2018/03/24 Romania – Busteni to Turda

Saturday 24th March. – ROMANIA

Romania has a population of around 22 million people, with a land area of 237,500 sq. klm and the capital is Bucharest.

Romania is a member of the European Union but is not in the Schengen Zone.

Romanian is the official language and the Romanian leu (plural – lei) is the currency.

Australians do not need a Visa to travel in Romania and can stay for up to 90 days.

Wild camping is allowed with permission from the land owner/manager or local government.

Leaving Bulgaria we only had around 10kms to travel to the Romaniam border but still the roads were heavy with snow, mud and slush.

Through the Bulgarian customs we went only to be recognised by the customs official who said “We saw your lovely motorhome parked in Lidl last night”.  We thought that was very funny and received the passport stamp and tick of approval after paying the €2 toll to use the bridge across the Danube to Romania.

Next on to the Romanian customs counter where we again got a Royal Romanian stamp and a fleeting look into Ziggy from 2 customs officials.  They didn’t even come inside but merely glanced through the habitation door and spent the next few minutes talking to us about Australia.  Another easy border for us to cross.

Bought a vignette for around $8 for seven days a few meters on and then began the most horrific 300 metres we have ever experienced in our life.  Just about 200 metres from the border gates, we noticed the traffic was not moving in any direction and saw trucks lined up for as far as you could see heading our way towards the border gates. 

We suspected there may be an accident and within minutes saw a car blocking one and a half lanes, in a pot hole, with underneath bits hanging off everywhere.   It had hit a massive pot hole in the road and didn’t make it up the other side.  We were lucky enough to be able to get around it but found another 20 or more potholes of a similar size where we had to change to first gear to get up and out before moving on to the next one – this is no exaggeration!!!   Hate to think how bad it would be a few hours later with the number of trucks increasing the size of the potholes through every crossing.

Pot holes are impossible to see when covered with snow and or melting slush which turns to water and then it is difficult to determine the size and depth.

Do hope they spend some of the money they get from the Vignettes to fix up this bit and soon.

The roads are horrid in general except for some of the newer highways and we did hit one pothole at quite a speed and were so relieved no damage was done.

We did so enjoy driving up through the centre via the scenic route which was breathtaking to say the least, but each time we arrived at a potential camp for the night, most were snowed in or not open.   There is something so serene and special about driving through snow covered mountains where trees are dripping with snow and streams part covered in snow gently meander down the mountainside.

All sorts of traffic on the mountain roads

Frustration again set in (as well as an exhausted and tired driver) and when we were within a few kms of our final choice Brasov and were stopped by the police to let us know the road was closed, it was the final straw.

We had seen a Lidl a few kms back so thought that was our best option.

Our campsite for tonight:  Lidl – Busteni

Nested into a corner of the carpark, we hoped no one would notice us and slept peacefully until 8am next morning.

Sunday 25th March

No new snow overnight and we were pleased to see some of the ice in the car park was beginning to melt.   The sun had actually come out for the first time in days.

Headed back toward Brasov and hoped the road was open today.  It was and this time we were rewarded with breathtaking scenery all the way through the mountains.  This is a very popular part of Romania with ski fields in many of the towns along the way.

The roads were also very busy as skiers enjoyed the huge snow dump and took advantage of it to get in some last season skiing.

Our campsite for tonight:  Brasov, (Aleea Tiberiou Brediceanu).  GPS  45.6407N  25.5950E

Brasov is very special but there are few places that a car can park in, let alone a Ziggy Bus.  The centre is full of apartment blocks with only street parking available for owners with stickers. 

Our overnight parking spot – up against the Old Town wall

This car park is quite difficult to find as our NAVIE kept taking us round and round the block.  Finally we used the above address and soon found the spot right next to the Old Town Wall.   Being a Sunday, there was not a spare spot anywhere with buses and cars double parked.   We found a spot just out of town by a sports field and did some chores until later in the afternoon and then ventured back at 6pm and luckily found one or two spots available.

Took a long walk into the Old Town where we were able to get some photos before dark.

Monday 26th March

Back to explore more of Old Town this morning.  So many beautifully restored old buildings, street after street after street with the Main Street, cobble stoned and a pedestrian way only.  The town square is the most spectacular with the Black Cathedral being one of its feature buildings.  Sadly closed on Mondays so did not get past the front gate. 

Architecture Brasov style

Bought a Romanian delicacy called Kurtos from a street stall.  Tastes a bit like a donut but is long and hollow with the outside tasting like toffee.  It is pastry rolled onto a cylinder and then cooked as it turns past a heated element – yum!   Romanians love their pastries and nearly every person we saw was eating some kind of pastry.  Also noticed a lot of dentists around – too much sugar eaten I think!

Now that is a fort on a hill

The snow is now melting fast – thank goodness and as we travel through the countryside – the white hills are turning into brown hills with only patches of snow seen on the hills.

Our campsite tonight:  Sighisoara (8 Strada Anton Pann) 46.2188N  24.7882E

This campsite is on a road at the bottom of the citadel where there is room for cars and coaches.  Parking costs less than $2 per day from 8am to 5pm and free after that.  The parking attendant is very busy and strictly monitors every vehicle that stops.

What a trek up the hill – over 100 steps to get to the entrance at the top and then another 200 or more going up the different levels to the church at the top.   Certainly worked off the Kurtos by day’s end.   The clock tower in the square is one of the main attractions and appears to have figurines that move through openings under the clock – probably at midday we think.

One of the sets of stairs under cover leading to the top

We are in the heart of Transylvania (home of Dracula).  We even passed by a house which proudly declared that “Dracula was born here”. 

Architecture Sighisoara style

Every citadel in Romania we have visited has been packed with school kids of all ages and each has been so interesting.  Seems like nearly every medium plus sized town has its own citadel.

We took another way down into the new part of town which would have been far easier than the first 100 steps and stopped in a bar for a well deserved beverage.

Tuesday 27th March

Left before 8am but not until the attendant asked to see our receipt.   He arrived at 7am!!  If you stay longer, then another day’s payment is required.  At less than $2 a day – that would not be a problem at all.

Travelled to Sibiu where we parked right in town at the beginning of the walk to Old Town (co ordinates 45.7920N  24.1488E).  This car park is very busy and though it has a number of large spaces for motorhomes, this does not stop the locals from parking there in their cars.  We were warned about getting there early hence the early departure.  The cost here is 1 Lui per hour which is $0.33 per hour.   You can stay as long as you like including night time but opted not too as we thought it may be too noisy with cars coming and going all night, though looked very safe  – a great spot to visit this town.

Sibiu street scape

Most of The Old town is a pedestrian only zone and stretches over many streets of beautiful churches, clock towers and beautifully restored old buildings.  It has two large squares in the centre with many more smaller ones on the outskirts.   Spent several hours there finishing in a restaurant for lunch.  Sat by the window people watching as the restaurant quickly began to fill up.  Almost got invaded by a school group of 20 or so children around 10 years old – thankfully there was not enough room left so they moved on – phew!

Sibiu architecture

Decided not to stay here for the night and moved on.

Our campsite for tonight:  Alba Iulia – 46.0645N.  23.5748E

Arrived here just before nightfall and began working on our blog when we were surprised to see another motorhome pull in.  Think we have only seen a total of 2 motorhomes in the last few weeks.

One of the many wooden churches in the area

Recognised the motorhome and its occupants from a place we stayed at in Greece (Thessaloniki) so spent the rest of the night talking with Arthur and Anais, a young couple from France about their travels since last seeing them and exchanged great spots to visit.  It was certainly great to get some feedback on places to stay in France when we return there later in the year.

Part of the Orthodox Church in the Citadel area

Wednesday 28th March

Spent the morning catching up and up loading photos before venturing up the hill to the Citadel.  What an amazing place and we found it only by accident.  There is no reference to it in any of the research we have done.

The city within the walls is so well laid out and not of the same vintage as some of the others we have experienced but just as intriguing.  Hundreds and hundreds of school kids were everywhere – obviously school excursions just before Easter.  Really worth an overnight visit.

There are two spots to camp around the Citadel, we chose the quietest one.

The rain began to fall quite heavily so we quickly headed back to Ziggy and left not long after for Turda.

Our campsite for tonight:  Turda – Aleea Durgaului – GPS 46.5878N  23.7924E

Arrived here just before 5pm and did a quick drive past.  There is a carpark right at the entrance that offers day parking for under $2.00 for cars only and another carpark a little further on for buses, motorhomes etc at an hourly rate of 1 lei (33 cents).

The entrance to the mine – no they are not our children

We parked in the recommended motorhome parking which is around 200 meters from the front entrance and overlooks beautiful green pastures.

Looking down the shaft to the lake at the bottom

The salt mines of Turda (Salina Turda) open at 9 am in the morning and we are looking forward to seeing these and comparing these to the Wieliczka salt mines in Poland and the ones just outside Salzburg in Austria, both of which were outstanding.

Super quiet place to stop with again no other motorhomes around.