Saturday, June 28, 2008

15-23 June – Transylvania, Romania

Transylvania is simply fascinating. There are so many places to visit and things to see. The nature is beautiful and the people are very friendly. We have enjoyed the old Saxon towns and fortified churches; castles on hilltops with that special Dracula vibe; and many small villages where time moves very slowly.

We have participated in a harvest feast with German villagers in Carta/Kerz. We did not really expect to see lederhosen and listen to ompa-ompa music at a German cabbage harvest feast among the ruins of a 13th century monastery in Romania. Now we are glad we did! Many Germans (Saxons) moved to Transylvania in the 12th century, invited by the Hungarians to defend Hungary’s eastern border against the Turks. Still today, most places in Transylvania have names in Romanian, Hungarian and German.

We have also visited wonderful and mysterious ruins from the Dacian times. The highlight was when we reached the ruins of Sarmizegetusa, the former Dacian capital which was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 AD. After driving through dense forest on a rough dirt road for 15 km, the last 5 km were very steep and rocky. But is was worth the effort. So much that we decided to spend the night among the ruins on the top of the 1300m high mountain.

We left Transylvania via the Tranfagarasan road which crosses the Transylvanian Alps. The road is only open during the summer and snowploughs were still clearing the road as we drove through. At the highest pass, 2034m, we had lunch at the glacier lake before continuing down the southern serpentine road among grazing sheep and horses.

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