A Journey to Romania or
"The Route is
If someone travels to Romania he will find a route which is worth a
journey by itself for there are so many jewels along the route - as we
will see. Not to speak of the scenic landscapes. I enjoyed my last
journey last year from Dresden to Prague and Silesia so much that I
stay to prefer Eastern Europe for the this-year-tour. And there is much
time during a long winter to plan and explore some things in the net
To explain my situation: I am a senior cyclist meanwhile since I was so
happy to retire from my work at the begin of May. And now we start our
"third section of life" and can start for a free tour into free
nations, and we all know, that this was impossible for decades...
1 Thursday, 19.5., Görlitz -
In the morning we have a chilly ride to the railway station with gloves
- may be we will need them again in the far away Carpathian Mountains?
At first there is a hasty train change at Stendal and at
Berlin-Ostbahnhof an accident occurs as the train starts. It stops
apruptly and they call for a doctor. Someone was injured outside and
some time later the medical emergency service does its work. The
passengers stick to the windows because there is some blood to be seen.
I am not so much curious about such matter, and we are all happy, that
the injured person is well provided. So we get a pretty delay and I
will not get the proper next train at Cottbus. The present train is
named WAWEL, comes from Hamburg and runs via Berlin to Breslau,
Czestochowa and Krakau - may be I better had stayed to sit in the
compartement? But this would not
have been the destination. And later we will learn, what's about the
So we have to kill 2 hours at Cottbus, time enough for a fried sausage
and a look to the nice city center. Then let us sit in the elegant
Lausitzbahn and share the seats with an agile old gentleman who is an
old Silesian fellow. He can tell a lot of this country, which is as
large as Holland - so he says. He then starts to present private
photographies one after the other and it is not so easy to pretend a
So we come to Görlitz in the late afternoon and I am eager to start the
tour. Down the road to the bridge across the Neisse and then we find
ourselves in the eastern and Polish part of the town, named Zgorzelec,
not so easy to pronounce - but we will hit on other places with even
more difficult palatine twisters.
Not to forget, that the western part of Görlitz is an Unesco
Heritage and worth more than a day for a visit. But we have been there
I stay to the main road 30 leading straight to the east. There is a
wide shoulder aside, so the traffic is not so irritating and we can
enjoy the Silesian landscape in the afternoon sun with the
Riesengebirge right ahead, some snow still to be seen. Large bright
yellow rape fields are a pleasure for the hungry eye. The other eye
detects a sign to a Hotel in the village Olszyna.
The plan to reach the first jewel Bunzlau - famous for its pottery
products - is not practicable for today, we have made 37 km and happy
to find an accommocation. I am welcome at the Hotel ZAULEK and they are
willing to accept Euros for I still have no Polisch Sloties. The meal
is delicious: pork roulade. Two beers as well, and inclusive with the
room for the night I have to pay 20 Euro. I am enthusiastic.
The village is nice, a creek winds its way among the houses. At the
church we find a choral singer, may be the fine acoustical
circumstances let him think to be an important artist. The wooden
ceiling of this building may be an precious jewel as well. It's nice to
be on tour...
2 Fiday, 20.5., Liegnitz, 100 km
We have a fine weather, deep blue sky, in German named "Kaiserwetter".
We will prefer side roads to prevent heavy traffic. This is a zigzag
route and we hit towns like Gryfow
(Greiffenberg), Lwowek Slaski
(Löwenberg), Zlotoryja Goldberg). In this last town I really get
my first Zloties from the Bankomat. We then turn to another side road
along a nice valley to Jawor (Jauer).
There is a storage lake, and may be I choose the wrong fork and end on
a nasty concrete runway and finally at the busy main road E 65 towards
At Liegnitz I can find only one hotel which is large and not so cheap
but with a nice comfort: Hotel QUBUS. A meal is available in a near by
Pizzeria and as usual I am happy with a Pizza frutti de mare. This
restaurant is somewhat noisy, because many young people giggle and
yatter around. But on the other side of my table there sits a man
reading "Einstein light, E=mc2 for everyone" - or something like that.
A last view to the cathedral. They just have a mass and many people are
lost in holy rituals. We won't disturb them!
A phonecall at home presents my note "WE are in a good mood" and
my dear wife gets suspicous, why WE, is there another bimbo on the run? May be this would
not have been the worst idea? (We had that problem some years ago at
the End-to End in England). And the reader will realize, that I often
say WE and I mean the reader-companion. It's only a stylistic phrase.
Or I've meant my bicycle and me...
3 Saturday, 21.5., Breslau, 100 km
The breakfast buffet is exquisite and this means: I can get salmon, one
of my favourites. And other delicious things which give the essential
strength for the day. Today we will find our way along many small
villages, but this will not work. My only map is a download from the
net, and this doesn't show any name of those tiny places. Moreover the
roads are not so comfortable, in the villages there essentially
prevails a cobblestone surface. Finally the route turns right twice
about 90 deg. and we can calculate, that we just go straight aback. So
I better ride back the same way and this was at last 10 km detour. I
hit on the road 94 and can realize where I am. The GPS is still not
invented for me.
At the town Malczyce (Maltsch)
there is a spooky ruin of a factory. There is a gap in fence and walls
and I produce a panorama of this matter. The next town is Sroda
Slaska (Neumarkt). I have a rest aside a memorial sign with the
term hitlerowskim but cannot
understand the rest of the text. Meanwhile I observe two happy fellows
who kill the time sitting on the kerbstone.
The landscape is flat and we now find some side roads without problems.
And then there is a sign near a rape field: Powiat Wroclawsk. So the
destination for today is near. We follow the sign "Centrum" or look for
the steeple of a cathedral. As everywhere the outer areas of a large
town are not so scenic but full of traffic. As we reach the central Ring or Rynek there is another scene. Let
us wipe the eyes. There are lots of people and tourists running around.
So the panorama photo has this or that ghost person which is
unavoidable sometimes except one is willing to study the panorama
program more thoroughly, but let us do this during the next long winter
At the tourist bureau they laugh as I ask for an accommodation. "But
there is a Hotel Qubus" I say and a phonecall shows that I can get a
room there. And this hotel is just around the corner. And this time the
bike is stuffed into the elevator and shares the room with me. Let us
say: "WE are in a good mood". Thereafter I am hungry and for today I
prefer a Chinese restaurant because I like regional delicacies. Then we
find a book shop and can buy two road maps of the upcoming regions. The
maps are reduced later from their useless parts to save weight, which
is a problem after some time if one collects all maps, bills,
prospects, flyers, city maps and receipts. At the way back I meet a
group of motor cyclists and they have signs at their vehicles:
"Poland - Ukraina". May be they are proud of it but I feel more pride
Let us say that the town resp. jewel of Breslau is worth some more
historic informations. But - if you know me - I am a "runner", in the
evening I plan for the next day and tomorrow we will continue.
4 Sunday, 22.5., Kluczbork
To find out of Breslau it is the best to follow the promenades of the
river Oder. Today on a sunny Sunday morning there are lots of
activities. Cyclists, joggers, skaters, dog leaders, anglers, canoeists
and even parachutists hanging at the blue sky are to be seen. After
some time (25 km meanwhile) in this paradise I once again do not know
where I am and look for any
road to detect the sign of a village or something like that. And that's
it: I am still in the outskirts of Breslau - nevertheless the
Oder-party was very enjoyable.
On the road again I have some contacts with those May beetles.
Unfortunately most of them are victims of the traffic, but once such
fellow flies just aside me. This is an acacia alley, may be these
beetles like it. In the villages we observe lots of stork's nests. Do
the storks like May beetles? I know from my youth (the first section of
life) that hens like these beetles more than anything else. But storks
are no hens and don't climb around on trees. And hens neither. What's
that: rubbish thoughts of a solo rider?
At the village Laskowice (Markstädt)
the Sunday mess is just over. The visitors in festive clothings just
come out of the church and strive for their morning pint? I sit behind
a bush with a bottle of FANTA, still thinking flapdoodles. Let us
continue on lonesome roads, passing meadows and forests. Once I try a
shortcut on an unpaved runway, may be you better choose the main
connection, but I succeed and detect a lost armchair in a pond, may be
a somewhat moist seat for an angler. But those have waterproof pants
anyway. This all happens near the village Rogalice (Rogelwitz). And those
former German names of the locations are to be read on an old Silesian
map which is my own since some years at home.
To end the section for today we pass a nature reservation named Stobrawsky Park Krajobrazowy and the former name
was - believe it or not - Forst
Forst Bogelwitz or Forst
Poppelau. The river of the region is named Strobrawa
(Stober) and another village is Carlsruhe, nowadays Pokoj. And then we come to Paryz
and there is definitively no sign of any Eiffel Tower. So we just have
learnt some names, and - be sure - more others will follow. And by this
we fall into the town of Kluczbork.
At first we see a rotten block of a former socialistic hotel block with
a former congress center but its days are numbered. Some pedestrians
show me the
way to the Hotel at the Rynek and this is named OTEL at its front
side and HOTE at its backside. May be there is someone collecting big
letters? But a friendly young fellow leads me to a nice room. The meal
is consumed just across the Rynek, and as usual a Pizza Mariana. This
is scalloped with a cheese sauce and moreover a Ketchup plate is
presented. Thereafter we have a swollen belly, the second beer is
difficult to consume and I urgently need a walk.
Let us follow the sounds of the music, and there is really a festival
at the rampart area. A children chorus just intonates the song of
"Anneliese" - well known at home but this time with a Polish text. But
we can sing along in our mind. The next song is well known and is
originated in Swabian areas, where I spent parts of my "first life".
Other folk songs are unknown but can make the tears pour, in spite of
some individuals around who have enjoyed various spiritual drinks - as
usual at such situation, well known from at home as well.
At last we meet a gallery of curious wooden sculptures from a local
artist. And that's it for today.
5 Monday, 23.5., Czestochowa, 75 km
Let's go on, what's to say about the weather? Like in paradise
inclucing the wind. This is not existing, the flags of the
administration and other buildings hang around and occasional columns
of smoke strive upright above to the skies. This is cycling at it's
best. But the road surface is sometimes a problem, there are potholes
which invite the cyclist do make a big fall (like Humpty Dumpty?). We
pass a larger town named Olesno
(Rosenberg). The further route 494 is not so attractive, but
finally we pass the line of the ancient border to the real Poland from Woj. Opolske to Woj. Slaskie. The border locations
are named Bodzanowice
(Grunsruh) and Podleze Szlacheckie. And for this
village there is no former German name to be found...
So it is sometimes difficult to articulate those strange names. And if
you want to salute the locals you have to say "Dobre", whatever this
will mean. Later I learn this simply means "good". Mostly I say simply
Salut or Hello or Hi or just a wave...
So we cycle along, the section today is short. Eventually we see a high
steeple in front and soon recognize: this is the famous pilgrim
cathedral of Czestochowa. This is the town of the pope Woytila, who
just died some weeks before - and the most holy place in Poland is the
chapel with the Black Madonna who draws millions of pilgrims every
year. I look for the tourist information and - what a wonder - get an
accommodation at the pilgrim's hostel named Dom Pielgrzyma. I have to pay 70 Zl
and find a room where the incarnat pope himself could find his rest.
The bedspread is in purple and above the bed there is the portrait of
the Black Madonna.
So while it is early in the afternoon let's have a nap at first. At the
tourist information I got another treasure and that is a detailed map
Krakowsko Czestochowska", scale 1:95000. And there is a signed
cycle path from Czestochowa to Krakow. So I have sweet dreams about
this matter. Thereafter some laundry activities must be done because we
had a hot day. But now let us start for a walk.
On the way downtown we pass the Jasna
Gora and the chapel with the icon of the holy Lady with her
child under her arm. Let us have a glance, why after all have we come
to this place? But it is recommended to assimilate the awesome
attitudes of the pilgrims. I just get mixed up amidst a group of
pilgrims who - vis a vis to the Black Madonna - fall on their knees
following a secret command from above or elsewhere. So I finally cannot
stay upright and represent the antichrist? And so I find myself on my
knees like a real pilgrim, who could expect that? In consequence I will
hear the angel's chorus two days later at Krakow - be sure.
At the walls of the chapel there are countless silver insignia with
pilgrim dedications, curtains of amber chains, and like known from the
French Lourdes, the twin town
of Czestochowa, lots of crooks of - maybe - pilgrims who came disabled
and then jumped out of the holy place? Sorry! Another pilgrim just
crawls on his knees around the sanctuary, may be he believes in some
benefits for him from this activity? Sorry again! Then there are many
families with their communion children in white clothings and flowers
in their hands.
I walk down to the town and find an Internetcafe and I enter such kind
of institute for the
first time. I purchase for half an hour and this is very cheap. And I
succeed to send a mail to my family to tell about my experiences. The
town is not so attractive. There is the wide main street Aleja
Najswietszej Panny, the side streets are not so interesting. At
last I find a scenic junk market. But I fail to detect a nice
restaurant for the evening meal, except of the omnipresent pizza shops.
It would be nice to have any other meal today!
At last - up the hill again - there is a restaurant with mixed features
of French and Russian delicacies. Caviar or Sharkfins are
offered. I prefer a
more common meal but do not remember what it was. I remember the kind
Maitre Kanter", 6.1%, and this is served in a decorated bottle.
Fortunately I stay to one beer only for at last the beer is 20 ZL (6
In the evening we have a heavy thunderstorm but I feel safe in my "pope
room" and am not afraid.
6 Thursday, 24.5., Olkusz, 105 km
Preceding the start I get my photo of the Black Madonna, but
this is only a conterfei at an outer wall of the cathedral. Not sharp
as well for we have a grey and dull morning, my be in consequence of my
unrespectful impressions? The section today should be one of the most
attractive leading along the Jura mountains with rocky hills and
sometimes with ruins of old castles on top. While it is rainy all over
the day we will have no further photo, the camera is hidden in the
deeper luggage areas, the paths will not always be the best. But there
is an enjoyable tailwind.
We start on a gravel path in a forest, sometimes there are sandy
passages hard to cycle. So we have the usual situation: we follow the
signed path for a while but soon look for shortcuts along tarmack roads
or so. So we ride along a nice road from Zarki to Podlesice if you want to know it
exactly. Then I trust to the signed route once again and find a real
offroad path leading steep uphill in a wood. Sometimes I must carry the
loaden bike over sandy "bath tubs". Finally the path leads downhill and
one can ride carefully. And we hit on a real Hotel named Zamek Morsko, an excursion
destination at this godforsaken region. From now on I really prefer the
road 791 towards Olkusz.
A last rest at a forest with a chocolate from at home named
"Kernbeißer" (gosbeak or so),
and this is filled with hard hazelnuts. This is not the best diet for
one of my last teeth (lower left canine
tooth, it was jigging since some time anyway). Another incident:
two automobiles and some lads stand aside and wave: "Stop, Dobre,
Please!". This is not my turn, how could I help them, because I have
neither a car jack nor towrope with me. And a flash in my mind, may be
this is a trick, may be they only want to inspect the purse? So I run
along, as fast as I can for some time. If they want to rough me up I
would have no chance, I know! But in the next village those two cars
overtake and I can calm down.
So we reach the town of Olkusz
and at the central place (Rynek
- you know meanwhile?) find no Hotel but a city map with signs of five
hotels. Two of them are not to be found, but at last I reach the Motel Victoria, just around the
corner. A room and a last Chinese Chicken - delicious. And the music: "Mississippi roll along" though we
just approach the river Weichsel
(Wisla)? A final walk, not so much to be seen but an active
business all around.
7 Wednesday, 25.5., Krakow, 60 km
As yesterday we follow the signed cycle route but prefer the
shortcuts. The weather is fine again. The next town is named Krzeszowice and while I try to
articulate this name I remember my aching tooth. It would be a bad
thing to quit the delicious evening meals, one of the best of any cycle
tour and finally go back home? Let us continue for a while. Now we have
to cross a railroad, but the barriers are down. The locals do not wait
as long as they should and creep beneath the barriers and enjoy
their freedom beyond the other side. So do I as they do. Some time
later I hear a train clattering along. Then we enter a forest and there
is another barrier in front. A worker with a walkie-talkie stops
everyone. "Why that - and where to go?" I ask. He tells a lot in Polish
language and I am the fool, understanding nothing. But then he shouts
"BumBum" and raises his arms. This is understandable, there must be a
blast nearby? Some minutes later it is to be heard: the BUM, but
unfortunately I cannot tell you the further circumstances. And the
barrier is raised - this is important!
At the end of the forest we have a nice landscape and a faint glance to
the town of Krakow far away. So we have to ride for a while to reach
the outer regions of this town and another time to meet the central
place Rynek Glowny. This is
an ant's road: lots of people running in all directions. The lazy ants
sit at the outdoor restaurants and enjoy the sun or prefer the shade
under the parasols with an cappuccino or an early beer? In the middle
of this impressive plaza there is a big building, the former
"Tuchhallen" (Cloth Hall), not the Town Hall, as I have learned
meanwhile. There we find
information, and the best information is, that there is no
accommodation available. I cannot varify this matter, but they
offer a private apartement, and this is not really cheap. OK, I need a
dental surgeon urgently, and they sign two places in the city map and
by that I purchase the expensive apartement.
Now at first a Bankomat must spit it's stuff, then they lead me to the
apartement around the next corner (Ul.
Grodzka), and this is a superb place. A shower and then up and
away to the dental service. Finally I find an ultra modern 24 h dental
centrum and stumble inside. "I NEED HELP" I say, not recognizing that I
have toddled just inside the Clinical Praxis with several dentist's
chairs and victims suffering under whirring drills. Looks just like a
barber's shop at home! So they complement me to the waiting room as it
Some time later two charming women try to find out my problem. Soon we
are coincident with the key-word "EXTRACT". The other problem is the
lower dental plate which should be completed after the primary bastion
has gone. "Prothese Specialist, one hour" - and this is a fine
information. Now the things must be settled: Anaesthesia, can there be any
complications caused by hypertonia or any allergy? No, I never had
that. So they give the injection and after 10 minutes this should work.
It does, but not as intensive as I am used from former happy hours,
when just one half of the face seemed to hang down. I say OK and the
gripper comes along. Some jerks - and now I hear the Angel's chorus in
the skies!!! But it is over, they show me the drawn crock of tooth and
I concentrate to overcome the pain. And eventually the Angel's chorus
20 minutes later they produce a professional plasticine imprint and
thereafter I am laid off for the next hour. I run back to my
apartement, and excuse me, let the WAWEL be aside. This is the historic
fortification of Krakow and definitely worth a thorough inspection.
Today I prefer to consume one more pill of aspirin. Finally back to the
dental center, and meanwhile they have completed the dental plate and I
am a real human beeing again. Now the ladies write some numbers on a
sheet of paper and after some time I recognize that this is the bill.
So I have to pay 20 EUR for the extraction and 15 EUR for the repair of
the plate. Let me be the happiest person just now, say so many thanks
to the ladies - I should have spent some flowers for them but didn't
got the idea. So these are the thankful words to them finally presented
in the net.
Now excuse me to have told so much about this matter. The rest of the
day does not offer a
nice meal, neither the famous Krakow
Sausage, one of my favourites. But a walk and some photos in the
evening sun, finally an Internetcafe to tell about those adventures. I
end in my apartement and prefer to consume liquid foods until the
tiredness comes along.
In the radio I enjoy some songs and those tell the truth: The Lion sleeps
tonight..., I am sailing... or
What a wonderful World...
8 Thursday, 26.5., Nowy Targ,
In the morning I must bring back the keys of the apartement to
the tourist bureau. At 9 am there is nobody to be seen but after some
time things get settled. The weather is as nice as before. I leave the
town along a 6 lane autobahn, but there is much room and the direction
(south) seems to be right. I reach the town of Wielczka and then find the nice
road 964 leading south.
Some hills and bumpy downhills and another barrier ahead. A policeman
leads all road users to a mysterious direction. He tells me this and
that and I only can look more and more stupid. Fortunately I resign to
ask "BumBum" (like yesterday?). After I look even more stupid the
policeman lets me go finally and I vanish around the next bend. At the
next village things get clear: there is a procession due to the Feast
of Corpus Christi. Hundreds of people are coming along. Traditional
costumes and uniforms, prayerful chorus songs and a priest under a
canopy. I succeed to produce a secret photo and at last am happy, that
the Angel's chorus was my turn yesterday.
Let us enter the village or town of Dobczyce
and then continue up the valley of the river Krzywsorzeka - try to vocalize
this name. But it is a wonderful section. At the end of the valley we
have to pass a summit - as usual. But there is nice view all around to
the Beskides, as the
mountains are called hereabout. The downhill ends at Rabka Zdroj. Up the next valley Poni
Czanka we see a strange type of architecture by steep pediments
the buildings. But the road gets more and more steep, let us say 25%
finally - a "Killerhill". Walk
and sweat is recommended.
But we success to hit the main road 47 at its highest point and roll
down accompanied by heavy traffic, mainly many busses. Most impressive
is a high mountain massive ahead, and this is the "Hohe Tatra", the
smallest high mountain on earth, as they say. So we reach the town of Nowy
Targ for today. The end is the Hotel Limba and the boy Robert receipts me. I get a room
for 10 EUR. Eventually I recognize, that I have a broken spoke at the
rear wheel. This is done immediately (on the good side opposite of the
cogs, you know?),
because I have four spare spokes with me.
The final meal is offered in a restaurant just opposite of the hotel,
not too hard to bite at last (roast veal, may be).
9 Friday, 27.5., Bardejov, 124 km
We should continue along the river Dunajec
but hit on the road 49 leading just south, the high mountains of the
Hohe Tatra straight ahead. This is such a nice view that at first I
prefer this route.
But some time later we have to turn left (east) to follow the original
plan. The road is nearly traffic free and we pass villages named Lapsze Wyzne or Lapsze Nizne. Up a hill with
another nice view to the Tatra and then we roll down to the storage
lake at the Dunajec. Nearby is the border crossing to Slovakia. At the
first exchange office the rest of the Polish Zloties is replaced by
Slovakian crowns, the exchange rate is 1:10 so the fees will have one
zero more from now on.
Just behind the border I hear a cuckoo, may be he now has an Slovacian
slang? Another bird is the golden oriole (Pirol) calling "Ui-U-Io". This bird is rare at home
and unfortunately is never to be seen. Later I watch a wagtail
(Bachstelze) with a yellow breast. In my book at home I find out that
this is supposed to be the Schafs- or Gebirgsstelze (Blue Headed or
Grey Wagtail) to be found in the middle of Europe and the Balkan
areas. Beneath the storage lake there is a vivid raft traffic on the
river. Yelling tourists with sunhats and shorts are shipped down the
waters by raftsmen wearing local costumes. They have a speed of
sometimes 15 km/h which is to be found out if you ride aside on the
road. The quality of the road is first class until now but this is
always to be seen near the border lines, may be they had profit by any
After a nice ride we leave the valley of the Dunajec and follow the
road 543 to Star
Lubovna. At a village we leave the main road and use the passage
in the village along a creek. This is just another kind of world with
nice little houses. I have a rest on a bench and watch a local woman
wearing headscarf and leggings nearly reaching up to her armpits.
Usually they may wear a wide skirt beyond but this time the woman is so
excited to meet another neighbour coming along. I resign to make a
photo. But some houses ahead a man with a naked upper body and a
runs into the picture and this was not the intention, but rather the
We continue on the busy route 68 leading to Presov. Some time later we prefer a
detour to Bardejov which
should be one of the nicest jewels hereabout. This is the road 77 down
the river Topla with few
traffic. The first gypsies and their homes are to be seen. They usually
seem to live in the outskirts. Once I see a man with a little girl and
a naked boy at his hands, moreover a handcart with three more little
children in front of them. This would be a nice motif for a photo. But
in the guide of Romania it is to be read, that the gipsy people do not
like to pose fearing to loose parts of their soul. We will have our
story concerning this matter some time later...
Today we end at Bardejov. No visitor will be disappointed when he
enters the impressive central place with a townhall and a church. The
pediments(Giebel) are exemplarily restaurated as if the locals learn to
renew their houses at school? So a panorama photo (6 shots) in the
evening sun is obligatory. Let us look for an accommodation. Just
behind the church there is a big building with the sign HOTEL. With
bike and baggage I follow a boy inside and then he asks what I want to
drink. May be I should sit with my bike at the bar and have a drink?
The times of the HOTEL are gone, now it is merely a bar. But the boy
can help me to explain the way two streets ahead to the Pension Semafor.
The friendly Mr. Kaminski
welcomes me and leads me to a nice room. The
best place for the evening meal is the pizzeria BELLO with a wooden
roofed terrace just aside the church. We have warm evening and it is
nice to sit down among the numerous guests. I get a fine pizza, but -
alas - the knife does not work! In vain I try to cut and snip and
rasp. I ask the service maid for another knife, but she waves aside -
there would be no better instrument. Unfortunately my teeth do not
allow to bite off the gobbets (Brocken) like other guests do after
similar useless attempts. So after all the pedalling today we have a
good training for the arms.
Back at the Pension the friendly Mr. Kaminski suggests to take one of
his knifes the next time. So remember this, dear reader, if you come to
Bardejov which would be nice for you!
10 Saturday, 28.5., Kosice, 89 km
A nice young lady flutters her eyelashes and presents the breakfast
(fried eggs and ham). This will be the friendly Mrs. Kaminski? She
tells that they had cyclists from Australia, but all those had been
The weather is so hot today that I prefer to wear gym trousers and an
open shirt fluttering around in the airstream. We ride on the road 545
with few traffic over a green roller coaster landcape. At the village
Janovce I await a historic
wooden church or chapel but there is only a
simple model of a small tower. But hen I see a scene, a smiling man
with his beloved cow in a meadow, so a brake, some meters back and a
fast photo, not to be seen every day. The last stretch to Presov is the 4 lane European route
E73. There is a wide shoulder and other cyclists from the opposite
direction let assume that cycling is allowed on this lane. Nice fields
of rape and blue hills at the horizon to the right. I roll down with a
tailwind (as usual) and soon arrive at the outskirts of Presov with
much industry. But the center looks like a picture book as well.
The cathedral is located at the end of the nice long stretched stroll
line (Flanierzeile). A just married couple and the wedding community
just comes out of the church. The young couple at first must have a
shared gulp of water at a fountain nearby as a ritual. A nice scene,
really. I enter the tourist bureau and ask for a regional map and a
cycle route to Kosice. But
there is nothing available. I must ride with the rugh internet map for
But I succeed to find a nice side road. At a rest I eventually hear
the clatter of a stork's nest above the trees. A happy couple just
enjoys the reunion up there. Down on athe ground there sit some fellows
with a bottle of beer or so, they don't bother concerning the clatter
sounds. So we pass the village Kysak
and roll down the river Hornad
to Kosice. There are wide areas of apartment buildings - socialist
style - at first. As usual the kernel is the jewel. I pass the Hotel
Ambassador but end at hotel which is not so cheap as well. This is Hotel Slovan and I can walk with
the bike inside to the reception and at last get a room on the 8th
floor. So a panoramaphoto out of the window at first (do not lean out
too much!), a shower bath and some laundry.
A walk around but I cannot tell about historic backgrounds and do not
take part of a guided tour. It is really too hot, the hottest day of
the tour at all! At the city hall there is another smiling wedding
society and this time they will find themselves in the net. At last let
us visit the cathedral. An organ player just intones a Chrismas(!)
choral hymn named (in German) "Tochter Zion, freue Dich..." (Daughter
of Zion...). At the end of the hymn someone claps his hands, may be
this would have been not so adequate at the Black Lady (but there the
chorals came from an audiotape...).
But thereafter I sit down in the shade of the Pizzeria Modena - sorry, but the
East-European fellows like pizza so much and so do I. At the next table
there are some girls and send a couple of SMS messages to each other
over the table and wonder how this may work. For I am not born
yesterday as well I detect in the evening an Internet room in the
hotel. I send an email to my dear daughter Stefanie but later wonder,
if this mail erroneously was sent to my own address? So it is and is to
be corrected the next morning. (Forget that I was working on computer
applications for 34 years...).
11 Sunday, 29.5., Tokaj, 88 km
For the continuation we have two alternatives: to use side roads over
hills and along the woods or to use the main road E71 leading just
south to the Hungarian border. This would offer the visit of the world
famous vine town Tokaj.
Because we have a Sunday morning there is not so much traffic and after
one hour nice ride along the dead straight autobahn we reach the
border. The formalities are no problem like all border crossings in the
"New Europe". Beyond the border there is a nice sideroad and a nice
rest place at first. At the road we see signs of the Eurovelo organisation, so we are
definitely on the right route. Eurovelo develops long distance cycle
routes all over Europe, you may ride from the North Cape to Gibraltar
if you want. The North Sea Cycle Route is another stretch of those
The villages are scenic. Many locals stroll around, the small shops and
bars are open. At the left we see a long stretched hill named Zempleny or so and at any time we
will have to cross this barrier. Finally a tiny bumpy road leads
uphill. After the summit we reach the Hungarian Plane with the river
Bodrog. There are wide areas
under water, a paradise for the storks and
other rare kinds of birds. As we later learn there are excursions for
ornithologic visitors from all over Europe. May be they use canoes?
Just in front we see a single mountain with a transmitter station on
its top, and this is the favourite hill of Tokaj, the Kopasz (Kahlberg) 515 m. At Tokaj
we stumble into a vine festival and this town is really the right
location fo such an event. But I saw a pension sign nearby and so I get
housed by Mrs. Josefne Kovacs.
For 20 EUR there is a roomy residence, room enough for one or more
families. Mrs. Josefne is somewhat disappointed that I am one single
person. But better one than none... At once I get some cake and a
lemonade, so we immediately feel at home.
Now let us go to the festival with many vine booths where one can taste
various kinds of the famous Tokaj vines. The tourist information is
open and I ask for an accommodation on the further route for tomorrow.
And the ladies are so kind to phone up at a pension in the village or
town named Gergelyiugornya.
Better you take a gulp of water in your mouth if you want to pronounce
this name. Nearby I find a nice restaurant with a terrace and get a
fried trout, upright with some slices of lemon in the kissmouth. Only
some single fishbones are remaining.
A walk and we find a lot of restaurants resp. taverns with underneath
galleries. The purpose of those galleries is to store the vine supplies
and give them this certain aroma by a special fungus (Botrytis Cinera) in this damp climate. The most
famous cellar is the Rakoczkikeller
and it is said that 24 galleries come together at this place. At the
bridge - aboveground again - there is the connection of the rivers
Bodrog and Theiss. Nearby a large square, ruled by motor bikers today
who demonstrate their power or whatever it will be by much noise and
On the way back I buy two bottles of Tokajer vine as it should be
recommended: "2003 Tokaj Muscot
Lunel"! I want to delight Mrs. Josefne but stay at the church
square for a while to enjoy the animation activities. Those end with
the song "Dirty Old Town" which does not seem to be adequate to
this town. Back in the pension Mrs. Josefne is waiting already, there
seems nothing else to be done for her. She cannot believe that I
bottle of vine for her but seems to be pleased about it. But she is not
allowed to drink it, her doctor has forbidden such enjoyment. Our
conversation is difficult and only works by sign language, drawn
sketches or even foreign international phrases. So after the mosquitos
get more and more inconvenient I am glad to retire to my room(s), write
about the day and
consume the other bottle of vine - be sure that I enjoy it so much.
12 Monday, 30.5., Gergelyiugornya, 100
After the good breakfast (fried eggs and ham) I start. But at
first I fill my empty lemonade bottle at a fountain well in Tokaj like
many others do. So I finally can tell you the consumption of a cyclist:
1.5 L Tokaj Water for 60 km. Aside the road we eventually find special
cycle paths which was not to expect at this remote region of Hungary.
And there are scenic villages, acacia alleys in bloom, and countless
stork nests. A shepherd with his flock and dogs and then my ultimate
field of poppies (Klatschmohn): 5 shots for the panorama. And one of
those famous draw wells, burnt in the imagination about the Hungarian
Puszta. But hereabout we mostly find fields of maize and meadows.
the estates we often see curious sheds which seem to serve for the
storage of maize or firewood.
We have another hot day and I feel free to cycle wearing the gym shorts
and nothing else. And the younger locals do as well, so we can be
content not to injure the local manners. But if one arrives at a larger
town or village a shirt is recommended. And I get a nice little sunburn
on my backside. At the end of this stage we reach the town of Vasarosnameny and 2 km ahead the
I enter a shop and ask for the direction of the pension where they had
been announced me yesterday. Oh, this is just in the same
So I am immediately "at home" again, enjoying a simple room this time.
But every cyclist will agree, that after a long day and distance the
comfort is not the main thing.
For the evening meal I must ride back 3 km to the town and at the Hotelrestaurant Feher. I enjoy a
meal named "Holzteller" (wooden plate). Those are 3 different steaks,
but the last emerges to concern fishbones? Better to let it over!
Finally back in the pension they try to deposit the bike in the garage
but fail to get the door open. Let us classify this to be a lucky
event, because this failure would be desastrous the next morning with
the bike inside the garage. So
the bike must stay in the stairway.
13 Tuesday, 31.5., Satu Mare, 65 km
Instead of a breakfast I succeed to shoo a dumbfounded young
lady from her PC and send a hasty email back home.
Today we will not enjoy such a nice landscape, not to forget that
cycling in Hungary is extraordinary anyway. The roads lead deadahead in
eastern directions, but there is a proper tailwind and so we enjoy to
roll along. So we find a mix of goulash and storks, caused by a village
named Goulasc and a storknet just above the sign of the village. We
finally approach the Rumanian border, the state of my dreams without
any content until now. No problems at the border control and along the
main road 19A we ride to Satumare.
One of its twin towns is Wolfenbüttel,
and this is 10 km from my home, what a surprise! Accompanied by some
rain showers I look for a hotel in this busy town. Later I recognize
that I blindly passed three of them.
I consult the first bankomat (cash machine) and draw 2.500 Lei for now.
You must eventually get used wit this strange currency! Because for now
I just have 10 EUR. Later I will purchase 4.000.000 Lei - let us spell:
4 Million which are 115 EUR,
the highest amount available. But if you are not are too wasteful you
can live a week with this cash. Since July of this year they will
shorten this currency by 4 Zeros as is to be read by omnipresent
posters. Remember those times some years ago in Poland as they were not
able to handle those Millions and Milliards of Zloties.
Meanwhile I find myself near the region of the railway station and just
there is the Hotel Casablanca.
And I really find a room for 20 EUR payable in EUR which is convenient.
And the room is sensational, a large flat, a table and four chairs, a
room to feel well. So a shower bath and some laundry activities (the
socks always need it...) and then we start to inspect this town. There
is some shopping to be done. At first let us look for a bookshop to get
an appropriate road map and this is the "Huber-Map" of the whole
country 1:600.000 and very detailed. The other map - the last one in
the shelf (Regal) is a map of Transylvania (Szekelyföld, M 1:250.000)
with the former German names. This is a stroke of luck to find such a
jewel. The maps cost about 3 EUR each and it would be impossible to get
those for this prize at home, moreover we would have to carry the
the time until now.
Some other business: a telephonecard for the public phone boxes is
available for another 3 EUR. I used it four times for a call to Germany
and it still was not exhausted. At last I get a city map at a hotel and
then let us look for a restaurant. Walking along a guy comes by and
asks for some money. But I am not willing to present my thick purse and
it needs some time to get rid of this tease (Plagegeist). I find a
little fast food restaurant named "Hello Margot" with a nice terrace
outside and get my pizza - as usual. As I just consume the last
mouthfuls a head appears above the wall and this is the guy from before
- now he wants to dine with me. But I can tell you: this is no common
problem hereabout, later there will be some few similar situations.
Finally we end in our hotel and have much time to study the new maps.
Another source is the brochure "Rumaenien per Rad" (Cycling in
Romania) which was available at home. There are various
advised cycle routes and now you have to choose this or that of them.
A last view to the railway station just opposite and I recognize the
clock showing one hour later. So see, we have entered another time zone
meanwhile, have to put the clock 1 hour forward but will not have to
suffer from any "jet lag".
14 Wednesday, 1.6., Sapanta, 97 km
There is no breakfast available at this accommodation and so we can
start early at 7.30 am this morning. We will start to ride on the route
number 1 towards the Maramures
at the northern border of Romania to the Ukraine. And we really have a
nice take-off, there are bad road conditions with innumerable potholes.
On the other hand there is a vivid country life. The locals
work with ancient instruments on their fields. The crop - hay mostly -
is loaded on horse-drawn carts. On the left side there is a railroad
and and some cozy (urig) trains rattle along, the doors of the
compartements wide open sometimes.
The officials who have composed this route may have thought to present
a special entrance examination to the newcomer. So we end on an unpaved
path which is difficult to overcome with a loaden bike. But please calm
down, we only will have another stretch of this kind and this will be
much later. For this time (10 km) we have to surround geese and hens,
deadlike sleeping dogs and the potholes - as I told before. As we hit
the national road again we can enjoy a real road for 5 km to the
village of Seinei. Now we
turn north, uphill and into the wind. But the countryside gets more
scenic, may be because there are more hills?
There is a larger town named Negresti
Oas or Certeze. We
continue in northern direction towards the Ukranian border which can
only be crossed by an expensive visum. But the road conditions are not
better there, as other visitors have told. We come to Huta Certeze and see many
construction sites, may be they develop a tourist centrum at this
region? (Others had supposed that there was an earthquake eventually
but this is not to be proved.)
We come to the pass Huta (587
m) which is not so hard to be climbed, 7% perhaps. We pass the first of
those wooden chapels and at a big parking site reach the summit. The
downhill with potholes in a dark forest is not so enjoyable. In the
valley - we have reached the river Tysa
again - the road gets better. Some final kilometers to Sapanta, the destination for today.
This village is world famous for the "Merry Cemetery" and let us learn
more about it.
I soon find a sign advising the "Pensiunea
MINUTA". A boy strolls around and shouts for his grandma who
comes out of a potato field. With her golden set of teeth she
recommends some nice upper rooms of their flat. Some time later I am
just standing in my underpants as the lady invites to have a meal ("mengare" or so). I go down to the
hallway (not in underpants meanwhile) and get a fatty but not really
hot potato soup. There are various strange pieces of meat and bones in
it, a kind of loin ribs? Be sure, I consume as much as I can and enjoy
to have not my dear wife Heidi with me, who would have had more
problems with this meal. On another plate there are bacon, sausage and
cucumbers and those are fine. Meanwhile the landlady presents a home
made bread, but this just falls down on the ground and must be sweeped
from the floor. What a pity!
Moreover I get a Vodka and shall empty the bottle if necessary. But it
is not necessary. Eventually the rest of the family comes back from the
field work. They are hungry as well and hoes (Hacke) and other
instruments find their place at the wall. Then they wonder what a
strange guest sits around and soon come along with a dictionary German - Romanian or so. Because
the late-afternoon sun is still shining I soon say farewell with the
gesture of shooting photos. You may be right that this is not the
appropriate behaviour of a guest concerning the Romanian hospitality.
I am looking for the "Merry Cemetery"
and as usual run in the wrong direction. So I find another place, a
construction site where they just build up two brand new church
buildings in traditional style anyhow. May be those shall be some
additional tourist attractions of this village in the future? Smells a
bit like Disney-Land. I
continue to toddle around for some time and finally find this famous
cemetery just at the church, where else should it be? And here it is,
this famous place known from TV or every relevant tourist guide
concerning this area. Colorful painted wooden gravesigns
documenting characteristics of the deceased (verblichenen) inhabitants,
mostly symbols of their profession, may be teacher, farmer, tractor
driver or spinstress (Spinnerin).
Under a tree they just dig for a new grave. And there is much trouble
to get the waters out of the dimple (Kuhle). One bucket after another
is spilled out. Let us argue that those late locals perhaps do not
reside in the best comfort down there? But on the surface again I
finally are caught by a woman calling "Ticket, Ticket!" and so at last
have to pay 3 EUR for the visit and for some shots. But this is no
problem, remember the long journey since now! Outside I meet some
Germans from Swabia (I apparently meet them on any place of the world).
One of them is a cyclist as well and ballyhooes his cycle with three(!)
gears. Tomorrow he would shoot some photos from outside the fence and
would not pay 3 EUR for another time. "I am a Swabian at last - you
The foreigners should know, that the Swabians are well known for
their thriftiness (Sparsamkeit) at home, may be they are relatives of
Scotsmen? Let us cite the famous Swabian slogan "Schaffe, Schaffe Häusle baue..."
which can not be translated - may be "Work and work and build a house.."?
For today I end in a bar with a proper beer (Tuborg Strong, 7,8 % alc).
Thereafter from my room there is a nice view to a backyard with some
going to bed. So do I and enjoy the nice sounds from cows, sows and
nearby and soon fall into a deep sleep. But at 11.45 pm the local dog
outside prefers to intone a persisting bark concert which lasts -
believe me - until 2 am. It is not my turn to do something against this
matter, so I desperately munch a chocolate bar.
15 Thursday, 2.6., Borsa, 102 km
Finally I had some sleep and awaking early in the morning hear the
family swarming out to their field work. Even the landlady seems to be
have swarmed out, because I cannot find any human being in the house.
In the floor hall there still waits the soup from yesterday, but grey
and cold meanwhile. May be I better resign to get a breakfast? I have
paid yesterday in advance, so I can bunk out and for another time
there should be a better behaviour of the guest. So this is your turn,
if at some time you will come along at this place!
We start along the wide valley of the Tisza
which is the border to
Ukrania. Some grey smokestacks of any industry are to be seen far away.
We come to the town of Sighetu
Marmatiei. It is to be read in the tourist guide (Marco Polo)
that there should be a former prison building with its origin lasting
to the era of Maria Theresia and there were cruel events in the past
even lasting to the socialism period. Today it is a museum, properly
restaurated and really not looking cruel. But now in the morning it is
not open and I can continue.
Now there are two roads leading to the cultural site of the Maramures. The first is a main road
along the river Viseu. A
smaller parallel road is to be find along the Iza
valley and recommended as cycle route (still the Nr. 1). And let us say
in advance: this will be the "Königsetappe" (the highlight leg)
concerning the multitudinousness (sorry for this word, but I found it
in the dictionary) of ethnic impressions. Here you will see all those
things which may have been in your phantasy concerning this phantastic
country. It is a mere open-air museum including the local population.
The people work in the fields by their hand's work, mow the meadows
using scythes (Sensen), the hay is turned over by hayforks and finally
transported by horse- or cattle-carts. I dare a shot of one of those
but the leading woman crosses herself afterwards. On the fields with
poatoes and other root crops they fight against the weeds (Unkraut)
with simple picks. And on the road they all run or cycle along to or
from their work. Be careful if someone caries a scythe on his shoulder
and stay on a proper distance. And if I remember my own childhood (the
first life stage) I must go back to the fifties. We then lived in a
village and experienced the people working in the same manner. Some
time later the tractors and other farm machines came up and the
romantic times had gone.
The people in this valley apparently live and work for their mere
self-supply. Once some workers wave and - if I understood their
gestures properly - invite to work with them instead only to cycle for
no one's benefit. So we get mediative with all the Lei-millions in the
purse and EURO in the neck pouch (Brustbeutel)?
In spite of all they really have a sense of culture. You can see the
famous artfully carved wooden gates as a symbol of prosperity. Not to
speak about the scenic churches and cloisters (e.g. Barsana). Sometimes there are
spectacular rope bridges across the river and it is not my turn to
cross one of it, but a local cyclist shows (walking) how it works. And
the road is in a remarkable good state.
Now let us pass a flock of sheep and the white dogs watching all
movements, leaded by the shepherd's melodic whistles. At a rest place a
woman comes along, cowers aside a creek and washes some shoes and
clothes. Busy as she is she does not realize the secret photo. And
another scene - one of the best shots - showing the real atmosphere of
area: two local women peer across the planks of a fence to have some
communication with anyone behind it. And it is to be said, that there
is a bench in front of each estate, where the seniors can participate
with the local life.
Another rest in the village of Salistea
de Sus. The school is just over now and the kids stroll along
the street enjoying their freedom. One of them eventually comes along
and looks at me as I just consume a banana. "Do you speak English, we
learn it at school?" he asks after a while. "So we can talk and you
will know, why you learn Englisch" I say, and the ice is broken.
Immediately the other kids come along and now they all are astonished
have cycled all the way from Germany. "What's about a photo?" I ask and
get the camera out of the front bag. As I turn around I see the group
immediately formed up to a classic school class photo, some of them
even on their knees. And then they all can see the photo on the
display. So this little event was a great pleasure!
Now there is the end of this stage - let us say one of the most
extraordinary vallies of Europe. There is a village named Sacel and then a final hill is to
be climbed to run down to the parallel valley with the main road Nr.
18. The rest section of this day is not so enjoyable with much industry
around and on a concrete surface with handwide gaps. Now the village Borsa is the destination for today
but not as scenic as I had expected for one of the highest peaks of
this part of the Capathian Mountains, the Pietrosul, 2302 m is nearby.
I find a pension at a side road and get the most simple room of this
tour for 10 EUR. The window of the chamber can be opened to a narrow
dark corridor and from there we have a view to unsightly blocks and a
river full of rubbish. Near this pension there is a junk market and
some poor dogs stroll around. One of them has problems by some innards
hanging out and has organized a proper cardboard box to find any place.
If anyone comes along he anxiously climbs out and looks for a shelter.
When the danger is over he painfully climbs back in his box.
I look for an evening meal and finally find a very special restaurant
named Restaurantul Perla
Maramuresului, Motel. This looks like a mixture of Chinese and
Mexican elements. So let us go inside and consume a proper pig's cutlet
and two whooshing beers. And the service maid says after a small
gratuity (Trinkgeld): "When you
come back I waiting for you". May be we should keep this matter in our
16 Friday, 3.6., Vatra Dornei, 92
Of course there is no breakfast in this pension, otherwise the
first real pass Prislop, 1416
m, of the Carpathians is waiting. And the route keeps to be
uncomfortable withe the ugly concrete pavement and steadily leading
uphill. Soon I realize that my strengths will not be sufficient for
this day. But everywhere there are those small shops named Magazin Mixt or so and those are
open already, now at 7 am. I buy some bananas, cookies and cake to
replace the missing breakfast.
Soon I feel better and can climb to a village in a green valley upside
of Borsa where they put up lots of brand new buildings but all
thoroughly assimilated to the surrouding landscape. May be this will be
a favourite tourist center at one time? Finally we enter the botany
with few traffic. Sometimes there are some vehicles with a handful of
cows on the load floor. This will be some kind of cattle drive up to
the Alpine pastures as we will see. We steadily climb with a moderate
slope, but the roaring of other vehicles ahead indicates that this will
last for yet another time.
As I have a rest on a side wall two rickety (klapperig) Dacia
automobiles come along and stop. They do not take any notice of me -
they have a breakdown. At first there come out three men, three women
and three children of those two tiny cars. By the colorful
clothings of the women we can assume what kind of folks we have met. I
try to get a photo but then abort as the men seem to look at me. I told
you before, that one should be carefully to take a photo of the gipsy
people, as is to be read in the tourist guide.
I better find my way and after four hours and 25 km from the start I
reach the summit of the pass. And now we see those cows just leaving
their load floor over a ramp and blissfully (glückselig) striving
uphill towards the tasty pastures. All accompanied by those melodic
whistles of the herdsmen as we have heard the day before. At the summit
there is not so much to be seen, a local lad collects the garbish from
the trash boxes and a flock of school-community comes out of a bus
which may be a German gift of an sorted out bus to Romania because
there is a very German inscription on it.
We start for the downhill and this is very enjoyable, not too steep and
on a good road surface. Now we enter the valley of the Bistritja and follow this route
fore more than 100 km, mostly slight downwards. The culture of this
valley has changed: there are houses with horizontal ornated crossbeams
and there are artful wells to ensure the water supply by handwheel,
chain and bailers (Schöpfeimer).
The road conditions do not stay to be as good as before. Now there are
workers who mill out
the damaged parts of the road surface and thereafter fill the pits by a
tarmac mixture. The new repaired sections are neither very comfortable,
the bike still hops passing the kerbs. The cyclist with his two wheels
can curve around those obstacles but the the four-wheeled vehicles
rattle along and it is surprising, that this or that of those mostly
older carts do not loose their life withtin a very short space of time.
At the milestones we read the name Jacobeni
all over the day since the start this morning. Let us say, that the
milestones in Romania are rather informative: they show the road
number, the current location, the distance to the last and next
village, and the final end of the road. And for now this is Jacobeni.
But this village is disappointing, industry and no accommodation
available - so far as I can see. But at this place you will have to
decide where to continue. If you turn left (E576) you will reach the
town Campulung Moldovenese
and later come to the famous Moldavian cloisters with their spectacular
ancient wall paintings. But for now we cannot have everything, turn
right and stay to the river Bistritja, and later heading towards the
region of Transylvania. So
for today we end at the touristic town of Vatra Dornei.
Some pedestrian suggests a hotel near the center and this is the best
of all: Hotel Carol - not so
cheap naturally but the average calculation after those low cost
lodgings before may legitimate a proper luxury now and then. But I will
not use the fitness centre with some torture machines and the sauna,
which is not switched on neither. After the shower bath and washing of
socks, bike shirt, and underwear clothes I start for a memorable
evening meal. As usual I choose a Pizzeria aware what to expect
thereabout - but be sure: we will have a surprise tonight.
To be sure not to go out hungry at last I order a Pizza GIANT, which by
now seems to need some more time because later guests meanwhile are
dining already. And finally there comes a big tablet, may be the half
of a square meter. The table must be cleared to get enough space for
portion. Some other guests peer at me with surprise and so do I.
Let us remember a similar
adventure in England (Monmouth) some years ago as I got a family pizza,
did my best and at last was laid off with the words of a clerk "He must
have been hungry, I thought".
This time the affair is somewhat more painful in a country where those
lots of people have to do such a hard work to get their self supply?
But anyway - now there is something to do! And really, after some time
I succeed to consume one half of the portion but nothing more and
nothing else! The service maid comes along cooperatively and offers
"Shall I pack it?". I do only understand "Baghuette?" and so resign in
thanks. But then she comes up with a big carton, but I really cannot
use it, it will be no proper cargo for my panniers. May be edgewise,
but's what about the underwear beneath? And to bite through this food
during the rest of the evening is neither recommended awaiting a proper
breakfast buffet tomorrow morning? So I resign for another time, I pay
11 EUR including the beer and carry out my big paunch (Schmerbauch).
At last I end in an Internet Cafe and send a mail to my home and
insure, that this country is really progressive - real sarcasm, I know
- excuse me for all that!
17 Saturday, 4.6., Bicaz, 132 km
After all this the breakfast is not so exquisite but the weather
is fine and we can continue on a good road in this special valley of
Bistritja. There is a scenic landscape and we pass natural villages. If
you need a rest you can find a nice seat on one of those narrow walls
aside the road at the mall bridges over crossing creeks. As I just sat
down a merry lad comes along, shakes hands and sits aside. He has much
tell and I think this would be very interesting but unfortunately I
don't understand a single word. At last I declare by signs that I will
continue. So we finally embrace and he shouts into my ear "Drum Bull"
so far as I can understand. Later I learn: it was "Drum Bun" and that
means "A happy journey". What a kind guy! So a final photo of this
event and the guy waves for farewell. We will learn another story
this day concerning photography.
But the next is an angler standing in the river or a grey goose who
both don't bother of the camera. After 87 km I reach the storage lake Lacul
Izvorul Muntelui. It was to be read that at one spot there are
lots of plastic bottles and garbage drifting in the waters and so it
is. But at one spot only, but this should be abandoned one day if the
locals want to have delighted tourists. Anyhow there is a hotel and
restaurant with a big parking place.
Now we enter a beautiful panoramic road which is somewhat sportive and
leading up and down. At the village Hangu
we read a sign: Pension Intim,
but beware to have stupid thoughts! We now await the most serious
adventure of this tour.
Just ahead there is a couple of my favourite gipsy families trekking
along with their children, poor luggage, and some horse carts. The
little horses are covered by sweat because we have a hot day and the
road just leads up a hill. Two pied women disappear in the bushes so
let us peer into another direction. Meanwhile one of the lads tries to
beg for some food and runs aside of my bike for a while. I would do
anything but wouldn't stop and open my panniers. Or should I really
have bewared the rests of the giant pizza from yesterday? May be!
At the next bend I can force up the speed and escape. After a distance
I get "devil-may-care" resp. light-headed and try a forbidden photo of
this matter. It would have been better to resign this attempt. At first
the photo does not succeed. And at second it seems they got aware of
this try because suddenly the first horse starts to gallop behind me, I
hear shouts and whistles and they really come nearer and nearer?
If you now expect a scared "senior cyclist" rushing up the hill as fast
as he can - you are right. The sound of gallopping still comes nearer.
After some time the haunters seem to remain behind, some last angry
shouts and I still keep to run upwards nearly with a tachycardia
(Herzrasen). And the hill will not end, and at last when it does I
finally can be sure to get the essential security distance. And better
not to imagine what would have happened to me.
So this story is not told to discriminate those people, it was my fault
and I am very angry about myself. But may be it is a warning for
someone else enjoying a similar situation.
The rest of the stretch to Bicaz
(20 km) as a matter of course is absolved without any stop. At last I
cross the dam of the lake and at the village Bicaz I am disappointed to
find a nasty ambience. After some time I find a Motel with restaurant,
bar and open air terrace. My room is very poor but be sure I am happy
At the terrace I have my dinner. The menu card is in Romanian language
only, so I choose the first meal named "Pastau Prajata" of the fish
category. And I success: I get a fried trout. The last impressions of
this day: some louder music from the disco bar, on the other side some
pastoral chorals from the nearby church. And a merry guy comes back
from the graveyard with a shovel on his shoulder, he apparently has
done his work of the day. On a bench someone is sleeping deeply, he has
got his sleeping drugs from any bottles.
18 Sunday, 5.6., Niklasmarkt
(Gheorgheni), 58 km
At 7 am in the morning I get back my passport but there is no breakfast
available. So I get off for the attractions of the day. At first I pass
a huge Concrete Factory: Carpat Beton,
associated to Heidelberg Zement
or so. Let us hope that they will not disassemble the famous Bicaz Gorge waiting ahead.
There I meet two cyclists with mountainbikes from Germany. They visit
this country for the sixth time, so I cannot tell so much to them. They
will head for the Moldavian Cloisters which were not part of my own
program. Inside the narrow gorge there are lots of booths with
souvernirs, potteries, crochet stuff, cane furniture and so on and this
is not such a romantic impression. At the end of the gorge some steep
hairpins lead up to the Red Lake (Lacu Rosu). This lake is somewhat
special because there are lots of tree stumps rising out of the water.
the year 1838 there was a big landslide at this place and nowadays you
see the rests of the destroyed forest. It is to be read that the wooden
stumps are lithified (versteinert) meanwhile.
We now enter the ascent to the Pangarati
Pass, 1256 m. As usual I concentrate on some flowers and plants
during the ascent and detect some orchids or a wild aquilegia (Akelei).
Not so much else to be seen and down the pass we soon reach the first
town of Transylvania: Gheorgheni
or Niklasmarkt. At the
central palce named Pta Libertati I find the nice Hotel
I have a lazy afternoon, some photos of the scene and in the evening a
delicious meal of grilled liver. Finally some rain and thunderstorm,
but until now there was the best weather of all. We will see what's
about that tomorrow.
19 Monday, 6.6.,
(Sighisoara), 112 km
There is a nice breakfast and I start into a dull morning on the Cycle
Route Nr. 2 leading through lonesome forest areas. At first there is
another pass Sicas, 1000 m.
At the summit there is something like a
quarry. From this point we will have a stretch of 40 km unpaved road.
There is one pothole aside the next, gradually filled with water for we
have a pretty rain meanwhile. It would be much work to investigate the
depth of each pothole before you bump into them. At one place some
lumbermen just pull a mighty tree trunk just across the road. After
some time I can transcend the trunk but strike my shinbone against it.
At the next rest I detect some blood but it is no serious problem.
The only way to pass this road is to stay on one side on the sod. On
the other hand this route is traffic free - you will know why. And it
leads mostly downhill, what a joy it would be to run down here with
fine weather and on a paved road. But today this is no pleasure. At
last we pass a lake and thereafter the road gets slightly better. In a
village I see a strange long haired creature. A sheep, a goat or dog?
And where is the front and the backside? Seems to be a dog and the
front side is at it's walk direction. Unfortunately the camera rests in
the depth of the panniers.
I now reach a town with three tongue breaking names: Odoheiu Secuiesc
or Szekelyudvarhely or Oderhellen. The first is the
Romanian name. The second the Hungarian because many Hungarians have
settled here as well. The third is the German name and we know that
about 700 years there was a German culture at Transylvania or
Siebenbürgen. Since the end of the socialism 15 years ago this
traditional era was abandoned by the migration towards the golden
western paradise. What a pity, it is a wonderful country. And I stand
around like a drowned rat this day.
We now ride along the swollen river Tarnava
Mare. I have a rest on a bridge, but after two heavy trucks have
passed it at the same time I better leave this trembling construction.
After a boring last stretch and an enjoyable comfortable section on the
E60 we reach the town of Schässburg or Sighisoara,
world heritage of the Unesco and one of the main destinations of my
tour. The first photo is difficult to produce with the roaring traffic
in the foreground.
The main street in the city is not so busy and got its name from Hermann Oberth, a space pioneer who
went to school at this town. May be this is the reason for the later
progrss of space research? I look for a proper hotel. At first a local
talks to me and seems to offer an accommodation. But there is no chance
to understand each other. And enventually I face the Hotel Claudiu,
check in for two nights and find the room of my dreams. A fast photo
before all the stuff out of the panniers will spoil the nice impression.
Everything is perfect from the minibar to the toothbrush tumbler. Out
of the window there is a nice view, not to the town panorama but to
some backyards and roofs with adventurous communicating gutter
A short walk around the Stundturm
the town's landmark and the dinner - another pizza - after this hardest
day of the tour.
20 Tuesday, 7.6., Schässburg
We have a breakfast buffet and the lady of the reception comes down to
the restaurant to check any behaviour of the hungry guest. Later I
enter an Internet shop - it is still raining and so I can delete my
spam mails and send some mails to family, friends and some (former)
Finally the weather gets better and we start for the obligatory
inspection. Behind the Stundturm there is the
Dracula building (Casa Vlad Dracula),
but this is not my field of interest. Some distance
ahead there is the "Schülergang" (Pupils Step), this is a roofed
stairway up to the German Bergschule. Today those stairs are closed
because someone produces a television exposure of a historic theater.
other way leads across the cemetery "Bergfriedhof" which shall be one
of the most scenic of Transylvania. And in fact the deceased
(verstorben) people, all German names, enjoy a nice outlook from below
sorry. The surviving family members meanwhile will have wandered to
their ancient home from 700 years ago.
The next attraction is the Bergkirche
and a small entry fee is to be
paid. Photos not allowed, so I wonder afterwards how the altar of this
church has slipped into the camera. Moreover the visitor gets an
information paper, but this must be returned and I have no copy of it.
Finally we enter the Stundturm - a must in this town. There you get a
"Foreigner's Ticket" and then you are allowed to visit all museum-like
rooms of this building. One chamber is dedicated to the H. Oberth
mentioned above. But remember: the early attempt of skyrocket
development was not
space research during WW II (Peenemünde et al.).
At another room we find a nice model of the midiaeval town. It was a
Citadel surrounded by walls with some fortification towers. And this
ensemble kept unspoiled until today. Inside the tower we then pass the
construction and the wooden figures of the clock. Those have hollow
backsides, don't ask me why. The view from the tower down to the roofs
of the town is spectacular. At last - on the ground again - a view into
the torture chamber with technical sketches of all the necessary
instruments. You may be astonished that the artists of those times have
created sensational and timeless works of art and on the other hand
were so cruel to agonize other human beeings.
Alive again we have an omelett with cheese and then we plan for the
21 Wednesday, 8.6., Fagaras,
After breakfast I cannot check out with my
Visacard because the reader is out of order. So we must get some more
millions from the bankomat before we can start. We ride on the road 106
(Cycle Route 6) into another dull morning. At the village Apold we see a sleeping dog with a
cat on his bag - sleeping as well. This reminds me to our own dog Otto at home who would do anything
but not to be as calm and patient with a cat around him. Now at Apold I
see the first Kirchenburg (Castle Church).
The next village is Bradeni, Henndorf with the next
castle church. And at Agnita,
Agnethen there is another one. The route now is really fine and
the weather as well, so let us forget the day before yesterday. Once I
meet a stork in a meadow, he just swallows something, may be to choke
it out (auswürgen) for his kids at home. Let us finish our picture book
for today as we enter the busy main road with the fatal number 1 or
E68. At this area the buildings and estates are hermetically locked to
the street, the windows closed by rolling shutters and no one can see,
if those properties are still inhabited. Dead ahead we reach the town
The search for an accommodation ends at the Pension Flora. "Deutsch,
Stuttgart, München" they say to me and then immediately I get a coffee
("Kaffee nix kosten"). The town is not so scenic, built in socialistic
style. In spite of all there is moated castle certainly older than it's
surrounding. At the Crama Bulevard
I find a nice restaurant for another fried trout - sorry. At last the
boy hands some toothpicks, may be he is a visionary (Hellseher)?
22 Thursday, 9.6.,
(Kronstadt), 83 km
This will be - what a pity - the last day on the road. The first 14 km
dead ahead to Sercaia are very hard with a strong eastern headwind on
the busy E68. To the right we see the scenic panorama of the Fagaras-Mountains with peaks up to
2500 m high, the highest part of the Carpathian Mountains. Some snow on
the top and it looks similar to the Alps.
At last I can enter the smaller road 73 A (Cycle Route 3) up the Sinca
valley. This is another dream route and the valley gets more and more
narrow. At the steep slopes there are tiny fields with potatoes and
other crops. As usual the valley ends with a little pass and thereafter
we reach the town of Zarnesti.
I try to find the centrum (Centru) but only see the ugliest apartment
buildings until now. Some are never completed but people live in them
anyhow. As I see some industrial factories in front I turn back. Later
I find in the Web that Zarnesti is a center of various outdoor sports
with a great history. For this time I didn't find it.
For the last kilometers of the tour I enjoy a strong tailwind. So it is
no temptation to make a 5 km detour to Schloss Bran - the Dracula Castle. I told you, that
Dracula is not my theme, I think this matter to be of the category Disneyland. Instead of that we pass
the castle of Rosenau up on a
mountain and instead to go up there we are content with the Zoom of the
camera. And now we reach Brasov.
And this is a terrible thing at first.
There is such a busy traffic which was not to be seen until now. Brasov
is located at a key position at a loophole of two Carpathian mountain
regions. And so various traffic streams come together at this place.
Let us look for the "Centru" and go up the Str. Lunga. We pass the first class
hotels Aro Palace
and Capitol which won't
correspond with my purse. At the Tourist Information they recommend
some low cost accommodations but then I hit on the Hotel Coroana at the Str. Republicii. I read about this
in the Guide and it is an old fashioned historic institution. At the
end of a journey this should be the adequate housing and I check in for
the last Romanian night.
Before we inspect this wonderful town it is necessary to arrange the
retreat back home. There is a rumour that a railroader's strike is at
work and nothing will run properly. So it is the best to walk to the
railway station, 3 km downtown. You will not see any scenic regions of
Brasov at this hike. At the place in front of the railway station they
just pump-dry large water surfaces caused by the last rain. At the
foreigners desk I get a ticket for the night train to Vienna tomorrow.
But I cannot pay, the credit cards are not welcome. So I must walk all
the way back to the hotel, get the bike, get millions from the bankomat
and ride back to the foreigners desk to receive the tickets and sleeper
Understandable that the rest-day's activities are poor. It is to be
read in the Guide (Marco Polo) that there is one of the best
restaurants of Romania at the Piata
Sfatului, and this is a Chinese Restaurant, one of my favourites
(much more than Pizza Restaurants). As I enter this etablissement there
is no other guest and the waiters sleep with their heads on any table.
"Ehem" I say and in panic they jump up and from now on I am the king,
sit down and order a duck meal with mushrooms. The interior of the
restaurant is remarkable and I shoot a secret photo. The duck meal on
the other hand is somewhat special: lots of bone fragments inside as if
someone has used an ax to dress the matter. But I get fed up and that
is the main thing.
23 Friday, 9.6., Brasov
The breakfast is disappointing at a poor Cafe around a corner. But now
we have a full day to investigate the sensations of Brasov. At the
central place Piata
Sfatului the market people arrange their booths to sell wooden
and ceramic artworks, souvernirs, flowers or fruits and vegetables. The
happy persons enjoy the sun on those numerous bench facilities. Just
aside is the "Black Cathedral" which really does not look black. The
building got its name in consequence of a fire some centuries ago and
at that time it is said that this and that looked black. Today you can
study the success of restauration activities documented by large photo
signposts. But don't ask me what else was to be seen in there. This
time nothing of the interior slipped into my camera.
Now we walk to the Str. Sforii
(Rope Lane or so), one of the
most narrow lanes in Europe. From there we climb up to the city wall
and nearby the cablecar station where one can get 700 m higher to the Belvedere. There you can have an
outlook like from an aeroplane, the buildings of the town down there
look like toys. A panorama photo and some zoom shots are recommended.
We still have so much time today, so I sit on a meadow for a while and
think it over. All has come to an happy end and the ticket to travel
back home is in my pocket. So one can really enjoy the sunshine. At
noon I am back on the ground again. A view to the Russian Church, and
the rest of the afternoon is spent in a small park. There is a memorial
about 50 victims of the revolution 1989 and I was not aware that this
was really so violent. A last visit to an elegant supermarket nearby.
It all looks like western standard but may be only the smaller part of
the locals can afford to buy there. I would have been happy to purchase
a box of pralines named "Heidi" like my dear wife but the rest of my
Lei currency is not sufficient. A Fanta and some crackers - that's it.
At 4 pm I get my bike and baggage from the hotel and arrive at the
railway station two hours earlier then departure which is a senior
syndrome and otherwise understandable after such a long wild
three-week-tour. At the platform I get frightened: there is neither a
baggage car nor any cycle compartment announced for the night-train to
Vienna. But in spite of the rumors of any railway strike the train
arrives in time. What to do now? I look for the number of the waggon
corresponding to my reservation, throw in the panniers and rumble in
with my bike. Other passengers have great problems to pass those
obstacles but no one grumbles about that nasty matter. But so does the
corpulent clippie (the female conductor), fortunately talking the nice
Vienna accent. "This train does not transport any bike - or you take it
with you on your divan" - the fellow passengers and the bed-linens
would be happy about that. But then a collegue of my furious Chimerae
comes up: "Let us unlock this unused staff compartment, if the bike
fits inside" - and it does!!!
And at last the train starts - be sure that I hear this and that sweet
melody out of the rattling train sounds. Out of the window I see the
Carpathians fading away in the evening sun. And be sure that I have a
deep sleep. But at the Hungarian border at 2 am in the night the
toll officers must inspect the hidden space above the roof of the
compartment if there would be a blind passenger, drugs or a bicycle?
None of all is to be found. At 9 am we arrive at Vienna and I need the
rest of the day to get to Linz at first and then to Passau. For the
last time I enter the fine Hotel "Wilder Mann" where I once was 18
years ago. And I find the Chinese Restaurant Jasmin at the Residenzplatz. Sorry for Brasov:
this time the duck meal is definitely first class.
At Sunday I am so happy to complete the return but I won't bother you
with details. At 9 pm I am back at home and imagine the happiness of us
all, my dear wife Heidi and the dog Otto who both do hard to embrace me
over and over again at the same time.