June 4, 2015
We were all moving on today, but only to Bușteni, which is only about an hour away. So we decided to drive back towards Sibiu to see if we could drive part of the Transfagarasan road, which is famous for its spectacular twistiness as it climbs over the Făgăraș range. So after breakfast we paid our bills and went out to pack the cars and leave.
It took over an hour to reach the turnoff, then another half hour to drive to the start of the road. The sign said that it was open as far as the waterfall, Cascada Bâlea, so despite the low cloud cover we decided to head up there.
This lower section of the road goes up through forest, and it does twist and turn as it gains elevation. When we reached the cable car there was a sign saying that the road was closed, so we stopped there. It was lunchtime, so we found a garbage-strewn picnic site and ate our sandwiches there, with a view of the waterfall. The cable car runs up to the lake at the summit, Lacul Bâlea, so we decided to take a ride up there. It was a pretty amateurish setup, as they were waiting for ten passengers so we had to wait over half an hour before we could go.
The cable car went over a forested area, then past the waterfall and finally over the alpine area. Here we could see all the twists and turns of the road below, and we could see other cars going up and down it. Once at the top the temperature was surprisingly warm, despite the lake still being partially frozen over with clouds swirling just above it. We looked around for a while and then headed back to the top station, where we were welcomed as we increased the head count. Neil and Christine had gone to buy ice-cream so we hurried them up, and back down we went to the cars.
The “Closed” sign only blocked half of the road, so we drove right past it, as we had seen others doing. The road was clear except for a bit of snow near the top, and even that had been recently ploughed. But at the top the tunnel through the pass was thoroughly blocked with a solid door, so we drove back down, taking pictures of the view as we went.
It was getting late now, so we all headed off towards Bușteni. We did get a bit lost in Rașnov but using the GPSNav app in the iPhone put us right. But now the rain was coming down in buckets as we drove through the mountains, and finally we reached Bușteni and found the road to the Caraiman Monastery. Our hotel was right next to the monastery; we checked in and as we went out to get our packs Neil and Christine were just arriving, having successfully wrangled their satnav into finding the hotel.
We chose a room on the second floor overlooking the patio, and as it was after 7 pm we quickly settled in and then went for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. It was quite fancy and the food was very good, but a bit more expensive than what we’d become accustomed to paying. By the time we finished it was late, so we went up to our room to write up our journals.