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Claudiu Moga

October bike trip in Transylvania 2009

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On 8th of October 2009, me and my good friend Razvan Anton who came from Canada to join me on this wonderful trip, set out on an interesting adventure on 2 wheels in Transylvania. 
My father Dan takes a picture of us in my courtyard before we leave.

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We start our trip in Ineu where I live. The weather is perfect for cycling, the temperature is OK, the sun is shining, the sky is blue.
Our first stop is at Onyx restaurant in the small town of Sebis where we eat a tripe soup and we drink a beer.

The restaurant is situated in a lovely place next to a lake surrounded by some karstic hills.

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We cycle another 10 km till we get to Dezna township where we enter the Codru Moma Mountains, the remotest western range of the Western Carpathians.

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After we get out of this locality the asphalt ends and we have to cross a mountain pass.

This route is quite scenic and wild, but we have a steady climb about 20 km long till the pass.

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In a few hours the night overtakes us and we get lost on some forestry roads but finally we get to Camp township where we find a pub and have something to eat and to drink. The son of the patron of this pub is very kind-hearted and after we have a nice and long chat, he invites us to sleep in his house, he gives us a room.
We sleep very well and the next day he refuses to accept Razvan's money for the accommodation and for the plum brandy we drank last night.

He shows us his courtyard which is quite traditional.
Then we have a picture with Horia, our kind host and we have to say good-bye.

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In this village we run into a lot of dogs and the road is in a very bad shape.

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From here we have a steep descent, but the road is so bad that we prefer to walk a bit rather than lose our bags while going down.

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Razvan is very excited and likes a lot this kind of terrain and this traditional village that reminds us of our innocent childhood.

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After we leave the village behind we see a lot of hay stacks.

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Soon the road gets very sandy but is still rideable.

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After just a few minutes the road gets very grassy. So this route is quite variegated.

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In a few minutes we enter another traditional village and we meet asphalt again.

We are in the county of Bihor, in quite an interesting region of Romania.

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In this village we find a cycling boy that is happy to overtake us. 

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Now we are heading for Izbuc Monastery. As the weather is quite hot for this period of the year, Razvan takes off his T-shirt as soon as we leave this village behind.

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We are cycling in a spectacular hilly region and the trees' hues are quite enchanting.

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In a few minutes in the distance we can see the Bihor Mountains which are the highest from Western Charpatians with the highest peak Curcubata Mare (1849m). 

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Soon we get to the monastary which strikes us with her silent and dignified beauty.

The wooden church here is a lofty religious monument dating back to 18th century and this church was moved into this place from the municipality of Beius where my late grandfather was a pupil in olden times.

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Here we talk to a monk and we arrange to spend a night here in the xenodochium (monastery's guest chamber). 
Now it's time for us to visit this place. We go to the most important spot in this area: the wondrous karstic intermittent spring.

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The monastery bears the name of this spring that is presumably responsible for many miraculous healings.

Here is time for us to raise prayers to the Almighty One.

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Romania is quite a religoius country and here it's quite a blessed haven of peace and contemplation.

We feel so happy.
The flowers are still in bloom. It's heaven on earth!

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After this religious moment we meet a kind monk who enable us to admire the monastery's household.

We are lucky to come across a pack of young hogs and the mother sow. How playful and cheerful they are! 

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Then we are invited in the dining room and we are offered some tasty fasting food. Later on we attend the vespers'mess which delights our souls. 
We spend the night in the xenodochium in a guest chamber that is equipped with 20 beds for the circumstancial pilgrims like we happen to be now.
During the night, me being a heavy sinner I undergo a severe toothache that torments me all the night long preventing me from sleeping.
In the morning a monk helps me with a pill that kills my pain for a while.
It's high time we hit the road again.
A few kms. we have to follow the same road like yesterday passing through 2 localities with solid houses.

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After we get out of Izbuc village we have to go down a few kms. till we enter a busy main road in Carpinet township.

In Cristioru de Jos we make a stop and Razvan fixes my bike that didn't shift the gears properly.
From here we have a 6kms. long climb with nice hairpins through an afforested region.
After climbing 3km we are lucky to find a spring with very good water.

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On top of the Dealu Mare (Big Hill) Pass (698m) we enjoy a beautiful view gazing at the adjoining hills.

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On our way down we run into some street vendors that sell us some billberry and plum brandy that will prove very efficient to fight against my toothache.
At Lazuri village where the descent ends we stop at a restaurant to eat something.

The tripe sour soup is quite delicious here and I taste a little bit of brandy to kill my pain.

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From Varfuri township the road is rather winding and we have 2 tough climbs to cope with.

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On top of Sortoc Hill(498m) we stop to drink some water from a famous spring from this area. Above the spring there is a huge jug.

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Here we can gaze at Bihorului Mountains and we can see Gaina Peak (1484m). In this village nearby we see some buffaloes.

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In this traditional and lovely spot it is time for me to rest a bit and enjoy the fallen leaves. The autumn has set in.

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From here we have a dangerous descent with the gradient of 10% till Halmagiu.

In a few kms we get to Ionesti wich is the last village from the county of Arad.

Here we vist an old wooden church dating back to XVIIIth century.

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This tiny church is very charming indeed and we rest here a bit and we also visit its cemetery.

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Soon we enter the county of Hunedoara. This road is full of trucks unfortunately.

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But we pass through interesting villages endowed with lovely churches. And the scenery is pretty nice, too.

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It is rather late and we decide to go to a spa which is situated in Vata de Jos village.

We spend a great evening in a fancy restaurant and we indulge in delicious food and wine.

Then we pitch our tent right at the exit of the village and we sleep well after drinking some brandy.

The next day it's time for us to enjoy the thermal water at the spa and we feel very well here.

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Then after we eat well at the same restaurant as the day before it's time for us to continue our journey but it's already quite late. We have to return to the main road. On our way we cross a bridge over a stream.

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We hardly cycle one hour till we get at "Forget me not" Inn where we decide to have a feast and rent a room for the night. We had a great evening with tasty food, good drinks, nice music and a lot of cheerfulness.
The next day we stop at a Transylvanian sacred place at Tebea village where many Romanian heroes are buried.

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Here is an important Romanian pantheon where Avram Iancu, a prominent figure of our history is buried.

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From here we have quite bad weather, a lot of fog and for the next 60km we take no picture.

From Brad we have a nice and constant climb,then we have to climb a big hill, we have 3km of hairpins and then o long and steady descent till Soimus where we turn left on a secondary road leaving the busy road behind us.
We end up spending this night in a room in a mill whose patron was wery kind to us leaving us to spend there the night for free.

The next day we cycle in a traditional area full of interesting villages. We specially like the church from Bobalna village.

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The weather is still very foggy with poor visibility.

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Soon we get to the small town of Geoagiu and then we turn right having to cross a bridge over the Mures River.

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Soon we get to a busy european road and we cycle 80km stressed out by the heavy traffic till we get to Sibiu, one of the best town in Transylvania.
Here we visit the highlights of the town. Piata Mica (The Small Square) is one of them.

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Sibiu is a thriving town with a grand history. It was colonised by the saxons from Rin-Mosela region in the 12th century.
Here we can admire the first bridge made of cast iron from Romania.

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The tallest church in town is just a few meters away from this bridge. Its bell tower is 75 m high.

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Now it's time to celebrate. In this town I used to be a student a few years ago and I have lot of great memories from that period.
We go to a pub where they have good hot wine and my friend Cosmin with whom I went on many cycling trips in the past, joins us.
Long live our friendship!

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We feel pretty good here and Razvan likes Sibiu a lot.

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We spend the night in a motel after we drink some more beers with Cosmin and Dany, who is a great mechanic and biker.
The next day the weather is bullshits. It's raining cats and dogs.

But Razvan is very happy with this kind of weather so we carry on cycling in the rain.
When we get to the first village Cisnadioara we are already soaking wet.

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But we carry on till we find a suitable pub after we leave behind the town of Cisnadie.

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Here I try to heat my wet feet a bit.

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The rain doesn't seem to stop.

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After 3 hours of wainting there the rain turned into a drizzle and we can go.
At Podu Olt we have to wait for a train at a railway.

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At Avrig we get to the memorial house of Gheorghe Lazar who was an outstanding personality: the founder of the education in the national language.

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Across the street we find an interesting orthodox church.

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Its mural painting is quite original and well preserved.

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Razvan is impressed by this great church dating back to 1762, painted by Ionascu and Pana brothers.

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The tomb of the great educator, scholar, theologian and engineer Gheorghe Lazar is situated right here next to the church.

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From here we have to cycle another 14km on a main road till we get to a hotel where we spend the night.
The next day it's time for the sheer adventure. The most beautiful and the longest climb in Romania is waiting for us.

It's time to tackle the Transfagarasan, the alpine road that crosses the Fagaras Mountains which are the highest in Romania.

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The temperature is very low, only 4 degrees centigrade and we have to climb 35km till Balea Lake.

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After we cycle a few km we get to Cartisoara where we can admire a gorgeous traditional church.

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From here the fun begins, we are in 14th of October and starting at an elevation of about 800m the snow begins to emerge.

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Razvan is very happy about that, being a strong cycle tourist.

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After climbing 2 long hours we get to a holiday complex. Here we are at an elevation of over 1300m and it's time for a break.

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While we eat some sour soups we try to dry our clothes. We are lucky that there is a nice fire in the stove.

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We stay here about 2 hours and when we get out we are astonished by the amount of snow.

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It's quite a wintry atmosphere.

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We are very eager to carry on even if I don't have the proper outfit for such a weather but I am lucky because Razvan helps me out giving me some trousers what I really needed.

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We start climbing, we have another 13 km to go till Balea Lake.

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The more we climb the more snow we get.

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We are jumping for joy, the atmosphere is fabulous.

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The words can not express the feeling we have cycling under these circumstances.

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The more we climb the more I feel the cold biting my feet.

I have no winter boots but summer sport shoes so it's going to be hard on me.

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We can not believe our eyes to face this weather in mid-October. It's snowing like in fairy tales.

 

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Wow! but Razvan is well prepared and used to this sort of weather.

The only problem is he doesn't have a proper cap and the helmet is not efficient to struggle against the vicious cold.

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The night overtakes us, our progress is very slow and the layer of snow grows thicker the more we climb. In the last km we have to face a dreadfull smowstorm, but we are lucky to get to Balea Lake in the nick of time before getting hypothermia.
Here we recover in a restaurant eating a great steak and we have to rent a room which is quite expensive, about 50EUR. 
During the night I suffer from my toothache again and I hardly can get some sleep, writhing with agony in my bed all the night long. Oh, what a night! Oh what a day! The Saint Parascheva must have punished me for my sins.
The next morning after the breakfast we decide to return to Avrig and to take a train home for we ran out of money.
This time the weather is fabulous but the temperature is bellow 0 centigrade.
We have to go down on ice so in a short time I fall and hit my back against the frozen road. Holly Shit!

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The view below us is absolutely magnificent.

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I am quite delighted to cycle here and I'm happy that my toothache disappeared but our hands are freezing.

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On the left we can see Transylvania where autumn still dwells.

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We can not believe our eyes to face this weather in mid-October. It's snowing like in fairy tales.

 

71.JPG

 

Wow! but Razvan is well prepared and used to this sort of weather.

The only problem is he doesn't have a proper cap and the helmet is not efficient to struggle against the vicious cold.

72.JPG

 

The night overtakes us, our progress is very slow and the layer of snow grows thicker the more we climb. In the last km we have to face a dreadfull smowstorm, but we are lucky to get to Balea Lake in the nick of time before getting hypothermia.
Here we recover in a restaurant eating a great steak and we have to rent a room which is quite expensive, about 50EUR. 
During the night I suffer from my toothache again and I hardly can get some sleep, writhing with agony in my bed all the night long. Oh, what a night! Oh what a day! The Saint Parascheva must have punished me for my sins.
The next morning after the breakfast we decide to return to Avrig and to take a train home for we ran out of money.
This time the weather is fabulous but the temperature is bellow 0 centigrade.
We have to go down on ice so in a short time I fall and hit my back against the frozen road. Holly Shit!

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The view below us is absolutely magnificent.

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I am quite delighted to cycle here and I'm happy that my toothache disappeared but our hands are freezing.

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On the left we can see Transylvania where autumn still dwells.

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The clouds are so white and fluffy!

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Till Balea Waterfall we still can enjoy winter weather with plenty of snow.

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As we descend below 1000m the snow begins to decrease.

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We are now in deciduous trees' area again.

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We cycle another 30 minutes till we get to the main road where we have to head for Avrig.

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Here we eat well at a restaurant then we take a train to Arad and then to Ineu where we have some other bike trips but in my region.

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