Now that I’ve been traveling in Romania for over one month (and actually reached Bulgaria already) I realized it is about time to post a little update. Romania was on my must see list for this journey, so did it live up to my expectations? The answer is not as simple as yes or no…
I entered Romania in the south western part near Turnu-Severin. As I don’t really make any plans for the places I visit, but just a basic “Don’t Miss…” List I started heading for the Retezat National Park which is a quite un-touristy mountain range. So I was really excited about going there. I had a first encounter with the number one romanian sport about 15 mins after I crossed the border. It’s called Close-Call-Overtaking, its divided into different classes; before-Hilltops, in-Turns and the professional with-oncoming-traffic class. I myself was more than busy in the pothole-evasion Amateur class.
The first stop on my way to Retezat was Hercules Bath. This is a place where warm springs are open to public access and the public is really enjoying them. So I grabbed my swimshorts and went to join the fun. The springs are a bit away from the road, so you don’t see what you are in for before you get there. Upon arrival I instantly decided to give it a pass. The water was filled with 60+ senior citizens standing shoulder to shoulder in the warm water (Walking Dead Style). Somehow I wasn’t tempted to join them. I went back to the car and proceeded towards the mountains to find a nice place to park for the night. On my way I came to the second hot spring, this time I was kept from even trying to join the bathing fun by the sheer volume of car traffic in the area. About 1-2 km in each direction both sides of the road where lined with cars… there is little to no parking space, so the road was turned into a oneway street.
During planning the trip I saw that there is a small road that approaches the Retezat from the south. So I was in for some nice backroad driving on roads that are barely used by other drivers. About halfway through my drive I came to a intersection that would take me via DN66A to the Moutain. The only issue was, that there was a sign claiming that the road is blocked about halfway in (35km). Well, is that a sign left from last winter? Is it always there? Is it really dangerous? Since I didn’t feel like turning back halfway in, I decided just to go around.
Not being happy with the detour I found at least a nice lake off the main road on the way. That place seemed to be really nice, so I decided to to maybe stay for two days. After a wonderful silent night I was woken by the ringing of cowbells the next morning. I don’t mind cows passing by, but apparently the local cowboys wanted me to leave since they kept the cows just around the place where my car was parked. I tried to have a little conversation with them but we weren’t really able to communicate. After about 45 minutes of horn scraping against my car all around I was tired of it and had to leave the place. :( When I left Croatia I arranged with Rolf and Anna (I meet them back at the campground in Croatia) to meet around Cluj at the 10.-12.06. to bike together to Salina Turda. This left me about on more week to go up to the Retezat Mountain and enjoy the area while heading there.
As I came closer to the mountains and my object of desire, the weather got worse by the hour, until it started to pour down rain when I got to the turnoff to the mountain. The weather report showed rain for the next two days as well. So instead of going to my one goal that I had set myself when visiting Romania, I had to move onward. After a short and uneventful sleepover on a supermarket parking lot I got to Deva the next day to meet with Monica from warmshowers. Up until this point I had not really contact to any local people. Even though I stopped in small villages to buy fresh veggies and things like that, I never really got in contact with anybody. There is of course a language barrier, but there seemed to be more than that. I don’t really know. When I meet with Monica we had Ciorba de Burta (Tripe Soup) which was really delicious for lunch and she showed me around the city during her work break. Afterwards she invited me to stay with her to have a real shower (7 days) and wash my clothes (3+ Weeks) She told me that she and her boyfriend where planning to go to the Retezat Mountain for the weekend and that the weather is supposed to be a lot better for the weekend.
So maybe I won’t miss out on Retezat after all?!