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Romania Trip Pictures from July 30 to August 09, 2006

To proceed to the Romania Journal.

Route Map through ROMANIA. Covered approx. 2000km on the motorcycles.

July 30, 2006. We enter around 8pm into Romania at a small border crossing near Naidas from Serbia.

We head south to the Danube River and in total darkness find this house for rent for 20Euro/night by Moldova Noua.

Trying to find this place was an experience (see Journal). The view of the DANUBE RIVER from our bed room.

Typcial Romanian landscape.

July 31, 2006. We follow the huge Danube River for 100kms.

A typical way Romanians stack their hay to dry and for storage. The same way as their forefathers did and generations before them.

Corner after corner the road seems to deteriorate more and more.

Large landslides took part of the road out and workers are shoveling by hand to repair the damage.

The potholes get worse the further north we travel along the river.

Large barges are pushed up the river.

The Danube River is much larger then what we expected.

The river narrows through a gorge at Dubova.

A monastery sits at the edge of the river.

The MRACONIA MONASTERY was re-established in 1993.

As we take a rest the barge that we had previous past is catching up to us.

Riding along we came upon the stone carved Statue of DACIAN KING DECEBALUS.

It is the tallest rock sculpture in Europe.

The layout of villages in Romania are unique, as houses are built along the main road only. There are no houses behind the main road.

Each house is attached to the next.

The large gates are for the hay wagons, horses and wild stock to enter. A Romanian farm house in the village.

Huge empty bleak looking factories stand as a reminder to the Russian influence and a time when thousands of people used to be employed by them.

We often ask ourselves as we pass another enironmental nightmare (closed down factory), what happened here?

At the town of Orsova, we head south to the Sarmizegetusa Regia (Fortress). 13km from our destination we take a room at this pension for $16CDN/night.

Grapes grew above our parking spot.

August 01, 2006. The GPS indicates 13kms in a straight line to the Fortress. 13km and 4 hours of hell.

Now we can look back and laugh. The night before it had rained and turned the road to mud and huge water crossings.

The road keeps deteriorating, standing up right on the bikes we pass locals, who excitingly wave to us.

Some bushes have KTM orange ribbons and we realize we are on a KTM rally track.

It still amazes us what the BMW will do when put to the test. The BMW course definitely paid off here.

After getting lost we finally find the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the SARMIZEGETUSA REGIA (the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains)

Archeologists are camped at the site and are surpised to see us.

After what we had been through getting here, we can't see any other tourists visiting this place. Seen here is the fortress wall and...

...about 50m of the rampart has been exposed.

A map of the Archeological dig.

The civilisation of the Dacians was created by the north branch of the Thracians, the people known in history under the name of Getae.

Seen here is a large circular sanctuary dating back as far as the 2nd century BC.

The rectangular sanctuary. The sanctuaries, are witnesses to the ceremonies of the past.

Large limestone sanctuary. The defensive system, reveals the Dacian type of spirituality, an intermingling of a warrior's spirit and religion, and the close ties between religion and the state.

The Andesite Sun.

After the road from hell, we head back to hwy 68 and east over to Sebes and Sibiu, turning south just past Scoreiu on the famous Transfagarasan Road.

On the way we stop in a small village.

Large wooden wagons are stacked with hay.

Locals watching us with as much interest as we them.

These people remind me of a time, when I crew up in Germany. My Grandma looked just like that. I miss the old time.

The Fagaras Mountains lay ahead of us.

With anticipation we head for them.

The run offs from the Glacier lakes create spectacular waterfalls. Some take the Coca Cola Gondola to the top, whereas we take the twisty road.

Reaching the top and looking back where we were just an hour ago.

The Fagaras Mountains cut a serrated line south of the main Brasov-Sibiu road and ...

...shelters dozens of glacial lakes.

And here is what everyone is talking about the famous "TRANSFAGARASAN ROAD".

At the summit, before the tunnel, people are camping wild and hiking around a small lake to the still present snow patches.

Here we meet Chris and Solo, a couple of Romanians, exploring their country on dual sport motorcylces. We actually had received an e-mail from Chris a few months back and by coincidence run into him here.

A glacier lake at the summit.

The view after exiting the tunnel on the other side of the mountain range is spectacular. The road drops from 2014m to 500m.

Small and large waterfalls follow us on our descent.

The sun is starting to set as we reach LAKE VIDRARU and we decide to take a room at a pension.

August 02, 2006. At the end of Lake Vidraru we cross a large dam leading into a tunnel.

Lake Vidraru is an artificial lake. It was created in 1965 by the construction of the VIDRARU DAM on the Arges River.

It is an arch dam built on a foundation of rock, and it was built to produce hydroelectricity.

After the tunnel the road descents over several bridges...

... into the valley below.

In Curtea de Arges we visit the EPISCOPAL CATHEDRAL.

The Curtea de Arges Monastery was built between 1514 and 1526.

It was founded by Neagoe Basarab and considered to be a masterpiece.

The interior displays impressive votive paintings, marble gilded bronze, onyx iconostasis, and ...

...twelve columns with floral ornaments representing the twelve apostles.

In the pronaos are the tombs of its founders, Neagoe Basarab and Radu from Afumati, ... well as of the first couples of Romanian kings and queens (Carol I and Elisabeta, Ferdinand and Maria).

The saint patron of this CHAPEL (adjacent to the Cathedral) is "The Saint & Martyr Filofteia" who has been protecting the monastery for 8 centuries.

In 1517, the canonization of Saint & Hierarch Nifon, The Patriarch of Constantinopole, the Metropolitan of Wallahia took place here.

The entrance to the Chapel.

From Curtea de Arges we take the small country roads, crossing over to Ramnicu Valcea and come upon this...

...a massive sinkhole has swallowed up the road.

We head to the Horezu Monastery, but are unable to find it and retrack to Ramnicu Valcea and onwards to Pitesti.

Close to Bucharest we turn north through Buftea on the 1a and start to encouter more and more Gypsies.

Most of them are in convoys of three or more horse pulled wagons.

August 03, 2006. Zig-zagging our way through small villages to avoid Bucharest we arrive at the SNAGOV LAKE.

A small island in the lake is home to the 16th Century Church and Monastery. For 10 Euro, we get a couple of youngsters to watch our motorcycles and row us (with Mikes' help) across the lake.

The TOMB of VLAD TEPES is inside the Church and as the legend goes Dracula's headless torso is buried here.

The stone church is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We only took pictures from the outside since the monk wanted an outragious 20 Euro in addition to the 13LEI/person admission to take pictures of the interior.

The beautiful wooden door of the church. The interior is half renovated and renovation is ongoing.

From Snagov Lake we go north on E60 through Ploiesti, Sinaia and Busteni. After Azuga we turn of the main highway and drop via switchbacks into the valley below and the town of Rasnov.

As we approach the town we can see the massive 13th Century RASNOV FORTRESS.

August 04, 2006. In the morning we take the steps from the town up to the Cetatea Rasnov.

A map detailing the layout of the fortress. Rasnov Fortress (Rosenau in German), is located on a rocky hilltop in the Carpathian mountains, 200m above the town of Rasnov.

The entrance gate to the fortress. Admission is 10LEI/person.

Looking over the town of Rasnov. Saxons first settled in Transylvania in the 11th century, and the Saxon town of Rasnov was founded in 1225.

The castle was meant to be a place of refuge for the commoners from sieges over extended periods of time.

As such it had at least 30 houses, a school, a chapel, and other buildings more commonly associated with a village.

And if you were bad you ended up here.

The first written record for the fortress is from 1331, and when the Tartars invaded in 1335.

The wooden cross located on the chapel. can be seen from miles away.

The east side is the most heavily fortified, and ...

...the walls on both that side, as well as the northwest side are doubled.

View of the walls of medieval fortress from the inside observation point.

Not a place I would like to be.

The defenses include 9 towers, 2 bastions, and ...

...a drawbridge.

The Rasnov Fortress is neslted in the hills of Transylvania.

The walkway up to the entrance.

These cars are still found all over Romania.

10 kms from Rasnov lies the BRAN CASTLE.

The entrance. We both agreed that the alleged Dracula Castle was a bit disappointing, ... we expected dark stone towers and dingy rooms...

... but in reality it is more of a fairy castle.

It did have a small secret passage way that led to the upper floor.

This fortified medieval castle, often referred to as Dracula's Castle, was built in 1377 to protect nearby Brasov from invaders.

It is home to a rich collection of Romanian and foreign furniture and art items from the 14th-19th Centuries.

In 1920, the people of Brasov who owned the castle offered it as a gift to Queen Maria of Romania, and the castle soon became her favorite residence.

The castle's rooms and towers surround an inner courtyard.

It is said that the well is actually a passage way to the outside.

No way Count Dracula would be seen here. Way too nice for that.

The castle sits high atop a 200 ft. tall rock overlooking the picturesque village of Bran.

We hike up a path behind the Bran Castle and ...

...get a spectacular view of the mountains and fields.

On the grounds below there is an open-air ethnographic museum ...

...of old village buildings with exhibits of furniture, household objects and costumes.

We can't resist this Romanian/Hungarian Pastry. It is called KURTOS KALACS.

The sweet dough is browned over the heat source and...

...chocolate or coconut powder is sprinkled on it.

It was very yummy.

Not so yummy is Romanian Pizza.

A farmer loading hay onto his wooden wagon.

Back in Rasnov we take the opportunity to photograph some of the quaint houses...

...that line the main street. Also seen is Romania's number one car the DACIA.

A place where rural medival life remains intact and ...

...peasants live off the land. Where tiny villages, steeped in local customs and history,...

...sit among rolling hills and dreamy landscapes.

Staying at the Pension Montanouo in Rasnov for 70LEI/night.

August 05, 2006. With only 120kms to go, a short riding day, we arrive in SIGHISOARO by noon.

We venture into the old town of Sighisoaro and its citadel.

The fortified walled old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and ...

...consists of a beautiful medieval CLOCK TOWER (Turnul cu Ceas), which dominates the town.

For 7LEI/person we are allowed to climb the clock tower for a spectacular view of the town below.

Adjacent to the clock tower stands the 15th Century BISERICA MANASTIRII (Church of the Dominican Monastery).

The town square below and...

...another church further up the hill.

The CLOCK TOWER (Turnul cu Ceas). The citadel has 14 towers; each of them had been built and watched by a guild.

The highest tower is the Clock Tower watching over the main gate.

Between 1431-1435, Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Devil) lived here, future prince of Wallachia, thus called because the German Emperor knighted him as Knight of the Dragon.

He was Vlad the Impalerís father known as Dracula (the son of the Devil), who was most probably born in Sighisoara in 1431.

One of the best pensions we had on the trip. Phoenix Pension. (30Euro/night).

August 06, 2006. A day of riding through some amazing country side from Transylvania to Southern Bucovina. A money stop at the famous Banca Transylvania.

The recent rain made all the river brown and bursting over. We head north on E60 from Sighisoaro, turning at Balauseri onto the 13a to Sovata. Continuing our ride on 13b to Gheorgeni over the Bucin Pass (1287m), Borsec Pass (1105m) and Tarnita Pass (1161m) to Gura Humorului.

August 07, 2006. SOUTHERN BUCOVINA is known for its painted churches.

Our first desination is the VORONET MONASTERY.

In 1547, under the supervision of the Metropolitan bishop Grigore Rosca (whose tomb can now be found here), all the exterior paintings were carried out.

Voronet is considered by many to be the "Sistine Chapel of the East", ...

...due to the magnificient frescoes on the west wall, a representation of the "Last Judgement".

The HUMOR MONASTERY is our next stop. We climb the tower for a better view.

The church was founded in 1530 by a Moldavian boyar named Toader Bubuiog, under the reign of Petru Rares.

The interior and the exterior walls have been adorned with traditional Orthodox fresco-paintings in Byzantine style.

Walking into the church's pronaos we see a series of images representing the Synaxary (Calendar), the icon of the Assumption of the Mother of the God, ...

...the icon of the Achathis Hymn of the Virgin, the portraits of the great hermits of christianity and angels.

The open porch construction is unique to this church.

The view from the tower of the adjacent church.

From the Humor Monastery we thought to take a short-cut and ended up on a steep switchback with large loose river rocks.

We decide to turn around since we were only wearing running shoes and a broken ankle this far into Romania is not something either of us are looking forward to.

Next on the list is the SUCEVITA MONASTERY.

The Sucevita Monastery was built in 1581 by Ieremia Gheorghe and Simion Movila.

Thick surrounding walls and defence towers protect the monastery.

The complex of boyard and monahal houses and the church situated in the center is a materpiece of the Moldavian medieval architecture.

Decorated with paintings, dating as far back as 1601.

The most outstanding paintings are the Ladder of Virtue, presenting the angels who assist the righteous enter the Paradise, ...

...while sinners are punished by a grinning demon, and the Last Judgement, left unfinished because its painter fell down from the scaffoldings and died.

On the south wall, there is a remarkable Tree of Jesse, displaying both the human origin of Jesus, under the form of his family tree, and his divine ascendence, as the Prayers to Holy Virgin scene is also painted nearby.

Candles are continuesly lite outside the monastery.

One of the towers of the fortified complex from the inside...

...and outside.

The last monastery is located approx. 35km east over the 1109m Ciumarna pass.

The MOLDOVITA MONASTERY was founded in 1532 by the Ruler Petru Rares, Stefan the Greatís illegitimate son.

The southern facade has well preserved the Hymn to the Virgin, an impressive Siege of Constantinople, and Moses' Burning Bush.

The monastery consists of a fortified quadrangular enclosure with towers, thick walls (6 m high, 1.2 m wide) and brawny gates, with a magnificent painted church at its center.

The small museum in the north west corner houses several fine tapestries woven from pure gold and silver thread.

August 08, 2006. A typical railroad crossing. Barriers are hand operated and the train itself had seen better days. From the Southern Bucovina region we head west into the Maramures region.

We turn onto hwy 18 to conquer the famed Prislop Pass (1416m). Passing through the mining town of Borsa and onwards to the Ukraine Border. After Sighetu Marmatiei we hit Sapanta and stay the night.

August 09, 2006. Sapanta is a unique village , which boasts the "MERRY CEMETERY".

It is famous for its colourfully painted wooden crosses that adorn the tombstones.

Unable to read the inscriptions below the colourfully painted wooden crosses...

...we are able to translate, as pictures are a thousand words.

Each cross depicts the persons tragic death or their lifelong profession. Seen here is a person run over by a car.

The blue-painted oak slabs, decorated with floral borders and a riot of colors, fade and flake quickly in the harsh climate.

The pictures of women spinning yarn, of farmers on prized tractors, of a teacher at his desk or a musician playing the local three-stringed cello.

The carving is done with hand chisels at a bench in an open-sided room alongside the cowshed.

Paintings in the porch of the Church of Assumption.

The hand carved wooden door of the Church of Assumption.

The 800 or so carvings - a festival of color - show the dead either in life or ... the moment that death caught them, while the poems, ...

...mostly in a simple iambic tetrameter, are a final apology for an often ordinary life.

Faded Tombstones. Every 15 years the graves have to be repainted.

From Sapanta to Satu Mare we were engulfed in thick fog.

Trees seem to take on a life of their own.

My imagination is running wild and I can hear the sound of old carriages with horses snorting and racing through the dense wood. This is where the legend of Dracula lives on. Good-bye Romania.