Camper Trip in Romania – Itinerary

RO: Nu am avut un plan foarte structurat, pentru ca voiam sa profitam de cel mai mare avantaj pe care il ofera o autorulota: flexibilitatea. Nu voiam sa alergam sa ajungem la o anumita destinatie, ci sa ne bucuram de fiecare loc frumos pe care il gaseam pe drum. Insa am conturat un plan si am facut o mica lista cu locurile in care ne doream sa ajungem: Transfagarasan, Maramures, Oradea, Apuseni, Transalpina, in linii foarte mari (pe parcursul calatoriei am schimbat insa destul de mult acest itinerariu, in functie de vreme sau pur si simplu pentru ca am realizat ca nu era fezabil sa ajungem in locurile mai indepartate). Am fi vrut sa structuram fiecare zi, lucru pe care am incercat sa il facem de altfel, dar ne dadeam seama ca daca intram foarte mult in detaliu, cu stabilit locurile in care sa campam si traseul foarte exact pe zile, ajungeam tot la constrangerile unei vacante normale, cu masina si cu cazat la hoteluri. Asa ca am lasat lucrurile sa… curga de la sine πŸ™‚

EN: We didn’t have a well structured plan because we wanted to make the most of the biggest advantage a campervan can offer: flexibility. We didn’t have a certain destination to reach, we just wanted to enjoy every nice place we would have found on the way. But we eventually made a plan and a list with the places we wanted to see: Transfagarasan, Maramures, Oradea, Apuseni, Transalpina were the main attractions (but on the way we had to change this itinerary either because of the weather or just because it was not feasible to reach some of the far away places). We wanted to to organize each day, we actually tried to do it but eventually we realized that if we would have planned all the details, with all the camping sites and a precise itinerary for each day, we would have ended having a normal trip by car and hotel accommodation. So we let everything slide πŸ™‚

RO: Pe parcursul calatoriei ne-am dat seama ca am face un ocol destul de mare pentru a ajunge in Oradea, asa ca pe ultima suta de metri am hotarat sa lasam pe alta data Oradea πŸ™‚ Ulterior, vazand ca ritmul de condus autorulota era destul de incet, am facut acelasi lucru si cu Maramures. Am fi putut sa ajungem cel mult o zi acolo, pe care cel mai probabil am fi petrecut-o cu mocanita (de dragul lui Alexei, care astepta cu mare interes sa mearga cu trenul care face “ciuciu”). Asa ca am decis sa lasam si Maramuresul pe alta data si sa cautam o mocanita mai aproape de zona in care ne aflam. Cu ocazia aceasta am aflat ca exista 8 mocanite in Romania (cea din Maramures, cea din Bucovina – Hutulca, la Sovata, la Criscior, la Teaca in Bistrita, la Covasna, la Abrud si la Anina). Cateva dintre ele erau deja inchise la final de septembrie (functionau doar pe perioada verii) asa ca am ales sa mergem la cea din Sovata.

EN: During our trip we realized that it would be quite a big detour to reach Oradea, so we eventually decided not to go. Then, seeing that driving with the campervan was quite slow, we did the same with Maramures. We could have stayed there maximum one day and we would have spent it at the narrow gauge railway (for Alexei, who was so excited to go with the “choo-choo” train). So we finally decided that we should go to Maramures some other time and search for a closer narrow gauge railway. With this occasion we found out that there are 8 narrow gauge railways in Romania (one from Maramures, one in Bucovina – Hutulca, one in Sovata, one in Criscior, Teaca in Bistrita, Covasna, Abrud and Anina). Some of them were already closed at the end of September (they were active only during summer time) so we decided to go to Sovata narrow gauge railway.

RO: Drumurile zilnice nu au fost foarte lungi, insa au fost destul de obositoare. Chiar daca autorulota era foarte, foarte confortabila (pentru locuit in ea) la drum era destul de dificil. Nu puteam merge repede, se auzeau tot soiul de zgomote in masina (lucru perfect normal, se miscau obiectele din dulapuri si rafturi) si chiar daca nu ne-a frustrat deloc calitatea drumurilor din Romania (stiam exact in ce ne bagam, asa ca nu am avut asteptari de drumuri olandeze cand am pornit in aceasta vacanta), ni s-a parut destul de complicat de condus o masina atat de voluminoasa pe drumuri atat de inguste. Iar pe alocuri (nu peste tot, dar in suficient de multe zone), se conducea foarte periculos. Depasiri neregulamentare, claxoane, tot tacamul de comportamente nepotrivite in trafic ne-au stresat si obosit psihic destul de mult. In plus, Alexei nu prea a agreat deloc scaunul de masina, nu reusea sa adoarma mai deloc la pranz in masina, era destul de irascibil si voia sa oprim foarte des. Sau poate ca nu scaunul in sine a fost problema, cat faptul ca masina era foarte mare si senzatia era complet diferita pentru el fata de masina noastra. Asa ca de multe ori am fost nevoiti sa oprim pe marginea drumului ca Alexei sa poata dormi, astfel ca in final planurile stabilite initial au fost date peste cap complet πŸ™‚

EN: Our daily road trips weren’t long, but they’ve been quite tiring. Even if the campervan was very comfortable (for living), when we were driving it was quite difficult. We had to drive slowly, there was a lot of noise in the car (which is normal, as objects were moving everywhere in the cabinets) and even if we haven’t been frustrated because of the quality of the roads (we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into, so we didn’t expect Dutch roads when we started this holiday) but we found it quite complicated to drive such a big car on such narrow roads. And in some places (not everywhere, but it happened quite often), people were driving in a dangerous way. Illegal overtakings, horn and, all sort of inappropriate behavior in traffic stressed us and exhausted us quite a lot. Besides, Alexei didn’t like the car seat at all, he didn’t want to fall asleep at noon in the car, he was a bit cranky and wanted us to stop quite often. Or maybe the car seat wasn’t a problem but the car itself, being so large and completely different from our small car. So most often we had to stop on the edge of the road so that Alexei can sleep at noon so our initial plans were completely messed up πŸ™‚

RO: Desi in prima faza aveam un plan de aproape 10 zile cu autorulota, in final am renuntat la ultimele doua pentru ca eram prea… obositi πŸ™‚ Pornisem in aceasta vacanta deja epuizati dupa o perioada foarte dificila si am crezut ca aceste zile cu autorulota vor fi extrem, extrem de relaxante (poate ca ar fi fost daca plecam la drum cu ceva mai multa energie si un itinerariu mai scurt). Totusi, punand intregul traseu pe hartie, nu pare ca am facut extrem de multe (chiar daca in final traseul initial a fost scurtat foarte mult), insa am renuntat de mult la a mai alerga in excursii si incercam sa ne bucuram de ce vedem fara sa mai contorizam cate orase sau obiective am bifat. Astfel ca itinerariul nostru cu autorulota a fost urmatorul:

EN: Even though we initially had a 10 days planned trip with the campervan, in the end we had to give up to the last 2 days because we were… too tired πŸ™‚ We started this vacation already exhausted after a very difficult period and we thought that these days with the campervan will be extremely relaxing (maybe they would have been if we would have started the trip with a bit more energy and a shorter itinerary). However, putting everything in written, it doesn’t seem that we’ve done too much (even if in the end the itinerary was shortened), but we no longer want to visit too much but to enjoy the places we see without counting them. So our campervan trip was the following one:

RO: Ziua 1 – Curtea de Arges
Am plecat seara tarziu (dupa ora 21:00) si am campat aproape de Curtea de Arges (Camping Arges). Nu obisnuim sa plecam noaptea la drum, mai ales cu Alexei, insa ne-am gandit sa salvam doua ore de condus din ziua urmatoare, cand planuiam sa trecem de Transfagarasan. Nu a fost neaparat o idee buna, pentru ca am fost foarte agitati, atat cu incarcarea rulotei (care a durat neasteptat de mult timp, aproximativ doua ore) cat si cu drumul in sine, pentru ca Alexei nu reusea sa adoarma, chiar daca trecuse cu mult ora lui de somn. Campingul in care am oprit a fost foarte dragut si fiind o zi de luni, eram singurii din camping (de fapt in multe alte campinguri am fost singuri, cel mai probabil din cauza finalului de sezon).

EN: Day 1 – Curtea de Arges
We left late in the evening (after 9PM) and we camped close to Curtea de Arges (Camping Arges). We don’t usually drive in the evening, especially with Alexei, but we just wanted to save two hours of driving from the next day, when we planned to see Transfagarasan. It wasn’t quite a good idea because we’ve been quite nervous, first because we had to pack the campervan (which took us a lot of time, approximately two hours) and then the driving itself, as Alexei couldn’t fall asleep, even though it was past his bedtime. The camping where we stopped was really nice and because it was on a Monday, we were the only ones in the camping (actually in many other campings we’ve been the only tourists, probably because of the end of the season).

RO: Ziua 2 – Transfaragarasan
Nu mai fusesem de 9 ani pe acest drum asa ca ne-am gandit ca este ocazia perfecta. Stiam ca prima parte a drumului, pana la Balea Lac, nu este tocmai grozava, si intr-adevar asa fost. Erau foarte multe gropi astfel ca se miscau toate lucrurile prin autorulota, ceea ce ne-a facut sa mergem mult mai incet decat am fi sperat (oricum mergeam incet si eram constienti ca nu vom putea conduce pe un astfel de drum la fel de usor cum am fi facut-o cu o masina mica, insa drumul a fost mult mai lent decat ne-am asteptat). Nu am oprit la Balea Lac, desi am fi vrut, pentru ca era extrem de aglomerat (am ajuns destul de dimineata si cu toate acestea era plin de lume) si nu am gasit un loc de parcare. Asa ca am mers mai departe, in zona curbelor ace de par si am gasit un spatiu mai larg unde am putut sa oprim cu autorulota. Ne-am ferit de opririle pe marginea drumului in spatiile amenajate, ne pareau destul de micute, dar locul acesta (apare si in pozele de mai jos) a fost suficient de larg si sigur. A fost de fapt locul unde am stat cel mai mult, pana aproape de lasarea serii, cand ne-am indreptat catre camping. Stiam de pe aplicatia park4night ca in localitatea Carta exista un camping foarte frumos, al unor olandezi (de Oude Wilg), cu reviewuri foarte bune si multe facilitati (inclusiv loc de joaca pentru copii), asa ca am oprit acolo pentru doua nopti (nu planuiam sa stam mai mult de o noapte intr-un loc dar ne-a placut mult acolo).

EN: Day 2 – Transfagarasan
We haven’t been on this road for more than 9 years so we thought that it was the perfect occasion. We knew that the first part of the road, until we reached Balea Lake, will not be so great and so it was. There were lots of potholes on the road so everything was moving around in the campervan, which made us drive even slower than we expected (we knew that we will not be able to drive at the same speed as we would have done it with a normal car but it was really, really slow). We didn’t stop at Balea lake, even if we would have wanted to, because it was extremely crowded (we got there in the morning and it was packed full of people) and we didn’t find a parking lot. So we moved on, to the long S curves where we found a larger place where we could stop with the campervan. We avoided the parking places on the adge of the road as they seemed a bit too tight for a campervan but this place (it can be seen in the photos below) was pretty large and safe. And we stayed there for quite a while, until dusk when we headed to the camping site. We knew from park4night app that there was a nice camping in Carta village, that belonged to some Dutch people (de Oude Wilg), with good reviews and lots of facilities (including a playground for kids) so we stopped there for two nights (we haven’t planned staying more than one night in a location but we loved this place too much).

RO: Ziua 3 – Camping de Oude Wilg
Dupa cum spuneam mai sus, aceasta a fost ziua in care nu am facut nimic. Dar absolut nimic, pur si simplu am stat in camping si ne-am bucurat de vremea buna. Nu am iesit nici macar la un supermarket πŸ™‚

EN: Day 3 – Camping de Oude Wilg
As we were saying above, this was the day we did nothing. Absolutely nothing, we just stayed in the campsite and enjoyed the good weather. We didn’t even go out to a supermarket πŸ™‚

RO: Ziua 4 – Mocanita Sovata
Planul initial era sa mergem in Maramures special pentru mocanita. Stiam ca nu aveam suficient timp sa stam mai multe zile, insa voiam sa vada Alexei mocanita (de altfel highlight-ul excursiei, stia inca de acasa ca urma sa facem asta). Doar ca pe parcursul calatoriei ne-am dat seama ca era destul de dificil sa mergem pana acolo, erau multe ore de condus iar programul cu mocanita ne-ar fi ocupat o zi intreaga (dureaza trei ore dus, trei ore intors, plus o pauza de aproximativ 30 minute la finalul traseului). Asa ca am decis sa cautam alternative si in final am ales cea mai apropiata mocanita de locul in care ne aflam: Mocanita Sovata. Nu imi dau seama daca este mai putin spectaculoasa decat cea din Maramures (probabil ca da), singura comparatie pe care o putem face este cu cea de la Hutulca, din Bucovina. Si ne-au parut destul de similare cele doua. Oricum, focusul nostru fiind pe mocanita in sine (pentru Alexei) si nu pe privelisti si peisaje, nu ni s-a parut foarte important pe unde treceam neaparat. A durat putin, a trecut prin padure si chiar ne-a placut mult πŸ™‚ La finalul zilei am campat in campingul Mustang din Campu Cetatii, unde ne-a placut chiar mai mult decat in de Oude Wilg. Eram doar noi si inca o autorulota in tot campingul (care este de fapt intr-o livada de meri in mijlocul unei paduri), am avut mult spatiu de joaca pentru Alexei, multe jucarii de curte de la copiii gazdelor, trambulina si multa, multa liniste.

EN: Day 4 – Sovata Narrow Gauge Railway
The initial plan was to go to Maramures for the narrow gauge railway. We knew we didn’t have enough time to stay there several days, but we wanted Alexei to see the narrow gauge railway (which was actually the highlight of the trip, he knew that we were going to do this since we left the house). But during the trip we realized that it was quite difficult to get there, there were too many hours of driving and the trip with the narrow gauge railway would have taken us a whole day (it takes three hours to go, three hours back, plus a break about 30 minutes at the end of the route). So we decided to look for alternatives and in the end we have chosen the nearest narrow gauge railway to where we were: Sovata. We don’t know if it is less spectacular than the one in Maramures (maybe it is), the only comparison we can make is with the one in Hutulca, in Bucovina. And we found the two quite similar. Anyway, our focus was on the train itself (for Alexei) and not on the views and landscapes, so it didn’t seem very important to us where we were going. It was really nice, it went through the forest and we really liked it πŸ™‚ At the end of the day we camped in the Mustang camping in Campu Cetatii, where we liked it even more than Oude Wilg camping. It was just us and another caravan in the whole campsite (which is actually in an apple orchard in the middle of a forest), we had plenty of space for Alexei, many yard toys from the hosts’ children, trampoline and tranquility.

RO: Ziua 5 &6 – Cluj
Pentru Cluj ne-am alocat o zi si jumatate. Si pentru ca voiam sa vedem cateva locuri din imprejurimile Clujului, dar mai ales pentru ca voiam sa petrecem putin timp cu prietenii nostri din Cluj. Am vazut castelul Banfy (nu am fost niciodata), stufarisurile de la Sic la apus (absolut superba zona aceea), am mers putin in centrul orasului si am incercat un restaurant vegetarian care ne-a placut la nebunie (Samsara). A fost mai dificil de gasit un camping frumos in preajma Clujului, asa ca am in prima seara am campat la campingul Het Zwaluwnest de langa Dej (gasit tot pe park4night), urmand ca a doua zi sa oprim la Cheile Turzii, intr-un camping nou si foarte frumos (Camping Cheile Turzii).

EN: Day 5&6 – Cluj
We scheduled one day and a half for Cluj. Because we wanted to see some places around Cluj but especially because we wanted to spend some time with our friends from Cluj. We’ve seen Banfy Castle (we’ve never seen it) and the rush bed fields from Sic at sunset (an absolutely amazing area), we’ve been in Cluj center and we tried a vegetarian restaurant that we loved (Samsara). It was a bit hard to find a nice camping close to Cluj so in the first night we camped at Het Zwaluwnest camping close to Dej (found it on park4night) and the next evening we stayed in a new camping at Cheile Turzii (Camping Cheile Turzii).

RO: Ziua 7 – Transalpina
In cea de-a saptea zi (de altfel si ultima, chiar daca initial nu acesta era planul) am pornit catre Transalpina. Ne gandeam ca aici sa incercam prima oara sa ramanem off camping, insa odata ajunsi mai sus vremea s-a schimbat foarte mult. Erau aproximativ 3 grade si vant puternic, efectiv nu puteam iesi din autorulota. Asa ca am decis sa facem intregul drum πŸ™‚ A fost spectaculos, poate chiar mai spectaculos decat Transfagarasanul (desi mult mai dificil si mai periculos), iar drumul in sine a fost neasteptat de bun (exceptand o portiune de cateva sute de metri unde efectiv nu era asfalt, ci… pietris). Cand am ajuns la cea mai inalta altitudine ni s-a spus ca drumul este blocat din cauza unui eveniment de drifturi care fusese anuntat in social media si la televizor (dar nu a fost semnalizat pe drum), asa ca am fost nevoiti sa stam in coloana ceva vreme, pana cand evenimentul s-a incheiat. A fost un drum destul de obositor si pentru ca nu am avut unde sa oprim sa campam a trebuit sa mergem pana la cel mai apropiat camping, in Horezu. Intr-un final am realizat ca nu ar fi fost deloc intelept sa ramanem off camping pentru prima oara pe Transalpina, mai ales pentru ca seara drumul acesta se inchide circulatiei; putea sa se intample orice cu Alexei pe timpul noptii, sa ii fie rau, sa faca febra, sa avem nevoie sa il ducem la spital si era destul de riscant sa ramanem atat de izolati si blocati in mijlocul pustietatii pana dimineata (daca am fi fost doar noi doi nu ar fi fost nici vorba de astfel de ganduri, insa cu Alexei intotdeauna gandurile noastre se ramifica in sapte directii :D).

EN: Day 7 – Transalpina
In the seventh day (actually the last one, even if this was not the initial plan) we headed to Transalpina. At first we were thinking to try off camping here for the first time but once we got on the top of the mountain the weather changed quite a lot. There were 3 degrees and powerful wind, so we could barely get out of the caravan. So we decided to continue our journey and drive all the way πŸ™‚ It was a spectacular road trip, maybe even more spectacular than Transfagarasan (although more difficult and more dangerous), but the road itself was unexpectedly good (except some few hundred of meters of it where there was no concrete but… gravel). When we reached the highest altitude we’ve been told that the road was blocked due to a drifting event that was announced on social media and on television (but not on the road) so we had to stay in line for a while, until the event was over. It was quite a tiring event and because we couldn’t stop camping there we had to drive until we found the first camping, in Horezu. In the end we realized that it wouldn’t have been wise at all to off camp on Transalpina especially because during the night the road is closed; anything could have happened with Alexei during the night, he could have felt bed, he could have had fever or we could have needed a hospital so it would have been quite risky to be so isolated and blocked in the middle of nowhere until morning (if we would have travelled alone, just the two of us, we wouldn’t have had such thoughts, but now, having Alexei with us, we overthink every situation).

RO: Ultima zi a fost dedicata intru totul intoarcerii acasa. Am decis sa ne intoarcem cu doua zile mai devreme decat planuisem initial pentru ca era pur si simplu… extenuati. A fost o vacanta frumoasa, pe care am asteptat-o cu mare drag, insa nu am realizat cat de obositoare avea sa fie. Sau poate ca pur si simplu eram noi prea obositi inca de cand am plecat la drum si am avut niste asteptari setate gresit. Credeam ca va fi genul acela de escapada care te umple de energie si te conecteaza cu natura insa a fost atat de multa logistica, ca ne-am simtit extenuati dupa o saptamana. Gatitul de trei ori pe zi, gasirea campingurilor (nu stiam exact unde sa campam pentru ca nu aveam un traseu stabilit deci trebuia sa ne documentam in timpul zilei), atributiile tipice pentru o autorulota (golit rezervorul de apa uzata, fosa, alimetat cu electricitate, umplut rezervorul de apa curata etc), curatat autorulota (chiar era nevoie de curatenie o data la doua zile), scos si strans mesele, scaunele, paturile, parasolarul etc, toate ne-au facut sa fim pe repede inainte. Cu siguranta si faptul ca suntem foarte neexperimentati a contat, insa ni s-a parut ca momentele de relaxare si de stat au fost foarte putine, spre deloc chiar. Pentru data viitoare vom lua in calcul doua aspecte importante: sa nu mai facem o calatorie atat de lunga, sa alegem o destinatie unde sa stam mai multe zile si sa mergem neaparat si cu altcineva (inca o autorulota), pentru ca toate aceste taskuri administrative sa poata fi impartite sau macar sa para mai distractive πŸ™‚

EN: The last day was entirely dedicated to coming back home. We decided to come back two days earlier because we felt… exhausted. It was a beautiful vacation, we waited it for such a long time, but we just didn’t realize how tiring it will be. Or maybe we were just too tired before the trip and we had some wrong expectations about it. We thought that this will be that type of getaway that fills you with energy and reconnects you with the nature but there was so much logistic involved that we simply felt exhausted after one week. Cooking three times per day. finding camping sites (we didn’t know where we will camp as we didn’t have a precise route so we had to research during the day), the typical chores that are needed when travelling with a campervan (emptying the water tank, the toilet, taking care to always have electricity, filling the water tank etc), cleaning the campervan (we really had to clean the campervan every two days), taking the chairs, the table, the sunshade off, putting them back, everything made us be on the run. Of course, it mattered that this was our first campervan experience but it just seemed that we didn’t relax at all. For the next time we will consider two important things: we will choose a shorter itinerary with a destination where we will spend more days and for sure we will go with someone else (at least another campervan) so that all the administrative chores can be divided or at least to seem a bit more fun πŸ™‚

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