Romania was a rare thing on this trip: a country I’d visited before. I was here in 2014, when I rode diagonally across the country from the capital Bucharest in the southeast to the Hungarian border near Arad. So, since I’ve already written extensively about Romania on that trip’s report, you know what? You can read that one, it’s here.
Romania wasn’t entirely the same as last time though: I enjoyed this year’s route through northern Transylvania and Bucovina a lot more than most of the southern regions I rode through last time. The country seemed richer up here; cleaner, trimmer and more set up for tourists. The dogs weren’t nearly so much of a problem as last time either – there were fewer of them here and they were mostly behind fences. Last time my most-used words in the entire country were “Fuck off dog” – usually shouted at a spirit – but this time my most common word was a mischievous “Meeow”.
The two sides of that last paragraph can probably be traced to the same thing: leadership. The country was a real basket case under Ceausescu, their old communist dictator. The dog problem happened after he forcibly moved people out of their houses into apartment blocks with no room for the family mutt, and the economy … well, “starvation” just just about sums it up.
I was further away from the population centres here, and the whole country was five more years away from Ceausescu’s regime – five more years to recover and grow.
Whatever the cause may be, I’d thought after 2014 that the rest of the Carpathians would be a fun place to explore, and it turns out I was right. So if you want a cheap cycling holiday with plenty of hills, nice scenery and good local food, the Romanian mountains could be the place for you.
In general, well done Romania!