Day 29: 17/04/19
Location: Fruska Gora, Serbia – Cebz, Romania
Miles driven: 95
After five fairly average days in Serbia, it was time to move on. The flat landscapes of Romania, and with them, (we hoped) less rain and hotter temperatures, were calling us. The border took 20 minutes to cross. Slowed down firstly by the Serbian customs officer. This was not to check if we were smuggling contraband – as he did not actually search anywhere, and didn’t bat an eyelid at the meat and dairy that we weren’t supposed to be taking across the border. He was just fascinated by Natalie and gave us big smiles, saying “very interessant” whilst pointing to random places to get Chris to unlock/open. On the Romanian side we were slowed down by the Romanian border officer as he was having a long chat with his friends in the car in front of us. So far, we have been pretty spoilt by our border crossing experiences and with another speedy one behind us, we knew we should count our blessings, as there will inevitably be hours and hours wasted at borders in the not so distant future.
Driving down our first Romanian road, I wondered out loud how long it would be until we saw a horse and cart. Almost as if it was summouned, we turned the corner and there was a horse and cart, carrying a family of four, making its way down the road.
Our trusty wild-camp-finding app (iOverlander) did not have much to give us in Romania, so we were keen to find somewhere to camp fairly early. The landscape being completely flat no matter which direction we looked, at first we thought it might be difficult to find a place where we couldn’t be seen from miles away, however it didn’t take us long to pitch up, pretty well hidden by a river bed. We wasted the evening away making the most of the data roaming we had once again now that we were back in the EU.
Day 31: 19/04/19:
Location: Timișoara – Minis, Romania
Miles driven: 60
Day three in Romania and it was giving us exactly what we had hoped. The sun was shining, and we visited the city of Timișoara. We meandered through the numerous squares, our walking tour mapped out for us from recommendations of a friend of a friend. The city was decorated for Easter, and we had a very enjoyable few hours walking around, appreciating the sunshine and the architecture – the buildings now pretty, pastel coloured, and European looking, rather than grey, drab, and war stricken.
Days 32 to 36: 21-24/04/19:
Locations: Deva – Cisnadie – Bran – Lepsa, Romania
Miles driven: 440
Our days were spent driving through the Romanian countryside, and stopping at various castles, fortresses and citadel’s that had been suggested to us by Chris’ friend. As we drove, every now and then a random Gothic looking castle would appear out of no where. The ones we visited each claiming they were the place that Dracula’s castle had been based upon. Due to our fairly tiny budget of £8 per person/day (excluding fuel), we could not afford to go inside them, but we were happy enough admiring them from the outside and watching YouTube videos of the inside.
The driving style had taken a turn for the slightly more dangerous (although tame in comparison to what is to come). Driving alone clearly not being enough to occupy the Romanian’s minds, we witnessed drivers scrolling on their iPads, cutting their own hair, and doing some accountancy whilst navigating themselves through traffic, around horses and carts, and overtaking us on completely blind corners. Lack of fastened seat belts became a given.
We climbed the Carpathian mountains that run down the centre of the country from Ukraine. They had a kind of Canadian feel to them. Mountains, forests, and melting snow meant one thing: bears coming out of hibernation. We found a perfect wild camping spot in the mountains – a large clearing in the forest with not a person or animal in sight. As we ate lunch we got more and more paranoid that as dusk fell the bears would come out to see what delicious meal we had cooked up for them. Not wanting to find out whether or not this would happen, we drove further on to the only campsite around, seeking safety in numbers and local knowledge. Dorina, the owner of the campsite, was absolutely thrilled to have us. Through her limited English, and our even more limited Romanian, we worked out that we were her first guests of the year, and the first English guests to stay there. She proudly showed us around the campsite, and cabanas that guests could also stay in. We had a chilly, but bear free night, and awoke ready to make our way out of the mountains, and to the flat farmlands over the other side.