Day 29 - A Gorge and a Lake

Thursday 24th July 2014

We leave Bran early in gathering cloud and under a sky heavy with the threat of thunderstorm. We pass through Rasnov with it's Hollywood-style sign up on the hill just underneath it's castle.
It's a dusty little town, the castle big and imposing up on the hill. It could easily have assumed the Dracula mantle and all it's attendant money-making activities.

A winding road takes us north to the regional capital Brasov. Here a new bypass whizzes us past the town and onto the E578.
This is a lovely road. A sign informs that this is another project constructed with EU funding. It's fast and sweeping with perfect tarmac and leads us rapidly a 100 miles north up a broad valley between the mountains.

Mick loves his Lionels
At Gheorgheni we stop for tea at a roadside cafe. Hearing our English voices a couple stop to talk with us. They are Les and Amy from Oxford. Les is Australian and Amy originally comes from Baia Mare in the far north of Romania. We chat for a half hour or so about Romania, the political situation in Europe and life in this part of the world. We soon put the world to rights.

From Gheorgheni we leave the wonderful E578 and head east into the mountains over a low pass. The road is twisty with a few hairpins. At the summit we stop for a quick snack from our supplies. Mick has become a fan of the big bags of crisps with a picture of Lionel Messi on the front. At the summit there are the usual Romany hawkers selling berries and honey at the roadside.

Lovely gorge

Shame it is so wet
As we glide down from the pass it starts to rain and it soon becomes very heavy. Almost without noticing we find ourselves in a steep sided gorge cutting through high bluffs. It is very spectacular and quite unexpected.

The next part of our journey will take us along the shores of Lake Bicaz, the largest man-made lake in Romania. There are bears and wild boars in the woods around here but we don't see them.
Big and ugly, and a dam in the background

Just north of the village of Bicaz is the huge dam that creates the lake. The two sides could not be more of a contrast.
Nicer on the other side

The rain is unrelenting so we are looking for an overnight stop with some urgency. The Pensiunea Ioana appears on the left with its underfloor garage. It's a no-brainer and we drive straight in and park up.

It's a neat and efficiently run guest house with a good menu, terrace and clean rooms. At 75 lei for a room and ludicrously low food prices it's another great find.

We are soon settled in and enjoying a beer on the terrace. We look at the menu and can't believe the prices. I order local river trout with chips and salad. The cost for the trout is 8 Lei (£1.44p) and it's wonderful. The fish knife is useless for good filleting but the trout is succulent and beautifully baked.
Pension Ioana

As we are eating a group of 4 German bikers, all on GSs arrive. They are Urs, Axel and two Michaels, returning home from a tour to the Black Sea coast here in Romania, and a great bunch of lads.
GS boys, Michael1, Urs Michael2 and Axel

We chat on into the night, stay up far too late drinking big glasses of schnapps and swapping biker tales. Cheers guys, good to meet you.



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