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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Romanian Mom and a white knuckle ride through Transylvania

Remember that 4 peak mountain I mentioned earlier? I am there.
After an hour of nauseating switchbacks where I found myself panting again the now familiar mantra "shiny side up" I turned to photograph the valley I just went through.

This is the official top, as you can see it's foggy and they have a cable to bring people up.

Bulgaria is apparently the most mountainous region of Eastern Europe so this stuff in Romania is kid's play according to our host Luke. These are both avalanche and boulder protection. Sometimes, I would see one with car size boulders on it and even trees growing.

View from top.

The other side was more forested.

Now these prayer booths are every 2-5 KM on the route. Dracula country is dotted with them.

Gorgeous lake on the other side. I rode all around this.

My big helmet in front of said lake...

Road caved out, don't panic. Just erect a sign that directs the traffic into the oncoming traffic on the other side, yeah that's safer.

That tunnel is the one I think I should have taken to the Dracula castle....

But I took this one instead. Disappointing that I missed it but hey, I've seen many castles and the ride more than made up for it.

Cool looking BM metal statue, it's gigantic.

Gee, more twisties.

And another one, there were too many to photograph.

Now I'm in the basin of lower Romania, since I missed our lunch meeting spot with Hilary and Johan, it's a race to get to the more ugly city in Romania.
These were some cool crosses on the side of the road. I am starting to omit photos with horse drawn carts in them. I've gotten so used to seeing them, almost like McDonalds in the states.

200km of this crap, at 110km.

Ah, the sight greeting me at our meeting point city.

Man walking with an ax, maybe it's common hey, I'm going to go chop some wood as though he was on his way to play tennis.

Now as usual, 5pm rolled around and we had not found camping. Stop in a small town and all the locals came out again and in a myriad of languages tried to help us. Finally, the woman sitting outside in front of her home invited us to stay the night....So Johan with some helped backed in what he called my 'moped' into her driveway.

In the backyard. The one with the orange cap worked in Spain as a wine maker and did most of the talking/translating.

They had just harvested grapes that day.

More men and Nancy is getting nervous...I had to take an outside shower that consisted of a bucket of water and cup behind a flimsy curtain not 10 feet from they are getting the barrels ready.

The outhouse. No really, hole in the ground outhouse.

My bed, below our lord Jesus Christ. Very religious here...

That cool ceramic thing behind them is a fireplace. The floor was a patchwork of carpets for warmth.

Our FEAST. It was a yummy broth with meatballs and that liquid in the earthen cup is their home brew (sherry I think)

Table and all....incredible meal. We noticed that at all times, either the mom or daughter would stand near the table just waiting to serve us.

Their basement brew.

Pressing the now everyone is in good spirits and nothing weird has happened so I got brave again and started roaming around and taking great photos.

She was the cook downstairs, she is cracking open fresh walnuts, you can see the other room where they are doing the press.

Great shot....too bad I'm not in it. This little house had all these people in it. Our benefactor, sitting center, her mother to her left in purple and her daughter next to Hilary.

My Romanian mom more than made up for my first night in Romania. She reminded me of your mom dad...

On the ferry to cross to Bulgaria...they are trying to squeeze another semi truck on.

Hilary picking seaweed off her arm. She sat just above a blowhole and got showered with river water.

An argument erupts at a rail road crossing...Johan dug into his tobacco already and he told her he wouldn't.

His response. The guy in the car next to me honked to get my attention and took a photo of me so I pointed to my CA flag and his eyes got real big.

Follow the little blue sign to relief...only here they wanted money and since I had no Bulgarian cash yet I did what comes naturally to me now...found a quiet little spot and used Hilary's tip of tucking my riding pants behind my knees.

These block, communist looking statues are everywhere.

Upgrade from a horse to horsepower. I think it was a mower engine.

Beautiful rock formations.

Street side vendors sell honey here. As I pass through different regions I see the locally specialized food for sale.

These abandoned buildings are everywhere. Luke said that villages are becoming ghost towns as the older generation dies off and the young move to the city.

The toilet.

Almost to Sofia, another hard day of riding with forested twisties and terrible roads. Now when I say terrible, it's not that it's gravel or dirt, I'm good with those. No it's that they cut out 3-4 inch deep rectangular sections of the road for no obvious reason and getting the bike in and out of those can be harrowing...some serious wobbling going on.

In the middle of nowhere and horny? Call me...

I'm ready to die.

Getting lost in the back alley ways of Sofia trying to find Luke's house.

Another wrong turn...

And another...they are having fun, I'm ready to pitch my tent anywhere.

Finally made it to Luke's gorgeous 3 story house with all the luxuries. I put on perfume, a dress and make up and had some wine.

The end of a perfect day, the moon just coming up over the horizon.

Our meal...with Bulgarian Ketchup yummy!

There goes tigger, round and round and round.

View from the balcony of the ski mountain next to Sofia.

Finally got my laundry clean.

I've been given one of their boys rooms to sleep and finally got warm enough with two heavy blankets. Hilary, Johan and Luke all went riding today while Nancy stayed home posting photos and blogs....

This is the haunted house. They love to keep the doors shut...and I swear everytime I pass through one, when I come back not a few minutes later its shut. I felt like someone was following me all day, closing doors behind me.

We drove to the city center for dinner with a colleage of Luke's who is Parisian...Philip

Alley to restaurant

Fondue for the first time...

And our last sight of sofia...