed to be. But I spot a supermarket, and a good thing about being a vegetarian is; you are not depending on cooking facilities. Piatre Neamt and the south.

11/7. As I have to wait for the garage to find time to analyse my car, I have a slow start at the hotel in the morning. I am indeed impatience, and further more, I am a bit concerned that the car repair might be a bit expensive, should it be the computer. I could see some of the city, but here are nothing old, as it is a rather new city, and 250.000 citizens does not make it interesting by it self. I can't find a single site worth seeing.

The deal was the SOS agent should catch-up with the garage at 10, and report back to me. I hear nothing until 12, and check out of the hotel and walk to the garage. It is a great sunny day, and I'm eager to see something else. I meet my car in the driveway, and half a hour later, I'm back on the road. It was a computer-thing, and I get away with the inspection-fee.

It is a short drive to the southern border of Moldavia, pass Ukraine. But the crossing take its time. I give my last Lei to a local, and after half a hour, I am aloud out on the bridge over Donau. One officer actually ask to see my driving license, despite I'm leaving the country. At times like that, I actually wished I had one. Well, he is satisfied with my truck-driver-education-license.

Romania is fantastic! The rural areas with the old-time farming, the wooden houses and the unspoiled nature is everywhere. Big rivers, huge forests, tall mountains along with some real lovely people, make this a country to be re-visited. I have driven 1842 kilometres, taken 1956 photos and spend €413. Hotels have made the better part with €184, food €103 and Diesel €88. The car repair is on the entire tour...

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