Saturday, June 6, 2015

Welcome to Dracula country!

Mike with Vladimir
the Impaler
Ever wondered where Dracula came from? Well, he's from Transylvania... which is in central Romania, and we will not just take you there, we will even show you his castle. A beautiful castle. Transylvania is not only a beautiful part of the world, it's also a mythical place. We went there with a Romanian escort! Roxy, Andrei and Olivia rode with us to Transylvania, showed us where to go, how to get there and the sights to see. We were in for a treat, a couple of beautiful days into the mythical land called Transylvania...! It was to be our first proper view of Romania and what an eye-opener!

What do you do when a couple of total strangers turn up at your friend's doorstep? You take them for a 750 km roundtrip through Romania...! Stay overnight in a Romanian Pension with them, take them out for dinner, show them Dracula's castle and ride up the Transfăgărășan pass with them even though it is still covered in snow! The friendliness of Romanian motorcyclists is amazing. We had already found the Romanians very enthusiastic about what we are doing, which started at the first day we rode into Romania. Total strangers came up to us for a photo and a chat as they had been following our blog and wanted to know more about our trip. But Roxy, Andrei and Olivia's friendliness completely astounded us.

Dracula's chair...
not the most comfortable but at
least you wouldn't sit there
for long...
Home made cheese...!
They took us on a private tour through the Carpathian mountains towards Brasov and Sibiu. For those wondering what the Carpathian mountains are: they are the second largest mountain range in Europe, second only to the Scandinavian mountain range. The Carpathian mountains boast some impressive mountains, with peaks as high as 2,600 mtr. They are home to bears, wolves and lynxes, the highest concentration of which can be found right here in Romania.

We were shown the real Romania, with its castles, its characterful villages, its horse drawn carts and it's cuisine! The weather forecast hadn't been that good for the weekend and sure enough it came down in bucket loads on Saturday afternoon. Our hosts thought we were crazy when we suggested a campground... little did we know that a Pension in Romania works out cheaper than a campground and even comes with your own shower. The rain cleared quickly so we went into town to sample Romania cuisine, which is great!

War memorial 1916-1918
As luck would have it, it was also museum night. We could thus roam around in Dracula's castle for instance. For the nitpickers: the castle's official name is Bran Castle and the count who lived there was Vladimir the impaler, however it's known world wide as Dracula's Castle.

The second day of the weekend was to be a ride from Bran to Sibiu, via the perhaps most famous pass of Romania: the Transfăgărășan pass.

The pass wasn't open yet due to an abundance of snow, but we went up as far as we could and had a super-ride. The Transfăgărășan pass in the snow: what more could we ask for? We rode past the concrete barrier, riding twisty roads flanked by snow right up to the point where we ran into a snow barrier. A great ride. In theory you should be here in June or July, when the pass is open. However that's also the time when there will be a lot of holiday makers. We had the pass virtually to ourselves and the views were magic!

The end of the road...
Our weekend had already been super, but Andrei, Olivia and Roxy had one more surprise in store. We were going to part company in Sibiu, they would head back to Bucharest, we would continue on our own towards the west. They contacted a friend in Sibiu, Radu, who was waiting fur us and guided us to a restaurant. We had a good meal, good conversation and then said, temporarily, goodbye to Roxy, Andrei and Olivia. Radu showed us the sights of Sibiu and subsequently took us to a guesthouse via a very scenic route. Camping really is pointless here as guesthouse charge less for a two person room than campings charge per tent. We were met by a very friendly family and Radu organised a full breakfast for us as well. Romania is a very, very friendly place! It was an amazing trip through an amazing country; the perfect weekend!