Last year in August I was offered a trip to the Carpathian Mountains in Romania and the Transfagarasian road. The road highest point is at 2.042 m (6,699 ft) above the sea level making it one of the most scenic drives in the world. It is interesting to experience driving on it especially if you are riding a motorcycle or as I did - driving a cabriolet. I had four days to spare and decided to make the most of it. Unfortunately, to reach the road from Sofia, Bulgaria it takes almost a day, and a day on the way back. So, all I had left was 2 days. Still, I was determined to use them in the best possible way. Here is my itinerary:
Day 1: Sofia - Balea Tunnel Cottage
Day 2: Climbing Negoiu Peak
Day 3: Valea lui Stan River
Day 4: Back to Sofia
And here is what it happened. As expected, it took us the whole day to reach the refugee. The main delay we had was on the Bulgarian side of Danube river trying to cross it with a ferry from Oryahovo. There is a schedule, but don’t rely on it. Go as early as you can and catch the first ferry in the schedule. Don’t count on the next ones, which will depart in my opinion only when they are full. The road on the Romanian side was okay - passing some villages and towns. We arrived at the Refugee after dusk.
The hut is well maintained and I liked it very much. The food was good and the people working there were kind. Since I didn’t see the view the previous night, arriving only after sunset, I woke up with a great view from my window. I think that is the best place to sleep in the area and also if you wake up early can have the road for yourself. I woke up early but only to go to Balea lake - on the other side of the tunnel where I was sleeping.
That was the starting point for my climb. The lakes are really beautiful but to appreciate them, waking up early is mandatory. When I was back from my trekking the place was full of people and cars. Negoiu took about 8 hours and it was a good hike. There were very few people on Friday and I enjoyed my time. The only drawback was the storm of heil on the way back. But it lasted only about 20 minutes and then the sun was back up.
The next day I went to Valea lui Stan River, which was a nice surprise. I think every via ferrata amateur would enjoy it. The track was well maintained and entertaining. The canyon and the waterfalls were beautiful. I think I even enjoyed that day more than the previous one. The same day I also encountered a bear with its 3 cubes on the road. I suppose people are feeding them often at that place because a lot of cars had pulled over to see them. Everyone enjoyed it until Mama Bear decided that she should be more protective of its children and started walking toward the direction of the public.
I had to go through Transfagarisian again to reach my place for the night. It was, unfortunately, Saturday and I believe some other people heard about that road (Top Gear your fault?). There was a huge traffic jam and suddenly it was possible to view the road and the surroundings in details. So, if you are planning to enjoy the road - driving - plan your visit during weekdays. Early in the morning is probably also an option at the weekend.
That was my first trip outside of Bulgaria for a few months. Fortunately, it was followed by a lot more for which I will tell you in my next posts.
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