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Published: October 27th 2015
Fountain in central Bucharest
This fountain in on a boulevard in central Bucharest
Wide roads, narrow roads, spectacular roads and roads that lead to Rome
In this blog entry we are going to tell you about the places we visited on our road trip in Romania that we haven't written about yet. Don't try to retrace our journey based on the order we have the photos. You will only get confused. The exact order in which we went to each place is of lesser interest to most people so we have here thrown in our photos in random order. We are actually going to start where we ended our vacation - in Bucharest.
We only stayed two days in Bucharest. It was a deliberate decision to stay only a very short time there because we can always come back to the Romanian capital some other day. On this vacation it was the road trip that was the important part because we are not likely to ever do that again. We have already in the Castles and Palaces blog mentioned that we visited the Palace of the Parliament. Building the palace was a megalomaniacal project on its own. But it was still only one piece of an even bigger
Artificial river in Bucharest
The Palace of the Parliament was a megalomaniacal project on its own. But it was still only one piece of an even bigger remaking of Bucharest centre. This river is actually artificial and is also part of that remaking.
project. The aim of that project was to turn the entire city centre into something impressive and glorious. There are several other buildings and a wide boulevard that is part of the same project and, and this is weird, they also created a river through the city. Because if you are set to design a city centre to impress people you must have a river running through it, right?
In Bucharest we also visited Ghencea Cemetery to see the grave of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. Some of you reading this might react badly when we admit that we visited the grave of two ruthless dictators. But seeing the grave is not the same thing as paying respect to the people buried there, because that we would never do. We remember following the last days of communism in Romania and the fall of the regime on TV. We also remember when we heard on the news that the Ceausescus had been captured and later executed. To us the grave is like a symbol of the Romanian people's struggle for freedom and democracy and their victory over oppression and tyranny.
We made a short visit to
View from The Palace of the Parliament
The Palace of the Parliament was a megalomaniacal project on its own. But it was still only one piece of an even bigger remaking of Bucharest centre. This boulevard and all the buildings lining it was also part of that remaking
a town called Targu Jiu. In that town there are some sculptures made by the sculptor Constantin Brancusi
. We have never heard of him before but learnt that he is such a well known sculptor that they have guards in the parks in Targu Jiu where his sculptures are displayed to prevent people from stealing them. Our favourite sculpture was one called Endless Column. The name of the sculpture is slightly misleading though. It is a column but it is not endless.
The next place we are going to write about here is a small village called Rimetea
. It is located near the border of Hungary and most of the people in that region are ethnic Hungarian and mainly speak Hungarian. Rimetea is a very cute village and that is the reason we went there. Rimetea has been nominated to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List but has not yet made it into the main list. The nomination states that it should be included in the list as an extension of another world heritage site, Holloko in Hungary. Somehow there is a relationship between those two villages. But the nature of that relationship is a mystery to us.
Black swans are native to Australia but they keep a few in Bucharest. We find them very beautiful
In the Carpathian Mountains we visited Scarisoara Cave
. Ake is more into caves than Emma so Ake had loads of fun there where as Emma was less excited about this little detour. Scarisoara Cave is a bit unusual in that there inside the cave is ice, hundreds of tons of it, all year around. The cave was filled up with ice during the last ice age and the cave is located and formed in such a way that during the summer very little ice melts off and during the winter water, snow and ice enters the cave and replaces the ice which melted away during the summer. The ice in the cave can be said to be a remnant from the last ice age.
One day we went on a hike in Retezat Mountains. The hike started at a ski resort, went through a pine forest, up on a mountain, to a small alpine lake, along a ridge and then back to the ski resort. We had a wonderful day, even though it was a bit cloudy, up until we came to the ridge because then it started to rain. The rain was a bit cold but not
Grave of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu
To us the grave of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu is a symbol of the Romanian people's struggle for freedom and democracy and their victory over oppression and tyranny.
much more than a drizzle. However it made all bare rock faces turn slippery. We slipped a few times but were lucky enough to come out of there with only a few minor scratches and bruises.
Cluj-Napoca we visited partly because it was one of very few places we had heard of in Romania before we decided to make this country the destination for this trip. It turned to be an interesting city so we are happy we stayed there for a day. There aren't really any traditional tourist sights in the town, at least none that we found. We walked through the city centre, visited a cemetery we had read about, and walked back again.
The cemetery was nice for a stroll and a good place to take photos. But the walk there and back was what really made our day because of the interesting signs. In Cluj-Napoca we found several signs, advertising various businesses, that we liked. The signs were in different styles but were all very special. We didn't make any research into these signs so we don't know if it was just a coincidence that we found these signs or
This sculpture is called Endless Column and was made by the sculptor Constantin Brancusi
if it is some kind of tradition in Cluj-Napoca to have artistic signs.
Not all signs in Cluj-Napoca are artistic though. The neon sign on the hotel we stayed in was a bit of a mistake. They failed already when they gave the hotel its name, Lucy Star. Lucy Star is a name which fits better on a strip joint in Vegas than a perfectly good hotel in Romania. When the neon sign was lit up it was even worse. The colour was red and a flashing star made us think more of a brothel than an establishment providing accommodation. You can see for yourself in this film clip
In several places in Romania we saw statues of Romulus and Remus, the twins who according to legend were brought up by a wolf and who went on to found the city of Rome. Statues of the young twins being breastfed by a wolf are very common in Rome and is also a symbol for the city. We asked why those statues are common in Romania. The explanation given to us was that in the 19th century there were groups of people who wanted
The village Rimetea is located near the border of Hungary and most of the people in that region are ethnic Hungarian and mainly speak Hungarian. Rimetea is a very cute village and has been nominated to be included on the Unesco World Heritage List but has not yet made it into the main list.
to break up the country in smaller pieces. The central power then decided to use Romania's historical ties to ancient Rome to unify the country. They simply said that Romania today is the last remnant of the Roman Empire and it is our duty to history to stay unified. It seems like it worked because Romania is still a country and to remind the people of the history there are statues of Romulus and Remus here and there.
There are several places in Romania where there are ruins after Roman cities. We visited one such site on the Black Sea coast, Histria the site is called. As Roman ruins goes it was ok but not spectacular.
Not everything goes as planned on a trip like this, but that is all part of the joy with travelling as an independent traveller. We went to a small village called Budesti because we had heard that they in that village have a tradition of erecting spectacular gates to their houses. We came there and found those gates to be both fewer in number and much less spectacular than we expected. But we got to see two nice
Riverwooden churches in Budesti
A river we made a short stop at
so we were still happy when we left.
Another place that wasn't what we expected was the city Constanta. Constanta wasn't a nice city. It felt hostile. Later on we asked around and it turned out that we were at least partly right. Constanta is a pretty rough place with a high crime rate. We went there because we wanted to see the former casino
, a wonderful gambling palace down at the waterfront. The building has been abandoned for many decades but we have seen photos from inside and much of the opulent interior is still there. For a while they were actually running walking tours of the casino but not anymore. It must have been a great experience to be on one of those tours. We think that it must have been just like entering a time machine and getting warped back to the 1920-ies.
In the town Viseu de Sus we made a trip on the unique forestry railway they have there. A forestry railway is a railway built for the purpose of making an area accessible for logging. In Romania there used to be several such railways and they were mostly
The suspension bridge was safe and it led to a hiking trail on the other side. There are many good hiking trails in Romania
built along valleys. Today only one of these forestry railways is in use and it goes from the town Viseu de Sus up in Vaser Valley. The railway is used both for transporting timber and for sightseeing trips. The train ride took about half a day and was very enjoyable.
Those of you who follow this blog might have noticed that we enjoy running. When we travel we always bring our running shoes and when it is possible we try to find a race to participate in. We managed to find an interesting race in Viseu de Sus. We were the only foreigners attending the race and we were actually so exotic that they interviewed us on national TV.
After Viseu de Sus we went to a village named Borsa further down the Vaser Valley. Borsa is known for being a winter resort and also for having a nice waterfall. Since we were there in summer only the waterfall was of interest for us. But we did also find one other interesting thing in Borsa, a modern ruin. It used to be a hotel once but they either went bankrupt or closed down their
Much of Romania looks like this. Peaceful farming country amidst rolling hills
business for other reasons some years ago because today it stands empty. We have a bit of a soft spot for modern ruins. In an abandoned hotel you can easily picture how it might have been working there or staying there as a guest. Sometimes it is even possible to find people who remember when it was up and running and sometimes can even tell anecdotes from its heydays.
We then left Vaser Valley and headed down to the Danube Delta
. The Danube Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect the fragile and important nature and habitat there. We took a tour of the delta. The tour was maybe three hours long and that was quite enough. Worth pointing out is that we saw pelicans. The Danube Delta is supposedly the only place in Europe where there are wild pelicans.
A good thing about having a car is that you can allow yourself to visit places that you don't really know if they are worth visiting or not. Marasesti was such a place. When searching various sites on the Internet for interesting places in Romania we learned that there just outside Marasesti is
Hay stacks are very common in Romania
a large mausoleum
. The mausoleum is a memorial site and burial place of more than 5,000 soldiers who died in a battle during World War I.
We have now written about a lot of places we visited on this trip. Here at the end of this last blog entry from Romania we are going to mention a few things we wanted to see but for various reasons didn't. Bigar waterfall
- It is very different from most waterfalls and it looks really cool. It was too far away from our route and we couldn't justify the many hours driving necessary to reach it. Berca Mud Volcanoes
- OK, Ake loves mud volcanoes and Emma hates them. But Ake loves Emma and he didn't want her to suffer so he had to drop that site off the itinerary.
Oil fields - there are oil fields in Romania and it would have been interesting to stop by one. We didn't look for them but thought we would pass one or two anyway. But we never did. We still don't know where the oil fields are. Decebalus' head
- a sculpture made from a huge rock sitting next
In the Carpathian Mountains we visited Scarisoara Cave.
to the Danube. Just like Bigar Waterfall it was too far from our route and we didn't have time to drive all the way out there to see it. But don't worry, we have a plan. Both Decebal's head and Bigar Waterfall can easily be visited from Serbia. One day we will go to Serbia and we'll just make a detour into Romania.
Danube canyon - The Danube supposedly have a spectacular section in western Romania close to the border of Serbia.
Timisoara - Also off the route. Anghel Saligny Bridge
- It is one of the most spectacular bridges we have ever seen. We drove next to this bridge but on a freeway so we were unable to stop and there was also no way that we could turn off and have a closer look. The bridge is no longer in use but is probably safe from any plans of demolishing thanks to its large size, it is more than four kilometres long, and that it is a registered historical monument.
We hope you have enjoyed our photos and stories from Romania. We certainly had a great time travelling around there.
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