The next stretch takes me to Sibiu. For the first part the road is nice, with curves that climb up to the 1287 m of the Bucin pass; some fun at last. I ride through Sighisoara and other cute towns. Along the way I notice some stalls that sell a bit of everything, from souvenirs to copies of animals, pots and different objects made of copper, iron, aluminum or wood. The merchants are gypsies, an ethnic group widely present in this area: their women color their hair in shades that go from yellow to red and wear lively colored skirts. There are also many kids, while the men wear a black hat with a round brim around their head. Before reaching Sibiu, I go visit the church-fortress of Biertan, as suggested by my friend Michele. Beautiful and impressive, Christian-Evangelical not Orthodox, one expects Templar knights to enter at any moment, as in The Da Vinci Code.
In the afternoon I reach Sibiu, where I will be Domenico’s guest for three days, he’s Stefania Gnoato’s brother (who I met while preparing for my trip to South America). The two itineraries I scheduled for the two following days, are two “Biker’s” roads, two roads opposite to one another in their development.
The first, the Transalpina road, about 135 km long, divides into three sections. The first runs through fir woods to the Oasa manmade lake, with enjoyable bends. Then it starts to climb, the vegetation disappears, the road becomes more interesting for the snaking hairpin turns. The third section climbs to the Urdele pass at a height of 2145 m, a temperature of 18°, low clouds and many bikers from everywhere (France, Serbia, Hungary, Ireland, Germany …). All in all, an entertaining road with a good blacktop. I climb down and return to Sibiu using state highway no. 7 (somewhat of an obround itinerary). It’s an important route, Domenico warned me, many trucks, not bad landscape-wise but a terrible thoroughfare.
The second itinerary, the Transfagarasan road, is indicated by everybody as a legendary route. About 75 km long, made under Ceausescu to move military troups (1970/74), it hasn’t been maintained as its fame would suggest. The pavement is terrible, it has rained the night before and dirt and tree branches are scattered all over the road making the way more difficult. Besides the first stretch which develops nicely and is a pleasant view from the top, there is not much to this road other than the dam that creates a considerable artificial lake. The road climbs to almost 2000 m, the temperature is 12/16°. It starts to rain and on my way back to Sibiu I pass through Bran, which is linked to the Dracula Castle, but I am disappointed: a lot of stalls surround the stronghold, as well as people and buses. It’s not worth it.
The day after I leave early for Bucharest.
During the way, I visit the Peles Castle in Sinaia. It’s more a fortified palace than a castle, but the building that houses the museum is remarkable. The level road turns into a highway after Ploiesti.
Bucharest: a big city, wide arteries, with the Dambovita river flowing through it, it reminds me of Budapest, with the enormous structure of the Parliament (it’s one of the city’s symbols, made by Ceausescu after razing neighborhoods and villages in the area) and the Unirii square.
There is a lot of traffic, as in any capital, with interesting historic buildings, such as the orthodox church of Stavrooleos made in 1724. The Arcul de Triumf, an arc similar to the one in Paris but smaller, and then back to the Parliament palace, imposing, like the image of power it wanted to transmit during the Iron Curtain period.