Day 46: Dej to Satu, Romania

A storks nest with storks
I've seen a number of these in Romania, more than anywhere else,
and this the best image I've gotten.
This image is for Don Patterson

Here is real rural Romanian traffic - three cows, two horses, one wagon, and three Romanians,
two in the wagon and one herding the cows.
There were three goats, and a few turkeys just off to the right side, and a flock of geese just down the road.

My last full day in Romania was a good one. The roads were good, with only a few miles of bumpy road. The scenery was quite nice. And I finshed the day with 35 miles of very rural road through small towns. It was nice riding and I got to see a lot of nice people and visit with a few of them. When I got to Satu Mare, the big city in these parts, I checked into a hotel - air conditioning for 1,550,000 Lei (45 Euro) with breakfast. After I cleaned up, I asked about internet access. The clerk tried to explain to me how to find an internet cafe, but it was tricky. Then the fellow that helped with my bags said (in Romanian, of course) come on, I'll show you. We walked about a third of a mile to the first place, but it didn't have floppy drives, so we walked another third of mile to another place that did! Now that is being incredibly helpful. I'm just stunned by acts like that that have happened here. I think they say a great deal about this culture. It is just a really nice place with good folks.

Note that these good folks have a hard time making ends meet with an average monthly income of around $100, so there is a lot of property crime, forgery, hacking, and prostitution that goes on here. It isn't a model society, but it is a good place to tour if, as several people told me before I got here, you are careful to avoid getting mixed up in the the bad parts. The French women I met in Hungary said they only rode backroads and loved the people of Romania. I now really understand why.

Other folks had advised me to stick to main roads, but I think that is a wrong thinking. I think the back roads are, with a little common sense, less dangerous than the main roads. Moreover, they allow you to interact with the other people using them. Those people are on foot, on bicycles, and in horse drawn wagons. I visited with several folks on the rural section today. None of them spoke any English or, as far as I could tell, anything other than Romanish, and all were friendly and helpful. I also interacted with smiles and waves with many other people. I entered Romania scared by the bogey man stories I had heard. I'll leave it tomorrow, comfortable with touring here and wanting to come back because I really like the people.

A field of sunflowers which, like all the agriculture I've seen in Romania, seem poorer
than you''ll see in the US or Western Europe. Intensive farming isn't practical here.
This image is for Barbara, who loves sunflowers

Side and rear views of a family in a wagon drawn by two horses, with two colts getting used to being on the road
Notice the stares as they ride by me and the skittishness of the colt near the center of the road
The fellow driving the wagon grinned and waved as I, carefully, passed them on the far edge of the road

The first part of my ride, the 50 miles or so from Dej to Satlung, was very pretty riding. The road was good and even had a shoulder much of the way. Road quality here, as in the US, often changes at the Judetal (county) line and I passed from Salaj to Maramures to Satu Mare Judetals today. Most of my riding on 1C was in Maramures and most of the rural riding was in Satu Mare. The Judetal lines have fancier markers here than in the US. The one where I entered Maramures, in the middle of a long climb, is really neat. It is a wooden structure that 'frames' the road. From what I've seen in Hungary, this looks like a statement about the Hungarian heritage of the people in Maramurses. The simpler one where I left Maramures and entered Satu Mare, was where I choose to stop for a break and, while sitting there, visited first with a man on a bicycle and then with an old man on foot. This was a very rural, isolated area where I was supposed to have been worried about being robbed. I was quite comfortable there.

Entering Maramures - the road is climbing over the ridge framed by the structure
That yellow stuff in the bottom right corner is a picnic area just on the other side

This is the start of the climb which lasts until km marker 40

The view, over a wheat field, looking back towards the valley I've just climbed out of

I could have continued on the bigger roads through Baia Mare to Satu Mare, but taking the smaller roads took 10 miles off of the ride distance. That road started out really bumpy. I though "Oh,oh 35 mile of this?" But it got better and, while it was never as smooth as 1C, it had only a few bad sections. Even the bad sections were not too bad because, with little traffic, I could usually avoid bad parts of the road. I was only rarely forced to ride on the edge of the road where it was bad. The light traffic, the neat culture and people, the fields and even the homes were interesting to me. Although their incomes are low, most of the houses in these towns were well kept. I did see one that was, literally, falling down, and a few that need a lot of work, but the general feel in thissesction was of modest comfort rather than poverty.

One of the towns on the backroads

This is, I think, shift change at a sawmill

Two girls, walking towards a small town

A well, used for watering livestock

This part of Romania - Transylvania - was part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire.
Many of the town's have two names, a Romanian name and a Hungarian name (at the bottom)
Note the tilted, crooked, power pole - that is part of Romania too!

I rode into Satu Mare and, eventually made it to the centru - the center of town. I had to defy some non bicycling signs and deal with some heavy traffic, to get here. I stopped a two star hotels which, at least for the air conditioned rooms, has three star prices. My room is nice, although, and this is Romania too, only one of the four light bulbs in my room worked when I got here. Now three do and it is well lit. The hotel is right across from a nice park and my window looks out over the middle of the park. Nice.

The park with fountain and statue, the view from my window

After using the internet cafe - it was not a good experience - I came back to my room and then went looking for a good place to eat supper. I couldn't find any. As a last resort, I walked to another hotel and, since lots of people were eating there, I did too. It was excellent. I had a good steak, a big salad, a beer, and espresso for 200,000 Lei or about $6. All of my suppers here have been between 150,000 and 250,000 Lei, but the quality has not been reflected in the price. Tonight's meal and the one I had at the Motel near Sibiu, were both really good meals for 200,000 Lei. The others were OK, but nothing special. The third best meal was at the, very unfancy, Motel/tavern in Brasov. It wasn't fancy, but it was good cooking. It will hurt, in Hungary, to pay more for lodging and food. Slovakia is almost as inexpensive as Romania, and Poland and the Czech are relatively inexpensive. I won't really be suffering sticker shock till I get back to Germany where, with the strong Euro, food and lodging will cost me twice as much as it does here!