Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sibiu to Brasov

Basically what we've been doing in Romania is broadly following a route through the Carpathian mountains that was originally put together by a German couple for off-road motorcyclists to follow.  As there are few providers of such resources for the off-road minded traveller, their books and GPS waypoint files have come to be used by 4wd owners too. I can't actually read the books, as they're only available in German, but I have the waypoints displayed on a GPS enabled tablet displaying topographic maps on the dashboard and I translate as much as I need from the book using Google Translate prior to undertaking a section.  We aren't following the route perfectly - we skip sections or spend an extra night as we feel minded to do.  Most of the route covered by this blog was on road.

This was the start of a climb up to a pass that would take us over 2,000 metres.  The views were stunning!

Well above the tree line here

Over the pass and heading down the other side.

And another wild camping spot.  This was a lovely spot on the edge of forest right beside a lake.  There was almost no one else to be seen for miles, as the track through the forest was fairly rough.

That's a religious worship box in the photo below.  They're everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere. Beany thought it was a toilet - thank goodness I stopped him in time!

Meanwhile I still haven't found time to shave yet......  I had more important things to do like try out the new portable BBQ.  I discovered some experimenting is necessary to get just the right amount of flame to cook the steaks rather than burn them.  But regardless, BBQ'ing is awesome!  The big Carefour supermarkets have an amazing meat selection and you can buy steaks that are marinated/seasoned and ready to throw on the BBQ.

These are some photos I took the following morning.  I was up early, before the sun was up over the hills on the other side of the lake.

Finally the rest of the gang emerge from the tent and are ready to be fed.

Beany took these photos of himself using the camera tripod and the time delay function on the camera.

Continuing on along the lake after packing up.

Looking back along the lake - we camped on the left side of the lake way down in the distance.

Once we got back on-road we visited the church of the Curtea de Arges Monastery.

A lunch stop.  We had a BBQ again!  It was hot in the sun and some shade was needed.

I thought I'd finally been attacked by a bear.... but it was just a Micky Moo bear.

Getting close to Bran in Transylvania

Micky Moo the next morning at our campsite in Bran.  She's the early to rise type of camper.

Walking from the campsite into Bran village.

Bran Castle..... also known as Dracula's Castle.  This was really an impressive castle.  It had so many balconies and terraces it felt quite liveable.

This next photo is of the car arriving into the parking lot of the flashy Hotel Ambient in Brasov, on the back of a tow truck, with the family inside the car!  (That's how it's done in Romania).  There is a story here clearly.

I had a wheel bearing getting noisy and though I carry just about every other part I didn't have one of these spare.  So I called my breakdown insurer to explain that I may need their assistance in some way (such as sourcing the part).  They were very helpful and advised me that I qualified for all sorts of benefits that I didn't even know I was covered for.  They even offered to put us up in a very nice hotel while we waited for the part to be sourced and fitted in the nearest city, Brasov.  Great I said, I'll drive the car there.  But it turned out that in order to be eligible for all the insurance benefits, it was mandatory to use a tow truck service.  The insurer was more than happy to arrange a free tow truck, even though they understood my telling them that I could drive to Brasov.  So in the end I agreed to be taken on the truck to Brasov and delivered right to our hotel - from where I could drive the car to the workshop I'd arranged to fit the new bearing.  

All seems like a lot of red tape, but the insurance benefit was worth having.  The hotel allowance was average by UK standards, but in relatively poor Romania it stretched to a penthouse duplex on top of the hotel!  I got the impression that few of the hotel's guests arrive to take up residence in a duplex penthouse in a mud splattered 4wd on the back of a tow truck, as hotel security initially refused the tow truck entry, convinced we must be in the wrong place.  But once they learned we were legitimate guests they laughed and let the tow truck driver in.

Brasov turned out to be a great place to spend an extra day waiting for the new car part to arrive and our hotel was right in the centre so that we could walk into the old town.  Photos below were taken walking around the old town in Brasov.

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