As we made our back into Transylvania from the northern part of Romania, we stopped in the city of Cluj Napoca for a night (simply known as Cluj). The old city (dating back to 12th century), used to be the capital of the Grand Principality of Transylvania. Today it’s a very important academic center with 12 or so universities. I’ve always wanted to see Cluj because my parents went to school there and it’s also where they met.
After a couple of days of visiting monasteries in Neamt and Bucovina, we decided to head west into Maramures. Our GPS calculated the “best” route and spat out an estimated time of 4 hours – not too bad. Little did we know this would become the best and worst road we’d travel. We started out through the idyllic countryside traversing through the Carpathian Mountains. A hot and sunny morning morphed into a cooler and grayer afternoon producing fog at the top of the mountains.
Arriving in Romania was a unique and much anticipated experience. First there was the border control – of all European countries we visited previously this was the only checkpoint where cars were actually stopped upon entry (including ours). Formality or not, it seemed pretty unnecessary. The other immediate noticeable difference was the roads. Roads in Romania are a work in progress, to put it gently.