Having not had much time off lately I decided to seize the opportunity to mix business with pleasure and go on a road trip to Cluj that encompassed Maramures and Alba Iulia in my compact but nippy Peugeot 107. I must admit I was a little apprehensive as I havent really driven long distances in Romania for at least 10 years. Prior to that I had driven to the UK and back several times. I departed one extremely wet Thursday morning and made my way to the motorway and across to Pitesti having first to fill up the tank. Here is where the “fun” begins!
By Dean Edgar
The rain was torrential and visibility poor, and puddles, no, make that small lakes, were everywhere, must have bottomed my suspension at least 10 times and I hadn’t even left Bucharest. The stretch of road leading up to the highway was stop/start all the way, drivers ignoring traffic lights, pedestrians doing the same, took me an hour to get to the OMV just before the start of the motorway. So stocked up with energy bars and water I hit the highway, with the monsoon conditions still in full effect. I am driving to the conditions, at approximately 50 km/h, with the windscreen wipers going like the clappers, I can probably see 10 meters ahead of me, yet there are cars passing me doing at least 100 km/h if not more, bloody idiots!
Leaving the motorway and heading for Ramnicu Valcea then to Sibiu, and from here the road follows the River Olt and is a beautiful journey, very picturesque with the mountains rising up from the river, but you don’t get much chance to see the view as the truck drivers and car drivers don’t seem to care about bends when overtaking. There were so many near misses, absolutely incredible, the Darwin Awards would have a field day here. I managed to get through that challenge and hit the new Sibiu bypass, a delight by Romanian standards, but despite it’s youth it has its share of potholes, guess with all that money spent, someone forget the maintenance deal. But the highway offers another type of driver. Don’t dare move to the outside lane to overtake another vehicle unless you are doing 150 km/h plus! Porches, BMW’s, White Van man and other retards will sit a couple of meters behind you, flashing their headlights expecting you to immediately get out the way. Where the blazes do they expect me to go?
I made it to Cluj-Napoca in about 7 hours, body buzzing with the adrenaline, to go to my meeting then watch the football, with some fellow expats based in Cluj. The rest of the trip north to a small village near Sigheti was just the same and after four fantastic days in a small hotel sampling the great food and great scenery and the traditional village life, I headed south to Alba Iulia, another meeting and more football, I finally made it back to Bucharest. Despite the road conditions and piss poor drivers, I will more than likely do it again, my little car performed superbly and there are many places I have yet to see in the country despite being here for over 12 years. I will be the one driving as I was taught – cautiously and with due consideration for other road users.
Until the next time.