In a country that has been much maligned in some quarters, and by some politicians, Romania is, in fact, a beautiful country. The scenery is breathtaking, the mountains fantastic, beautiful lakes, quaint villages, and – according to the equally-maligned Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond of Top Gear fame – has the greatest driving road in the world, the Transfagarasan Highway! I’m sure if you drive it in supercars, like they did, that sit on the road like a train on tracks, it’s breathtaking…. if you do it in an aging Fiat Panda with tyres about as wide as a bicycle’s tyres, which I did, it’s heart-stopping rather than breathtaking!
The view from my room today of the snow-capped mountains with a heat haze, overlooking Sibiu, is wonderful – (You have to ignore the ‘Ceausescu-built’ ugly tower block in the foreground!) – and inspires ‘I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?’… Transfagarasan Highway is quite close to the city… as is the lovely Balea Lac, which is just before going on the ‘theme park ride’ road… it’s a road that either does wonders for killing your fear of heights, or just compounds those fears!
As Clarkson said…. ‘Romania, thank you for having us! And can we stay forever!’
In case you’d like to see the Top Gear report on the road, it’s here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhSanuvCrOA&feature=iv&src_vid=OLAtcrB0GZg&annotation_id=annotation_469613