After saying our farewells to our Polish friends we left the campsite at around 9am and headed to Romania. This was a journey of 280 kilometres which in Australia would have taken us 4 hours tops. What took us so long was the stop for diesel at the border and spending the rest of our Polish Zloty’s, winding through the back roads of Slovakia and Hungary, the numerous roadworks with stop lights, stopping to buy bread and other essentials, having lunch on the side of the road, getting lost a couple of times and being held up at the Romanian border crossing. We finally arrived at Satu Mare at about 5.30 in the afternoon.
Success on five counts
Our first stop in Satu Mare [a large town near the Hungarian – Romanian Border] was a large Auchen shopping centre on the outskirts of town. Here we hoped to achieve a couple of things but ended up with a five out of five strike rate. [Number 1] Cash is always helpful and in the large shopping centres they normally have them, which they did and we were now cashed up. [Number two] We were going to get a sim card with internet data while we travelled in Romania. There was both a Vodaphone and an Orange office, we went for Orange with 10 GB of date for one month for the price of $33 AUS this included the initial sim charge. The man at the counter spoke excellent English and was very helpful, although he did mention how dangerous it must be in Australia with all the snakes we have. [Number three] As we were leaving the centre there was a stall selling Kurtos-kolacs, these are also called chimney cakes. These you see at tourist places where they give you a small piece and charge outrageous money for them. These were for the locals and a large one was only $4.00. It was delicious with coffee that night and morning tea the next day.
[Number Four] Back in the carpark we moved a bit out of the way to check and see how the internet sim card was working. At this stage we had still no place in mind to spend the night. A security guard came over and our first thoughts where that he was going to ask us to move on. Instead he indicated a place tucked away in the corner of the carpark where we could spend the night. We took his advice, thanked him and had a really quiet night, with the exception of a few barking dogs.
[Number five] We were on a roll now so in the morning I went into the hardware store, we were in need of some double sided tape. As I walked through the isles looking totally lost a sales assistant asked if I needed any help, in Romanian of course. When I asked if he spoke English he replied yes and he showed me the place where the tape was and recommended which one to buy. Our first day in Romania was off to a good start.
The overnight place was very peaceful and we didn’t leave until late in the morning. We had planned our next overnight spot Sapanta which was only 75klm away, this seemed like a short drive after the long one the day before. On the way we stopped at the Sf Treime Moisene Monastery which was either very new or getting a complete makeover. The outside looked complete but the inside was a work in progress. The northern region of Romania is famous for its monastery’s and churches, many of the churches are wooden. We will be following a route which will take in some of these site so I hope you don’t get sick of monastery and church photos. The campsite at Sapanta was very basic but clean and peaceful near the outskirts of the town. Arriving at lunch time we decided to have a relaxing day after doing a bit of clothes washing [chores still need to be done]. Later in the afternoon I was a bit restless, left Jenny to relax at the campsite and went for a walk through the village.
I met some of the locals who, even though they spoke no English asked where I was from and seemed surprized when I said Australia. I always ask before taking someone’s photo up close and they were happy to comply, one old lady had a laughing fit but settled down enough for me to get a good shot in. In the evening we had a night in watching a weak movie Exodus – Gods and Kings, this really made us sleepy, yawn!!
Saturday 6th June 2015
We had planned our route and sorted out a few places to stay in the coming days [more organized than we usually are]. Today we planned to visit a few places and the distance was going to be about 85 kms, sounds simple but we didn’t count on the roadwork’s and a few windy roads, as well as a longer than expected lunch. We left the campsite at 9 and didn’t get to our final destination until 6.30 pm, nine and a half hours!!.
Our first stop was the Merry Cemetery just down the road from the campsite. It is famous for the headstones which are made out of oak, carved into pictures, brightly painted and have verses written about the person buried there. The pictures depict something about the person, what their job was or their hobbies, or how they died. Everyone was different and it would have been interesting to be able to read the stories on the headstone, my Romanian is a little rusty.
Our route for the day took us on a long and windy way through the hills, villages and countryside. The roads were pretty bad, lots of roadworks and areas of ripped up bitumen. The first of the wooden churches we visited was the Desesti Church this is a Unesco Heritage Site. You wouldn’t think so as there was only a track to get there and a small carpark. When we arrived a boy followed us to the church, this was to be the guide, he unlocked the door and asked if we spoke English. We were the only people there and he told us about the history and what all the paintings on the walls meant. His name was Alex and after we gave him a tip for his tour we set of again. During the course of the day we visited several other wooden churches but they were closed and we could only see them from the outside.
The roads were dreadful but the drive was never boring everywhere you looked there was something interesting to see, many people were out in the fields mowing, raking and stacking hay. Making Hay while the sun shined and it was definitely a nice sunny day. Many people were sitting outside on chairs near the road and would wave as we passed. We kept our camera busy with all the sights along the way.
At lunchtime we stopped near a waterfall where there was a restaurant sitting over a small lake. It was time to treat ourselves and the handsome waiter suggested the trout with a combination of potatoes and polenta. As we couldn’t read the menu we weren’t sure of how much it was going to be. After a filling and delicious meal with drinks we were pleasantly surprized when the total came to 20 euros or $30 AUS which included the tip.
At last we ended the day at the Barsana Monastery. The car park out the front of the monastery was very sloped and a lady could see that we were trying to find a flat spot to set up for the night, “go inside the gate there is an area where you can sleep the night” she said. It was indeed flatter, quieter and we were soon joined by two other motorhomes who also stayed overnight. It had indeed been a very busy day and we were glad to be off the bad roads.
The next day was Sunday and we noticed people starting to arrive at the Monastery at about 10. Most of the people were ladies and girls and a few men. They were dresses in their finest clothes many wearing traditional dress and it was a real sight to see around the gardens of the monastery. The nuns were chanting and it was a beautiful day to see the place in action.
After yesterday we took it easy and only visited one church in a small town called Ieud. All through the villages we passed we saw people in their Sunday best coming and going from church. The roads were quiet, still rough but not as many trucks and cars. By mid-afternoon we had arrived at a place called Priszlop which was at the top of the mountain road, it was a place we read about where we could have stopped for the night. It was a bit busy with buses and car stopping so we decided to continue further and find a picnic spot further down the road.
Jenny spotted a place just off the main road where many people were stopped along a small river so down we went to see if it was possible to find a place and stay. There were heaps of places to park and right next to the river.
Next to us came a group of young people who set up and of course playing music from their car. We looked at each other and thought the same thing. There goes the serenity. As it turned out one of the group spoke really good English and invited us over for a drink, which later turned out to be dinner as they were cooking potatoes, chicken and pork sausages on the fire they had made. Along with drinks we shared a meal with them and talked for a couple of hours. Gabrielle [the one who spoke good English] was an engineer he was with his girlfriend and her brother as well as two other friends.
We gave the girls a small Koala and the boys a key ring each. When they left they came over to say goodbye and gave us a nice pendant to hang in the front of the car. It’s not all about the places you see but the people you meet along the way.
We stayed the night and the only other people there was one car which had put up a tent. The place was superb and as the weather was nice and warm we decided to stay another day. This day we sat around, did some reading, had an outdoor shower, cooked a barbeque lunch and kept busy doing nothing. You can see in the photos what a great place it was.
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To see where we have been look at our “Trip Map of 2015″