This morning around 4 am, Ligia and I started a cross-country drive through Romania. We started in the county of Sibiu, Transilvania and finished in the county of Constanta, Dobrogea. I’ve driven the approximate route from start to finish several times, but I only drove this particular route once before. I wanted to take photos during that previous time, but weather conditions and other circumstances conspired against any sort of worthwhile photographs.
It was different now. The weather was with me. It was cold, bone-chillingly cold at higher altitudes, but the sky was relatively clear, and the sun came out as it should. Coupled with the advantage of starting very early in the morning thanks to a bout of insomnia, it meant conditions were right. I looked forward particularly to the dawn, which I wanted to photograph somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains, wherever it might be that it caught up with us.
The first traces of light began to paint the sky in lighter grays and blues as we began to ascend the mountains. I spied a clearing ahead, but I just didn’t have a good view of the horizon, so I moved on. The forest began to thicken once more, and I was afraid I might lose the daybreak and end up with nothing. Fortunately, trees gave way to bushes, then shrubs, and finally, a plateau opened up in front of us. I stopped the car and took this photo.
The dawn looked imminent, but 10 or 15 kilometers down the road, the sun was still not visible, thanks to a chain of distant mountains masking its ascent. A calm lake appeared on the side of the road, and the water reflected the increasing light beautifully. How could I resist that? I stopped the car once more.
A little while down the road, the mountains gave way and the red winter sun, tired from its steep climb upward, rested on their shoulders for a bit — just enough for me to take this photo.
I think we were about 30-40 kilometers from the city of Brasov when I took that photo. We soon passed through it and were on our way to the winter resort of Predeal. We spent a weekend there this winter, and I took these photos. I should have a detailed article about Predeal published in the near future — illustrated with plenty of photos, too. This morning, I wanted to show what folks driving on the main (and only) road that takes you through those parts get to see when they drive through the town. Just FYI, there is always a police car waiting for visitors at the intersection in the lower left corner of the photo. Make sure you drive properly, otherwise you will get stopped.
The cities of Predeal and Brasov are part of the province of Transilvania. Soon after Predeal, we entered the province of Muntenia, where you can find more beautiful winter resorts: Azuga, Busteni and Sinaia. The king of Romania keeps a palace near Sinaia, so it must be a beautiful place, right? Well, it is, and I took photos there as well. I still need to develop them. Meanwhile, here’s what we saw this morning as we drove through Azuga and Busteni.
You can’t see the vista from Busteni shown above from the main road — you have to turn onto one of the side roads and climb higher till you find a nice clearing. Buildings and other things obstruct (somewhat) the view from the city, but of all the winter resorts (Predeal, Azuga, Busteni and Sinaia), Busteni has the best view of the mountains right from the main road. They’re literally right there in front of you. It’s quite amazing.
After this the light turned hazy and unclear. The sun hid behind a few clouds, and I put my camera away. Besides, the flatlands beneath the mountains are just that — flat — and they hold little interest to me unless there are crops coloring the landscape. It’s too soon for that yet. I turned to driving and focused on getting to Bucharest and then to Constanta, on the country’s main highway, A2. Little else occupied my mind other than driving until we pulled off the highway near the city of Constanta.
We decided then to turn to some country roads and see some sights. We wanted to visit Cheile Dobrogei, a natural gorge with rock walls up to 40 meters in height. On the way there, we stopped by some farmland.
Cheile Dobrogei is a beautiful region where the ground literally breaks up in front of you, revealing its stony skeleton underneath the tough flatland grass and thorn bushes. The walls are perforated with little caves, and below, the cavity lies flat, allowing the road to snake right through. I parked the car on a dirt road and bolted out, running up the slope, full of excitement. (I’d visited the place before, but couldn’t take photos because the weather was dreary.) I get a natural high when I’m climbing hills and mountains. I can’t explain it; I just love it. I ran from place to place on one of the peaks in the gorge, looking around for good photo ops. Here are a few of the scenes I captured.
After a while, it was time to get to our destination. I drove the car carefully over the stones and uneven terrain in the gorge’s valley until I reached the road, then pressed forward through the countryside till we got to the place where we’re staying. The whole trip took about 9 hours, with breaks for various stops and for taking photos. Not a bad time for about 550 kilometers, and I obeyed the posted speed limits, too.
It’s evening now and the insomnia is catching up to me. Since I didn’t sleep a wink last night, this makes it about 36 hours without sleep. I had the hardest time editing these photos and writing this article. It’s time to get some rest, and I hope nothing interferes with that tonight.
On a side note, I don’t normally rush to edit photos and write about them right away, but that amazing daybreak this morning impressed me so much I wanted to share it with you as soon as I could.