After the Black Sea we were heading back inland. Still some of the most spectacular Mountain Passes were waiting for us but before we wanted to visit Gavin and his wife Andrea living next to Brasov, who invited us to stay with them. On the way to them we stopped at the Mud Volcanos at Buzau County which were formed from the eruption of gases; an unreal lunar-like landscape. The gas pushes the water and the clay to the surface and creating small cones. Gavin is British and living since many years in Romania and was travelling with his motorcycle diverse countries. We had some real nice evenings together while we were exploring the surroundings of Brasov on day trips such as Transbucegi or the area of Bran Castle.
About our next destination we heard and read a lot already and it is probably a must for any motorcyclist visiting Romania: The passes of the Carpathian Mountains Transfagasrasan and Transalpina. We ready ourselves and reckon with a lot of traffic. Not sure if we were just lucky or if it was because of the time of the year but it wasn’t much traffic at all and we really enjoyed the riding and had several stops to relish the beautiful views. The Transfagarasan is 91km long and passes through the highest mountain group of Romania, the Fagaras Mountains. At the initiative of Nicolae Ceaucescu this road was built while using 6520 tons of dynamite and 40 workers died during the construction. The highest road is the Transalpina which reaches the attitude of 2145m at the Udele Pass; both mountain routes have a charm of its own and are closed during the winter. Apropos weather – we had sunny days only so far and even up here still around 25°C.
One more destination we really did not want to miss: The Danube´s Boilers; located south west of Romania at the Serbian border. Gavin highly recommended driving along the Danube on the Serbian side. But for some reason the decision was to stay in Romania (we need a reason to come back and travel Serbia as well :) One of the first attractions from the banks of the Danube River is the Statue of Decebal, the last King of the Dacians. The route is really scenic, fantastic landscape with caves and stone carved shapes and again we were surprised how little traffic we had, often it was just us on the road.
One day of rain: on the way towards north again we had a grey sky and stormy wind. But we continued. Partially it was pretty uncomfortable but nearly as a return we caught a sight of a curious looking house in the middle of nowhere and we stopped. An old man and a dog were coming out, talking to us and making inviting gesticulates. His name is Achim Emilian and he founded his private museum. A collection of incredible many things lovingly displayed relicts of several centuries and each single piece accompanied with a story by Achim. About 2 hours we spend with him, listening to each other and laughing together. A MUST TO SEE and TO MEET! Don’t be shy: Achim Emilian, Loc. Almasu Mare Nr. 109, COD: 517030, Jud. Alba
As a closure of the journey we wanted to visit the Turda Saltmine close to Cluj-Napoce. The mine being first mentioned in 1075 and it was renovated and it reopened its doors in 2010 and is now a history museum of salt mining. Clearly it was time to go direction Vienna and for the way back we chose little roads winding along the north of the Apuseni Mountains close to where we started about 3 weeks ago. That was where “our muddy dog story” happened which you might have heard about already (it was posted on Facebook, RTWbyBIKE.com).
Romania is a real beautiful multifaceted country and it is not easy to recommend any specific place as there are so many – and probably still many places nobody talks about. Just follow your nose and take time for stops and chats. There are wild dogs, yes. They are not pleasant towards motorbikes and you should pay attention – but it is definitely not a reason not to go.
On the way back to Vienna we thought it could be nice to have a stop at the famous Balaton, Hungary just for the sunset a jump into the water and a nice dinner. But hey, EVERYTHING was closed, the camps and the pensions. For an hour we were looking around and if they offered us a room it was completely overpriced and a muggy stinky place. It turned dark and so we decided to continue north direction Vienna and looking for anything along the road. In the end we stayed in a Hotel which was not cheap but as well not run-down and therefore worth the money. Our last day was reserved for BigTom who travelled 4 years with on his bike and settled now again close to Vienna. We were pleased to see him again and spend a wonderful relaxed time together.
Thanks to everybody we met along this trip. Again we met only friendly open people who made our little journey to another great experience!