August 11 2011

I like Romania. The money is plastic like it is in Australia. No pictures of the Queen though. Just some former dictator. It’s only 21 years since the end the communist regime.

There remain some outdated heavily industrialised areas and very little organised or large scale agriculture. I passed through Copșa Mică, famous for its high level of pollution and lead, known previously for having the highest levels of infant mortality in Europe. Apparently they cleaned it up in the nineties and now they even have white snow!

The older generation are stereotypical. The ladies are large and wear scarves. Aprons over their dresses. The men wear hats as they drive the horse and cart – many walk with a cane.

But the future of this country lies with the younger generation. And they look the same as those from any European country. There is wealth here. But still much poverty and subsistence living outside the major cities. The old way of life still exists for many.

I passed many Dacia’s today. Some were classics, others the latest models. They must be all-right these cars. Their latest model is called the Logan.  Woodridge was the preferred name but the accountants knocked it back because it had too many letters.

This was my favourite Dacia of the day though – there’s nothing this car could not manage.

Tomorrow I pass through the town where Dacia’s are made. Can’t wait.

The mullet is also making its reappearance as a fashion statement in Romania – or perhaps like many parts of Australia it never went out of fashion.

The other thing Romania is famous for is its dogs. Now I like a good mongrel dog. No inbreeding, generally healthier, live longer. But these strays that are everywhere would have to be the ugliest dogs I’ve ever seen. So ugly they defy any sort of breed identification.

Unfortunately they also become road kill.

The other day I thought I saw a dead bear on the side of the road but it was a big mongrel dog. In Australia we have kangaroos, but here its dogs. They must have an army of people employed to clean up after them as I have not seen too much “mess” from them in the towns. With all the dogs and scores of cars I’ve seen parked by the woods there it appears that “dogging” is very popular in Romania.

Sibiu is my favourite Romanian city to date. I parked the Family Truckster in the centre of the old town and looked for a hotel to stay in. After walking around town I stumbled on a great place just off the main Piata. Yes they have a room, internet access and the price is fine. I’ll take it. What – on the 4th floor? and no lifts? The exercise will do me good.

The hotel (Levoslav House) is about 500m away from where I left the Family Truckster. I’ll just go and get it and park it out front.

The hotel does not appear in the GPS and I do not recall the name of the street. Half an hour later I am still riding around in circles trying to get to the hotel. These old towns are an absolute maze of one way streets, typically with a central traffic free area. A London cabbie would even struggle in Sibiu.

Evenutally I went through a pedestrian tunnel and the wrong way up at least three one way streets but I made it.

Romania (absent the rain) is a great place. Here are my favourite shots of Sibiu.

I like the roofs with windows that look like eyes watching over you.

Tomorrow is a big day. This should be special. I’m taking on The Transfăgărășan.

Total miles today 135 (217km), cumulative 2,508 (4,036km).

Update: Another day without a peep from Kalahari George.  After a mostly rain free day of riding through Transylvania I was again enjoying my Turkey motorcycle tour while learning more about the history of Romania.  Tomorrow was going to be a highlight of my time in Romania and one of the main reasons I’d taken this route to Turkey.  During pre-trip route planning, I’d even paid a for advice to ensure I made it to this famous road, receiving a map of Romania with it clearly highlighted.  Surely I couldn’t miss it – but I nearly did.