Sunny Sunday saunter.
06.07.2014 - 07.07.2014 28 °C
SUNDAY 6TH JULY
VELIKO TARNOVO TO CAMPINA
Baking hot day from first thing and we set off for Bucharest. En route it was amazingly peaceful, we chose the right day to travel, hardly any lorries and not many cars. At the Bulgarian/Romanian border we just sailed through in 6 minutes, took longer to get the vignette for the road tax at the kiosk than as the queue of cars and lorries was so minimal. On the way in it took best part of 30 minutes.
Apparently, on a hot weekend, just as at home, everyone heads to the coast and the return trip doesn't start until the afternoon, so the roads were extra quiet mid morning. The GPS took us through the middle of town and guess what? There was a large demonstration, hordes of armed guards, black marias and security guards on very swish quad bikes all charging around the place. The actual demonstration looked pretty peaceful, thank goodness, a flash went through my mind that Lonely Planet said to avoid big city centres at weekends as there are demonstrations most weeks of the year and some can get ugly. Anyway, this one did us a favour in that there were very few cars going through, the police controls meant that the traffic was speeded away from the centre, and with them all busy sorting that out it was some miles before the dreaded traffic cops reappeared! Bernie said that when they went through in 2011 the blocks of flats were grim, this time they have been painted John James green (think nappies!) with white, so at least they are bright!
Campina, which we have stopped in for the night, is a pretty good town, looks prosperous, very few dilapidated buildings, the blocks of flats are tidy and general air of confidence. Our guest house choice is a winner. The owners have recently returned from working abroad for 20 years and the whole place is brand new. They have ageing parents and needed to be with them, and as there is quite a lot of business traffic, plus returning Romanians revisiting their childhood homes, having a B&B seemed a good option. We have the attic floor, large bedroom, wifi, flat screen tv and the bathroom is equipped with jacuzzi bath even and with breakfast we will be paying the amazing price of £38.00. Think they will do well as this town is a good starting point for connecting to the Transylvanian villages. They showed us down the road to a restaurant for our meal which was just as good a bargain.
The great difference between exploring Romania and Bulgaria compared to, say France and Portugal, is that as the side roads are really like our byways, only wider, your progress is really slow and the villages, because they are isolated and do not seem to have much contact with the outside world, have been unable to prosper. Don't think there can be many folk with Classic car club runs on a Sunday, the suspension wouldn't last five minutes!
The tourism industry is probably on a learning curve, there are precious few parking areas for tourists, signage is very hit and miss, we haven't seen any evidence of public swimming pools, water parks, theme parks and so on. The leisure industry would appear to be based on cycling, walking and family visiting mostly very localised to where people live. In the winter, there is skiing which has always been the main tourism earner alongside the Black Sea resorts. Our lodging owners are always taken aback that we are more interested in the countryside and mountains than the sea, until we show them where we come from!
No wonder the Brits took to Bulgaria with houses starting at £7k for a plot and basic house, new houses start at less than £45k, in Romania the prices are from about £60k upwards. The guest house we are in was only started from scratch last November and they had it up and running 3 weeks ago. When you think of the snow and wet weather which Romania has had in that period it is very impressive!
We had a great breakfast and then set out for up t'north!