This morning we arose after a not so great sleep. We were in a king bed, with queen sheets so spent quite a bit of time tossing and turning and puling at those bl**dy sheets! I gingerly stepped in to the high bath to have a shower - it never felt so good to wash my hair. Down at breakfast, there were dozens of people - heavens knows where they all were last night. Breakfast was actually quite good - the scrambled eggs were fantastic - but the orange 'Tang' let down the side.
We were glad to leave Bistrita - a regional city with a tired air and our accommodation matched it perfectly. Today we are heading to the Bicaz Gorges - these are the ones that you see in the Pinterest Romania posts. It is only 175 kms away, but the GPS is telling us that it will take 3 hrs and 47 minutes. We now know better than to question that - the roads are challenging - especially in the mountains and the local traffic is slow - bikes, horses, tractors! Check out this guy carrying a load of sticks on the front of his bike!
We head off and where I can, I do the open speed limit of 90 kph. But that is not often. Every couple of miles there are villages and we are down to at least 50 if not 30 khp. Michael needed a comfort stop at Nasaud and I quickly get pics of some typical civic architecture. Romania certainly has plenty.
And we are eventually taken into a back road - that is totally unsealed. Yet this is the main road connecting towns. The unsealed bit is about 12 kms long. And it is rough with gibber style stones and rocks, not pebbles. We pass tractors, but no other traffic until we again reach sealed road. Nothing phases the regional Romanians. Yet, life ambles on here in its unhurried pace - the horse doesn't care that he is carting his replacement on the back of the wagon - who knows, he probably welcomes it - it is a warm day filled with the haze of late summer.
We pass more examples of the waste left by the departing Soviets who abandoned factories to rot with the local economy unable to continue with the operations. Now they are a blight on the landscapes - little more than scrap.
And every village treasures their storks - said to bring good luck. And their church histories - this one was a walled church dating back to 1738. Probably been in constant use since then too.
We are again high in the mountains, after almost 50 kms of twisting turning corners and deep ruts where the spring melt waters come rushing down the mountain sides to slam on to the road pavement. Yep, no wonder it takes so long to drive such short distances.
In the warm summer sun, the Roma are out in force. We spy this family travelling down the mountain on the carts - too bad for motorised traffic following them!
And at a picturesque spot where we try (poorly) to capture the long range vista down the mountains to the valleys below, they are harvesting tiny little raspberries in the forests towering over us and selling them in cups on the side of the road. You have never tasted anything so summer - small, sweet and intense. Ever so yummy. And no bigger that your smallest fingernail.
And so into Hell's Gate we pass, with no room for more than one car at a time, under the watchful eye of the Falcon Rock - an outcrop that towers over us.
Down into the gorge we descend - there are thousands of people here for the day. They walk for kms - but we do not have the luxury of that time so settle for a quick look in the lovely cool that the outcrops provide.
Michael is disappointed by the commercialism with the souvenir and snack sellers, but I can understand how (i) people want to make purchases and (ii) where there is an opportunity, someone will act on it!
I'll put some more pics up on Facebook.
Finally, we head off, bound for Brasov this afternoon - another 196 kms and a further 3 hours. I am happy that we are now on main roads, albeit, still slow with local traffic. At one point, the traffic comes to a dead stop. People have switched their cars off and are standing by them. We can't see what the delay is. Michael spies a very overgrown rail line and wonders whether we are waiting for a train - sure enough, a few minutes later and there she comes - a rusty relic of an electric engine pulling two different carriages with kids hanging out, waving. Nobody bats an eyelid and soon we are off again.
We reach Brasov in the late afternoon. not wanting t get caught out with accommodation issues again, we have booked ahead at the Classic Inn Hotel. We wend our way through tight little back streets where parking is at a premium and driving spaces a second thought. Finally we are here. It has a nice feel to it and when we get up to the room, we are delighted with what we find.
Dinner was an absolute delight - we had an absolute feast - all for the princely sum of AUD $50.
Michael - Potato Soup with Tarragon and Hocks and green pepper.
Crispy Duck with Asian vegetables and rice
Maria - Golden Coated Trout with Polenta and garlic Sauce. we share Asparagus and Summer salad with lemon dressing.
For dessert, Michael braved the Chocolate lava cake (we can't remember the Romanian name) and I had the Nutella pancakes. As usual, Michael finished off the second part of all my courses!
It is after midnight and time for bed - see you all on the morrow!