Published: September 10th 2007September 10th 2007
It was late on in the afternoon when we crossed the border onto romania. Wow! Its different. We had a rare afternoon of sunshine and it made it look really good if still desolate. The border crossing was dead, no tat or exchange places here! the border police asked us lots of questions; more out of something to do that worries of border security!!
There followed a kind of 10 mile stretch of no mans land across bare plain before the first romanian villages, and it would have seemed quite eerie were it not for the sunshine.
Planning to stop at the first town, salonta, it didnt look promising to start with. Got some money out, not sure how much cos as usual no idea of exchange rate!! anyway it was going dark and we had passed through the shabby town centre with no sign of pensione or hotel. On way out of town noticed a small sign for a pension, and were well set up for the night at a nice B and B run by this nice old lady with a squad of v friendly cats!! It was encouragingly clean and cheap at 60 leu ( approx12 quid??)
the next day we headed out in the cold drizzle in an eastern direction. The roads were quiet and passed through lots of small villages with not much but horse drawn carrieages, and old ladies dressed in about 10 layers of home knitted cardies!! and slippers! Oh apparently its perfectly acceptable to walk in the middle of the road in romania, and to stand around at the side of the road for no apparent reason. Oh and lots of the blokes have moustaches and leather jackets.
With teeth chattering stopped at a shop after 30 miles of so. There being a complete absence of cafes or anything, we decided the covered area outside the shop would be as good a place as any for lunch of jam and bread. It turned out to be the focal point of the village and there were loads of people in and out, and staring at us!! Two old farmers type geezers with missing teeth stopped for a drink, and we had a friendly conversation (via gestures) about how it was bloody freezing, and how, yes, we had cycled from england!!
Got to town of Beius about 4 ish and had major wimp out by heading for nearest pensione!! Citing reasons for this as rain, cold, and ian not feeling great. Soft git!! I think he knew somehoew that they had eurosport at the pension. Well it was relatively expensive for romania (but cheaper than YHA at home) but the best pension ive stayed in!! had very pleasant afternoon drying out and watching tour of spain. Then sauntered downstairs for pizza and beers!!! quality...
From there decided to head across 100 miles of winding pass road to Turda (yes ians spiritual home as he will be a T'ird cat next year). Again freezing drizzle and 30 miled of uphill!!! Fairly gradual to start with then the pass started for real... 10 miles of steep uphill; had to keep stopping for a sweet..Didnt get to top til 3 when rushed into posh restaurant and had large helping of chicken and chips... yum. or just chips and a large helping of bread for ian!! Thinking we would have a bit of descent then maybe uphill we pressed on.
Wow! what fillowed was 40 miled of descending through a really strange valley. In one aspect it was quite touristy in that there were ski lifts and loads of pensions and restaurants. In other aspects it was just like a scene from Borat film when he visits his home town!!! Some villages had markets and festivals on and were mobbed with people and animals. One town had a stage set up with a band singing traditional romanian songs....Oh and everyone is in the road yet again.
Planned to do 60 miles to Campeni. Assumed woulf\d have no troble finding somewhere to stay. Ha! how wrong. all the touristy stuff mysteriously dried up 5 miles before campeni and we arrived at 7pm is in a really ugly little town, with only a really minging sviet style hotel in the centre. Didnt really feel comfortable as got some hassle from locals too. Werent sure what to do but decided to go on and cycle into night if necessary! Luckily found a pension at 73 miles. Thank god!! Thought we were quite hard til read Chris Es account of his trip to France. Mad..
Had quite easy day today and cruised remaining miles to Turda (you may laugh) Off to find a pizza or something......la revederie!