Today is THE driving day in our Transfagarasan adventure. We decide to leave the hotel quite early to make sure we have enough time to take all the pictures we want to and to be back on time for dinner.
It’s 7:45 when we leave the Hilton from Sibiu in a beautiful updated 2.0 liter Mazda MX-5 RF. It’s about 16°C but we decide to open the roof already. In contrast to the regular Mazda MX-5 in which you open the roof still manually, in the RF a simple push on a button will do. We experience only little wind in the cabin even at higher speeds of 120 km/h and more. Exactly as a convertible should be.
The roadbook directs us through some streets out of the city center straight onto the highway. We pass a lot of French retail chains and supermarkets which make us reflect about the Romanian language. If you can speak a few European languages like French or Spanish you can understand the basics of Romanian language or at least the headlines in the newspaper, we think. We have to try that later on.
‘De Vânzare’ we read regularly on a signboard on a house. Ah, ‘For Sale’, we conclude and as the road continues our Romanian gets better and better.
Traffic is normal in the beginning but after 20 minutes of driving it all of a sudden gets very dense at a big roundabout. We are clearly on one of the main axes here. Straight at this point where traffic starts to get annoying we luckily take a left turn into the misty mountains.
We were hoping for some mist in order to capture pictures with atmosphere and, yes indeed, the ceramic white MX-5 RF combines beautifully with the green landscapes. But in some moments, we hardly can see a hand in front of our eyes. We wonder whether we should have postponed the picture taking session as the higher we get the less we see and after half an hour driving we don’t see anything but what looks like white walls. We can only guess what the landscape on our left and right side really looks like. Knowing that we will take the same route back later that day, comforts us a bit. We will find out about the landscape later on…
Looking for some atmosphere from the locals we decide to stop at Des. Porumbacu de Jos Jud. Sibiu where we interact with some local families. Seeing the beautiful convertible with German license plate some of them are intrigued by the price of this facelifted car. As we reply that in euros it is only 30.990 Euros for the RF with manual gearbox and 32.490 Euros for the one with automatic gear box they are even more intrigued.
The weather forecast predicted 25°C for the day and therefore we were dressed in a light organza long sleeved dress and open sandals but the higher we go the colder it gets. The more we rise to the top height of 2,050 metres the more the temperature drops. It’s getting colder and colder and when we arrive at Cabana Paltinu (79 kilometers after our departure) for a coffee stop the digital display in the MX-5 RF shows 8° Celsius.
It’s like freezing when we get out of the car. Surprising because we have been driving open till now. And that felt very comfortable. The Mazda MX-5 is one of those convertibles you can drive open almost the whole year around, we conclude.
Luckily, it’s just a short walk to the cabin for the coffee stop and even though it’s cold we take the time to have a look at the local stalls with souvenirs and food.
We talk to the manager of the coffee place about the misty weather. ‘Oh, that’s normal”, she replies. “But once you head through the tunnel next door you will find totally different weather. Just don’t wait too long to pass because the sun is shining now on the other side of the tunnel and once it makes its way to this side, the weather on the other side will change as well.” Mmmh, it’s a good thing to inform oneself regularly with the locals about weather conditions as they appear to change all the time while your trail progresses and a whole trip in misty weather with no view at all of any landscapes would be a big bummer.
Even though the Transfagarasan road was built in the 70’ies road conditions till now are very good. We wonder what they will look like on the other side of the tunnel. You’ll read everything about it in part 3.
When driving the Transfagarasan Highway pay attention to this:
– Pay attention to the speed limits as speeding might cause you trouble with the police.
– Pay also attention to the fact that many unexpected circumstances can occur: dogs, sheep or deer crossing the roads, rocks falling down, people crossing, …
– Be aware that the further you approach the turning point of the route near Dracula’s castle, the worse road conditions get. All things we feel very okay to deal with…