Vova had decided to ride with us to the Transalpina and then return home. It would only take him a day if he pushed through. So, after getting up, we headed west towards Transalpina.
We took some small backroads that may not be faster, but they are more interesting. And there is a lot less traffic. We would have to ride route 7 and I wanted to cut that as short as possible. Route 7 is one of the main connections between Sibiu and Bucharest. Though it is – through the mountains – a very nice ride, it is often missed due to keeping an eye on all the traffic, cars overtaking as if there were no tomorrow, heavy semis, and what not.
But this day, the traffic wasn’t so bad, and even though I had ridden route 7 before, for the first time, I got to really enjoy the ride along the Old River.
Transalpina is a large area, that under Nicolae Ceaușescu, was meant to be the grounds for a Romanian hosted winter Olympic Games of 1998. Obviously that didn’t happen, but he did get something started. Hotels had started construction, and when his days were over, the construction just came to an end. On the 2015 trip, we visited one of these hotels, where construction abruptly ended. Luck was with us, Peter and I, and we got a tour by one of the locals, showing us around in the closed off ruins.
When talking about Transalpina, it is for the most part – at least in motorcycle circles – route 67C South, with the spectacular scenic, curve roads, and smooth surface that comes to mind. For some, the 67C South is a better route than the Transfaragasan. I don’t know. They are quite different with the Transalpina on top of rounded mountains, and the Transfagarasan a little more like the mountains found in the Alps.
There’s a village at the top of the 67C south. Every time I have been there, it looks like it is off season. And maybe it is, maybe winter is the right season. But it has always appeared semi empty with some house construction going on here and there.
The Transalpina roads are, except the part of the 7A that leads to Petrosani, with nice curves and smooth surface. So it is really tempting to ride fast. Which we did. I can’t outrun Michael, but it was fun trying.
But unexpected road users is suddenly popping up around the corner, so you have to have room for the unexpected.
Transalpina (67C) is without a doubt a nice road. Coming from the north, from Sibiu, the first part is relatively flat, but a nice curvy road with a smooth surface. It is mostly in the forest, with a lake and a dam along the route.
The south part is the scenic part with altitudes of more than 2,000 meters above sea level. It also offers some opportunities to go off road, if you want.
We had lunch at a restaurant just next to the road, in the village. It was a warm day and even though we were at about 2,000 metres above sea level, the temperature was way up in the twenties. We weren’t exactly looking forward to get down the mountains into the low lands.
After lunch we say goodbye to Vova. It was great riding with him. We had a good team dynamic. From now on, it would be Thonny, Michael and myself until we would the Danish riders in the Dolomites.
The descent (going south) on the 67c South isn’t as spectacular as going up. The road is much bigger, the curves much flatter. It is a nice view though. I’m saying this knowing very well that at that time, we had been extremely spoiled with one awesome scenery after another.
We were heading towards a town called Baile Herculane. It is a popular place amongst local for the natural mineral hot springs, that is believed to have healing properties. It is still visited by locals, but it is obvious that the town’s glory days are way over. It is a nice visit and there are a lot of good opportunities for at spa bath, if you’re into that. According to the legend, Hercules had stopped for a bath and a rest in the valley.
From Transalpina to Baile Herculane, there’s the direct route, and the south route. The direct route is along 67C west to Petrosani. If you’re okay with a bumpy ride on bad asphalt (it is actually only a small part of the route), it is a very nice route that takes you in to a gorge with a river next to the road. Then from Petrosani, through Vulcan and follow route 66A with is a great route as well, but for the must part is gravel. The first section is not too difficult, but the next part around the lake and the dam can be a little more slippery with typically wet dirt. It takes a half day or so (depending on how fast you are, but you should take the time to absorb the scenery). I have described the route here.
The south route is, once you’re in the low land, a little less interesting with mostly farmland and a couple of busy towns that you must go through. The 67D will soon take you into the mountains again, with great smooth roads and lots of curves. It will meet with the 66A (continue as 67D) all the way to Baile Herculane.
We found a nice little pension with a lovely host, but unfortunately uncomfortable warm rooms without air-condition. Sleeping with windows open in the Romanian countryside makes you realise how many dogs roam, and fight, all night, from dusk to dawn.
We celebrated Michael’s birthday with an extra beer and an ice cream.