26th - 30th March 2003
We left Giurgiu fairly early because we knew we would have a long way to go before we could find anywhere to camp wild. Here we are just leaving the Hotel Victoria:
We headed north-north-west, towards the hills, avoiding Bucharest. The country was flat but there were some undulations and areas of woodland so we began to think that camping would not be such a problem. To our surprise we found ourselves in an area of oilwells, with 'Nodding donkeys' and well heads. We had no idea that Romania had oil fields!
A few kilometers further and we entered a region of continuous ribbon development, one village ran into the next and the camping possibilities were nil. By late afternoon we'd done nearly 80km and wanted to stop so we asked a couple of friendly looking old men by the roadside if there was somewhere we could camp. A long conversation ensued about motels, campsites, restaurants, etc but we eventually managed to convey with our few words of Romanian that we had food and all we wanted was a bit of grass to camp on. Understanding was finally achieved and one of the men led us through his garden gate to camp outside his house. He even carried out a table a two chairs for us, which was particularly kind because that and a bed was all the furniture he possessed! Then he took me off to see some people who sold bread and to a bar where I bought beers for the three of us. Here he is with Ju in the morning as we packed up to go:
The ribbon development seems to be a feature of Romania. Luckily there are cheap motels in all the small towns and we'd bought a map in Bucharest that indicated them. This one in Pucioasa for example was just $5 for a twin room:
Meanwhile the countryside was flat and built up, and the road was busy and potholed. The most impressive thing we saw was this power station:
Finally we began to climb into the Carpathian mountains. The ribbon development petered out and the traffic dissipated. Here we are on the summit of the pass, about to freewheel down into Sinaia:
Our guidebook said that Sinaia was the "Jewel of the Carpathians", first impressions were of concrete appartment blocks and industry but we once we'd found a room we were able to explore it properly. The most amazing sight is Peles castle, built in 1875 by King Carol.
Next day we headed for the mountains...
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