SATURDAY 23: TRANSILVANIA-BRAN-BUCAREST. CRAZY DAY
Very intense day! We woke up and it was bitterly cold, just for an easy start. This is our second day without a shower and changing clothes. We made a short visit to the city. It was worth it, although it was the nature surrounding it what really made the magic. A huge neon sign with “Brasov” above the city makes it look like a mini Vegas in the snow.
We visited the castle of Bran, near Brasov, which really worths it. There was less snow now, although it was still in the trees. The whole area has a certain mistery around it. Careful, it is very turistic, and the best decoy they have is to use the image of Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Empaler, or the fiction figure born of its legend: Dracula, the master of cruelty.
The history is somewhat dark and complicated to tell here right now, but in short, Vlad managed to keep his power and braking the advances of the Otoman Empire and other internal enemies by means of making “woods” out of empaled enemies…
We had a setback upon trying to leave a parking lot without paying (we did not know it was an official parking). The automatic hand brake did not work and we were getting desperate while 4 security men were getting near us. We laughed nervously and had to pay some Leis. Off we went! They didn´t seem really friendly. But we were scared…
In order to overcome the bad mood after the explanations over the tortures suffered by the enemies of our friend Vlad, we used my new camping stove to cook a meal made for kings: rice and peas with chorizo and coffee. Full recovery! We also met Fluffy there, one of the many dogs that in these countries live in packs on the streets.
Now it was time to start moving towards Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Road, here we go! A whole journey ahead of us. We are already fed up with the car..
Signposting is not the strong point of the country. We were able, though, to drive for the first time, almost alone on the road, through a REAL motorway,, motorway A3, from Ploietsi to Bucarest. Needless to say, we really stepped on the accelerator to recuperate the time we had already lost. A minimum speed of 140Km and a maximum of 185Km/h at the hands of Gabri Alonso.
We drove through Bucarest, although it was more an obligation than anything else. We only had time to browse the small streets (the Tom Tom is not very reliable in these countries), and visit the spectacular Peoples Palace, the second biggest building in the world, a kind of concrete block with epic proportions created by the delirium of the communist dictator who dominated Rumania with an iron hand: Nikolai Çauçescu.
It is worth the visit, even though it is grey and made without beauty or any style whatsoever. What is really shocking is its proportions….Just try to surround it by car and hold your breath at the same time, circling it completely. I buy a dinner to whoever succeeds!
We went our way further to the South and experienced a huge adventure to pass through the border between Rumania and Bulgaria at Ruse. The female customs officers wanted us to pay 56€ to be able to cross the border without a document they did not tell us where to get. Then it went down to 36€, then 26€…and finally, after talking to their boss, they left it at 6€ (like for everybody else). He promised us that later, without the document, there wouldn’t be any problem to cross the next border point, already inside Bulgaria.
Obviously, 3 minutes later, when we arrived and had no document…DEEP SHIT. The Romanian customs officer laughed at us when we explained to him why we did not have the dammed document and the fact that they wanted us to pay 56€ in order to proceed. He found it hilarious that they had tryed to cheat on us. At the end, he let us go. No paper bills, no signatures….only money and nervous giggling…
Welcome…… to Bulgaria!