Saturday, October 11, 2008

Maramures Friday

Friday 10 October:

After a busy morning of finding the Insurance office closed, going to the bank to deposit the last of my assorted-currecncy cash reserves, going to the Parbriz replacement shop to order a new windshield for the BMW and going to the office to have coffee with my dean, I met the 1:36 train from Oradea, and Evan, Nancy and Pat. My luggage was still at the apartment, so I was happy when Nancy asked if we could stop there before heading north. She had an urgent e-mail to send. So, we drove to the P-ta M. V., and booted my machine.

Finally hitting the trail after 4:00, we drove up a pretty standard "under construction" Romanian two-laner for some 70 Km, following big trucks and being passed by 90 MPH madmen in Audis. Pat had spotted an alternate route to Baia Mare through Targu Lapus, so we turned off the main road, and found Maramures. The trucks and traffic had all but disappeared, and traditional farmhouses and tiny villages had appeared. In each village, the school and church were clearly the best-kept buildings. And there were cows. And sheep. And dogs, men and women all over the road, heading home from the pastures in the gathering dusk. We slowed down. One cow swerved to the side of the road, directly into our path. The horn blast changed her mind for her, but not before a look of shock came over her owner's face. It was a near-miss.

As the sun was just disappearing, our GPS guiding us to Baia Mare said, "Take next slight left." The road with the painted white stripe went straight ahead. The road to the left looked small. Was it a shortcut? I had driven on ahead, when the GPS said, "Recalculating route." Pat said, "I think we were supposed to take that left." So, we went back, and turned sharp right, onto the GPS-designated road.

Seven KM later we were on a mountaintop northwest of Targu Lapus. We had been on dirt switchbacks in deep woods for twenty minutes when we came to a fairly sustantial farm, right at the peak of the road. (I want to buy that farm.) By now it was pitch black night, save for a half-moon. A man (the owner?) appeared in the road. We stopped, and communicated, though not easily, that we wanted to go to Baia Mare. He told us to go back where we'd come from, which was not an idea any of us relished, but he made it clear that continuing ahead would not get us to Baia Mare. So we turned around, put the transmission into first gear, and trailed-throttle all the way back down to the white stripe.

From there it was a straight shot to The Euro Hotel, a three-star hotel in Baia Mare. The dinner was fine, and the room quite nice. Pat and I are in one room, Evan and his Mom in another, and we are off on Saturday to see more of Maramures.

No comments: