TRANSFAGARAS PASS AND CORBII MARI
01.07.2014 - 01.07.2014 23 °C
Transfagaras Pass Road and down to Corbii Mari just above Bucharest.
The morning was fine in Cisnadoara when we set out, took a quick detour to photograph the poster for the "dressaj for dogs" outfit nearby, then 40 miles later we began the climb the mountain. Had driven first part but when we came to all the corkscrew bends, decided to let B take a turn. Up and up we went, first no views because of the tree cover, but eventually we reached the sparsely vegetated upper reaches. Here the views were spectacular, waterfalls, and landscape. Plus you could see all the way down the pass and who was coming uphill. B said the difference to his trip 3 years ago is amazing. The road had been improved, there were crash rails, so no need to feel toooo nervous. Coaches, motorbikes and motorhomes and a few cars. Certainly we didn't see another Brit car all the way up.
For once, and only once, have to say that Clarkson is right, this trip is certainly one you will never forget. Whether you are a driver or motor biker it offers a challenge through some fantastic scenery . However he must have had special concessions getting here, because the stop start motoring on the main routes drives me mad. You cannot drive smoothly, one minute it is 90km then you will get 2km down the road and it is 70km then few metres further 50km and then on down to 30km through a village. This exercise repeats itself ad infinitum. Having had a speeding ticket already, you just don't want to get another. Find it very very frustrating. Would be better if it was 70km and then down to 30km rather than the sequence which prevails today. The Romanian drivers play suicide runs to get past you, presumably gambling that the Police are not around, they must have been watching Jeremy!, this makes it even more nerve wracking.
Nowadays up the Transfagaran Pass there is a cable car, but it wasn't running at the time we got to the starting point, as the cloud was low, giving misty conditions down the mountainside. We stopped off at Lac Balea, and took some shots of the waterfalls. B said that the number of hotels, lodges and so on along the route were new since his previous trip when they went on the charity run to Syria.
Having reached the top, which took a good 40 minutes, the mist lifted a lot and the cable car began running but we pressed on to go down the other side. It seemed to me that it was a much longer route downhill than up, but still as serpentine. I managed to do quite a bit of that route, lots of gear changes round the hairpins and mostly enjoyable as not much coming up towards us. We found the same hotel that the men stopped at to have a break on their trip. It is in a gorgeous spot on the lower lake, very well equipped, but hardly a soul about. We had a coffee and a breather there and then set off for Corbii Mari. The lake feeds a large hydroelectricity plant and the road goes over the barrage where there is a very good vantage point.
We then set out to find our way onto the motorway at Pitiesti and whizzed down. Overshot where we should have turned off! That caused today's wild goose chase. Finally, in a little roadside shop where we asked the way, the owner dispatched his son to escort us onto the right track!
The Hotel Popasul was built before the motorway it now clings to, it must have been idyllic in the past, but the lines are really blurred now, lorries zooming past, liaisons in the car park, and travellers coming and going. The building is spotless and the rooms very well equipped, but it has that air of being out of place........ 3 gins later, so am I, never mind it is only for one night and then we are off to Veliko Tarnovo. Must say the food we had was tasty and again a bargain.
Today found storks nesting by the road and took a snap, also got good shot of the old fashioned stooks of hay today. On Transfagaran we even saw the last remnants of the winter packed ice. All in all it has been another very entertaining day.
Next morning - am afraid the one downside to this hotel, apart from being difficult of finding it, is that you either need to like the sound of lorries thundering past throughout the night, be deaf, or an insomniac who would enjoy a change from counting sheep. The lorries went past at the rate of one every 2 seconds, yes 2! This means that over 24 hours there are somewhere in the region of THIRTY FIVE TO FORTY THOUSAND LORRIES A DAY going through on their way into Europe. Presumably there is the same amount on the downward trek. No wonder the motorways are clogged throughout the continent? HS2 ? Bring it on, it would not make anywhere near as much racket. But sadly HMG doesn't seem to have freight in mind.
Breakfast was a lorry driver's dream, omelet accompanied by tomato, cheese chunks, olives, salami cucumber and rolls. I asked for jam and butter with my roll, but lost in translation, the dear girl came back with 2 rolls in a bag to take with us. Which pleased Bernie no end! Mind you, that saved a few ounces.....