As usual, I woke at 6 am. Also as usual, I went back to sleep until 8 am. But then awake, I had things to do. My companions still asleep, I made a quick breakfast, and off to Tourist Information to confirm a route for the day. Closed on the weekends (strange) I returned to the hostel, studied the map on the wall, made notes on my Transylvania map, and cross-referenced against my POI on the GPS.
Hayden and Andrew? Still asleep. I’m a late riser by cyclist standards, but I’m still awake before the average backpacker. Prodding them both to motion at 9:30, we rented the available single-speed bikes, and set off. Leading the way through town, and cycling against traffic part of the way (the GPS and the streets didn’t quite agree), we left the city limits and headed off to adventure, still unsure what the local topography would be like on single-speed bikes.
I’d selected a fortified church about 20 km outside of town, east on a path I didn’t think I’d want to follow again while in Brasov, as there was not much further east. Between us and our destination was hopefully another fortified church. The roads turned out to be flat, and we discovered an unmapped fortified church about 8 km outside of town – closed today. Such is the wandering life of a cycle tourist.
We arrive at the church in Harman around noon. After circumnavigating the walls, we figured out how to lock up all three bikes with my lock, and sat down to snacks. As we then packed up to go inside, they locked the gates – closed from 12-1. Fortunately we had places to go, and another 6 km to our final destination, and returning the same way. We’d just swing back by on our return.
The trek to Prejmer involved switching to smaller roads, and then a dirt road, and then a dirt track … and then back to the road again. Arriving in Prejmer, we rapidly found the fortified church. Awesome place, a 14m wall, 15m wide at the base, with the ability to explore most everywhere, and rooms built into the inner walls with a warren of wooden stairs.
We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant, consumed lentil soup, and back on the road to “home” with the ”
church in Harman along the way. Andrew’s rear tire blew about a kilometer from our destination of the church in Harman. I carry a patch kit, and spare tubes, and an adaptor so I can adapt my bike from Presta to Schrader valves. The rental bikes were Schrader valves, not a combination I can connect to. Stuck!
The GPS showed a gas station in Harman, and after a bit of searching we found the station, but no pump. Also realized the tires were not quick-release, and I don’t have that tool either. After discussion, a number of solutions were available: we were standing at a bus stop; the police station was across the street; we could call a taxi; Andrew could hitch; worst case he could walk back 10 or so km. As we waited the bus passed us by; so much for that.
Andrew decided to hitch back, so Hayden and I returned to the fortified church. If Andrew was still there we’d find another plan. This fortified church not quite as awesome as the first (and only 7 lei for admission instead of 8 lei at the last one) but still cool. If you ever have a church you want to defend, just build a thick circular wall around it, and if you make the wall thick enough you can live inside the wall.
No Andrew when we came out, so Hayden and I headed back to Brasov, wondering what Andrew’s story would be. After an uneventful ride back, we ran into Andrew when returning the bike. As expected, Andrew had a great story.
Andrew met a guy leaving the nearby pub for his van. While speaking no English, Andrew explained the flat and asked for a ride to Brasov. The guy indicated he’d been drinking too much to drive to Brasov, but asked Andrew to put the bike in the back of the van and come with him. They drove to his house, and he proceeded to remove and patch the tire, then reassembled everything, and sent Andrew on his way. Andrew cycled back, adding being chased by a dog to the day’s experiences.
We got everything settled out, went on the free walking tour of the town, and then for a celebratory dinner. What a great day. We managed to pack in everything but rain. A complete success.