It’s been 100 days since we crossed the English Channel and we have travelled 5,599.4 miles.
Team Basil all woke up in the beautiful Romanian sunshine feeling hale and hearty. All, that is, except Basil, who had been looking in his mirrors and thought he looked pale. I explained to him that since he was painted white at the factory, looking pale was inevitable. He didn’t look convinced and said he was glad we were getting out of Bran.
Something seemed to have been sucking SatNav’s juice too. When I set course for our next stop he told me it was 250 miles and would take 7 hours! I knew our next stop was only 100 miles and when I looked at his map screen he seemed to be taking us on two enormous loops as if he had an allergy to the main road! After much pressing of touch screen the only thing that seemed to sort him out was to change Basil’s profile from “large motorhome” to “small motorhome”, which made Basil’s chest swell with pride. Since our route was entirely on a main road, I don’t know why this made a difference. We’ll have to keep an eye on that unreliable box of wires.
Our journey today has confirmed to us that Romania is a beautiful country. Today there were no large mountains but instead rolling hills with forests on the tops and a mixture of arable and pastural farming in the valleys. The villages continue to be pretty, which a distinctive Romanian style, houses mostly in a good state of repair with well tended gardens.
There clearly is still rural poverty, but it is much more hidden than in Bulgaria. We saw numerous horses and carts playing an active agricultural role and even one horse ploughing. Flocks of sheep are invariably tended by a shepherd and dog.
Our main aim today was to visit the town of Sighisoara. It has been given UNESCO World Heritage status because it is one of the best examples of a fortified town in Europe. Much of it dates to the 13th and 14th centuries when the King of Hungary (Transylvania was part of Hungary then) invited German Saxon merchants and craftsmen to establish towns in Transylvania in exchange for defending the frontiers of his kingdom.
What is left is a full set of walls with towers set at various intervals and within those walls hundreds of original houses and other buildings set in cobbled streets on top of a hill. We parked up at the bottom of the hill as close to the old city as we could manage and were immediately surrounded by begging children. Whether these are Roma people or not I don’t know, but we gave them short shrift. There were signs asking visitors not to give anything to the beggars. Like the beggars we came across in Lidl car parks in Greece, they were well fed and clothed and there was nothing to suggest that they were in need. It is probably just a way for their parents to make additional income.
The town itself was very picturesque. Much about it looked German, which given it’s Saxon roots is not surprising. Sarah, the dogs and I wandered the narrow cobbled streets admiring the multicoloured buildings and the rather unique defensive towers. One of the largest towers has at some stage been turned into a clock tower complete with small animated models which come out at various times of the day. I don’t know if it still works. We certainly didn’t see any whirling marionettes. Even in Sighisoara we could not exscape Vlad the Impaler. He was apparently born here and the house where he first poked his vicious head into the world is still standing. So there are various tasteful Dracula references, but what really tickled us was a restaurant which proudly boasted “Dracular never entered here!”. I hope they do well!
We were tempted by some rather delicious looking ice cream but Sarah reminded me that we have had our ice cream ration for the month when we succumbed to a rather sickly Mr. Whippy in Bran yesterday.
Having spent about 2 hours in Sighisoara we headed north for an hour or so to our overnight stop at Camping Vasskert (46.591064, 25.073208) in Sovata. It is another very well laid out campsite. I’ve seen it described as being in a back garden, and although that is technically true, it is a huge back garden and has been very well laid out as a campsite, except the wifi is woeful. The owner only speaks Romanian and German, so I dusted off my third form German and we seemed to communicate reasonably well. It is amazing how much you remember of things learned young. I wish my memory was as good these days!