6 de mayo de 2011

Romania.From Sibiu to Sofia across Danube.Day 73

 Day 73:

1 November 2010. We had a very long journey ahead of us, but we woke up without hurries (around 10). We stopped a few km from Sibiu, in a shabby fast-food local (so tasty) full of workers having a rest. That was one of the few stops in the entire day… Ah yes, of course, another one was when the Police stopped Miera’s car (the fucking ugly long Clio) and fined him for exceeding the speed limit (120 leis – around 30 € paid at that moment). 

Heading South...

Near Ramnicu Valcea
We continued following river Olt in its way to the Danube through Turnu Rosu Pass, passing Ramnicu Valcea, Dragasani and Slatina villages. So we left Transylvania to enter the region of Wallachia again. Nothing really interesting in those villages, apart from the wonderful environment (mountains, forest, river…). Craiova (very ugly) was the last big city before the frontier, but there were still lots of kilometers, so we stopped to have lunch in a forgotten and dirty village somewhere in the middle of nowhere… Suspicious at the beginning, but a good decision after all! We ate some nice chicken steaks with peppers and chips for a few Leis. 

Once back on the road, we drove through moors and isolated villages. That part of Romania (south-west) was absolutely different to what we had seen before in the country. Calafat is the last Romanian village before Bulgaria. 

In the middle of nowhere. South-west Romania

 –“Ahh… at last Calafat!! Uhmm… let’s go to the frontier pass”, I thought. 
We drove through the village for a while, looking for any signal or indication. Nothing.
-“What the fuck? Where is the frontier???”, I started to desperate, because we hadn’t seen any signal to Bulgaria. We asked two or three people around there for the frontier, but they didn’t know. They only knew where was the port. -“I don’t need to know where is the fucking port!!”, I thought. I started to suspect that something unexpected was about to happen, we were there (in Calafat) following ViaMichelin instructions, but we hadn’t any other info. 

The route. Almost 10 hours...
It was getting dark and that strange village seemed to be an unpleasant place to stay overnight (no people on the streets, no lights, no restaurants, no hotels, no life), so we finally went to the fucking port. A barrier and a man in a cabin. I stopped and tried to explain our situation. The man didn’t open his mouth, he only looked at me, angrily. Monroy came to help me and the man finally gave us (with bad manners) some papers to fill up: “Number of passengers, Number of cars…etc”. Yeah, it was clear that was possible to cross the river by ship! But everything was so strange… no info, no signals, nobody around… At that moment I noticed that there is only ONE bridge between Bulgaria and Romania, Fuck! 

It was completely dark when we finally move the cars inside the port. There was a police control. A bastard policeman spent like 1 hour with us, checking our cars, our ID, papers... At least it was funny when he was checking Viga’s photo, comparing it with his face. The policeman in front of Viga for 10 minutes, “scanning” Viga’s face one and another time… Viga smiling… the situation was very freak! That man was really bored there, I think…

We had to pay 64 € to pass, and moved ahead to the end of the line. Several trucks were waiting there too. That normalized the situation… we weren’t alone! Our mood had passed from worrying to funny. We (the trucks and our two cars) got on board in a small ferry. I was the last one, and the back of my car was –literally- above the water. Absolutely full! We enjoyed a lot the trip to the other side, and got out of the car to take some photos on the deck. Unexpectedly, we were crossing The Danube in a foggy night with our cars. Exciting! 
On the deck. Pacas, Marcos, Miera, Moly and Viga

Once in Bulgaria, the Police (AGAIN) held us for half hour. They asked us lots of things, I suppose it’s not common to receive two Bulgarian cars full of Spanish in that frontier at that time… We were doing a very rare thing. After all the mess, we finally arrived to Vidin (where there is an interesting fortress that we finally could NOT see). We had still 4 hours to reach Sofia… and we entered into a DENSE fog. VERY DENSE. We only could see 5-7 meters ahead, so we had to slow down a lot. 

Golf lights didn't help so much...
-“Bah… I’m sure this fog will disappear soon, it’s too dense and it will not last so much”, I thought. Heh!!... 3 HOURS OF MADDENING FOG! I didn’t know that fog could expand in such a BIG extensión (around 140 km, I estimate). Fortunately, I like challenges (and that was challenging), and I had VERY good company inside the car (Monroy and Pacas), so it was funny. We improved our fog driving skills fast, and soon we were driving at around 50-60 kmph. The trick is to maintain an absolute concentration in the central road line, and react very quickly in the curves or when other cars appear. The second car has a more relaxed driving; it’s as easy as follow the red lights, so we changed the position from time to time. 

It was madness… but we finally reached the highway to Sophia, where we arrived after 10 hours of car. Tired!! But not enough! We went to Dybaka to re-fill our stomachs, and later to Rockanrolla to drink a beer and celebrate that finally everything went well!! Long day… 

5 de mayo de 2011

Romania. Transylvania. Day 72

 Day 72:

Dracula's Castle
I woke up at 8:30 but once switched on the TV I realized that actually was 7:30! Yeah, clock had been put back one hour, pretty news for lazy boys. After a few kilometers by car, and a quick breakfast in a petrol-station, we were the first visitors of the day at Bran Castle, Dracula’s home!!! Interesting place, with its particular beauty and strategically erected in a mountain pass. But we expected a different thing. All those legends about Dracula and the vampires… we thought we would see something scary and bloody! In fact, we visited the whole castle (is a museum now), with lots of things from Princess Ileana (the real owner), and saw very few mentions to the Romanian’s hero who inspired Bram Stoker to write “Dracula”: Vlad Tepes, also known as “The Impaler”. 

Fortified Church in Rasnov

Hordes of tourists were coming when we decided to leave and drive back to the nearby Rasnov. My friend Casar had recommended me to stop here and walk to the upper village, an ancient fortified church from where we could see the entire region in such a cloudless day. 

In the top of the fortified church

Our route
It was time to take the road to the west, parallel to the Carpathians. We arrived to the city of Făgăraş very hungry, so we stopped in the centre and bought 2 kebabs each one. Yeah, nice ones! We visited the fortress there, which has a museum inside with lots of ancient objects, coins, documents, weapons... Interesting.

Fortress in Fagaras

The road continues to the west, always with the magnificent presence of the mountains on our left side. We arrived to Sibiu, a beautiful city with charming old houses, streets and cathedrals. We took a walk –with a fresh beer in the hand- until it got dark, which was the moment to look for the booked hostel. It wasn’t easy, but we finally found it: Flying time!! The name is quite appropriate for this nice hostel, with its own bar and discotheque (10 € per night).

Southern Carpathians

Flying Time
We drank several beers in the bar while playing chess (at a very low level), expecting some party that night. We tried it after having dinner, but it was impossible… everything was closed, except our discotheque! We went there for a while, but it's not funny at all being only we and the waiter! 

Tomorrow will be very, very hard. Now --> BED.