Romania – I. Touring a country rich in history, arts and scenic beauty

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The largest of the Balkan countries is rich in cultural heritage has a dramatic mountain scenery, the unique Danube Delta and a stunning coastline at the Black Sea. We had 23 days to explore Romania´s various areas and once more we started with the car-sleeper train to get from Hamburg to Vienna to save the time and the German highway for the first 1100km. We past Hungary within one day to have as much time as possible to discover Romania. It is a large country with intense contrasts: some cities are truly Western Europe; some villages can seem to have been brought back from the past into the NOW. And all over the country you will find horse carriages… and behind the next turn on the gravel maybe a Lamborghini or Ferrari…This time we will not give you such a detailed report as it would be too much to read. You can look up the route we took under the `route section´ (going to be ready later though). Here you can read the first of two parts with a couple of pictures and a slight show at the end.

Touring Romania with the motorbike is just fantastic. Meanwhile most of the roads are in a pretty good condition, many are renewed others are still under construction and we discovered that we prefer to ride the little roads and we avoided the national roads even when they were marked as `scenic´. You have much less traffic especially trucks and you pass idyllic landscapes, picturesque villages with haystacks on the surrounding hillside. Romania is full of opportunities to drive your motorcycle in various conditions and all kind of sceneries: high altitude mountains with deep gorges and incredible beautiful alpine roads on and off road as you prefer, plains with wide views, river valleys with cascades. The mighty Danube River flows 1,788 miles from its springs in Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea ending in the wonderful Danube Delta. It has a rich cultural heritage; you can visit historic places, castles, monasteries and listen of course to all the mysterious stories of Transylvania and Dracula. The fact that Romania is known for its wildlife with a high population of brown bears and grey wolf is maybe pricking up your ears thinking of spending the night in your tent somewhere outside – wild camping is allowed everywhere except inside the natural parks – we haven’t seen any bear or wolf nowhere. Probably you are more afraid of your fantasy which goes wild as it happen to Sascha who was sitting a full night  with a head torch in the tent absolutely sure a wolf or bear is creeping around our tent. I was sleeping mostly and when I woke up I was wondering what Sascha would do against the `beast´ with a head torch on his head J If you prefer a more protected overnight stay there are several affordable options such as camping areas, wooden huts to rent on camp grounds or pensions. Last but not least: Romanians are very friendly warm and hospitable people with a good sense of humor and always open for one or two Palinka! ;).

We entered Romania close to Arad, which is about in the middle of the western border line.  From there we head inland passing the Apuseni Mountains and continuing then north to the Ukraine border to the famous `Merry Cemetery´, Maramures County. This region is dominated by extensive wooden gates and houses and the cemetery from the village of Sapanta  is famous for the brightly colored crosses with paintings representing scenes from the life or the habits of the deceased.

From now on we were zigzagging south east until we reached the fantastic Danube Delta. The best preserved of Europe’s deltas includes 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals, marshes, tree-fringed lakes and reed islands. We really recommend spending a full day to explore this beautiful area on a boat tour. We were lucky to meet Cornel in Murighiol. Actually he picked us up when looking for a spot to camp. In the end he found us a wooden hut for 50 Lei on a little private camp which was rented by one family (partly from Bosnia, Romania and Serbia) for a one-week-coming-together-party. Shortly said: we had fun drinking eating dancing… But as well we agreed with Cornel a one day trip on his little boat for the next day starting at 6am. Just fantastic! We enjoyed this mystic spirit, the sunrise, to discover the little old channels with their wildlife the laces, seeing herons, pelicans, sea eagles… and entering the open Black Sea; it’s hard to describe this experience with words – therefore just do it! Cornel was born in that village, speaks fluent English and even some German. He loves the area, takes pains not to disturb the ecosystem and knows some old, hidden channels and stories about the villages and areas. Just ask for him:  cornel.uncu AT yahoo.com, or just give him a call at +40763260176

Along the Black Sea we visited some of the archeological excavations for instance the Greek Citadel, the most ancient city attested in Romania. The most south coastal point we visited was Constanta; an ancient metropolis founded by Greek colonists from Miletos in the 6th century BC. It is the fourth largest port in Europe. Of course we took the chance as well to jump into the sea before the sunset.

… Coming up: The Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania at full moon, Brasov and great time with Gavin and Andrea, spectacular alpine roads such as the famous Transfagarasan and Transalpina


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