Africa Tour August 2011 - August 2012
When I crossed from Bulgaria to Romania - it was just fantastic! Sunshine on the first day! What a difference that makes.
The border crossing was easy. Pretty much just crossing the bridge
across the Danube river. They checked my passport for a few seconds on
either side and I was ready to go. Praise to the European Union!
Romania is famous for three things: Gypsies, Dracula and the Carpathian
Mountains. Those apparently having the highest population of Brown Bears
anywhere in Europe. Do these three things sound like a god place to
spend some time in? Well...
I picked a route to cross Romania within two days, a route travelling
through as much of the Carpathians and the Transylvania region as
possible. Sleeping one cold night in the town of Voineasa, right in the
mountains and one night in Oradea near the border to Hungary.
Lots must have changed in Romania lately. There are no more Gypsies. I
could not find any vampires either. And even the Brown Bears hid from
me. Instead I found a country completely covered in saturated green. The
lowlands green from wheat and sunflower fields. But much more
impressive the Carpathian Mountains. Up to 2500m high they are cold. But
awesome. The mountain range seems to be entirely covered in extremely
dense pine forest. Even the steepest mountain slopes. The ground plays
host to all sorts of green stuff: grass, moss, small bushes. Everything
in the healthiest shades of green imaginable. A big Brown Bear would
just fit perfectly into the wildness of this picture.
The mountains were by far the most impressive part of my journey through
Romania. Mostly the road follows a river as it cuts it's way through
the ranges in deep shady gorges. One side of the road is a sher rock
wall. The other side a fast flowing clear mountain river. On the other
side a steep rock wall many hundred meters high. And so you wind your
way through the mountains, side by side with your new mate the river.
Sometimes the gorge gets to narrow and the road has to climb up to a
mountain pass. Which then offers you wide views into the wilderness and
you see the huge scale of the landscape.
The climate as you can imagine in this sort of area is cold and wet. I
had to ride through two thunderstorms today. Once you are in the
mountains, there is no shelter. You have to ride through. However, they
were not intense enough to penetrate through my rain gear. Which is
good. Because it was so cold. Being wet in these temperatures would be a
Once through the storm the sun came up and the mist rose out of the
forest like big white clouds. The air smelled fresh and crisp. And my
little Suzuki and me, we were just riding along the winding road in awe.
She seems to like this style of environment and is running as if she
was brand new. Her decent age of 44000km still does not show.
Compared to Bulgaria the roads in Romania feature less potholes. But
more construction sites. Where the asphalt has been removed. And the
surface is often turned into deep mud by the rain. But nothing my brave
little Suzuki and her Africa trained rider could not manage.
Romania seems to be a lot better off compared to it's South Eastern
neighbour. The houses are in top shape. There is a lot of tourist
infrastructure. Starting from Tourist Information Centres, lots and lots
of Pensions, Hostels, Hotels, Motels, Campgrounds. And souvenir shops.
There are also a lot more people. Apart from the mountains the roads are
usually flanked by small villages. All side by side to each other with
only short gaps in between. The speed limit in settlements is 50km/h and
is enforced by quite a few radar equiped Police cars. Which makes
travelling off the freeways a very slow affair. But a scenic one. You
see a lot of people. But not many young ones. There is this
stereotypical image how an old grandma with her headscarf sits right
next to the old grandpa with his hat. Just on a bench outside the fence
of their home. Watching the world go past on the road in front of them.
This picture is so common, any given time, any given place. When you
stop to ask for the way people are very eager to help. They talk and
talk and talk. In Romanian language. Which is quite similar to Italian.
No one speaks English. They dont seem to care and keep talking to you.
And somehow you get the idea of which direction they send you. Very
popular is also to draw little sketches for you. I've got quite a few to
keep as nice souvenirs.
Along the road kids often greet you, waiving their hands. And young guys
often shout something and give you a military style greeting. Mostly as
a visitor you will feel very welcome in Romania.
There are only a few days left in this journey. Traversing the rather
small countries of Hungary, Slowakia and Czek Republic into Germany.
This really comes down heavily on me. The last few nights I did lie
mostly awake thinking. Thinking about the journey. Thinking about the
people along the way. And what happens after. How to go on from here.
How to get the most out of the experience of the trip. It's strange how a
journey of this nature has an effect on you. The journey has been my
life. All day every day. For ten months. And more counting in the
preparation phase. Finishing it feels like breaking up with your
girlfriend. Deep sadness about the end of the 'relationship', the great
times past. And just a bit of excitement about the new life ahead. Two
or three more days is all that's left. Hard to believe...
01/06/2012 Romania pics
A typical village in the Carpathian Mountains. There is a river. There
are houses, very nicley looked after. And a lot of mountains either
Churches of this kind of architecture can be found in most towns and
villages. Mostly two or more church towers. And often a colourful
painting over the front entrance.
Riding into the clouds. As the moisture of the recent rain lifts as thick mist from the forest.
'Four' seemed to be my little Suzuki's lucky number today. Kilometrewise
it's more than once around the world. But she is still in perfect
shape. Lovely bike!
When I took this picture the temperature
was around 10 degrees Celsius. I was completely wet from the
thunderstorm I just had to ride through. As the wet road still shows. I
was cold. But the air now was perfectly clean. It smelled of a mix of
wet pine trees and the typical wet smell of a landscape after rainfall. I
love this sort of conditions. Pure crisp nature.