Downtown Bangkok, Thailand at dusk.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Bangkok, Thailand.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A couple of funny things happened yesterday...

Yesterday morning we picked up our rental car. Our appointment was at 10:00am, and we were there five minutes ahead of time. They had booked us a 2012 Renault Clio, a small hatchback. But when the girl sat us down to do the paperwork, she apologized that the car was in service, and they were giving us a slightly bigger one, a 2013 Dacia Logan. No problem for us, we just wanted transportation.

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.

Typical scenery.

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.

Too funny!

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 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 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...

Looking down.

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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  1. I always carry food for strays. It's so sad to see such nice animals without homes.

    1. By the look the strays we saw they looked to be well fed! Romania has had a big problem with strays and they are very actively working on a project here in Brasov to improve and lower the numbers but in a very humane way and if it works here then they will start to implement it throughout the country, which I was very happy to read.

  2. I would have loved to seen Dracula's castle and the other castle with 1,480 steps to climb. The dam was ok...much like Hoover Dam. Loved your story of little old lady and the begging dogs. In the US we are starting to see some rest areas with dogs but not often. I think they have a nearby home but they come out to beg bears use to do in Yellowstone Park until the park discouraged tourist to stop feeding bears. We see a lot of hitch hikers on Navajo Rez some with no deceased grandma use to hitch hike and used 'Pretty soon, pretty soon' as her way of saying I'm going here LOL

    1. I guess you will have to look through images on google to see the inside of Dracula's castle because you won't see them here. Now the other castle with the 1,480 steps, we were disappointed to have not been able to go and see. By the time we drove up to the dam and then back to where the castle was is was already after 3pm and we knew that we would already be driving in the dark which we don't like to do and we wanted to get the worst of the drive over while it was still daylight out. We are already realizing that there are going to be many things that we would like to see that we just aren't going to have the time for. I think we should have booked more time for this trip. :-)

      Asking for rides is a very common thing here, especially in the countryside.

    2. I forgot to mention that the dam was interesting mostly because of the road to get up to it and the fact that there aren't a swarm of tourists there like there are at the Hoover Dam. Actually there is a circular route that we could have done had we been here last month that is absolutely gorgeous but they close part of it at the end of October and it doesn't open again until the end of May or middle of June. We could have gone on another 50kms or so before coming to that closed section but we were already too late in the day to go any further.ăgărășan

  3. PS I took a tour of Bran Castle on their web site...pretty awesome. I also took a tour of Poenari Castle written by Manning Leonard Krull who hiked up the this castle was in ruins and not much to see. I think this guy back packed around Europe not sure because he had a mini van drop him off at the base of Castle.

    1. We like ruins and yes, Poenari Castle did look to be in ruins but the view from there would a been beautiful I am sure.

      He may have been backpacking and taking the bus around. Out here in the country the minivans are the buses. It seems the big buses are only used between cities and as city transportation and the mini vans are called Maxi Taxis but they are really buses.

  4. Sounds like another fun day exploring the countryside. Nice that you gave that woman a lift.

    1. Yes, another wonderful day. In the countryside that is how many people get about, many drivers will stop to give someone a ride.

  5. What a wonderful day filled with surprises. I laughed out loud about the photo with your friend. Memories forever.
    How nice to pick up that lady. I am sure you two were the topic of conversation when she got home. Keep enjoying the adventure.

    1. Yes, I am sure that we would have been the topic of conversation! Most people that live in the country will stop to give others rides, it is a very common thing here.

  6. A very ambitious day! The car looks nice enough. Nice to read that you could lend a helping hand to a local lady...

    1. Kevin is very happy with the way the drives, and we certainly don't need anything fancy. We had fun giving that elderly lady a drive. :-)

  7. Wow! Interesting & beautiful ride in the country - mtns, valleys, Dam, castles, friendly dogs to greet & welcome you! Couldn't ask for more! Weather didn't matter. Little old lady is smart; probably relies on tourists for lifts on reg. basis; good deed helping her! Does not look like bus service is available. 2nd dog photo is gorgeous dog! They do look healthy & well fed! Good job on price dealing with car rental! Viewed rental rooms where you're staying, very nice guest home & reasonable priced. GREAT trip planning Kevin, you've worked very wisely, hard on this! (as usual :) We're enjoying your trip too!

    1. Nope, we couldn't have asked for more, it was a great day all around! We wished that we had more time but it is pretty much dark by 5pm so we have shorter days. We would have loved to have continued on up the road past the dam, we could have gone about another 50km or so before we met with the road closure that won't reopen again up the end of next May or middle of June and we also would have loved to have climbed those 1,480 steps up to the ruined castle.

      Both dogs were gorgeous, the first one was very friendly the second one was very skittish but yes, they both looked to be well fed.

      We are really enjoying this guesthouse. Our room is nice along with a private bathroom and good kitchen and common area. Kevin did a great job finding this place.

      From our reading it is a very common practice to pick up the locals on the roadside in the country. Yes, there is bus service here but of course it doesn't always come by when you would like it to. Not sure how often the buses (they call them Maxi Taxis which are mini vans) run. I would imagine that it depends on the area.

  8. We love and enjoy your adventuress spirit! This day was so fun and full of a little bit of everything. Couldn't choose a favorite - loved it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thank you Connie and Barry and yes the day did include just about everything, except for a good hike! ;-)

  9. Wow is right! Amazing photos today. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure. I look forward to reading about your day and viewing your awesome photos every evening!

    1. Thank you Lori! The pictures in this post will have to make up for the post Kevin is doing today, which wasn't nearly as exciting but still a very interesting afternoon.

  10. Have you encountered any gypsies? I find them interesting. Surprised you haven't mentioned them.

    1. No we haven't encountered any gypsies that we know of. I think if we bumped into one in the city we probably wouldn't even realize it. I don't think they stand out like the way you think they would but I may be wrong.

  11. You should have asked to take the little old lady's picture.

    1. I had thought about it but didn't want to feel that we were making a spectacle of it.

  12. We are loving traveling with you. And thanks for all your support with our adventure.

    1. Glad you are enjoying both our and your adventures! :-)


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