The barrier approached fast as I jammed the clutch in and dabbed the brake round the first corner, the car shaking like a shitting dog, it’s way of saying “hey, I’m just reminding you of my capabilities here” – it was nothing special, a Skoda Rapid, good enough for my first experience driving the famous Transfăgărășan road, which catapulted into the spotlight after speed demon, petrol burning, producer thumping Jeremy Clarkson touted it as the best driving road “probably in the world”, a road which he described as the result of taking the best corners from the best race tracks and placing them ahead of each other.
The parallax of the mountains panned across the windscreen, filled with the most vibrant shades of green, contrasting with the deep blue sky that illuminated from the glowing sunshine that continually defines Romania as the Canada of Europe. The grin on my face was just what I needed, as I headed for the beautiful city of Sibiu for a flying visit before my journey back the same day.
This was now my forth visit to Romania. My first was in the summer after a few winters which showed a relentless downpour of snow. This wasn’t my first driving experience either, as adjacent to the Transfăgărășan route was Transalpina, a region which was closed off at the time I went due to heavy snow. I did not know this, however, and proceeded down the route anyway. Fortunately the Dacia Duster kept up as I flew round the corners to avoid losing momentum and placing myself into a situation where the car would not start on the icy road again.
When I say Romania is the gift that just keeps on giving, it’s no exception. I’ll let the photos do the talking. I visited Romania for the first time in November 2016 on business, and instantly fell in love with the place. The people are beyond helpful, full of character, hard-working and friendly. I came back on a £30 return flight from London again, to travel around more of the country with a friend. Every new road delivered a stunning new sight, whether it was a majestic castle, statue embedded into a mountain or even an abandoned, “shipwrecked” plane we spotted as we darted down the highway, on the side of the road.
Stories of Romanian gypsies and bears are generally bullshit. We didn’t see any there, other than the occasional garish “gypsy mansions” that were few and far in between. The impression I had, was the majority of people here despised the presence of gypsies! They do not even make up a small percentage of the Romanian population!
Bucharest was my favourite city, mainly due to a hostel there called “Cozyness Downtown” that just emitted positive energy 24/7. It was warm, welcoming and definitely up there as one of the best I’d stayed in. The staff were always friendly and genuinely seemed to care about your comfort there. In fact, I’m happy to count the staff among my friends. Another reason included “Club Control”, a nightclub that opened until light and consisted of 3 rooms, a garden area, a Techno room and one filled with Indie rock music, two genres that I love!
Placebo just happened to be playing when I was here too, which put another tick in a box – it had been years since hearing them, and the acoustics of the Arneke Romane, an old roman arena made the event extra special. The lighting and visuals were phenomenal.
I could go on forever. Whether it was the Steampunk-themed bars inside the incredible, beautiful city of Cluj, the visit to Corvin Castle, snowboarding in a resort over at Brasov or sunbathing on the beach down in Constanta, Romania never failed to put a smile on my face. It’s why I have, and will keep on visiting again, again, again and again. I feel like Bucharest in Romania is rapidly becoming my second home and I LOVE IT!