Rental cars are priced in euros here in Romania, but when they charge your card, it is in the lei equivalent. It's tough to find anything under 25 euros ($37 CAD, $28 USD) per day, unless you are taking the car for longer than a week.
I negotiated our deal for 24 euros ($36 CAD, $27 USD) per day, including VAT tax and insurance for four days. Not bad.
She brought us out to the car. It's in overall good shape considering it's already got just over 100,000 kms (62,000 miles) on it. But she had a list of very minor dents and scratches, and asked us to inspect the car as well. I though afterwards that it's all kind of irrelevant if it's insured, but we went over the car with a fine toothed comb, and added a few things to her list.
And we were off...although a little later than we wanted to be. We had a long drive planned because yesterday's weather was pretty good, but it's supposed to rain a lot over the next few days.
Headed towards the mountains.
The day started off cloudy, but it cleared up a bit in the afternoon. We were headed to the Vidraru Dam, said to be an engineering miracle when it was finished in 1966. We knew that it was 160 kms (100 miles) each way, so we didn't have any extra time. In fact, we quickly learned that it was going to take longer than we thought. You couldn't travel much faster than 70 km/h (42 mph) on most of the roads, plus we wanted to stop and take photos.
Our rental car... 2013 Dacia Logan.
The car drives nice. Standard transmission, and based on yesterday, it's really fuel efficient. Good thing, because gas is around 5 lei per litre ($1.75 CAD per litre, or $5.00 USD per gallon).
Lots of beautiful scenery, and so we were making a few photo stops.
There are quite a few stray dogs in the countryside. We notice that they tend to hang around the roadside stops, and we're starting to understand that many people stop and give them food, so of course they expect it now and as soon as a car stops, the dogs come over looking for a treat.
So sure enough, this one friendly fellow comes over, and just hangs around. As I'm taking photos, he's just following us around.
More Romania countryside.
After I took the photo above, I decided this would be a good spot for us to be in the picture too. So I set up the camera on the self timer, and rushed over to be beside Ruth in the picture. As the 10 seconds delay counted down, the dog wandered over, and plopped himself down right beside Ruth.
Ruth, Kevin...and our friend.
Little roadside stands set up.
Today's header photo. Wow!
Don't forget, you can click on any photo to make it full screen.
I had our route mostly set up on the iPhone using the maps.me program. But it's not quite as user friendly as the Garmin GPS that we use back in North America. Still, it's better than nothing, but we still had to stop occasionally to confirm we were going where we wanted to be going.
We pulled over the side of the road in one little village, and as I'm checking the map this little old lady comes across the street. and I put down the window. I thought "this is going to be interesting..." as I knew that she wouldn't speak any English, and even though our Romanian vocabulary is up to about 6 words, that wasn't going to get us very far!
I thought she was going to tell me I couldn't park where I was, but as she was talking, she was pointing up the road, and I quickly figured that she was looking for a ride. But where to, I wondered. So I looked at our route and saw the next biggest town and said the name. She nodded her head saying "da", which is Romanian for "yes".
We said okay, and she hopped in the back seat!
She tried to talk to us, but it was absolutely pointless. She went on and on, and we didn't understand a word she was saying. Too funny. I pointed at Ruth and I, saying "Canada", and she understood that.
And so we drove on. She let us know when she wanted off, and thanked us profusely. We were happy to be able to say "cu plăcere"...which is Romanian for "you're welcome". The direct translation is "with pleasure".
We did one 20 km (12 miles) section of rough road.
I think that road was an experiment with concrete that went bad! Glad we weren't driving a motorhome on that one.
Still lots of horse drawn wagons on the roads.
Getting closer to the dam, we encountered lots of bridges and tunnels.
We stopped to take some pictures. Hardly anybody around. Glad we chose a Monday to do this and not the weekend. At one point, there was a bridge to the right, but there was a gate across it. We got out and walked on the bridge. We learned later that this bridge goes to a road that leads to the base of the dam and it's only for employees, but you could walk there if you wish.
While standing on this bridge, we looked up...
Yikes. That's our road up there!
How did they even build this back in 1962??
Can you see the building on top of the hill to the upper left of center?
That's Poenari Castle.
There is only one way up to the castle...you have to climb 1,480 steps! And we were actually planning to do exactly that, but we simply ran out of time.
The Vidraru Dam is 166 meters (550 ft) high.
Can you see Ruth?
Check out the video...
The reservoir water is low just now.
Looking down at the bridge we had walked on.
We stopped for a snack, and immediately had another best friend. He sat on the wall, and we gave him a piece of cheese before we left.
A nice church on the way back.
We had to take the same route to return to Brasov. We had passed by Bran earlier, where Dracula's Castle is located. We're not going to go in the castle because we've read that it's overrated (and overpriced) as a tourist attraction, but it sure did look neat lit up at dusk...
Dracula's Castle (Bran Castle) lit up at night.
Our day felt a little rushed, and with far too much driving (about six and a half hours behind the wheel), but we sure did see some neat stuff and we loved the dogs and the little old lady. It was actually a great day, despite the fact that we didn't get to do everything we wanted to.
Yesterday's drive, 160 kms (100 miles) each way.
The bigger picture.
Raining this morning. Good day to go grocery shopping!
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