The next couple of days have been written up by me, Lucy, for my take on the TET. We followed the main road south from Petrosani towards Targu Jui today in the van as this is a major metalled road that follows a tourist route through a large gorge. We then turned off the main highway following more minor roads towards Curpen. It was baking hot down in the plains and away from any major mountains, it felt as if a storm was brewing as the day got gradually hotter and hotter.
When we arrived at the small village of Herzog the road turned to dirt and we stopped for a bit of shade and some lunch. We decided that I would ride the next section of the TET on my bike and I would meet up again with Steve at Pestisani. The dirt road wound its way through small farms until eventually leading up into the high mountains again. It was cooler up on the tops and although not as stunning as yesterday with all the limestone outcrops and wildflowers it was still beautiful and good to be up high.
The track was quite rough and I should have gone over the peaks on the grass because if I was going to get a puncture it was likely to be here! When I arrived at the top I was greeted by the usual herd of sheep and shepherds with their crazy sheepdogs but this time there was also some donkeys and a very large war memorial and Jesus on a cross. I decided to risk the crazy dogs biting my tyres as I really wanted to stop and take some photos. I have learned that the sheepdogs are mostly really friendly when you stop and chat to a shepherd. The dogs have been trained to protect their flock and they love a good chase. I had another conversation in Romanian and English with the shepherd where neither of us really understood each other but it was good to pass a few words. I think this one was trying to tell me he had “Benzina” (petrol) back at his hut but I told I was fine and on my way to Vulcan. The other shepherd didn’t come to say hello and carried on drinking his can of what I can only assume was beer.
It was a pleasant ride down to Vulcan where about 4km out of town the road becomes sealed and then it’s a straight run through Lupeni and on to Uricani where you head off back onto dirt road down Fish Valley. Soon you are riding alongside a lake but the trees limit most of the views, before heading up into the forest again. I had a bit of a navigational error in the forest but got back on track and headed down to the river which I followed for a good few kilometres.
Eventually you are welcomed by towering limestone cliffs and crags. It is a very beautiful valley with caves and a small monastery carved into the rock. You are back on sealed roads at this point and after meeting up with Steve we eventually you popped out at Runcu a lovely little village with the usual essentials of beer and bread. We drove the next bit of sealed road in the van. The route turns off into the National Park just beer you get to Tismana but we kept on going towards Baia de Arama and to Cerna Sat so that we could make a loop tomorrow. Don’t be fooled by the map which shows a fast, straight road into the National Park – it twists and turns and takes you over a beautiful mountain pass with great looming limestone crags and towers. We turned off the main road onto the dirt road and followed the river up the valley surrounded by more limestone crags and found a lovely camping spot by the river about 5km from Cerna Sat.