8th of June, 2018. The best day that I’ve had in years. Thank you, Romania!
Fulfilled my daily minimum sleep quota overnight at Timișoara, but I still felt groggy and not fully rested up despite calling it an early one last night. Fatigue is a condition that gradually wears you down, particularly when doing long consecutive days on the motorcycle. My planned early morning departure from the campsite failed to materialise, so I had some catching up to do on the road.
The day was such a seesaw of emotions, going from fatigue to a sudden urge to meet deadlines earlier in the morning, and then from excitement to disappointment as I reached a roadblock near the Bâlea Cascadă station, where there was an official restriction for any public access until the 1st of July due to uncleared rock and snow falls. I had visited a month too early; once again, the lack of proper in-depth planning had caught me off track.
There was much thought for over an hour about the risk/reward factor of breaking through the barrier that concealed the road access ahead of me. Scenarios were running through my head. What if I somehow get lost and need help? What if I am unknowingly on the wrong side of the law in a foreign country? Would it be the end of me if there happened to be a massive natural disaster? Is the road ahead even worth visiting? Eventually, I just thought, screw it, I’ve come all the way here from Sydney to see this bloody road.
The scenery opened up to the iconic snaking roads that I’ve drooled over online and had long dreamed of riding and seeing for myself. Quite simply, what could have been a dreadful day of disappointment evolved into the most epic day I’ve ever had in years. Here I am, on my very own motorcycle, on one of the best riding roads in the world: The Transfăgărășan mountain pass!
Turns out, it was the best decision ever to bypass the road barrier. With no normal public traffic, the whole debris-peppered road was just for me to explore. The Carpathian mountain range makes for dramatic topography that makes our own Great Dividing Range in Australia seem insignificant in comparison. And that road. If heaven had a road, I’d imagine it to look not too dissimilar to what I had witnessed here in this part of Romania.
The Transfăgărășan route was originally constructed as a military route by the Romanian Communist Party during the 70s. A tunnel that extends 1 km through the middle section bypasses the absolute peak of the mountain range, where it leads to another world of rustic motoring experiences, as the sunshine of the northern section transforms to the eerily desolate coldness of the south that leads towards Bucharest, the country’s capital city.
There’s a saying that goes around in Romania: Calul bun se vinde în grajd – the good horse is sold in the stable. In other words, a good product requires no advertising, because it speaks for itself. One taste of this beautiful country, and you’ll inevitably want to see more of it. The Australian Dollar is very favourable against the Romanian Leu, so it’s also an affordable country to visit. Let’s make it happen
My brief visit to Transfăgărășan was absolutely worth more than the 3 hours I spent at around the peak, until it turned dark and cold. I ended the night by riding through the darkness to reach within 100km from the Romanian capital of Bucharest. Without any accommodation booked. The concrete floor of the parking lot at the highway servo was good enough for a nap though. Let’s have a less extraordinary day tomorrow, shall we?