Here comes the sun......

Wednesday 17th April 2013

We are getting accustomed / resigned to the manic driving style now having driven about 470 miles almost due east in Romania and after 5 days in the country we are now in the Transylvania area so here is a quick reflection on our travels here to date. Spring is in the air and the sun has finally come out .....…

Leaving Hungary’s we entered no-mans land between the two borders where we purchased our vignette – compulsory for all roads in Romania so we couldn’t avoid not paying this one. It cost €9 for 1 month, no windscreen stickers are issued here as they monitor compliance electronically through ANPR cameras placed on the roadside. A few hundred meters on there is (finally!!) a manned border post and we whizz past the long TIR lorry queue to the front of the car checkpoint where a cheery lady (good cop) glanced cursorily at our passports and bid us hello and goodbye whilst grumpy guy (bad cop) glanced over our vehicle, questioned if it was just the two of us in it and finally waved us on.

Arad is a huge sprawling town and the first you come to after crossing the border from Mako. We parked up in a backstreet and went in search of the Tourist Information Office where we hoped to find a warm welcome and come out with a useful selection of maps and handful of brochures. Not to be – two maps of Arad was all she had to offer. She told us to go to other Tourist Information offices for information on their areas and advised we go buy a map from the bookshop.  This was so similar to our experience in Slovenia but we have now realised the ‘service’ varies greatly from office to office. The young lad in Sibiu office could not have been more friendly and helpful, supplied local area and country maps, camping site information and suggestions on great places to go after leaving his ‘patch’. The bored girl in the Brasov office could barely raise a smile, had no maps and no clue basically. Makes you wonder what the essential requirements on the Personal Specification for these jobs were…..

Anyway we are making the most of the information we already have and that we get given and are clocking up the miles, it’s a huge country. We have driven through some lovely countryside, seen some impressive fortified churches, castle and medieval towns and are hoping to see some of the spectacular scenery, including gorges, lakes and caves, as we now head north.  

Romania is an interesting mix of traditional and modern seemingly muddling along together. We have driven passed shepherds in fields dressed in full length sheepskin coats tending their flocks, farmers sowing seeds by hand into plots of land furrowed by horse and carts, and men and women in traditional outfits in the small villages – well off the tourist route so not just for our benefit.  Getting good photos while we are on the move though is proving difficult.

We have also passed huge modern out-of-town shopping centres and four star hotels, seen the youngsters in the latest fashions with the most up to date mobile handsets and been impressed by the extensive art and culture programmes being offered at the regional theatres and venues. In contrast the Saxon walled citadels in Transylvania are beautifully preserved and you almost feel like you have stepped back in time walking along the cobbled streets.

The language descends from Latin and shares a common heritage with French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese and is as colourful as their currency.

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