Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Of snow in summer and the feeling of home

Well, we set off to re-experience this marvelous feat of communist technology which is the Transfagarasan, a highway crossing the mountains from Transilvania into the dusty south. I wasn't sure if I should marvel at the obvious effort and skill that went into it, or to get angry at them slicing through the mountains so nonchalantly. A hundred kilometres of tunnels and windy road crossing the highest mountains of Romania and also containing the longest tunnel in the country. Driving at 2000 and something metres, with snow on the side even in the middle of summer and nothing much separating you from the abyss below is quite something.
At the top, there's Lake Balea, a glacier lake around which the skiers and snowboarders congregate at all times of the year. The weather was obviously not very clear on Sunday, but the mist did contribute to the whole "highlands of Transilvania" look.
Poor little shivering bird. It was a bit of a shock for us as well, setting off from home and driving in temperatures of around 28 degrees, and getting up there to 5 degrees, snow and a fog so thick you could lean your bike against it.
La piece de resistance: a giant flying fox (i think that's what it's called in English; if not, we'll call it a flying bat) spanning from cliff to cliff across the valley. Greg, you would have liked this! (Also see the little video at the bottom.) It was soo cool to step off that cliff not seeing 2m ahead of you and not even being able to tell where the line ended!
After the little thrill, it was time to drive through the tunnel into Valahia, where the weather was much nicer, and begin the descent. Which looked as follows:
Horsies had no problems with cars coming and going. I do wonder what they grazed on in the middle of the road though.
Aaand... final destination: the dam of Vidraru, this Hoover Dam of Romania, yet another wonder of communist engineering. 166m tall, 307m wide, perfect for bungee jumping, which some disturbed individuals were actually doing.
Through the building of this dam, a nice big lake was formed. Not quite as nice as lake Tarawera, but it serves the same purposes :)On top of the mountain looming over the dam there's this dude, who's supposed to stand for the sheer energetic power of our glorious country. Everyone calls him Robocop and so shall we.
Driving back up the mountains and towards "our country" as my dad kept refering to it. The chaos, dust and general vulgarity of the south as opposed to our neater and calmer Transilvania were a contrast harsh enough to make me nurture separatist feelings again.
The very picture of racial harmony :)
View of the hills of home from the mountain top. It isn't called The Land Beyond the Forest for nothing :)
More mountainous road:
And another view of the plateau:
And that's me flying (the "woohoo" belongs to my mum).


Anonymous said...

Hi Anca

Love the pictures and the geography trip Greg would indeed love the flying fox as would Laura.

Keep up the field trip.


Anonymous said...

Hell yeah! i so wanna go on that flying fox thing!
That dam is amazing! "magic" one might say ;-)wouldn't mind jumping off of that too!


Triwi said...

Hell no! No jumping! It's a loooong way down, looked scary as hell. But sure, $60NZ is a small price to pay for a spectacular death ;D