This was the day we would enter Romania. The distance we wanted to ride was much and most of them at the mountains. We did not know the state of the roads, except for «Transalpina», for which we have been informed by the Roman friends. Because the pension didn’t offer breakfast, we packed up our stuff and decided to go to a bakery downtown.
Shortly before 9am., we were driving to the Serbian-Romanian border. This is a bridge near the Serbian village of Sip. The control process of the Serbian side was short and easy (at least at the output). Arriving at the Romanian side, we met many vehicles. However, an officer waved us to pass them all and drove us to a desk that had no vehicle, because it was closed. He check our passports and wished us a pleasant stay ... Such services we have not encountered anywhere!
We ride to Orsova (15km), where was the crossroad for both Baile Herculane and the Statue of Decebal, on the banks of the Danube, after the village Eselnita. In beautiful Orsova, we wanted exchange money, but that day only one exchange store was open and that was somewhere in the centre. Coincidentally I stopped somewhere to ask and eventually the employee of a shop with gambling games changed my money with not a good rate (1 €= 390RON). Unfortunately, it happens on Sundays and holidays that exchange offices don’t work...
Anyway, we left driving on the road 57, which was nearby the Danube with destination the «Decebal». This is a statue 55m tall which is carved into the rock showing the last king of the Daci. Funder of the construction was a Romanian businessman and lover of history. The construction cost close to 1milion euro. 20-alpinists sculptors worked in the period 1994-2004. The result is impressive and majestic!
Before returning to Orsova, we made a short stop at the church located just below, just in the riverside which I had identified the previous day as we drove from the opposite side of the river. Tourism development on the part of Romania is clearly more significant. Many small pension are located, exactly right on the river, offering spectacular view. However, the road network is worst compared to that of Serbia.
Returning to the city, we found the sign to Timisoara and the road E70. Our next destination the Baile Herculane, the thermal baths of Hercules, which even in the years of Communism were tourist resort. Nowadays, many tourists flooded the place, especially in summer. Many hotels and pension have been built, but there are many people who prefer to camp on the banks of the rivers there. As we walked toward the centre, we met neoclassic buildings, left without repairs... showing memories of the past. Between 2 of these buildings was the bronze statue of the legendary Hercules, who attracts the interest of tourists. It is impressive not for its size, but for the story of the legendary hero who portrays. Many arrive there to photograph it. Once we arrived, however, I think we stole some of its publicity...
We left to the town of Baia de Arama, from a route 67D that passed through the national park Cerna-Domoglea. At the beginning the road wasn’t good and got worst later. At several points it gave you the impression that was bombed! Eventually, the situation changed as the asphalt was new, making the drive enjoyable. Unfortunately George fuels were marginal at risk of running out. As we saw then, there was no gas station on the route Baile Herculane - Baia de Arama. Beyond that, I believe that when the roadwork get completed, will be among the best routes in the country, ideal for bikers and other travellers.
Arriving at Baia de Arama, we followed the signs to Tg. Jiu & Ramnicu Valcea, wanting to find the crossroad to Novaci. The road crosses a large plain which is generally indifferent. After the village Bengesti, we found the intersection and turned left. Basically we were at the beginning of «Transalpina». Before we started to climb up to the mountains, we made a stop at the village Novaci, to drink the only coffee of the day. The heat had increased considerably, making us sleepy. So the stop was necessary.
The «Transalpina» (67D) is called "The Road of the King" and connects Transilvania and Oltenia. Placed on more than 2,000m altitude, transalpina is the highest road in Romania where a vehicle can move, with the highest point being the passage (pasul) Urdele (2.145m.). Although that is higher than the Transfagarasan, is less known, because it was never paved, despite the fact that in most printed maps and GPS systems is noted like paved.
The principle existence of this road is not exact. Some sources report that was originally constructed by the Roman kings in the era of wars with the Daci and that’s why some historical maps indicate it by the title "Roman strategy path IV». Another local legend says that at the end of the 18th century - early 19th century, each family of the people of the area was responsible for building a particular section of road based on financial and physical capabilities of the family. Unlikely to the other sources, it is said that the road was built and paved with stones by the Germans during World War II.
Going higher we met many people. Maybe it was the time, perhaps because it had just finished paving it. But from the beginning it gave you the best impression, despite the increased traffic. At some point the route went through a newly built resort, which essentially had only accommodation buildings, the village Ranca.
We continued climbing, reaching 2.130m. The view was spectacular and we the temperature lower. In the valley the temperature reached 35 °, while there was nearby 20. The landscape was alpine style with complete lack of trees. We made a stop to admire the magnificent and unique landscape. I moved a bit so I could not hear anything else except the wind that was blowing ... Then I realized how the climbers feel ... this unique feeling! The time passed and we had no desire to take ourselves away from there ... but the sun was falling and we wanted to go still about 40km to the village Voineasa. There we would stay for the night.
So the descent began. The traffic had declined significantly making our ride more enjoyable. Slowly we began to meet again tall firs. After a few kilometers we reached the junction leading to the left to Petrosani and to the right to Ramnicu Valcea and Lake Vidra. We took the right turn and in our way we met many campers. They lit fires and getting ready to roast. Everywhere you could saw smoke and people smiling. It's really impressive how the Romanians enjoy their mountains ... just without luxuries! Indeed some had set up makeshift tents with nylon and twigs from the trees!
Soon we came across Lake Vidra. We did again a brief stop for some photos, but most important was that we wanted to talk to each other for everything we had seen. We wanted to share it together! The route from there was improved compared with the previous year when we had passed it with Giorgos Z. However, when we left the section around the lake behind and up to the village Voineasa things had not changed. The road condition was moderate with several patches. As the sun dropped we started to feel the temperature fall.
Arriving at the village we went directly to the hotel Zan Hotel where we had stopped for coffee on our last trip with Giorgos Z. For some reason, I do not know why-we wanted to stay there. Probably because when we left it, we had struggled enough up to Bucharest. Anyway, although the village had many hotels and even cheaper, we unanimously decided to stay there with 65 € / double room ( + breakfast). It was great value for money.
We took a shower and got downstairs to eat. It was the first time we would try-on this trip- the Romanian cuisine. Unsurprisingly we were impressed and we stayed until late talking on the first day in beautiful Romania. This country is something special for me, but I heard very positive comments from the guys, making me feel very pleasant! It was like talking about Greece!