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Old 04-22-2010, 12:25 PM   #241
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great pics, great adventure. Keep it up!
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:25 PM   #242
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What a beautiful trip

Nic
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:47 AM   #243
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Brasov to Voronet

Thanks guys for the feedback. Almost done with the RR. Just a few more posts.




Time to leave wonderful Brasov after a few days. I wish I had more time to explore the area in detail but my trip is coming to an end soon and I must move on. One of the things I wanted to see are the fortified churches built by the Transylvanian Saxons. Germans started to settle in the area in the mid 12th century. In German the area is called Siebenbürgen.
So, I set off taking some minor roads







to Weißkirch, the last 7km on an unpaved road. The church is easy to find and I look at it from the outside before I can find the person with the key.





I’m the only one there and the lovely old woman gives me a personal tour of the Church.








Her German is as good as mine and I don’t notice an accent, which I think is amazing considering how long ago the area was settled by Germans. She has lots of interesting historical facts and stories. I also learn that there are only about 15 German speakers left who live in the village year around. There was a huge exodus at the end of communism. The Germans in Romania are still considered Germans of foreign nationality and it was relatively easy for them to gain full German citizenship. The economic pull was too strong for most of them to resist the temptation. Now, a generation later, some come back for part of the year at least.

















Just outside the Church I run into a German rock star in need of a map and give him my backup map. I got the map from a Belgian Ural side car rider in a map swap near the Iranian border. It’s all about karma.
The village doesn’t look like there is an abundance of wealth but the majority of houses are very well taken care off, just like everywhere else in Romania. There seems to be a certain pride of ownership and people maintain their property the best they can with what they have. Interestingly, the Prince of Wales owns a house here, which was restored and turned into a guest house. Money from one of his charities also helps to maintain the fortified church.














Along the way I see another church tower.








In the small villages I see a lot of these very nicely carved gates.














I make a quick stop at the Red Lake. It was created by landslide and you can still see tree stumps.





I’ve been looking forward to riding through the Bicaz Canyon.








The canyon is very impressive but doesn’t make for great riding. There are simply too many cars and pedestrians on the road.
The road continues along the shore of Lake Bicaz, formed by a hydroelectric dam.








Not too far from Voronet I go over a pass on a back road and come across of what is probably an abandoned mine.





It is getting late and the sun is low, which makes for good light for pictures but I have to hurry up if I want to make it to Voronet before dark.

















There is plenty of choice for accommodation in Voronet. I settle on a private room in a nice house with a fierce guard dog. A Romanian family is staying there as well and we have a fun evening, drinking the moonshine the owner keeps forcing on us.
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Old 05-09-2010, 04:59 AM   #244
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Voronet to Ieud

Before breakfast I walk down the street to the Voronet monastery.





It is still closed and I kill some time looking at the cemetery.






They let me in a few minutes before the official opening time. Apparently I pass muster.





I have the place to myself before the crowd shuffles in. The monastery dates back to 1488 and they paintings on the outside of the church were added in 1547.





It is amazing how vivid the colors still are after almost 500 years.








Today’s plan is for a qick dash from the Bukovina to the Maramureş region. It is not a huge distance and I have plenty of time for a relaxed breakfast.
Along the way I take some pictures of the ubiquitous traditional wooden gates.










There are also plenty of water wells with little wooden houses build around them.






A short ride






gets me to the Suceviţa monastery.




The paintings on the outside of the church date from 1601.





This church is famous for the “Ladder of Virtue”.













I continue on a great road with lots of twisties through stunning landscapes. The sun is shinning and there is almost no traffic. Does it get any better than this?


























In Ciocanesti I have to stop for funeral procession. They really do honor the dead in Romania.





A little time later I come across an idyllic spot for a quick rest.





The tradition of building wooden churches is alive and well and I do see a few new ones like the one below.





A couple of smaller wooden churches in Dragomiresti.








There are at least three wooden churches in Ieud, one of them built fairly recently. I go to the oldest one first.














There is some restoration work going on at the moment. The folks doing the work seem to be in their teens and some of the equipment, like the ancient hot plate they use to heat some chemicals, seems outright dangerous. No fire extinguishers in sight either. I hope the church will be around for many generations to come.
The church is on a little hill, accessed through a wooden gate.





The area around Ieud is hilly and it seems to be hay making time. No industrial balers here. Grass is stacked the old fashioned way to make hay.





The larger of the two old churches is called the cathedral, due to its size. This picture is taken from the balcony of the house I’m staying in, right next to the church.












The pension is run by a lovely old lady and has a very homey feel. Antlers and pink bead spread are included.





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Old 05-11-2010, 11:04 AM   #245
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Ieud to Sapanta



In the morning I have another look at the Wooden Cathedral next door.













One can only admire the amazing craftsmanship.








I get a chance to have a look inside after I locate and wake up the woman who has the key.














I pick a route that will take me to a few more wooden churches in the Maramureş. I stay on minor roads with very light traffic.






First stop is at the Church of the Holy Paraskeva.




I take up the challenge of a few easy dirt roads.






Another stop at the Barsana Wooden Church.




The Church of Saint Nichola in Budesti is open and I get to peek inside.












The Memorial of the Victims of Communism in Sighetu Marmaţiei is a somber reminder of what totalitarian regimes are capable of doing. Many of Romania’s finest have lost their lives here.






My destination today is the Merry Cemetery in Săpânţa. In the mid 30s of the last century wood sculptor Stan Ioan Pătraş started making colorful tombstones with small poems written on them. By the time he died he had made almost 700 tombstones and the tradition is carried on by one of his students. Obviously, the poems are lost on me but just the carvings make for an interesting visit. Sometimes funny, sometimes gruesome, but never boring.




































I guess Stan Ioan Pătraş played it safe and made this carving of the communist party central committee.







His tiny house is now a museum.


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Old 05-11-2010, 11:08 AM   #246
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Sapanta to Budapest




After a good night’s sleep under the watchful eyes of the Good Shepherd




I set off for Budapest. The part of Hungary I ride through is all flat and not very exiting. So, nothing to report here.
In Budapest I get another service done and adjust the valves.




The Yamaha shop belongs to the postal service and is still on communist time. While milling around I spot an East German Simson S51. We were zipping around as teenagers on these small 50cc two stroke bikes. Legal age to ride was 14.




I make an attempt at sightseeing in Budapest but my heart is not in it. It’s just too hot to walk around. I also have a wedding to go to in a few days and need to buy a shirt and pants. Luckily, I still have the best dress shoes $25 and a police escort could buy on election day in Iran.




























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Old 05-11-2010, 11:11 AM   #247
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Krakow and Aschwitz

A while ago I got an invitation to a mate’s wedding in Krakow. I’ve have spent two years with him at the South Pole and haven’t seen him since. I’m not on a particular schedule and wasn’t sure I could make it. It turns out the date did work out and here I am, attending the ceremony.











We had a great party in the evening and most of us got rather drunk. After I recovered I had a look around the city.





















I decided to stay another day in Krakow to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It is hard to put in words what feelings this place evokes. An estimated three million people have died there. We have all seen the pictures and learned about it in school but seeing it with your own eyes is an entirely different thing. If you have a chance, go and see it with your own eyes.

















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Old 05-14-2010, 12:09 PM   #248
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again, stunning. I had no idea Romania was so beautiful. It's definitely on my list now.
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:48 PM   #249
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Magnificent update!
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:46 AM   #250
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You have opened my eye to a different Romania. A really great report. You really have my respect both for the photos and the text.
My wife who is Austrian have always told me how criminal they are in Roania and about all the problems.
Now I have put Romania on my to see list. I will bring her so she can change her mind even if she has been there before. But that was years ago.
I am driving a Street fighter. A K1200GT so I prefer sealed roads and nice twisties but can also manage gravel rods as long that they not need dirt track tires.
Do you see that as a problem?
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:27 AM   #251
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Thanks guys for the feedback.

Romania was a pleasant surprise for myself. Didn't really plan any of the return leg at all. I just took it day by day with a bit of inspiration from some ride report pictures on here.
Romania's reputation doesn't seem to be the best for sure. Lots of people have warned me of all sort of things. However, the Romanians I have met have been very nice and they seem to be an optimistic bunch.
The roads are not half as bad as other have described them. I avoided Bucharest on purpose. I'm not a fan of big cities in general. Passing them by reduce your chances of getting in trouble a lot. On the whole of the trip through Romania I saw less beggars than I would walking through the pedestrian mall at home.

@FlashGordon: I think there are plenty of sealed roads with twisties. And despite of what Clarkson and Co have you believe there are good SatNav maps. So they are easy to find :-)

Cheers
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:29 AM   #252
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlashGordon
You have opened my eye to a different Romania. A really great report. You really have my respect both for the photos and the text.
My wife who is Austrian have always told me how criminal they are in Roania and about all the problems.
Now I have put Romania on my to see list. I will bring her so she can change her mind even if she has been there before. But that was years ago.
I am driving a Street fighter. A K1200GT so I prefer sealed roads and nice twisties but can also manage gravel rods as long that they not need dirt track tires.
Do you see that as a problem?
Had a hoot there 6 years ago two up on a Honda Pan European ST1300. Had a much better hoot a year later on a BMW 1150GS. The Pan never let me down but the roads, particularly the lorry swallowing potholes that at that time punctuated the roads in and around major cities, were much better coped with the GS. As were the gravel tracks which you inevitably encounter once you wander off the main road through a village.

Funny, when i mentioned to friends that I was off to Romania they all raised their eyebrows, the Germans raised theirs the highest! Don't even begin to understand why. We were met, 3 years in succesion, by charming hospitality from friendly folk. Do go to Transylvania and witness the legacy the Austro-Hungarians have left behind.

Cheers,

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Old 05-17-2010, 11:21 AM   #253
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickyb
the Germans raised theirs the highest! Don't even begin to understand why.
I think you are right about that, unfortunately. One explanation I can offer is that the only contact with "Romanians" that most Germans have is the groups of organized beggars in most German cities. Still, prejudice is never a good thing.
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:00 PM   #254
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Wow! Those pics are simply stunning! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into countriess we seldom visit here! Fascinating!
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:55 AM   #255
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Just read your report. We are heading off to Turkey, Armenia and Georgia this summer. I 've found lots of info in your report!
Thanks,
Vincent
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