This is our first day in Transylvania and we are staying in a fairly rural, but not remote, area. It isn’t uncommon to see horses or cattle grazing at the side of the road. Horse and buggies are not unusual. Mike said that I had to mention that when we drive on the “main” rural roads we have to be careful of all the horse poop in our way. There are a lot of sheep and shepherds. Occasionally you even see people looking after just one or two cows or horses. You often see individual horses tethered to the side of the road.
Mike and I biked 42 km today which was somewhat unplanned. We biked to the small town of Orăștie, which is about 15 km away. We tried to avoid the busy roads with the aggressive drivers. For a couple of kilometres we ended up on a very bumpy gravel road which was not really comfortable. We biked through some very small villages. The red tiled roofs everywhere look very quaint to us. We saw the traditional older women, dressed all in black including the black headscarf, very much like you see in movies and on TV. There would be individuals sitting on their front step, smiling at us as we biked past.
In the near distance we could see green and brown mountains that I am sure we will drive through shortly with the car. Behind them you can see a row of mountains where the peaks are completely covered in white ice and snow. Apparently, the high alpine passes don’t open here until June.
Coming home from Orăștie we decided to take a different route. It was a little longer and crossed the Mureș river twice. If you zoom in on our map to where we are staying now, near Aurel Vlaicu (currently a blue 8), you can follow our bike route which is shown in green. You will see the green line get to the river Mureș, near the village of Folt……..and then turn around and return to Orăștie. We got to the river and our first thought was that our mapping program was wrong and there was no bridge. As we got close to the water’s edge we could see a big steel cable going across the river and a large raft on the other side. Obviously, the raft was still used to transport people across the river. The problem was that there was no-one around and no way to get the raft over to our side. We called across but got no answer. After looking around for about 10 minutes we got back on the bikes to leave when we saw 2 men on the other side. One had a bicycle and they were getting on the raft. We were excited. This meant that we would be able to cross the river and do it in great fashion. The men had to work some cranks to get the raft angled so that the water would push it across to us. The big problem happened when the raft got to about 10 feet from our shore. It stopped! The water was too low and there were a lot of large rocks in the river which prevented the raft from landing. The two men didn’t look very surprised. The “passenger” took off his shoes, rolled up his pants, and stepped off the raft. You could tell that the water was cold and there must have been uncomfortable stones under his bare feet. The raft “pilot” handed the passenger his bicycle which he carried through the water to the shore. He had to go back to get his parcels that he also had with him. I thought that he was going to fall down in the water at any moment.
Mike and I looked at each other and knew that there wasn’t a chance that we were doing this. We would ride back to Orăștie before we tried to get out to the raft with our heavy electric bikes, batteries, etc. The incident caused our ride to be about 12 km longer, but it certainly added interest to it.
Riding back, we ended up on that same rough, gravel road again. We were behind a horse and cart with 2 men. The driver and passenger spent so much time watching us that they accidentally drove the wagon up over a huge pile of dirt and rock. They almost lost both the wagon and the horses. It was a little scary. Mike and I are finding rural Romania to be fascinating.