Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Caverns Deep and Gorges Long

Another glorious morning to herald a day of pending adventures.

After a hearty breakfast consisting of fried eggs, cold meats, cheeses, bread, tea and coffee, we set forth for to investigate our first mission - a salt mine. No, not that kind of 'mine' which may suggest an adequate punishment for overindulging at breakfast, but more a point of interest in Romania's industrial history!

As we head north passing magnificent
countrysides which are becoming obscured
by a haze, a sound indication of a warm day
ahead. Then through the sparkling forests on
a canopied road which is inhabited by manic drivers!

Passing through the forested area and as we are nearing our waypoint, Cluj-Napoca, we pass numerous churches under reconstruction and a
variety of roadside food stalls which display myriads of produce.

Upon reaching Cluj we follow the route south towards our destination - Turda and the salt mine. Now humour me for one moment while I extol navigating the roads of Romania. The distances between destinations is not far by Australian standards. However, the time coefficient can be appalling. Many of the roads are narrow and some winding, with the exception of Romania's motorways. Albeit, Romania is a wonderful country to travel with scenery which
has a jaw-dropping effect.

Now to Salina Turda. Salt has been mined in Romania since the Roman occupation. However, salt had been mined at Turda since antiquity and from the Middle Ages had produced 'table salt'. The mine was first mentioned in 1075 and being recognised as a salt mine by the Hungarian chancellery on 1st May 1271. With the eventual depletion of salt deposits the mine was finally closed in 1932. The mine was reopened in 1992 as a tourist attraction after an injection of 6 million Euros to consolidate and rectify the plant.

When we finally arrive at Salina Turda, the site is boiling with humanity. We park the car and Maria decides to sit this one out, suggesting I should visit the site solo. So, I don my flying jacket, helmet, goggles and climb into the cockpit of my SE5a....hang about....that's another story! I navigate my way through the throng towards the mines' entrance which is flanked by an avenue of stall sellers. The aromas produced by the various foods is almost irresistible: sausages, grilled pork, langos.

Upon entering the entrance foyer the first impression I received was a welcoming cold blast of air from the mines' interior. I purchase my ticket and proceed to the turnstile where an attendant asks me in perfect English: "Excuse me Sir...do you have a coat?" I reply in the negative, whereby he recommends I repair myself to my vehicle to retrieve my coat. I explain, I'm here on holidays in Romania during its summer - so, why would I bring a coat. With a broad smile the attendant suggests "...move swiftly, but cautiously." I comply with both.

It's not hard to understand why an attraction such as Salina Turda is so popular as there is such a festival air to it. The excitement is electrifying by adults and children alike. There are five areas to explore: Iosef (Josef) Mine, Crivac Room, Terezia Mine, Rudolf Mine, Gizela Mine.

Traversing the various shafts and rooms it gives you an appreciation of the work ethic into the mines creation and s

After an hour I return to the surface, reunite with Maria and we set off on our next adventure, Cheili Turzii (Turda Gorge). Not before we watched a harvester in ballet collect and load bales of hay.

Cheili Turzii is a natural reserve with the Hășdate River which had cut through it. Situated 6 km west of Turda and about 15 km south-east of Cluj-Napoca, in TransylvaniaRomania

Visiting Romania is a wonderful experience and should you visit this country, ensure you have Cheili Turzii at the top of your list. The rock formations, flora and wildlife are a sight to behold. However, be sure you wear stout enclosed footwear. The walk through the gorge is not difficult but care should be observed. As a wise person once said: "A picture paints a thousand words." So, without further ado....

The gorge is 9 km in length, I managed to walk at least 4.5 km before returning to the car and Maria. It was raining which made the floor of the gorge and tracks treacherous. Albeit, it was worth every ache and pain. We set forth for 'home' not before stopping at the local LIDL store in downtown Cluj.

We arrived at the Casa Dinainte and decided to have an early dinner while watching the mists creep over the Carpathians. Maria and I shared a 'Peasants Plate' which consisted of sausage, pork, chicken, roast potatoes and vegetables. This was also accompanied with bread,Dijon mustard and a form of tzaziki.

So, to you all good folk...Good Night.

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