Published: August 28th 2008August 27th 2008
The begining of Transfagarasan
27/08/08 - A day in the life, and Ceausescu’s Mad Road
Today we set out to drive along one of the highest roads in Europe - the Transfagarasan which borders on southern Transalvania. “The road was constructed between 1970 and 1974, as a north-south crossing at the historical border between Transylvania and Wallachia. It came as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Ceausescu wanted to insure quick military access across the mountains in the event the Soviets attempted a similar move into Romania. Consequently, the road was built mainly with military forces, at a high cost both financially and from a human standpoint—roughly 6 million kilograms of dynamite were used on the northern face, and about 40 soldiers lost their lives in building accidents”
- Read more about it on the link for Romanian Motorcycle Roads. www.motoromania.com
It really is a pretty stunning road. If Ceausescu hadn’t been the type of guy that he was then I don’t think anyone would have bothered to build a road up there. It is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike in the summer, and there is a cable car to take you to
Jaggered mountan peak in the Transfagarasan
the top of the mountain when the road is closed in winter. One side if the mountain has good pavement, the other side is really choppy and pot holed. The driving behavior was excellent. It seems as thought the locals leave the “wacky races” driving style until they get to a small village or the middle of a town. We drove the road from north to south. There is a kilometer long tunnel up the top with no lighting and various snack vans etc set up along the side of the road selling cheese and grilled corn.
There is a long lake along the southern approach to the Transfagarasan. We drove along to the end of the lake looking for Vlad’s castle. So we now know Vlad grew up in a chocolate shop / restaurant, then he moved to a nice castle… Unfortunately he need to hike to the castle from the main road, apparently this takes 90 min, We cant confirm this because we did the lazy tourist thing and took a photo from the road - apparently there are hefty royalties to be paid to take photos in the site. If you had come to Translavania only
to chase Dracula you would I think be pretty disappointed by this castle. Apparently there is another castle that Bram Stoker stayed in that helped spark his imagination - tourists tend to seek this out instead.
Anyway after 150 km or so of this road we decided to turn around and go back again, giving Ceausescu his due it is the quickest way from A to B, when the only alternative is to drive on main roads which have villages every 1 or 2 miles along the way.
Today was a really nice day for us because we passed through a lot of quite isolated villages getting to and from the Transfagarasan in the morning we could see everyone heading of to work in the towns or in the fields. In the evening we saw the same people coming back into the villages, and sitting in front of their houses. From one point of view you could say that the lack of planning regulation, which allows seemingly endless development on the main roads, also ensures that socially everyone has the same standing, and has access to the same level of emenity. At the end of the day you
can see the interaction up and down the main street of the village, kids running the length of the town, chasing cats and dogs, and adults sitting on benches in front of their house talking to neighbors.
We finished the day riding back into Sighisoara watching the sun setting like a giant red apple over the corn fields and 12th century citadels on the horizon.
There are more photos below