ROMANIA – Now the reason I didn’t spend very much time in Sibiu: someone else who was staying at La Padre’s hostel on the night I arrived had rented a car and offered to take me with him on a scenic mountain road called the Transfăgărășan, which he had wanted to drive since he had seen in on Top Gear. Padre told me that was an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I didn’t. The Transfăgărășan (a name which took me about a week to be able to pronounce) was built in the early 1970’s to a great financial and human cost, with no other purpose than to be able to evacuate the army in the case of a Soviet invasion (apart from that, it doesn’t really go from anywhere to anywhere). Anyway, it was a very spectacular drive, and the driver was Pakistani, so I also learned some things about Pakistan which I won’t share with you here as I don’t have any pictures to go with it.
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22. Approaching the mountains in the village of Cârțișoara
23. As you can see here, the Transfăgărășan climbs and climbs by way of one hairpin bend after the other
24. Even further up now, the temperature here was very pleasant, considering it was 35 degrees celsius down below
25. There was even a little bit of snow by Bâlea Lake, which lies shortly before the final pass (not shown is that there were also a lot of tourists here: a continuous procession of cars, campers and even bikes)
26. Now quite far down the other side, Lacul Vidaru and the (hydroelectric?) dam that created it
27. The lake is overlooked by a communist superhero (who I was later informed is Prometheus, for some reason)
28. View back towards the pass we took
From here, the road descended back into the inhabited world, though it was very different, as we were now in southern Romania (it was very nice and I would have liked to make some pictures, but that’s the limitation of car tourism)
29. The last picture I made, of the monastery of Curtea de Argeș
Padre had told me that I would easily be able to return to Sibiu on the same day, but my premonition that this wouldn’t be possible turned out to be right when we arrived in Pitești (where I learned that single i’s on the end of words are muted in Romanian, making Pitești ‘Piteșt’ and București ‘Bucureșt’) around 7, just to late for the last bus. I could have hitchhiked, but figured that this would take me at least six hours, and got back in the car for the last hour to Bucharest instead. I like Bucharest (where I slept in the car), but decided not to visit it this time (it’s much too big), and took a bus back to Sibiu, which I still wanted to visit and where most of my luggage had slept at Padre’s hostel:D
The seven hour trip back by the normal road through the mountains was also very picturesque, taking me through Valea Oltului, whose name taught me something else about the Romanian language. I had already learned ‘ul’ or ‘a’ to the end of a word was the article, making ‘lucul’ ‘the lake’ or ‘valea’ ‘the valley’ from a friendly lady at small museum in Cârțișoara the previous day. Knowing that ‘Olt’ was the name of the river, and having seen the word ‘municipiului’ on garbage trucks, it was not hard to guess that the addition of ‘ului’ means ‘of the’ (so: Valley of the Olt).
Anyway, I don’t know how many people are actually going to read all this, but stay tuned for our next destination: Cluj-Napoca!This entry was posted in Argeș County, Romania, Sibiu County