OE Day 28 Sibiu to Balea Lac 99km

A day on the Transfăgărășan Highway,  well the south side ascent. Built by Ceausescu’ orders as a speedy way to mobilise against the Soviets. Made famous by Top Gear, people flock to it on when’s weekends and Bank Holidays.  Today was a Bank Holiday. Luckily we left an hour early, so the 2k traffic jam at the top was manageable.

So a 99km ride and the last 24k goes up to near 7000ft. A few hairpins on the way.  A lot in a forest, the last 10k is open country: you can see what’s ahead. 

To get there we’d gone up from Sibiu onto a fertile plain. The villages didn’t have woodstacks: gas is the order of the day.

Tomorrow we descend the North side..

OE Siliu

A small reduction of population, closer inspection gives 165000. Quite a churn though: from predominantly German until 1947, by 1990 it is 90% Hungarian with most of Germanic origin having left.

A street exhibition told the history of [Eastern] Europe 1918-23, which is still being played out today. We trash and disrespect democracy at our peril. EU investment boards everywhere: recycled from the UK?

The Hofmanstadt is lovely with walls that withstood the Ottomans. The City of Eyes. Our first Eastern Orthodox cathedral on this trip. Buskers, bustling, interesting.

A good rest day. Tomorrow an early rise for a day with a good climb.

OE Day 27 Alba Iulia to Sibiu 98km

From one regional capital, Alba Iulia to another, Sibiu. The former with a population of 65k is where On 1 December 1918, the Union of Transylvania with Romania was declared. The latter os known for Germanic architecture in its old town, the legacy of 12th-century Saxon settlers. Population 425k. That’s for tomorrow.

The first decent hilly day for a while. Our route is undulating, crossing some hills between plains. Great views and lungs full of air. Every bit of land is worked, neatly. A lot of it by hand. The villages are tidy and full of people watching and waving at these strangers doing non productive things.

Horse and cart is seen quite often. So avoid the fresh dung. Cars seem mainly new and higher end models. Outside both Alba Iulia and Sibiu posher apartments or houses are springing up.

Herds of cattle and sheep, the latter unshorn – in this heat? – tended to by men in traditional clothes. Slightly incongruous to see an old lady walking the street using crutch in one hand and carrying a sickle in the other. They laughed at us in a friendly way.


Lovely day. We passed a town Ocna Sibiului which is an ex salt mining and works area. The pools are now salt bathing areas, some saltier than the dead sea. We explore Sibiu tomorrow. In a restful way. More and serious climbing on Monday.

OE Day 26 Coltesti to Alba Iulia

A short mainly downhill ride. One steep little unexpected bump to remind the heart what it’s there for.

We quickly descended from the cool green hills and lush crops to the hotter and dryer plain. Bigger roads being build taking heavy traffic. Progress? Good to see things like refuse collectors doing rounds: life is normal everywhere. Few coffee opportunities so we got to Alba Iulia fairly smartly.

In time to look around another Hapsburg investment opportunity, the Alba Carolina Citadel (once a Roman camp too). No expense spared here with 20000serfs building it 1715-1738. A good diversion.

Undulating tomorrow so recovery time it is…