Arad prompts the same issues as Deva, 124 km away. The first order of business? The loss of the super highway. Back 6 km to cross the bridge, go 2 km, and then 6 km back to where I started, or 20 km to the next bridge crossing. Forward. 2 km down the road from the pensiune? A fun park that fulfils the role of campground.
Sunday brought lighter traffic, and arriving at the next bridge I had a decision to make. The next bridge another 20 km. A long way to go today, the traffic tolerable, the shoulder wide and clean, I stayed with the highway. The road changed to blind curves, increased traffic, and overgrown shoulder with overhanging trees. Headwinds began, guaranteeing I wouldn’t make Arad today. The other road at least 10 km longer, and on sketchy roads.
Oh God The Trucks. Must Escape.
If I can’t make Arad today, adding distance makes little difference. The town at the turn had an ATM, so at least that problem is solved. The road on the other side of the river started out poor, but improved over time. The only hills came from my own mistake; following the road signs to Lipova and not following the map closely enough, the main road moved away from the river, and a bit too close to the Carpathians. Otherwise shady and traffic-free.
So I’m in Romania, but more accurately I’m in Transylvania. I believe I found some long-lost cousins.
Feeling like being on autopilot, I started up Google Music. Observations:
1) I prefer Pirates of the Carribean: The Black Pearl for personal theme music cycling through a Romanian town right theme music for cycling though a small Romanian town.
2) Romania might not be ready for Greensleeves by Efenwealt Whistle. Hopefully the strange looks were from a cyclist playing music, not that they actually spoke English.
3) Don’t sing along to the Firefly music. I think I swallowed a bug.
50 km later, and only 5 km out of my new destination of Lipova, I decided I could catch a train from Lipova to Arad, stay at a hostel, and hopefully catch a train in the morning back to Brasov for my gear. Rain in the forecast from 11 am to 3 pm, and I still don’t have solid raingear. I can store my bike at the hostel on the off chance I can’t pull off a round trip in one day. I’m running out of easy chances to get back to Brasov. Trains will go through hubs once I leave Romaina; from Arad I should be able to get a direct train, and take a rest day at the same time. I’ll likely be in Lipova early enough to not miss the last train…. Wait, what is that on the other side of the river?
My map clearly doesn’t show that. Ok, new plan. On the other side of the river that castle is 4 km out of Lipova, an additional 8 km of cycling, plus the delay of figuring how to get there and the exploring. Found a hostel/pensiune in Lipova, dropped off my gear, and headed to the castle.
The picture (and later pictures) fail to do justice to the elevation of that castle. 30 minutes of climbing, much with my hands in contact with the ground, brought me to the top. This castle suited my sense of exploration. Completely and utterly abandoned, and well into the category of “nigh invulnerable”. Most of the walls fall away to a drop of hundreds of feet. Even once I climbed to the top of the mountain, finding a way inside that didn’t involve falling off a cliff or into the dry moat proved its own task. Eventually another semblance of a trail brought me to the inner keep. The original way in? Across this (now missing) bridge with a 100′ drop on one side, and several hundred feet on the other. A handful of men could hold Castle Soimos forever.
Scratched, exhausted, and euphoric, I climbed down to my bike. Dinner in town turned into a failed explanation of what I wanted, and back to the pensiune.
The usual language difficulties at the pensiune, but I’ve learned something interesting about this part of Transylvania – a number of people speak Spanish. My Spanish is extremely limited, but better than my Romanian, and I’m more likely to grasp something in Spanish than Romanian, so when we hit the language barrier, I know let people know I speak “un poco Espanol”, which both helps with the translation, and feel a bit less like a classic American.
By the end of today I cycled 110 km. If I stayed with the highway, I could have cycled to Arad at 124 km. Cycling from the pensiune to the castle, I came across a sign for camping 4 km away; for some reason campgrounds are on the west side of town. Both frustrating and interesting to see what the results of various decisions might have been.