Day 28, Sieu to Baia Mare, RO

Several homes along the road to Baia Mare had colorful displays of pots

I had a good, if a bit unusual, night in Sieu. First, even with my new neighbors have a grand old time in the gazebo between our cabins, I still managed to fall asleep quickly. I think climbing a mile or so in a day will do that. I'll find out tonight since I had another big day of climbing today! Then, a few hours later, I woke severely chilled. I'd closed the window in the cabin because of the noise and fallen asleep partially under a thin duvet. Since the cabin was not insulated and was pretty high up in the mountains, it got quite chilly and, I guess since I was exhausted, I really got chilled before I woke up. I was worried that I might be sick or get sick - it would not be good to get sick in Ukraine - but I recovered after ten minutes under a thick duvet.

This morning, my neighbors were chatting away at 5:30 AM and gone by 6:30. I got up at 7 and went down for a good breakfast at 7:30. I was on the road shortly after 8. It was a mostly peaceful and interesting ride to Sighetu Maramatiei Since it was Sunday morning, LOTs of people were walking to church as I rode through their villages and even as I rode into Sighetu Maramatiei. Many of them were wearing traditional Romainian clothing. And there were horses with bells on whose riders were headed to church. In one town there was big festival centered in front of the church and extending for several blocks to either side. As I rode, I was planning to turn north to the Ukraine border, but I never found the road I needed. Part of that was probably inattention on my part, or maybe too much attention to what was going on in the villages. Another part is that, since it is just a pedestrian border crossing point, it would only be small road to the village on the border.

It was mostly easy riding down stream along the river

There are several distinctive architectural features of Maramures
This kind of gate is one of them

The road, the river valley, and Romainian haystacks

I was still looking for the road to Ukraine when I got to Sighetu Maramatiei. I decided I would ride into town, check it out, and get some Ukraine money before I rode back to try to find the road. I did find a money exchange open - very little was open on Sunday morning - but they thought it very strange that I would want Ukrainian money. Without Ukrainian money, I was reluctant to go into Ukraine, so I decided I would stay in Romania one more night and go in tomorrow at a regular border crossing where I could change money. That gave me three options: stay in Sighetu Maramatiei, ride on toward Satu Mare, or ride to Baia Mare. I pondered and dithered a lot and decided to ride to Baia Mare because I'd never been there and because, on my map, it looked like an easy 60 km ride. I had lunch in Sighetu Maramatiei and headed south for Baia Mare.

Starting out for Baia Mare
This is what I thought the entire ride would look like.
It didn't!

The first 5 km or so were pretty much what I expected, a relatively flat ride down a wide valley. Then it started getting hilly. Then it got really hilly and several groups of people cheered for me as I rode by. Then I noticed that every time I crossed a stream, the road headed up stream on the the other side. Then I realized that the road was not going to turn and go down a valley before that big ridge ahead, but was going to go over that ridge. I knew I was in for a repeat of yesterday's ride up the river.

When I realized I was in for another big climb, the road was climbing alongside this creek

The steady, moderately steep, climbing started with at least half a dozen km of 6% or better climbing alongside a creek. Nice riding in nice country. Lots of people were picnicing, camping, and fishing along that creek. It felt like I was in a National Park in the US. sort of like Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, only a lot lower.

Then the road left the creek and there was this sign
I hoped it wasn't 18 more km of climbing - it couldn't be since nothing in Romainia gets that high

After the road left the creek, there was 'only' another six km of climbing at 5 to 6%. Then there was a short, 8% section before the top. Then there was a 12 km downhill marked at 7% and as a 'dangerous descent.' It wasn't as steep or as dangerous as yesterdays descent into Maramure, but it was a lot longer with what felt like hundreds of switchbacks.

I was glad this was only a few hundred meters!

Todays unexpected big climb was one of those time when, if I had known that I was going to have to climb three or four thousand feet to get to Baia Mare, I wouldn't have come here, but, having done it, I'm glad I did.

This a geologically special rock formation on the top of the ridge near the place where the road goes over

This is a Romainian foot bridge over the creek on the way up the ridge
It is an elegantly minimal way to make a foot bridge over a creek

After the high point, the rest of the way to Baia Mare was mostly down hill. I cruised into the city heading for the center to find a place to stay and internet access. The road going straight to the center was closed for about half a mile by construction and traffic was diverted quite a ways around it. When I saw how long the detour was, I went back and rode / walked my bike though the construction.

Right where the construction ended, I saw a sign 'reception' - not really but that word in Romainian - and looked up to see that I was in front of a nice looking pension - again, that word in Romainian. I went in, looked at the rooms, decided to stay if the wireless worked. When I took out my computer, it didn't detect any wireless signals, but my portable wireless detector showed a strong signal. I think my computers wireless card got dislodged the last time I dropped the computer. eeePCs are very sturdy but...

I explained to the nice folks at the pension that I had a problem and needed wired internet or an internet cafe. They showed me where several hotels were that had wired ethernet connections in their rooms but didn't know of any internet cafes. Then 'the staff' gave me a bottle of cold water as I prepared to leave.

I rode on into the center of town and asked a group of teenaged boys where to find an internet cafe. They told me the way to go, but didn't have enough English to tell me how far to go, so I asked a cabbie who said - follow me, I'm going that way and I will show you where it is. I did and he did and I got two ride reports posted and web pages up, but not linked to the tour index page. I discovered that my usb drive was missing day26 and I wanted to find it - I did - and create this page this evening, so I headed back to the pension where the staff was so nice. I had supper here and will have breakfast here tomorrow and the total cost will be around $50. Not as good as last night in some ways - cost and quality of the food - but I won't wake up chilled tonight, it is air conditioned which makes clothes drying easier, and I did get to wash my clothes and take a shower rather than just do a cold water body wash.

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