Have you ever been faced with a mammoth challenge, just as you’ve started to come down with a heavy cold? Well how about tackling a 1,700 mile (2,735 kilometre) drive from Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK to Cluj, Romania? This feat, is something which I’ve just pulled off – coughing and spluttering my way across eight different countries, ploughing through countless rolls of toilet roll (for blowing my nose, you dirty buggers!!) and all the while, somehow mustering the strength to continually hurl abuse toward my travel buddy, Kathryn (don’t worry – she finds it all hilarious for some unbeknownst reason).
Kathryn is a professional photographer from the state of New York, and we met via couchsurfing and now here we are, hurtling our way across Europe together on a quest to find Dracula.
I’m in Romania to sample the delights that this country has to offer after being invited to visit by the good folks at Sano Touring. Along the way, we’ll be investigating all the top accessible hotspots within the country as well as reporting back to you guys on what’s awesome and what’s worth a trip over for!
Two days ago I woke up in Koblenz, Germany and yesterday morning I arose in the middle of no-where, Hungary, at some run down motel on the side of the road – if it wasn’t for the fact that the motel had a quaint edge to it, I think we both would have felt a bit more uneasy as the place definitely also gave off a murderous vibe too – but it’s all part of the fun! The night before last we also drove a little off the beaten track in Austria and stumbled across a gorgeous castle on The Blue Danube River – which required a little extreme off-roading just to get a perfect shot – I never thought I’d be driving a Mercedes down a steeply sloped cycle path that ran right next to a river before; it was a little nerve wracking, but totally worth it.
Yesterday we stopped off and had some Vegan Goulash in Budapest at Napfenyes Etteren, which was really great and super delicious, although after growing tired of Paprika flavoured crisps in The Netherlands, all I could think about was those when tucking in. Napfenyes is perfectly located in the heart of the city. Those of you who follow me on either snapchat (@ hawkle) or Instagram might have seen earlier that we battled the wind and headed on over the main bridge in Budapest to take some snaps – all before jumping back in the car and heading across for the Romanian border.
Speaking of the Romanian border, we were almost turned away and refused entry because I didn’t have the appropriate documents for the car I’m driving. After much deliberation, the official on the border check decided to let me pass, but not before politely letting me know that if I didn’t have the correct documentation on my way out of the country, there’d be “big problems” for me. Yikes!
On the drive to Cluj we were subjected to all four seasons in one short three hour journey. What started out at 35 degrees Celsius, suddenly manifested into flash floods and hailstones so big that I was worried my windshield was going to crack – as cars pulled over and took shelter on the side of the road. At one point, the drainage system overflowed and the road and surrounding fields were awash with deep brown water… which made me nervous as it was definitely the deepest water I’d ever driven through and we were literally in the middle of nowhere. Hopefully the picture below illustrates it well enough.
We also passed through a rather heavy thunder storm and although Kathryn wasn’t able to capture any incredible lightening shots, we did snag this one picture of the skies illuminating and the wind turbines overlooking the highway.
Now we’re in Cluj and ready to begin our epic trip around Romania. I’ll keep you guys posted via the blog and through social media, so stay tuned!