I only spent 5 days in Romania as I was in a hurry to get to Poland. I rushed through it but I got to see the main attraction that riders all talk about… The Romanian Carpathian Mountains.
But first things first…
I must admit I’ve developed a little obsession with Romania… I got a little obsessed with the Gypsies! I’ve always found their history and culture quite fascinating and having a nomadic soul myself, I can relate to their way of life. Romania has the largest population of Gypsies in Eastern Europe, there are whole villages occupied by them here. Throughout my whole stay in Romania I was looking for them, wondering about them, but unfortunately I didn’t get to meet any 🙁
Gonzo told me about a village with gypsy mansions “Just follow the road to Buzescu and you will see these massive villas built by the gypsies – it’s quite an interesting scene.” Once I entered Buzescu I knew I was in the right place! Big houses for one family…
Before I started exploring the mountains I stopped for the night in Ramnicu Valcea. My Couchsurfing host showed me around the town and the local area. Vidraru Dam is quite spectacular and definitely worth visiting.
The next morning I rode off early because I just couldn’t wait to finally get on the road. It was the beginning of October and my last chance to ride this legendary mountain pass this season as it would be closed in a couple of weeks.
As I was getting closer I could see that the rain was hanging over the Transfagarasan. I stopped in Curtea de Arges for breakfast. No need to rush I thought – riding my Karoo knobbies on the wet, twisty asphalt would be an average experience anyway. Despite the morning shower and chilly temperature I was very lucky with the weather, a few days later there was snowfall there.
After a nice coffee and some breaky the weather cleared up and I was good to go!
There was about 70km of twisties, of which 20 km was very scenic, like this…
All the way up I was thinking, where should I stop to fly my drone and in no time I found myself in the tunnel, which meant I was almost at the top of the mountain already. Damn it was cold (Chillie showed 2 degrees) and the fog was so thick I couldn’t see much except for some tourists here and there, trying to get a panoramic photo? It’s moments like this that you come to realise that heated grips are the best invention in human history!
“I guess it’s pointless to fly my Honey here.”, I turned around and rode about 3 km down the hill. The temperature raised up to 4 degrees and the sun was shining over the valley. Yep this will do, I let Honey do her job…
On the way back up to the tunnel I stopped again, this time to take a picture of a toilet. Weird I know. But what a view 😉
Once I passed the tunnel I stopped again for a quick picture in the fog…
…as I started riding the fog came in and covered the whole road! “Lucky there was no traffic at this time of year” I thought to myself as I rode down slowly.
After a few kilometres the fog was gone so I could enjoyed the sun all the way to Sibiu where I stayed for the night.
Sibiu is a lovely little historic town with plenty of nice restaurants.
I stayed in the 13 Hostel for the night which is located in the heart of the old town. Getting there involved a bit of riding on the footpath in a no entry zone but luckily I didn’t get fined. The hostel manager let me hide Chillie in their outdoor area so she was out of sight. The hostel wasn’t the cheapest (50 Lei = $15 for the dorm) but I must admit it was one of the best hostels I’d stayed at. New, very clean and had great facilities. Highly recommend it.
The next day I finally got to see what all the excitement was about with the famous Transalpina – which is one of the highest roads in Romania (it tops 2,145m above sea level). It’s not as scenic as the Transfagarasan but the corners and pavement are smoother so I can see how this road turns into a race track in summer! A very enjoyable ride…
So Transfagarasan or Transalpina? I think I got asked this question one hundred times.
It seems to be that there is a little debate going on amongst Romanian road enthusiasts and for some reason you have to have your favourite one. I wish I didn’t know anything about these roads and just rode through them with no expectations. Then I’d say “Wow, what a beautiful ride that was!”
But when you hear “This is the best road you’ve ever ridden” …well, you develop very high expectations and you can get disappointed very easily. I think anyone else who’s travelled through the mountain passes at 4300m above sea level in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will agree with me that everything else stops being magnificent and it’s just a nice ride.
So I don’t have my favourite all I can say is – “do it, I recommend it”.
From the Transalpina I took a turn to Petrosani. The road was narrow and ripped apart in some sections due to road works, but there was something magical about riding along this little creek.
My accommodation was sorted out by Andrei from Timisoara who had contacted me via Instagram with an offer of help. He had organised accommodation for me at his friend’s cottage in Pesteana.
Rares and Gabriela have a couple of cottages on their property and they are an awesome couple – real bohemians and they had a few more guests from New Zealand and Australia. We had a great afternoon full of laughter listening to the local stories about Dracula.
The next morning I said goodbye to my hosts and the other guys and headed to Timisoara. This time Andrei very kindly helped me by booking me into a very nice hotel – The May Residence owned by another of his friends.
It had been a while since I had had the opportunity to enjoy such luxury…
It turned out there was a little family celebration that night so I joined them for a specially made goulash.
Sharing is caring so I thought I’d repay his kindness and offer some help to Andrei, but clearly he wasn’t interested.
The next morning I squeezed in an interview just before my departure 😉 and I don’t know what was going on, but I was like a cat magnet. Hope I don’t turn into a crazy cat lady.
Next Stop: Hungary…
Duration: 5 days (2- 6th October 2017)
Total km’s: 944km