4-Xtremes – Part 30: Transylvania sends its regards

Series: 4-Xtremes – The World Tour

No bears on-board please!

An underground ferris wheel , a “fearful” exhibition and eyeball to eyeball with a family of bears – Romania has quite a few surprises for the Kammermanns.

En route on the Transalpina road.


People like to describe travel destinations as “colourful”. Romania outdoes this term by far. What we have experienced over the last two weeks, has been extraordinary – even for us.

Hungary had a lot to offer as far as driving is concerned, but Romania takes it to another level. Even if you stay on the main roads, you experience a lot. We passed through villages in which virtually every architectural style can be seen; from wooden huts to elaborately decorated, multi-storey villas. We were also surprised to see that horse-drawn carts are still common on the roads.


A view into the abyss.

And we were determined to drive up a few passes. If only to get away from the continued heat. The most well-known pass roads in Romania are the Transalpina and the Transfagarasan. We decided to go for the Transalpina first. Normally you only see small off-road vehicles here. But Mike was optimistic that the Axor wouldn’t let us down here either. And he was right. However the trip gave me more than one adrenalin rush as from the co-driver’s side I had a view of the abyss below several times. But in the end the sunset that we enjoyed from the top of the pass reconciled us to the stress and strain of the day. Our camp for the night was also unusual: next to the valley station of a ski lift – how often do you have the opportunity to do that?


The second mountain trip took us to the Transfagarasan pass with its endless serpentine bends. The Axor managed the journey to the top effortlessly: we just selected the reduction gear and rolled forward, nice and slowly. On the way back down to the valley, Mike had to take care that the brakes didn’t overheat, as we don’t have a retarder. But everything went well.

But back to the journey up to the top: coming from the South you pass a reservoir on the Transfagarasan road – the ideal place for us to have a lunch break. We let Aimée out, opened the doors as always when the weather is good and began to cook. And we discussed the warnings about bears along the route. Never in a million years would we have thought of seeing bears along this busy road. We thought wrong. Shortly afterwards – luckily Aimée was inside again – we looked out of the door and couldn’t believe our eyes. Directly behind the Axor there was a mother bear and two cubs! We caught our breath. Then it was time to just close the doors quickly and pack the food away as the last thing we wanted was to attract this furry family.


Lost in another time: horse-drawn carts are still common on Romanian roads.
Lost in another time: horse-drawn carts are still common on Romanian roads.
A break for Andrea and Mike …
A break for Andrea and Mike …
… and a cool bath for Aimee.
… and a cool bath for Aimee.
Driving fun for Mike and the Axor.
Driving fun for Mike and the Axor.
It was worth all the effort.
It was worth all the effort.

With our hearts beating fast we took a few photos. And where was the pepper spray? Reports of bears breaking into camper vans provided for vivid scenes in our heads. However the mother bear and her young left us alone and we drove on quickly.

Once we reached the summit of the pass, we rubbed our eyes: obviously we weren’t the only ones seeking refuge from the heat in the mountains. Many cars were parked on the road and people were walking back and forth across it. Right at the top there was a tunnel which was marked as having a clearance height of 3.60 metres. Our Axor is 3.70 metres high. It was a good job that we had done some research beforehand and knew that higher vehicles have been through it. All the same, we still had to be careful as the rounded tunnel was quite dark and every now and again reinforcing iron bars protruded down from the ceiling.


You would think it’s just missing a Steiff button in its ear; but beware!
You would think it’s just missing a Steiff button in its ear; but beware!
Large station at the summit of the Transfagarasan pass.
Large station at the summit of the Transfagarasan pass.
Romania also has some beautiful architecture.
Romania also has some beautiful architecture.
A view into a 112-metre abyss.
A view into a 112-metre abyss.
Boat trips are on offer here as well as …
Boat trips are on offer here as well as …
… crazy golf.
… crazy golf.
Has a lot of charm, but also a lot of tourists: the little town of Sighisoara.
Has a lot of charm, but also a lot of tourists: the little town of Sighisoara.
A wonderful setting for a camp, if only there hadn’t been a storm …
A wonderful setting for a camp, if only there hadn’t been a storm …

A place to fear.

The Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania, palaces and castles shrouded in mystery – even without a visit from bears, Romania offers numerous opportunities to fire your imagination. We were open to that and visited Castle Hunedoara – also known as Corvin Castle. Where, if not here, would be the best place for a torture exhibition? No expense has been spared with regard to visual and acoustic effects in the building close to the castle – our hair stood on end more than once. We will spare you the photos.

In the Wallachia region an orthodox convent built in the 16th century and which has real flair is a complete contrast to that. We were also very pleased that in Alba Iulia another exotic place to stay the night was waiting for us directly next to the fortification wall. And who did we meet there? A Romanian RoadStar! What a lovely surprise! 


112 metres below ground level.

But straight on to the next thing – our next highlight took us deep into the bowels of the earth, into the old Turda salt mine which is an unbelievable 112 metres below ground level! At the end of the Socialist era, the galleries were turned into an exhibition mine. What is on offer here is absolute madness: visitors can play table tennis, crazy golf or ride a ferris wheel! In the cone-shaped Iosif mine you can even paddle around a salt island in a rowing boat. Down here, we feel as if we’re in another world and return back to earthly conditions.

After stops at the town of Sighisoara and Rupea castle we set up camp on a plateau next to an extinct volcano. Recently a small village has been built on its slopes where, since May, filming for a Western series has been taking place. Unfortunately access to it has been blocked preventing us from further excursions.


On the run from a storm.

But we had to leave this rather exposed place before we went to bed. Just before 10 p.m. a severe storm with a lot of lightning started to rage. A plateau as a parking place wouldn’t have been a good decision in this case. So we drove into a dip so that we weren’t the highest metallic point and in danger of being struck by lightning.

In the past few weeks we have seen so many unbelievable things in Romania. We’re looking forward to seeing what the rest of the country has to offer.


4-Xtremes – The World Tour.

A one-of-a-kind journey.

For eleven months, Andrea and Mike Kammermann were on the “4‑Xtremes” tour with their Axor. Now they are on an even greater adventure. The pair from Switzerland will be on the road for three years and the RoadStars community will again be joining them on the trip! Always be up-to-date and don’t miss any of the breathtaking destinations that our adventurous couple are heading for.

You can find all the parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.


Photos: 4-Xtremes

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