Main destination for a proposed trip next year (Sep 2012) will be Romania with some interesting diversions on the way there and back.
Would be interested to hear of peoples experiences of this area, pro's, con's, recommendations, places to visit, etc etc...
Anyone done the Transalpina ?
Im in Romania at the moment working, its not to bad, cheap Fags Beer and most things Fuel £1 a litre. Beggers all over, Keep stuff locked up or out of site. Working on a new Power station had lots of gear taken on the site. The roads getting better all the time, drivers not. Mounting road brill just look out for pot holes. Hot in Summer but lots of Rain. Have fun.
Nice place worked out their last year for 6 months in Craiova. Nice people but as my landlord said to me ' were Romanian, well steel things its what we do'
Some of the roads rough. Dracula's Castle is just round the corner from the Transfrigin pass and worth a visit. Theres a nice hotel in village with OK food. Tried the pass but after driving for an hour off the main road the road was blocked with a block of concrete because of snow. They dont do warning signs in Romania.
Watch the driving and keep everything safe and secure.
Probably the biggest danger you'll face are Romanian drivers. Must be the craziest in the world or they've all got a death wish! On the main roads, endless convoys of trucks all about ten feet apart, but plenty of folk overtaking with nowhere to go except through you!
Don't be taken in by money exchange booths or wee shops in the cities, they offer a cracking exchange rate outside, but when you're blocked in by a couple of heavies, the commission rate is horrendous. And you're not getting out without paying...
If you go to Brasov, get yourself to the Blue Train blues bar. Tremendous and cheap. Just don't drink perlinka. You can forget who you are with that stuff!
I went to Romania in 2007 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I posted the experience on my web site, (see link below).
Stayed in Translyvania and did the Transfaragas Pass, before it was rated on Top Gear by Clarkson & Co. Definitely a "Must Do" ride.
As with most of the other replies the roads are the biggest danger. Best advice is keep a close eye on your mirrors as the biggest danger is from behind. Even the truck drivers will attempt suicidal overtakes and if anything comes the other way they will force themselves in without any warning so be prepared to drop back and give ground and you should be OK. Also be prepared to come around a bend and find a horse and cart plodding up the road, even in the cities, closely followed by a que of ancient Dacia cars.
The advice about beggars is good advice, especially when waiting at roadworks where the gypsy kids appear from nowhere to wipe your windscreen/visor with a filthy rag. Never had any real problems though. Found that a polite no or a gently waved finger sufficed. I have certainly had worse experiences in London.
Don't let the above put you off. As long as you are aware you should be OK.
On the plus side, because motorcycles are quite rare in Romania you can soon end up feeling like a film star as even the adults wave as you pass through towns and villages. Stop en-route and you often attract a crowd of people who simply want to look at the bike and wish you well. Food and drink were very cheap and generally good. Hotel accommodation was good as well. Went to Brasov which was very touristy, (even had a McDonalds), and was more expensive than the rest of Romania. Had no trouble using ATM's or changing money in the local banks. The people we found were very friendly, particularly in the more remote villages. Stopped for a night at a camp site in a village, went to the local bar and could't buy a drink. All the locals wanted to buy us a drink and the younger ones asked if we would mind talking to them so that they could practice their English.
Went to an outdoor music festival in a town called Campulung and had a great time. Families were out and about until late and there was no trouble at all.
All in all I found Romania to be well worth a visit and definitely one of the most interesting countries I have ever visited.
I really liked it and will definitely go back. I didn't find it as extraordinary or difficult as I was expecting but a fascinating place nonetheless. Didn't do the Transalpina...wish I had. Did the Transfagarasan...glad I did. The roads are massively variable from very good down to really bad/ pot holed so ideal GS territory. If you head out through Hungary, Budapest-Brasov is definitely doable in a day but it's a long one and not a lot of fun as the main transit routes are busy mainly with lorries. I saw loads of police checks/ hand held speed cameras...however on the main transit routes only. I took the novel approach of pretty much sticking to the speed limits to avoid stress. Wouldn't hesitate to go back but would be a bit more adventurous and do a bit of exploring off the beaten track. The driving isn't great but no worse than Istanbul or Cairo, not that I expect that to reassure you too much. I didn't really have a problem except when losing my way in a big city when I got cut up badly after hesitating...pretty much what happened to me last Thursday in Leeds.
We just got back and Romania is a country we def want to go back to. Yes the main road from Arad is very busy, dont bother camping when u can get a hotel for 25 euros, we stayed at Arad and end of Transfag. We only met friendly people and try and have a night camping at Vama Veche, its like a hippy beach!
Dead cheap as said and we had no probs with Gypsy's or anything just the odd guy trying to cell cell phones.
You will love it!
Ten of us did Romania Aug 2010, the Transylvania area, Bran, Craiova, Transfăgărăşan Highway, plus 10 other countries including Poland, Hungary etc.
In short Romania is now my favourite European country, we fully enjoyed it. Don't worry about the roads, I was on my 1150RT and wife was on her XL883L (low) yes there are pot holes and unmade roads so what we had no problems. I am definitely going again but will tour more of the real Romania (so I Romanian friends call it). Next time I will go on my 1200GS which I got this June, why well my I seem to be using the GS now more than the RT and well, its a GS made for the gravel roads then we encountered at some of the hotels.
Before we went one bike tour operator at the NEC bike show said, "don't do it alone, go with a tour company unless you want to die", get out of here! we did it no issues at all even though we did have some Romanian bikers with us.
I would describe what we saw of the country as how how I would guess England was 100+ years ago. There are little villages that you ride through with people sitting at the edge of the road selling fruit veg and 'Palinka' (very strong alcohol!). There were no hedges, fences surrounding the fields, the livestock is just free roaming. Kids runs out into the street to wave.
Great country and great ridding enjoy!