Visiting Romania, We will be back!
Like a lot of other travellers we have read various opinions and articles on visiting Romania before going. Having visited so many countries that have drawn an audible intake of breath from others, for one reason or another, we rarely take on board others feelings on a destination. We always listen for tips and advice though from those that have experienced them first hand.
very versatile in our travel, enjoying everything from sleeping under the stars to 5 star accommodation.
Being in a ford transit campervan (much smaller than our usual rig in Australia) allows us easy access to regular parking spots, shopping centres and still allows us to experience the wonder of the Trans Fagarasan road trip that will remain in our hearts forever.
So many good times with a variety of old and new friends made this section of our European Roadtrip July 2017, special.
Common to a lot of people who travel for long periods of time, we try to keep within a daily budget. Ours is AUS$130 (€90) a day averaged out. Sometimes we crush it and other days we exceed it, normally due to activities.
Let the adventure begin… Visiting Romania
Arriving from Hungary into Satu Mare, Romania. It is important to have a hard copy of your vehicle ownership papers from the country it is registered. Normally this would not be a problem we would always have it with us. But as we bought our campervan in the UK, then took off roadtripping straight away the papers had not yet arrived (took approx 4 weeks). Luckily I had a photo of the papers, which my best friend in the UK had sent me on Whats App.
It still took some sweet talking, luckily the official helping us was happy to look it up and verify ownership off the photo (something his old mate behind did not seem so happy about) in this day and age we had not really given much thought to needing hard copies. Needless to say, we rectified this by the time we were heading back and got them printed in colour double sided – and yes we were asked for them again going out.
We made our way directly to Transylvania where friends of ours are staying for the whole year. In a beautiful town called Odorheiu Secuiesc at Horizont Guest House and Bungalows (you can read our post for those of you interested in long term accommodation here).
We loved not only seeing our friends of over 20 years but seeing Eva’s home town and her love of it, was very special for us.
Introduced to countless wonderful friends who offered their organic produce from their vegetable gardens and homes with open arms. It was clear very early on, the people are so friendly and genuine.
We visited many local villages of the area, attended a festival in Kapilnasfalu (festivals are common in villages in EU over summer months) where we got to experience Hungarian folk dancing from the region of Transylvania.
On a roadtrip to Zetevaralja and surrounding areas we met a beekeeper who was selling his honey on a roadside stall. We stopped and chatted with him, buying some of the yummiest honey we have ever had! He told us how, every morning about 9am a mother bear and her two cubs came down to see if they could get any honey! The men slept there with their truck to protect their livelihood.
We visited Liban where we picked wild raspberries and wood strawberries that were amazing!
On this same trip we tried a Kurtoskalacs, also known as a chimney cake. It is made of a sweet, yeast (raised dough) of which a strip is spun and then wrapped around a truncated cone – shaped baking spit and rolled in granulated sugar.
We did not have any trouble with food and accessing it while in Romania. We cook a lot of meals on the road but as it is so affordable in Romania we did eat out a bit more. Lunches consisted of ham and cheese in baguettes. Water is easily obtainable while roadtripping from natural springs – you will know where they are by cars parked, they are popular even among the locals.
The driving can be crazy, there is no doubt. Our friends quote “you never know what will come across your bonnet in Romania!” is very true. Whether that be animal, machine, person or nature you should be on the lookout at all times.
Beware of tree branches projecting out of the road they are normally there to warn of large hidden holes!
You will need a vignette (road tax) but it is very affordable, when we went it was and obtainable as soon as you cross the border at the service station.
WIFI / Internet
WIFI, most of us need it for work or keeping in touch with loved ones. Most service stations have it (MOL, OMV and Shell to name a few) but in some cases you must be in the station for it to work. Some banks, shopping centres, (Kaufland, Lidl, larger Carrefour) tourist attractions and restaurants also offer it. We have tried to make do with public wifi,when we come back next year we will be getting WIFI.
We had bought and trialed Skyroam internet (click here for $20 discount), a mobile internet that you bank days ie AUS$11 a day US$8 a day (when purchased for a group of 10 days) for 24 hours which is perfect for social media and checking emails when you can not get wifi. It does not seem to handle our requirements of working online, travel blog and investments.
We will continue our trial though and write a review once we have properly trialed it under multiple circumstances.
Leaving Transylvania we headed south to Brasov. On the way we came across Rupea Citadel, one of the oldest archaeological sites in Romania. This was a great find.
This was a great opportunity to walk through a fortified village, having over a 100 residences in its day. Only a couple remain now.
Moving on to Brasov, we stopped and went for a walk through the city. Viewed the Black Church and right next door was a great playground, Aerotec Romania, for the kids. Miss B had a wonderful time playing with local kids.
We stayed at Vampire Camping which is a 20 minute walk to the castle. Nice enough facilities, at 98 Lei (approx AUS $33) for two adults and a 9 year old child plus electricity. There was WIFI but had to be right near office to get it.
We walked to Bran Castle and note very touristy but enjoyable. Miss B really liked the secret staircase and how short they must have been to get through the door ways! Further on we were keen to check out Poenari Castle at Wallachia.
Erected in 13th century its ruins but a must see for history buffs and a good chance for an educational history lesson for Miss B.
While camping at Bran we met a fellow traveller and his daughter who was the same age as Miss B! We all got along so well we decided to continue the next leg of our journey together. Heading back towards Brasov and onto Fagaras, where not long after, we entered the Trans Fargarasan road, a highlight of our time in Romania.
The road climbs to an altitude of 2,042 metres (6,699 ft), making it the second highest mountain pass in Romania after the Transalpina. It is a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. Due to the topography, the average speed is around 40 km/h (25 mph). The road also provides access to Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall. We found a beautiful place to camp on the lake in a half built deserted hotel/mansion on the southern side of the pass. One of our favourite reasons for being self contained and belief in the ‘leave no trace’ camping motto.
The scenery is mind blowing! Lots of footage was taken but we can not even begin to describe how wonderful it is to be in the middle of such unspoilt natural beauty. What a credit to Romania, its people and the conservation of its natural forests and heritage.
Nearing the bottom of Trans Fargarasan we attended Poenari Castle. Access to the citadel is made by climbing the 1,480 concrete stairs. Fantastic, Sport and History lesson in one! In the 15th century Vlad III the Impaler repaired and consolidated the structure, making it one of his main fortresses. Footage taken, but restricted WIFI access means it will follow later.
On leaving this area, we lost a windscreen wiper in a storm. Then within an hour and as luck would have it upon entering the largest town we had been in for a while, our gears started playing up.
This brings us to another motto ‘safety first’. So we stayed until morning to talk to a mechanic. They couldn’t help us till Monday (it was Friday morning). We really needed (wanted) to keep moving and explained it was our home. They knew someone who specialised in Ford Transit vans, they came and escorted us to their workshop.
We were back on the road within 3 hours with a replaced gearbox and windscreen wiper! If you are in Targu Jiu and need a Ford Mechanic, look up Dezmembrari Ford Transit. They are brothers, speak English and so helpful.
Further north we stopped in at Timisoara, at a camping ground Camping International Timisoara (the most expensive yet at AUS$43) strongest WIFI, showers, flat sites, good security behind locked gates. 12pm checkout.
We bought the campervan in UK, before leaving we should have bought an LPG adapter to ensure less difficulty refilling in different countries. If you have gas bottles ensure you grab an adapter kit before leaving UK. This was particularly important in Romania.
We left with definite intentions of visiting Romania again!
Next, Slovenia and comprehensive Italy, back through France. Let the adventures continue!