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Athens - Thessaloniki - Bucuresti

Trip Details

Road Trip 2010 I
Date: Fri, 01/10/2010 to Sat, 02/10/2010
Distance: 1300 km
Motorcyclists: Manolis, Giorgos Z.
Photographers: Manolis, Giorgos Z.
Authors: Manolis
Translators: Ragas

Sightseeing map

Prologue ...

After a failed attempt to organize the trip last July, one afternoon in late September, the phone rings. It was Giorgos Z from Nafplio city. "Can you get a work permit on October?" He asked. "The world to ruin ... I will," I answered.

The days went by without thinking about it all. Although I am not superstitious, I could not tolerate the idea that something would happen again and the trip will be canceled. One week before the trip, I made a list of things, without knowing if I need them.

The last 3 days before departure, everything was prepared. We had no specific plan. We knew just how to get Bucuresti, where we will stay for 2 days and then we will go to Brasov. There we will meet our Romanian friends, Mihai & Florin. Then we will visit the regions Maramures and Herculane.

The trip lasted 11 days and we traveled for a total of about 4.500km


Athens - Thessaloniki - Bucuresti

The 1st of October came and our minds already traveling ... The hours passed excruciatingly slowly until we end from our jobs ... I am from Kalamata and George from Nafplio, and we arrange to meet at the 40th  km of Thessaloniki-Athens, in the Sirius station. Around 7.30pm we met and the journey began...

The plan was to spend the night in Thessaloniki, to our friends Achilleas & Triada. The pregnancy of Triadawas the reason to be skeptical about staying there, but the disarming humor of Achilles made us accept the invitation.

We traveled for 530km in a monotonous highway, making some more stops, mainly to find a reason to grab a chat and joke for the onward journey! At 12.30 pm we arrived at our friend... who they waited for us with impatience and a table was placed with local delicacies...

Next day...

While we slept late, Achilleas waked us up and he had prepared for us breakfast. Bougatsa! Although their company was fantastic, we had to depart without further delay as we had to travel for 700km to the Romanian capital.

The first 130km that separates us from the border passed very easily. The weather, although cloudy, it did not seem threatening. The temperature was good enough for travelling.

At the borders the procedures are virtually non-existent. The fact that the cafeteria is closed, tells that the waits and delays belong to the past. Actually, Greek and Bulgarian police are on the Greek soil. We even did not take off our helmets! We made a short stop at the duty free shop, for the latest phones and cigarettes and headed to the Bulgarian customs station. Already I began to feel, what I feel when I start a journey ... the feeling that you leave behind all the problems, that you have no past but only future …

The crossing of Bulgaria was easy. The signs are now very good. For the first 180km we followed the signs for SOFIA. On the main road all the signs are written in Latin. Required papers for the vehicle are: (a) registration license, (b) green card. For the riders the required papers are the new ID and driver's license (old or new release). As I describe in the  trip I made in 2007, caution is needed for the police radars, although in most cases, the passing vehicles warn with their lights. We preferred not to enter the process of changing money (the border is no exchange office) and use credit cards, which were accepted at petrol stations. The motorcycles do not pay a transit tax in the country.

By approaching the ring of SOFIA, we turned right following the signs to PLEVEN & RUSE. Then we stopped at the station SEEs for refueling and rest. From there we drove for about 70km on the highway that passes through the mountains.

After the village Zlanta Panega the road is narrower and the pavement in mediocre condition. I cannot say that we suffered, but George was tired.

At 6pm we reached the Bulgarian border near the town RUSSE. We passed the formal examination and headed to the bridge that connects the opposite banks of the Danube, the natural border of the 2 states. Once we crossed the bridge I felt so familiar ... I felt I was at my house...

We crossed the Romanian border (Giurgiu) and moved on the roads leading in Bucuresti (70 km). The street has changed considerably since the last time. The road works have contributed greatly to the traffic. The weather was good but the temperature is sufficiently low, possibly due to the fact that it had begun to night fall.

We should mention that the bikes do not need to obtain vignette (tax on road use), the exchange rate was: 1€ = 4,2 RON and the gasoline costs about 1€/liter.

At 7pm. we enter the Romanian capital... Not many things changed. The few changes, however, seemed positive. Having found accommodation from Greece we headed directly there. The nice hostel  Happy Hostel (price double: 22 euros) located in Tineretului area. It was clean and had a small yard were we parked our motorcycles.

Once settled we decided to take a walk in the main streets of the city before getting to a well-known Romanian restaurant,  La Mama, near the square Revolutiei. I think it is the best choice for a first contact with the local cuisine. George, as a specialist taster expressed positive comments...

Before returning to the hostel, we drank a coffee in a neoclassical building, the  cafe Galleron. We had the opportunity to meet with a very good friend, Alina and we remembered the past and talk about Romania over the years.

The journey had begun... I could not believe I was in Romania. I thought I was living a dream...