A Viking searching for the south east end of Europe.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JohnnyTh, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    235
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    Bucharest
    Hmmm, home now and I have time to catch up with your RR. I hope you found a place to sleep for tonight. We have wifi at home so you will have no excuse not to continue your RR by tomorrow evening. Well... this is unless we will go out and have some drinks. Then... hmmm...
    #21
  2. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    So after the girls busted my not so shelty camp i packed my stuff and got back on my hors..ehh bike. Bonjovi singing: Im a cowboy, on a steel horse i ride i rode past the two girls and back out on the road. but only for a few hundred yards. Stopped at a service stations rest are and made myself a hot breakfast.

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    Thanx to the Norwegian army to suply me with food. It taste like shit but you can live on it.
    To be honest its not that bad. you only need a little water and that start a chemical reaction that cooks the meal.
    After this i dared to visit the toilets but after a quick look inside i decided not to. Almost lost my brekfast after that. And no don't worry there will be no picture this time.

    Got back on the bike in a hurry and took off for Budapest. I have heard that its supposed to be a beautiful city and they where right. Parked my bike beside the biggest sand clock(is that the right English word, i dont know) in the world. It a 8 meter diameter and the sand take one year to move from the top side and down. then its turned by manual labor so it can go for another year. Its made to last for ever so we have to see if it will.


    Walked over a bridge to a small castle. It was early int he morning but tourists where already pouring in by buss loads, and on a bike.

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    Anyone know who this is? Not the girl but the statue. Don't know who the girl is either, but it was impossible to get a picture whit out someone sitting on the statue.

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    This statue was popular to but i manage to snap a picture before the lady rush in to take her picture.

    It was a very warm day. must have been at least close to 30 degrees C and i was feeling a little warm in my gear. So i did something not so adventurous. I got on a tour bus and did a 3 hour sightseeing ride on that bus. yeah yeah i know.. but hey i was tired and warm, give me a brake ;)


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    at 1500 i was back on my bike and heeding east. Had to stop at another rest area to have a 15 min nap on a bench, as i was to tired to go on. But that worked miracles and i entered Romania later that evening.


    The city of Oradea
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    Less pretty then Budapest but somewhere outside i found a small motel. Again it was nothing fancy but at 20 euros you cant really expect much. The lady in the reception gave me the key to a small room on first floor and i started to haul my luggage up. The some guy came and showed me a room at the kitchen entrance to park the bike in. Perfect but it was a tight squeeze to get it in there.

    ---------

    After i parked my bike i went toward my room with the panniers. Then the hotel owner shoved up and yelled at the reception lady. Apparently he was annoyed that i was given a room on first floor as they had bigger rooms behind the hotel on ground floor. He spoke a little german and explained that i should have the bigger room for the same price so i did not need to haul all my stuff up the stairs.
    What a nice guy.
    The dinner i had at the hotel restaurant was pork and fries. Always exiting to see what you end up with when you don't share any language.

    Had a cold shower.. not only because i was hot, but also because there was no hot water. But the bed was great and i sleept like a baby.
    #22
  3. Tom-Nor

    Tom-Nor Wannabe Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2013
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    Location:
    Norway west coast
    Congratts on the saddle sore:clap
    Looking forward to hear about rest of rumania and how it is to drive with your GTR there.
    #23
  4. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    thank you. Much appreciated. I would like to see the Blue mosque. Any suggestion how and where to park. Here in Romainie it looks like you could park anywhere as long as your not in anyones way. What is Istanbull like? .
    #24
  5. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    Next morning i was up at seven. Feeling fresh and rested i was so ready to go that i skipped breakfast and got back on the bike. Took a little manhandling to get it out of the room it was in an thru the door.
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    Today i was heading to Suceava in north east Romania to celebrate ester wit him and his family. It was a little more then 400km and except or one stop for fuel i did it in one go. There was so much to se and so nice roads i totally forgot that i had not eaten.

    The roads was a mix of beautiful sweeping roads with great scenery to roads that was in very poor condition.
    What side of the road would you use?

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    Here it was hard to find the road between the potholes and the cars -and me- was using any side that looked like it was passable.
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    This is not even the worst part.


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    Romania is the land of contrasts. Some are utterly poor, while others are stinking rich. I did not get a picture but to me it was illustrated clearly when someone in a Audi S8 was trying to get past a horse drawn carriage.
    At times was feeling bad for riding by some of these folks on a bike that probably cost more then they will make in there entire life. But then again I'm here spending my money so i guess thats a good thing. And hopefully the wealth of western Europe will spread so it also reach the villages in Romania.

    I arrived at Anjisans fathers house and they prepared a dinner for us. Different to anything i have had before, but tasty. Here my Beast is parked beside a celebrity.

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    Next day we where out to do some sightseeing of fortified churches and other sights. Stay tuned.
    #25
  6. Geolander

    Geolander Scruffy Nerf Herder

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Ken Caryl, CO
    What an awesome ride..

    I want to see Norway, I doubt I'll ever get to ride it though.

    I'd figure by now all the Churches in Norway would be fortified, strange you had to leave Norway for them. :wink:

    Are Norwegians sensitive to the church burning jokes? Is that not okay?

    Figured I'd ask.

    As I am/was (always will be kinda deal) a black metal fan. The music is horrid, but the movement behind it was truly inspiring.

    Also liked the comment about feeling like a Knights Templar.. My first tattoo was the sigil of baphomet.

    I want to retire @ 50 in Norway, I got 25 years to go, we'll see.

    Anyway, enough of my B.S. Thanks for sharing!

    I'm jealous
    #26
  7. Dickyb

    Dickyb Bewildered Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,044
    Location:
    Kas-Antalya,Turkey
    It is a nice three hour ride along the coast (for the most part) from Antalya to here. Got plenty of room space so you can keep your tent packed. Hope you don't mind dogs and cats, we've got a number of the rescued blighters though if you let me know an ETA closer to the time I'll make sure they have all eaten:wink:

    I don't know whether you sorted your tyre issue out. Nevertheless, this guy is good:clap Turkey-Tyres All Brands - Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

    Safe travels,

    David
    #27
  8. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    Im not sensitive to it,but remember when it happend. People was taking turns guarding churches all over Norway
    #28
  9. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    I love dogs and cats, but i handle the warm very badly so most likly i will stink so bad they would not go near me. So not a problem.

    i have been following your thread for a while so would be cool to meet you.
    #29
  10. Tom-Nor

    Tom-Nor Wannabe Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2013
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    482
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    Norway west coast
    Ther wher a few church burnings, but it was only a couple of guys that did it. The story is goten way bigger then it realy was.And we Norwegians jokes about it, we are not so big on religion.
    If you are a blackmetal fan you should go to Oslo in easter, then its the yearly Inferno festival.
    Personaly i am not a blackmetal fan, can stretch it to Dimmu Borgir but i prefer Panter,Gojira etc.

    @Johhnth great pics
    #30
  11. Paratrout

    Paratrout Been here awhile

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    Cackilackistan, Concord Oblast
    I like your plan bro and congrats on the IBA ride. I served with some Norwegian troops in Kosovo in 1999, they were very impressive. Best wishes.:1drink
    #31
  12. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    Next morning was another sunny and warm day. So far on this ride i have had more nice weather then i did in all of the summer 2012. We had breakfast and set off to see some churches. First we visited a small church close by. For a little less then one euro each we got a guided tour inside, witch was interesting. The church is Unesco world heritage. The inside was covered with pictures painted on the wall.

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    Sadly the name of the church will be untold in this story as i do not remember. Sorry.

    Anjinsan had heard about a shortcut to the next one and it included a few kilometers on gravel. We found he road, but it was blocked by a gate. Apparently the gate was there to protect the trees fro illegal logging. A guy came out from a nearby house and he was happy to open the gate for us. At least i think so because i did not understand anything of the Romanian Anjisan and the gate man was discussing.
    I must say i was a little worried when he had a hard time opening his garden gate, but he did manage and in a few minutes we where off into one of the most beautiful woods i ever been to.

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    After leaving the woods we came to The Dragomirna Monastery. It is a huge structure, thick stone walls protecting the church and a monastery. It date back to 1608. During our visit there was a mess going on and the music added to the experience. This was one of the things i wanted to see in Romania.

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    Sadly i did not get a good picture of the outside. But it was very impressive

    After this it was a short ride down to Suceava where we visited a castle ruin that was under restoration.
    Close by, as a bonus was the world famous, world biggest easter egg. Well world biggest egg anyway.
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    Easter eggs are a big thing here and i have been seen them all over romania.


    the three of us rode together south from Suceava fore some kilometer but due to that Anjinsan had to get back to Bucharest for work we split up after a little while.

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    Here is a rare shot of the famous couple.
    They heeded south for the direct route to Bucharest and I turned west again to go to Sighisoara to see the medieval city. It is an inhabited medieval citadel that, in 1999, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage.
    But first i had to conquer the mountains again. Again this turned out to be a beautiful and great road to ride. After a couple of hours i reach the narrowest pass i have ever seen. Steep cliffs on each side and at the nearest no more then 10 meter opening.

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    I did not see any historical defensive structures and i found that strange. Surly such a pass would have had military value in days gone by.. Maybe i just did not notice. Did i mention i like defensive structures?

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    The downside was that there was heavy traffic. It was like every Tom, Dick and Harry in romania wanted to go to this pass on there easter day off. So for me that meant slow moving traffic up hill, in (to me) extreme heat. I was worried that it would over heat but the GTR handled well and there was no issues. The rider did worse and i had to stop a couple of times just to cool down. But at least i had less problems then this guy.
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    At the top there was a major traffic jam as several tour busses was coming each way. But after i got over the top the traffic was lighter and i could enjoy the sweeping road going down the mountains on the other side.

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    Mostly it was 50/50 with great good roads and roads with bumpy surface and potholes. What i found most frustrating was that i never did trust the road i was on. It could be great for miles and then suddenly around a corner there was a huge pothole or the hard surface could be missing completely.

    After a while i needed a little rest and i saw a beautiful church up on hill. I thought that could be a nice place to stretch my legs. Turned off the road and searched for a way to the church. The road took me to a river crossing ford and i looked at it for a few seconds and thought: well there is a first for everything and i set off. It was deeper then i thought but i did get over whiteout getting anything else but my boots wet.

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    Sadly the road ended soon after the small river and you needed to walk the last 500 meters up to the church. I did not want to leave any gear on the bike as there was a couple of older kids around that looked like they where up to no good. Sorry if i sound judgmental and maybe i was, but i just did not want to take that chance. And i did not fancy to cary it all up the hill. So i set off back over the small river and onto the road again.
    At least i had forded a river.

    I reached Sighisoara as the sun was setting, so i parked and walked around the beautiful medieval citadel.
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    This city should not be missed if you are in the area. While walking i thought; I'm 200km away from Transfagarasen pass. I know its closed at the top, but the reason i wanted to go to Romania the first place was to ride that pass. And im gona ride what ever i can of it no matter what. So leaving Sighisoara i set my course for the original goal for my Romania visit.
    This took I'm on some secondary roads that was in really bad condition and the 200 km took me 4 hours. As a bonus i saw several fortified churches along my route.
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    But finally at 2300 and riding almost 3 hr in the dark i found a hotel and crashed for the night. It was a nice hotel and only cost me 60 ron(about 14 euro). But the name slipped my mind. Its located at the roundabout where Transfagarasen ends on the north side.

    Next time i might be riding the North side of the pass.
    #32
  13. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,465
    Really enjoying your report! Thanks so much for taking the time and energy to write it for us! Sometimes kids ARE up to no good and you have to trust your own judgement in the matter, because losing all your gear would have ruined your trip. Looking forward to reading more. :clap:clap
    #33
  14. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Nov 7, 2009
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    Bucharest
    Johnny, I congratulate you for keeping the RR as up to date as possible giving your narrow time-frame.

    I am very happy that you enjoyed your first visit to Romania and I hope it will not be your last.

    Cheile Bicazului pass are indeed quite nice. And related to your question, there was a fortress called "Cetatea Neamtului" a few kilometers away from it, that serverd protecting all the passes in the area that linked the province of Moldova with the province of Transilvania. I think you passed near it when you were in Targu Neamt.

    Hope you are enjoying Bulgaria and Turkey. How was Istanbul traffic? :)
    #34
  15. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
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    3,536
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    :clap:clap:clap Love the travel stories and pictures from that part of Europe. Thanks for the work of sharing your travels. Keep it coming. :clap:clap:clap
    #35
  16. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    Norway
    Thanx for the information. I love stuff like that.

    Istanbul trafic was insane. You where right about that. Used 2 hr to get down to Hagia Sophia and 2 hr to get back out. The GTR tryed to be a scooter so we maneged in the end.
    #36
  17. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    245
    Location:
    Norway
    Next day i woke up at 0530 and looked out the window at the mountains.
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    They where calling for me. There where a few clouds and morning mist but i knew that would not spoil my ride up Transfagarase's north side.
    About half a hour later i was all set and ready to go. got my stuff down and would you know it my bike was still right where i parked it in front of the main doors. The lady in the reception had a surprised look on her face when i was this early. After all i had only been there a little less then 7 hours and she knew i was a tourist. I had to state why i was visiting Romania on a form when checking in and i wrote tourist. AAAHH tourist she said loud and smiled. Maybe she don't have that many at this time of the year, or at all. I don't know.
    After just a couple of kilometers the road started to climb up into the mountains and the next 20 or so was great. But then i reached a roadblock made of concrete blocks. There was a gap between them, big enough for my bike and i thought: What is the worst thing that could happen and i pushed on between the blocks.
    The road went on going up and it just got more and more beautiful. Breath taking views to the front and right hand side.
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    But the road was full of small and big stones. Some as big as a couch.
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    One of those could easily ruin a otherwise perfect day, so i was going slow. After a little while there was snow covering almost all of the road. I found a narrow strip close to the edge and got around them all until i reached 1640 meters. The road was gone completely under the snow.
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    I parked and walked the next couple of hundred meters to get this view.

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    I thought about spending some time clearing away some of the snow. Looked at the wet slippery grass beside the road, but in the end decided i would not push my luck and head back down again. On the way back my head was full of thoughts. Happy that i got to ride most of the north side of the pass, and sad that i could not do it all. Maybe i will need to come back for this later in life. At least i can now say i have ridden most of the north side of
    Transfagarasen pass.
    About midway going down i meet a front loader going up. I thought to my self, i hope he is not on his way to clear snow, and if he is i hope i never find out. I was suprised that he did not even look at me as i was coming down this closed off road where i should not be. Maybe he is just so used to it i thought, or he is laughing his ass off now as he improved the road block......

    And sure enough
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    He did. The gap was gone and i seemed to be stuck. Another car drove up to the roadblock on the other side, looked at me and turned around. Maybe he was laughing to. Maybe the front loader operator saw me going up and thought he would teach me a lesson.

    But they did not know I was not a average biker, but no less then a resourceful ADV rider. Did a roadblock stop Colebatch in Chernobyl or Anjinsan in Mexico. I looked at my options and the curb was 6 inches high and that would be hard to get up with my bike. But he had left me with enough material to build a ramp.
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    So i got to work. Carried the panniers and top box over and drove up the ramp and down the other side.

    Ha.. I was feeling that whatever Romania would throw at me i could handle it. Rivers roadblocks or virgins.. Bring it on! Well still not seen any of these virgins but I'm sure i would have handled that to.
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    Now i set my course for Bran castle, this would be my last stop before Bucharest where i would meet up with Anjinsan and Andrea again. On the way i passed thru several villages and small towns.

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    Do this men i can go back to my dirty old self?


    I also had a longer stop in Fagaras, at the old castle. It is impressive with its thick walls and wide moat. It was open but no sign of any activity. A few information posters told a short history of the towers but beside that not much information.
    http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/romania/ss/RomaniaCastles_5.htm

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    The road from Fagaras to Brasov where a faily new road with perfect hard surface and 100 km/t speed limit. I stretched this limit a little and where enjoying myself, on the winding roads as it passed over and around the rolling hills of this area.

    Close to Bran city i passed another fortress and was tempted to make a stop. But decided not to as i was ready for Bucharest.
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    Bran castle was a beautiful picturesque castle sitting on top of a cliff. Bran itself was transformed into a tourist machine supporting the castle and i was not to comfortable and quickly walked the steep track up to the castle. It was beautiful restored and complete with furniture and other items appropriate to its time period. About 5 euros to enter and totally worth it.

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bran_Castle
    It had a couple of towers, but i found no virgins in any of them.

    At this time i was getting hungry as i had still not yet eaten breakfast. So i bought me something that was freshly backed over a fire. The name escapes me but maybe Alex can fill in what it was if he sees the picture.

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    It tasted wonderful,

    Time to get back on the road, and it was another great winding road going over mountains for the first 2 hours or so. then it continued onto the plains that Bucharest sits on and that was more dull. The traffic was getting worse and worse as i got closer to. There was some very aggressive drivers, overtaking me with just inches to spare but i did reach the apartment area where i was to meet up with Alex and Andrea. The gps did not take me to the exact address but missed by one street. Alex asked me on the phone what the area looked like. and my reply was: I'm under some trees between tall apartment blocks. That would describe 95% of Bucharest. It took some phone use before we where able to teem up again. In the end i was found, rescued and fed.

    Andrea cooked us dinner and later we went out to see and hear a traditional Romanian music group perform. Alex would not join us as he had work in the morning. We had desserts and i disappointed by going for something as plain as ice cream. (its my adventure - i'll eat what i want to:)
    The musicians were playing at the tables, one table at the time doing requests and me and Andrea was afraid they would think we where a couple and play something romantic. So when he approached our table i warded him off by saying we where Norwegians and would not know what to request. He then started playing a few norwegian traditional tunes and that took me by surprise. I did not see that coming.
    Andre took me around down town showing me some of the buildings that looked better in artificial lighting then they did during day time. Her knowledge and passion for the city was impressive. Sadly both my cameras was out of battery so no pictures from this walk.

    Every so often there would be a derelict building in between the others. And apparently this is a problem in Bucharest as most of the buildings where occupied by the communist regime and given to officials. Now there are trials as the rightful owners who were kicked out 40 years ago want the buildings back. And while this go on the buildings fall into disrepair.
    It is sad and i hope they manage to sort it quickly.

    Next day it will be more touring of Bucharest and then off to Bulgaria. And a look at the most impressive monument i have ever seen.
    #37
  18. MudEverywhere

    MudEverywhere Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    south east Pennsylvania
    good stuff ! :lurk
    #38
  19. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    245
    Location:
    Norway
    Alex said goodbye the next morning and left for work. Me and Andrea got ready and took the subway down to the centrum of Bucharest.
    First we went to see the unknown soldiers grave in Carol Park.

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    This is just infront of King Carol I of Romanias mauseoleum.

    I have been to several of these graves in different cities, and the one in Budapest and Bucharest where a bonus.
    From there we walked toward the Palace of Parliament. Witch is the 2nd biggest office building in the world, After The Pentagon in Washington DC. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.
    Lots of buildings to see. Some beautiful and some... lets say interesting. I particularly where impressed by the wiring. wonder what the circuit diagram looks like.

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    On the way we stopped for lunch and i had some Romanian sausage.

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    Very different from the Norwegian sausage I'm used to.

    The the building i wanted to see. And it was no less impressive then i thought.

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    This building where built as a separate addition to the Palace of Parliament(guess they needed more room) but at the time of the revolution it was not completed and most likely never will.
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    Next was a visit to the university square where the revolution started. On the way there we stopped at the local Louis motorbike accessory store and i got myself a pair of vented hot weather gloves, my fingers where cooking in the gloves i had.
    Today the square was quiet. Guess the students where in class. And there is no need for a revolution any more, so they have time for studying.

    this is a fountain on the student square.

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    Bucharest was a busy big city with fast moving traffic and people all over.

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    I would love to go back to this city with more time as one day is not nearly enough. Again Andrea impressed me with her knowledge of the city. All statues and buildings we passes she would know the history off. It is nice to meet someone so passionate and interested in the city they live in. If you ever find yourself on the way to Bucharest you should try to convince her to hire her for a day as a tour guide, it would be worth it.

    We said goodbye to each other and i do hope that our Travel's again cross. Alex and Andrea, you two made my visit to Romania so more better.

    Romania where so different from what i thought. The people so friendly and helpful. There where so many contrast. The flat plains and the high mountains. The rich and the poor people. i think most of those i passed on my travels in Romania will never have the possibility to travel like i have. But i wish them all good luck and i hope the future bring better times for them all.
    One thing that surprised me was that some times on the countryside the building reminded me of the farmhouses i have seen in ride reports from Russia. There where also so many unique buildings to Romania.
    And I'm sure many inmates here will be interested in hearing that the girls where different from what I'm used to in Scandinavia and also western Europe. They dressed very different, more provocative and sexy. I where there on a tuesday and Wednesday but the girls looked more like it was saturday night.

    I hope some day i will return. Hopefully with my wife and daughter to show them what a great place it is. Romanians in Norway have a bad reputation and I'm glad to say that again its a few rotten apples that spoil the whole barrel of apples.

    Im my way out of Bucharest i saw the Palace again at the end of a wide avenue. So i decided to ride up there one last time and get a picture with my bike.

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    There where a news team van parked beside me. With a TV camera on a tripod beside.
    I thought he must know how to take a good picture and I asked if he could. Sure enough he was happy to. But I must say I have seen better pictures.

    I heeded south toward the border and used my last Romanian Leu to fill up my bike and crossed into Bulgaria. A quick look at my passport and i where accepted in. Thats one of the advantages of being a Norwegian i guess. Most countries welcome us. Except China maybe.

    I did not have many plans for Bulgaria but i did want to do a stop at Veliko Tarnovo. This is a old city, and a UNESCO site. Built on narrow hill with steep slopes on each side. The buildings almost on top of each other. Some places they even are.

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    Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo.
    I did a speed sightseeing of the town from my bike and snapped a few pictures before i got back on the road again. My next goal was Buzludzha monument, A monument i had not heard off, before reading a ride report here on ADV. After another fantastic road with tight corners. I ended up behind a local in his car and this where perfect. He most likely knew the road by heart and it was fun to try to keep up with him.
    I reached the monument as it was getting dark.

    I could see it but i decided i needed daylight. The monument is in the middle of nowhere inside a national park. The last 8 km of road where in bad shape and it did not look like it had beed maintained for 20 years at least. I pitched my tent. Ate a little and did a bit of writing on my report. I expected it to be cold as this was 1400 meters above sea level, but it was not at all.

    [​IMG]

    I went to sleep, full of thoughts about the next day. Visiting the monument and another big city.[​IMG]
    #39
  20. IslandMonkey

    IslandMonkey Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    516
    Location:
    Manchester(ish), England
    This is great, thanks for posting it. You mentioned 'contrasts' earlier and that is the best thing about this kind of trip to me. Riding through northern, central and southern Europe and ending up in Turkey provides just that.
    #40