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Old 09-04-2009, 08:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Trip to Romania

I finally found some time to write about our trip to Romania.
There were five of us: my Wife, three friends, and Your's Truely We drove Svietlana, since that would reduce the cost, time and emissions of the trip (amoung the other options were flying and renting a van). The car was PACKED: 5 people, each had a huge backpack, plus extra food, clothes, etc. The car weighed more than 2000kg, which probably killed any gains the aeromods gave.

We left Warsaw on August 15, ate lunch at the Polish-Slovakian border and switched drivers. Unfortunely, the Wife's driver's license hadn't come yet, so a friend took the wheel, and she had fun going 130-140 km/h on the highways in Slovakia and Hungary. When the highways were over, I got the wheel back and crossed the Romanian border to Oradea. On the next day we drove through western Transsilvania to the vicinity of the city of Fagaras. There we slept at a hotel, repacked, left the car and took the train to the western end of the Fagaras Mountain Range. We started our hike in Turnu Rosu at elevation 380m, the first camp was at around 1800m. We hauled our 25-30kg packs up a 1400m elevation gain.





The next days weren't much easier: lots of ups and downs, and the packs weren't getting noticeably lighter The third day was the toughest with less hiking and more climbing, but we reached the summit of Negoiu (2535m), the third peak of Romania, but the hardest to climb.





The decent was through Dracula's Canyon, a narrow and dangerous 100m elevation drop with rusted chains for help.



The next days were easier, on the sixth day we climbed the highest summit, Moldoveanu (2544m). There, on the monument with an elevation plaque and the Romanian flag was... Micheal Jackson's picture! So he didn't really die, he only went back home, just like Elvis (who supposedly returned to Mars). The last day was a decent from 2100m down to the hotel at 500m, but now our backpacks were at least 5kg lighter

What do I think about these mountains? Breathtaking. Beautiful. Very similar to the Tatras. Lots of donkeys and even more sheep. Watch out for dogs, bears and other furry critters!! And trash. Everywhere Especially next to lodges and refuges. Someone left their trash and everyone else thinks they can just add to the pile. I don't understand people who can't carry their trash with them. If they brought it, they should take it. Even the lodge tosses their trash into a pit. Unfortunately, the Fagaras Range isn't a national park, so it is less protected. Hopefully Romanians will get their act cleaned up sooner than later.

We were lucky with the weather, as we never saw any real rain or dangerous winds. We didn't always have full sun, some days were spent inside of clouds, but that helped the sunburn we got on the first two days. As we decended on the last day we saw that the weather is changing quickly. The upper portions of the mountains were in dark clouds, and the thunderstorm caught up with us just as we got into the hotel.

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e·co·mod·ding: the art of turning vehicles into what they should be

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Piwoslaw's Peugeot 307sw modding thread

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Old 09-04-2009, 08:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The second week was spent driving and sightseeing around Transylvania (more of the first). We visited beautiful cities (Brasov, Sighisoara, Oradea), smaller towns (Bran), villages.

Brasov

"Dracula's Castle" in Bran

There are two types of roads: main, international corridors and the rest. The first type is smooth, with a wide shoulder, highways are being built or planned. If you want to drive off the main roads, you should have a tractor, or even better a tank. Potholes larger than a car's wheel, on the whole width of the road, for tens of kilometers, a short stretch (1-2km) of slightly better pavement and more of the same. On one occasion, it took us 3 hours to drive 20km. I hardly used third gear, going 20-30 km/h, then pulling off to rest. Horrible. And then, there are switchbacks. Oh yes, switchbacks. Lots of switchbacks. They can be fun if you're alone and the pavement isn't bad, but imagine climbing up steep switchbacks with huge potholes in car at its max weight, coming around a corner and seeing a truck coming at you for a head-on b/c he's passing a car!! Run for the ditch, man, because he's not going to make room for you! I almost had a few head-ons in the cities for similar reasons. Romanian drivers are just are bad as Polish drivers (Hungarians seem better), but the crazy, homocidal truck driver is an international standard. One thing I really liked in Romania, and which Poland can't seem to adopt, is the countdown timer above traffic signals at larger intersections. It shows how many seconds until the light changes from red to green or green to red. Normally I wouldn't turn the engine off at an unfamiliar intersection, but with a timer I can easily see that I have 80 seconds of waiting until I can start turning the starter. Unfortunately, the digits were too small to be seen from far away, so I sometimes hard to suddenly use the brakes instead of gently engine braking to a stop.

Svietlana did very well: even though she was packed to her weight limit she did good a job of pulling us up the hills. The A/C was on almost all the time There was no other option with 5 people inside and with sun and temperatures of 28-34*C outside. With the weight, the steep hills and the A/C, it's amazing that I used only 49 liters of fuel for the 1130km of the tour of Transylvania. That's 4.3 l/100km, or 54 mpg The return home from Oradea got worse FE, partially because of the 130-140km/h speeds on the Hungarian and Slovakian highways, and partially because of a downpour that we drove in from mid-Slovakia to the Polish border. The heat wave in the south hit the cooler, damp air up north and we drove under the front for 2-3 hours. It was pouring so hard that we had stop a few times on the shoulder and wait it out.

We noticed that Svietlana was attracting attention, but not more than back at home. Yes, a few drivers stopped in the middle of the intersection, blocking traffic while staring, but only at a rest stop in Hungary did someone actually come up and ask. When returning home we got pulled over by the Hungarian border patrol. They waved to us before they could see the aeromods, this was just a routine stop. They checked everyone's documents, asked whether we are transporting cigarettes or alcohol, and when I closed the trunk, one of the officers poked at the Kammback and asked what it's for. When I replied that it helps use less fuel, he shrugged with a "Yeah, right, whatever" expression.

Since I'm in efficiency, here is a picture of an old Ukrainian (Soviet) Zaporozhetz. It has a handcrank instead of a starter



Romania can be called "The Land of Dacia", both with regard to the historical name of that region, and with regard to the myriads of Dacias on the roads. Many of these cars are tens of years old and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and have been "homemodded" into even more. Here is one with a homemade bumper which to an ecomodder's eye looks like an airdam. Also notice the three-tone paintjob



I'll add that big, ugly roof racks seem to have been standard on Dacias, and are probably rust-welded to the roof by now. On the left of the above picture is a Dacia Logan, produced after the company was bought by Renault.

One of the problems we had was with communication: a lot of people speak Italian, but not many know English. But all in all, we had a really great time, and coming back to civilization, and then home, was not easy. I highly recommand visiting Romania to anyone who is that region. It's not the backward, third world country many regard it to be.
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e·co·mod·ding: the art of turning vehicles into what they should be

What matters is where you're going, not how fast.

"... we humans tend to screw up everything that's good enough as it is...or everything that we're attracted to, we love to go and defile it." - Chris Cornell

Piwoslaw's Peugeot 307sw modding thread


Last edited by Piwoslaw; 09-04-2009 at 08:22 AM..
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Pretty nice pictures

Looks like a good time
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Old 09-04-2009, 05:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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great stuff

i love to do stuff like that

wish we had more places to go
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the report, it looks like a very interesting place. Are the prices about the same as in PL?
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Those pictures are breathtaking. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 09-07-2009, 04:55 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Flooded!! :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by skyl4rk View Post
Thanks for the report, it looks like a very interesting place. Are the prices about the same as in PL?
Pretty much the same, in some places food and even lodging is cheaper. But we usually slept in a tent and tried to avoid places that would suck us dry.


I forgot to mention that on the return trip we had a stowaway, adding about 40-50kg to the car's weight. Now you ask: "A 40-50kg stowaway? How could you have not noticed that??" Well... On the day after the return we were cleaning the car, and as I vacuumed I noticed that the carpet in the rear is wet. My first thought was that the bottle of water had a leak. But then I noticed even more water in the front. I got worried. I started pulling up the carpeting and mats the whole floor was a swimming pool There was so much water under the carpet!! I took out the rear and front seats, pulled up the carpet (can't take it out ), pulled out the mats, sqeezed at least 30 liters of water out of them, and started drying the car.



Luckily, the whole week was sunny and warm I spent hours taking the car apart trying to find out how we got so much water. Could it have been during the rain storm in Slovakia? I could tell by the smell and lack of mold that the water was relatively fresh. I spent more hours on the Peugeot forum looking for hints. Finally, I got a lead: check the A/C drain pipe for clogging. So I look for it, and look for it, and look for it... And I can't find it because it's not there! The water that condenses in the A/C should go into a pipe that goes through the floor and drips onto the exhaust under the car. I had no pipe, so the water was dripping next to the hole, right onto the carpet. I didn't notice this earlier, since I never used the A/C for more than 1-2 hours at a time, 1-2 times a week, so even if the carpet got a little damp it would quickly dry. But the second week of our trip saw the A/C being on for 6-9h/day for the whole week. I checked some pictures I took of the underside of the car just after buying it, and it turns out that the pipe was missing then, so maybe the previous owner deleted it. I put a new pipe in place, so the car should be drier now But I'm privately hoping that I won't need to use the A/C so often. One good side to having the car in pieces is that I replaced the fuel and air filters, my engine likes me again
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e·co·mod·ding: the art of turning vehicles into what they should be

What matters is where you're going, not how fast.

"... we humans tend to screw up everything that's good enough as it is...or everything that we're attracted to, we love to go and defile it." - Chris Cornell

Piwoslaw's Peugeot 307sw modding thread

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Old 09-08-2009, 05:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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That looks pretty amazing.

Always wanted to travel to Romania and there's not much better to do than hike around and see the sites without people. People usually ruin things.
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Pretty nice story/account of the places you visited...and of your car's performance/MPG.
I grew up in very similar surroundings to those (I'm Romanian) and I must say it sort of brings back memories of some rough but lovely times in my childhood...

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