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Thread: Five days in Romania

  1. #1
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    Five days in Romania

    If you’re sticking around, grab yourself a cuppa and allow me a few lines, if you will, before I get into the pictures:

    You may have read one of my past tour reports, I try to do one each year to encourage others to do the same and to give something back, but then again, perhaps you haven’t. I’m allowed nine or ten days off from family duties once a year to embark on a boy’s week away on our bikes. This year, 2017, was my tenth year and as if to mark the occasion, I decided that we’d do something a bit more adventurous than the Alps, Pyrenees or the likes. I know, Romania isn’t exactly Outer Mongolia but it’s about as far as ten days will allow from Cambridgeshire without airfreighting my bike.

    This year, for various reasons, our usual group had reduced to three. I was disappointed that a couple of the other guys weren’t able to make it but the upside was that the trip was easier to organise and we were much less likely to spend a third of our time trying to find he who likes getting lost. So it was the three amigos; me, Sid and Andrew.



    The plan;
    Set off Thursday morning. Ride from St Neots to Dusseldorf via the Eurotunnel, overnight Motorail to Vienna, ride across Hungary to Romania. Five days riding in Romania, back into Hungary stopping overnight in Budapest then back to Vienna for the return train to Dusseldorf and finally back home the following Saturday via the tunnel. And breathe.

    Day 1
    ; ST Neots to Dusseldorf.




    Having got down to Folkstone, the crossing was as efficient as usual and we were soon en France! Our route took us north into Belgium and until we hit Antwerp everything was going fine. Through Antwerp was a nightmare, even on the bikes but it wasn’t long before we arrived in Dusseldorf and made our way to the motorail station. Right on time we told to load our bikes.




    It’s advisable to wear you lid when boarding. The deck is very low and I heard of someone properly slashing their head open due to not wearing their helmet.





    Bikes safely aboard and tethered. Nice.

    There were some nice classic cars on board including a Merc Pagoda. One of my favs.
    I opted to take the motorail as it’s the only way to do Romania within the time and have enough days there to see something of the country. By road, unless you’re Nick Sanders, it’s long three days each way and I wanted to ride the Transfagarasan and Transalpina roads. That wouldn’t have been possible if riding all the way. The cabins are...intimate so knowing you’re companions well is advisable. It cost about £1000 for the three of us, return. You can do it cheaper in the couchette carriage but these days I prefer a small amount of privacy, the extra security plus we had a shower, albeit cold on the outward journey. Oh an breakfast was thrown in too.





    We eased out of Dusseldorf shortly before 21:00, whilst drinking a couple of beers and chatting to some German bikers.




    Day 2; Vienna to Timisoara.



    Somewhere between Dusseldorf and Vienna, the German efficiency had worn off and we arrived in Vienna an hour and a half late. I’d also forgotten that Romania is another hour behind Western Europe so suddenly we’d lost two and a half hours before we’d even left Austria. The Hungarian border is about forty miles from Vienna which we rode nervously due to not having bought vignettes. Over the border though, and a part from some very long queues due to accidents, by early evening we arrived at the Romanian border.





    Despite Romania being in the EU, you still have to go through customs and immigration at the border. A quick flash of a British passport seemed to be enough though. Note the long line of trucks behind Andrew. Freight is separated and the queue very, very long. For cars and bikes though, it took 5 mins tops.



    Safely through.

    From the border near Arad it was just over an hour to Timisoara. As were rode into town, at a set of lights, a van driver welcomed us to Romania and a little kid waved at us, his dad pointing at our bikes. We didn’t think too much of it but realised over the next few days that bigbikes aren’t that common in Romania.
    It was about seven by the time we arrived at the hotel, the Green Regina so unfortunately didn’t have time to explore the town. Instead, the hotel recommended a pizzeria close by. That would do nicely, thank you.



    TBC.

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    Day 3

    It was our first proper day in Romania and time to get out and see what this country was like. Our route would take us south into the Carpathian Mountains, the main mountain range that runs east to west through the country. En route, we’d pass through several national parks which look rather pretty and after winding our way along wiggly roads for most of the day, we’d end up in the Spa town of Baile Herculane, known in Romania at least for its thermal spring.



    Heading out of Timisoara, one of the first things we noticed was how many fields of sunflowers there were.



    Temperatures were soaring already. Before leaving the UK, the forecast was for low thirties every day in Romania. Regular stops were in order and we took re-hydration tablets too. Away from the towns, life is very rural and places like coffee shops often very basic.



    After a couple of hours, we reached the start of the national park region and the views were lovely.



    And mountains means one thing...corners.



    There were plenty of interesting land marks along the way. Some relics from the communist days, some religious and some like this:





    We stopped for lunch in a park the town of Resita. Large parts of the town were dominated by huge but redundant foundry buildings and even from the park, relics of a previous era dominated the view.





    We sat there for an hour when suddenly the repeated honking of car horns broke the peace. A convoy of old Beemers entered the park, pulling up by the cafe. All the occupant jumped out including a musical trio. Romanian folk music ensued and from a Honda 2000, a bride and groom emerged and walked through the park with their musical entourage.





    Moments like that are priceless I reckon.
    We left the wedding party and Resita behind and headed into the Semenic Cheile National Park. We frequently came upon little chapels and some beautiful churches. And the graveyards seem such joyous places, filled with colour and vibrancy.







    The winding roads continued for mile after mile offering view across the mountain and lakes.



    Time for another coffee. The terrace provided a view from which the previous photo was taken.







    This was a typical rural view with the hay stacks dotted through the fields of small holdings. Despite being a designer, farming is in my ancestry so I love passing through areas like this.



    Late in the afternoon we arrived in Baile Herculane where we stayed at the Pensiunea Dolce Vita. Baile is chocka with accommodation but the Dolce Vita had a private car park and was just on the fringe of the main town. The rooms were clean and they had a pool which after the hot day’s ride was very welcome.





    After a cool dip and beer, we headed into town. I wasn’t prepared for how busy it was.



    But like with the wedding party earlier in the day, seeing the locals dancing and laughing was a real treat.



    We ended up eating in a pretty crap restaurant but it didn’t matter. Our night ended being driven back to our hotel at warp speed in a taxi. Speaking, or writing about driving; Romanians are crazy drivers. I had read about this but nothing quite prepared me for how crazy they are. EVERYBODY tailgates. And they use up most of the road, most of the time. And then there are the dogs. There are stray dogs everywhere, everywhere. Even in the middle of nowhere, miles away from houses, suddenly a dog will run across the road in front of you. And I haven’t even got to the road surfaces yet!

  3. #3
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    Enjoying this. Keep it coming

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    Day 4

    I got up ahead of the others and went for a wander to take a few more photos. Next to our hotel was another old factory site. Romania is littered with old building like these. I don’t know whether they are relics from the communist era or simply that industry has changed.



    Did I mention the dogs?



    Breakfast wasn’t on offer but we were given a coffee. Shame the milk in it had gone off! We left the coffee and headed out. Were heading to Sibiu, a large town to the north of the Carpathian Mountains and on the way we’d be riding the Transalpina road.


    The valley out of Baile was beautiful...



    ...although the road surface kept us on our toes.





    That typical scene again;



    After a couple of hours, we stopped for morning coffee hoping to get some breakfast too.



    Breakfast ended up being wafer biscuits and coffee but at least the milk wasn’t off. In the rural communities, people often seemed intrigued to see foreigners. I guess not many pass through. We were the entre of conversation at this place although they would say hello to us. The old man sitting outside in the street gave us a wave and said goodbye though.

    A typical village view.



    And one of those pretty churches I mentioned;





    After lunch we reached the start of the Transalpina Road. After an initial steep climb up the south side, the views unfolded before us.













    The Transalpina is a fantastic road. If you’ve not heard of it before, it’s the second most famous road in Romania after the Tranagarasan. It stretches for approximately 65 miles. Some say more but for the final few miles the fun runs out. The road surface is superb, for the most part anyway, and it has every type of corner from fast sweepers to tight hairpins. We were of course lucky with the weather, that’s not always the case, but the sense of occasion of it all, having travelled so far. Brilliant, utterly brilliant! I didn’t even care about being ripped off for some stickers at the top.

    Sid enjoying himself.



    And Andrew too







    If it’s not dogs its... Mooooove



    I think this is the Oasa Lake



    Me bike



    And meee!



    We ended the day in Sibiu, a cultural town, so they say. I don’t know about that sort of thing but it was very picturesque. We stayed at the four star Sibiu Continental, yes, four stay. We lorded it up for the night. Sibiu was lovely though. The main centre being formed around two or three main, cobblestone squares. Very pretty with lots of cafes around the edges. We took a recommendation for one and headed there for dinner.







    The food was delicious. I like to try local fare when abroad and it doesn’t get more traditional than this. Goulash in bread!





    What an amazing day we’d had. The sort of day that make this trips so worthwhile.

  5. #5
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    Good o
    Quote Originally Posted by GlynnJ View Post
    Enjoying this. Keep it coming

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    Great report Haydn, now I'm really sorry I couldn't make it, hopefully the next one.

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    Five days in Romania

    Sssshhhhhhhh the balkans are the bikers best kept secret .

    Great write up . Did a similar trip last month. I will deffo go back again .

    Ps I loved Bosnia even more than Romania
    Freedom of speech and thought matters, especially when it is speech and thought with which we disagree. The moment the majority decides to destroy people for engaging in thought it dislikes, thought crime becomes a reality.
    Ben Shapiro

  8. #8
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    Good one ... thoroughly enjoyable read

    Adventure.GS
    Tours, training or custom made earplugs ... it's all here.

    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

  9. #9
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    Great write up and pictures of you all. Hoping there is more to come.

    Myself and KintessackGsr rode down to Romania in 2015 and rode both the Transalpina and the Transfagarasen. I had to laugh when you talk about the stray/wild dogs. We were both chased by wild dogs at least once while we made our way through the country. Was a great experience though and I'd do it again. I think using the Motorail is a great idea and something I wish we had used on the way home at least.

    This year we are headed back to the alps to have a little bit of a more relaxed trip and visit some of our favorites.

    Happy riding. G

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    Day 5

    We woke to see that rain had fallen during the night and a quick look at the forecast revealed that it looked likely to be with us for the whole day. I went for a wander again whilst the streets were still quiet and by the time I returned forty minutes later, the rain had returned. Usually I wouldn’t be too concerned but this was the day we were taking on the Transfagarasan road.



    Sibiu is a great location from which to head out on this famous road. It’s on half an hour or so to the start. En route, Sid’s front light went out so we had to stop to change a bulb only to find that the clip mount for the bulb was broken. He’d only just acquired the bike which was a bit annoying. We were all togged up for the rain but it was still warm and messing about doing that got sweaty.

    Like I said, it wasn’t long before we got to the Transfagarasan and we soon saw those views that many of you will have seen photos of. The climb up the north side was pretty good but then I always enjoy the accents more.









    We stopped for lunch on the way down at a nice restaurant and had another meal of goulash in bread. Perfect for such a day. Then after an hour, we got back into our by then cold, wet waterproofs and carried on.

    If I’m completely honest with you, I didn’t enjoy it that much. The Tranfagarasan, for me, was a bit like the Stelvio. Maybe you’ve got to do it, at least once, but it’s more about the experience than the ride. The Transfagarasan is a long, tight, twisty, bumpy road, particularly the south side. The bumps are relentless and that got a bit wearing. Of course the rain played a significant role in forming my opinion, but even on a dry day, it would have been hard work. But would I turn back the clock, not for a second.

    At the end of the pass we headed further east to Bran. This took us over the Runcar Pass. Now if you had a good run at that one, that would be good. Unfortunately we got stuck behind several trucks, so with that and the rain, that was pretty miserable too.

    By early evening we arrived in Bran, home of the Bran Castle with its links to Dracula. I had booked us into Pensiunea Anna and I have nothing but positive things to say about it. We turned up soaked through, dripping from head to toe but the owner, Virgil, made us most welcome. He suggested that we parked the bikes in his open sided shed, out of the rain and then set up an airier and a portable radiator to dry out all of our sodden clothes. He was an absolute star and I can’t recommend the pension highly enough. The rooms there were very clean and like new really, and the showers had plenty of hot water which is exactly what we needed after our very wet day.





    After a brief stroll, we headed for an Italian restaurant that I’d seen when researching trip and it didn’t disappoint. It was called the Trattoria al Gallo. The food was great and the service was too. Again, highly recommended.

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    Fantastic write up. Really enjoying it and feeling inspired (so you're achieving that aim)!

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    +1 , great thread !

    RBW.

    Quote Originally Posted by tjmouse View Post
    Fantastic write up. Really enjoying it and feeling inspired (so you're achieving that aim)!
    "The fact is this is about identifying what we do best and finding more ways of doing less of it better" - W1A

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    Great RR. I was there last month and agree with all your observations esp the dogs. While riding I answered a phone call from the lady who was providng us with our night's accommodation. At that moment an Alsatian appear from nowhere and launched itself onto my right boot. The poor lady's first words from me were F#cking H%ll.

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    Great RR so far really enjoying it and I was on the actual trip


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Enjoying this as it brings back good memories. Aidan1150 (his RR is on here) & I shipped our bikes into Bucharest enroute to Turkey, Georgia & Armenia in June '14

    We did the Transfagarasan from the south the first day but were stopped by a snow bank blocking the road just short of the top. At the end of the trip we rode up the Transalpina, in rain & low cloud. After a night in Sibiu we rode up the Transfagarasan from the north to the spot we'd reached a month before. The snow was gone but the heavy rain & low cloud made it a bit miserable. I plan to go back to Romania & Bulgaria some time...

    Carry on Donnie
    Just 'cos you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you !

    Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often.

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    I'm heading that way in the 12th of August...can't wait!Brilliant RR

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