Sunday, 13 October 2013

London to Romania and Back….

Another motorcycle trip, this time 3 weeks across Central Europe.
We used our own bikes, Alistair on a Triumph Tiger XC and me on a Kawasaki Versys 650.
We left home on a Saturday morning under heavy rain. After several weeks of sunshine and heat wave, Murphy law applied and the moment we got on the bikes, the weather took a turn for the worse.
By the time Alistair dropped Scruffy (our dog!) the kennel, it was still very wet. We made our way to the Eurotunnel terminal and got some respite in the train. On the French side, we had a mix of heavy rain, punctuated by torrential rain. We pressed on as much as we could but admitted defeat near Reims, by 5 or 6pm.
We continued for the next 2 days, avoiding motorways, across Germany and Switzerland, with yet more heavy rain. And then we reached the Austrian Alps. The area was so beautiful that we decide to continue on small roads across the mountains, although it meant slow progress.
By mid week it was time to get closer to Romania and we got back on the motorway, planning to make it to Hungary by the evening. Best laid plans etc…. once again we had atrocious weather and barely made it close to the border before giving up and looking for a hotel. The following day was spent trying to cross Hungary and talking a “shortcut “ to avoid  a detour via Budapest. AS the weather was still awful we only managed to make it close to Romania. We stopped into a small town (called Kiskunfelegyhaza!) and with the help of the GPS managed to find a hotel. Hungarian is the most bizarre language ever…. We managed to find a place to eat where the waitress was able to speak a bit of English and an English sort of menu, so we could actually identify the food!
The next day, 7 days after leaving home, we finally made it the border with Romania. Unlike other Europeans countries, there were border checks!
The Romanian motorway quickly changed into a 2 lanes road with millions of trucks on it, so it was very slow going, once again. The Romanians, like the Brazilians, seem to be in a huge rush to get anywhere when driving; so they overtake anywhere, even with blind turns or incoming traffic…. Mental.  Although we found the locals are still way too tame in comparison to the Brazilians. SO in my list of most dangerous drivers, Brazilians with Argentinians are still way top of my list!
While stopping for fuel, we looked in the internet for a place to sleep (tablets are wonderful things!) and found a nice hotel in Sebes. We booked there and then and decided to spend a couple of nights there. It was conveniently located to the Transalpina road and on the way to the Transfagarasan (or, as Jeremy Clarkson call it: “the best road in the world”).

The next morning, we took the bikes and rode to the Transapina road. It was slow going as the road surface was in a terrible state, pot holes and long sections of un-surfaced road, gravel, stones etc… But on the plus side, it was nice and sunny! The Transalpina is  abeautiful mountain road that ends in a T junction. We decided to take the road toward Petrosani, but the surface deteriorated so much that we had to turn back. No way I am doing this with my versys and with road tyres!
We rode back through the Transalpina again, stopping at a beauty spot/ restaurant for a bit of lunch. It was a popular spot for bikers, many from Poland.
The following day we did an excursion to visit the near bye town of Alba Julia and its citadel. It was a very warm day, too hot to go round in full motorcycle gear.
The following morning, after a substantial breakfast and a packed sneaky lunch, we got the bikes loaded and we were off. We went to ride the Transfagarasan. We stopped at the top for lunch. It was stunning road with many hair spin bends, definitely worth  the trip! On the south side we rode toward Curtea de Arges but decided to turn East and take a short cut using a small country road, riding toward Bran.
Bran has a medieval castle that is depicted as Dracula Castle…. In the following week we visited various towns around Transylvania. We tried as much as possible to take small or single track roads and trails, through the heart of Transylvania, through mountains and valleys. The GPS was very useful to keep us in the right direction as there was few signposts to find our way round.

Transylvania is definitely a stunning country and we plan to come back and explore more in the future. Another surprise on this trip was also Austria. It is definitely worth spending time there too. Although for travellers, Romania is half what you would spend in Western Europe.

Photos to follow once I figure out how to move my photos from iCloud into windows 8 :(

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