With everything we needed to thrive at our hard-to-reach Romanian forest free-camp, we almost decided to stay another day. Instead, we packed up, said hello to some horses grazing in a nearby pasture, and set off on our 30 minute trek back to the road.
After we crossed the river, it begin to rain. I quickly fetched our waterproof jackets, and we suited up for what soon became a heavy, drenching downpour. Undeterred, and actually quite enjoying the experience, we completed the final stage of our 1100m mountain pass with ease.
The scenery was epic. Under foreboding skies, with looming mountains enveloped in mist, we hardly noticed the rain or the climbing. We were in such great spirits we even stopped to take photos during every lull in the storm.
As we rode through the forests, we couldn't help but exclaim to one another, "holy crap, we're actually in TRANSYLVANIA!"
The top of the pass was unmarked and uneventful save for the presence of a fancy hotel. So, we stopped to watch the storm clouds pass and have a snack. Tyler cleaned our rims and brake pads for the coming descent, while I rummaged around in our panniers for a suitable bite to eat.
During our break, we were befriended by Romanian stray dog number eight bajillion and two. We think she must have given birth recently (though we didn't find any pups) because her teats looked really big.
This mama was hungry! We fed her all of our day-old leftovers and she was very pleased.
What a sweetheart.
We patted our doggie friend and said goodbye, heading off down the mountain. Not long after our descent began, we joined a busy highway chock full of speeding cars headed into Brasov. It was about this time that the rain really kicked in. The skies were nearly black! As we spun our sodden legs, several cars on our left flooded us with dirty tidal waves of water in great, comical sprays as they flew by. We could have been on Splash Mountain! To our right, we noticed a current of water rushing downwards, and in a moment of bizarre synchronization, we both yelled, "hey, we're pedaling upstream!"
As we entered the Transylvanian town of Bu?teni, we were faced with a choice: Continue on to Brasov, or stay and ride a cable car in town up to a cool rock formation. We decided on the cable car, and started in on a round of hotel-hunting.
Our priorities when we stay in a hotel go something like this: internet, affordable, hot water, a safe place for our bikes, and welcoming. We almost stayed at the Hotel Silva, which had wi-fi but failed on several other counts. Apart from being overpriced, the snooty man at reception set us both on edge with his attitude the minute we walked in the door.
Ignoring our instincts to leave, we asked if there was a place for our bikes and he responded, "yes of course…" When we turned to get them, he followed with "…but you must carry them, you cannot let them touch the floor." Huh? Carrying our bikes up two flights of stairs, then across the lobby so as not to dirty it was ridiculous. Moving on!
Frustrated, we decided to head to Brasov after all. Back on the road, we were just near the edge of town when we passed promising-looking pensiunea. I didn't want to rush through our time in the mountains, skipping what might be beautiful sights simply because we were too impatient to find a place that was juuust right.
And so I ran inside to check prices. Sure enough, it was perfect: besides having a nice safe, place to store our bikes, it was also relatively cheap, clean and inviting, staffed by warm and welcoming folk, and most importantly (for us) geared up to provide a fast wireless connection in every room. Perfect!
Now we're listening to the wind howling outside. Our photos are quickly uploading, all of our damp clothes are drying on the heater in the bathroom, and the super friendly guy at reception just treated us to complimentary cappuccinos. Not too shabby!