From Sighisoara, today’s route mostly entailed heading north to the Moldova region of Romania. The early hours of our drive steered us through farmland and through mid-sized cities that made for insanely slow driving. Then, once we’d escaped the boxy city, we hit a series of long, messy construction zones, many which required stops for one way traffic. The small villages we did pass through however, were full of interesting happenings: gypsy families out running their morning errands and kids on their way to school. The people watching here is positively fascinating.
It took the bulk of the morning before the road finally turned toward the mountains hiding in the shadows of the horizon and began climbing. The afternoon clouds were simmering and the landscape was draped in greenery and wildflowers. Enamored, Ben proclaimed that this is what he expected Transylvania to look like, and instantly I was glad we’d come so far north.
With every valley we drove through, we pulled over and stood still on the side of the road, unsure where to point the camera first. The meadows were crawling with wildflowers, the crumbling village houses vibrant under the building grey clouds, the village men with their little green caps and the women with their hair tied up in scarves.
As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent that making it all the way to the monestaries before Ben needed to be online for work was out of the question. We settled on heading to a campground I’d put in the GPS, about 30 kilometers away.
Driving in Romania has been quite the feat. The speeds are fast, the roads are rough (to say nothing of the distractions on the side), and the people aggressively weave in and out in an attempt to pass, seemingly disregarding many rules and courtesies that we are used to in the states. During our bout of construction, for instance, there were several series of portable stoplights. Most people stopped to wait for the oncoming traffic to pick its way through the piles of debris and ditches that make up the construction zone, but an occasional vehicle would fly right on through the red light, pulling over off into the gravel and debris just in time to let oncoming traffic through – only to pick up and make it a little farther. These people seriously know how to use a passing lane.
After a little adjusting – driving here really is a blast. It reminds me so much of cruising around in Vietnam, though the cities are admittedly a little tamer.
We dutifully followed our GPS along its little pink line that should have directed us to our campground via some more rural roads in time for me to make a planning meeting. As the road turned to a single narrow lane and then to gravel and broken concrete, we realized we might be led astray. After turning around a few times and probing the canyon for a route, we picked one particularly steep road and committed. The road was incredibly steep with metal grips set into the concrete. We climbed quickly, though the road quickly disintegrated into a two track lane that climbed past an ancient cemetery which was brightly decorated and a handful of farm houses – one with an old lady standing at the fence completely entertained by our Panda’s noble attempt at climbing the “road”.
One of the best features about our little Panda is that it can turn around just about anywhere. Needless to say that came in handy. With the GPS banned from giving us further directions, we made our way back down and drove around the mountain on bigger roads to our beautiful campsite next to a large wooden church where we once again constructed our home for the night.