Ceausescu’s Road

One of the prime attractions of this holiday was to go through Transfagarasan, a famous mountain road here in Romania. Although it is not the highest road in the Carpathians, it is one of the best known (now also internationally due to a dedicated appearance in Top Gear).
We traversed this piece of asphalt from north to south, going from Brasov county to Arges county. The road itself begins with a village right at the bottom of the mountains, at this point without anything dramatic. As one goes more towards the mountains and enters the forest, the road starts to twist… some easy left and right turns and then moving on to the hairpins with not many places to stop at. After the first semi-tunnel, however, the first major parking lot appears. Packed with small souvenir boutiques and a hotel, this is also the bottom of the cable car which takes you to the Balea Waterfall. We did not try this, because the cable car was moving EXTREMELY slow and there was still so much to see on the road ahead :).

After this point the road gets tougher. As the indicator says, it is forbidden to stop in the upcoming portion of the road. From this point on, the trees get smaller and smaller and give way to the breathtaking view down to… well down to a large distance as far as the eye can see. For some it is beautiful, for others it can cause nausea 🙂 . I have seen, however, no reason why one could not stop at this portion: there are lots of places where the car can be parked completely off the road, not blocking others. And yes, we did stop to take pictures :).

The entire climb culminates at Balea Lake, just after climbing the most spectacular set of curves on the entire road. At that point even the car had problems “breathing” and it was not so jumpy as in normal conditions. The Lake, however, is worth the climb. I must say, I think I have never seen such a clean lake in my life. The view is also astonishing… and the locals are using it wisely: 5 RON(~€1.10) just to park you car for any time period from 0-12 hours (end there is no other place to stop at except the parking lots). Even here, the place is filled with boutiques selling all kinds of things that tourist might buy.

But again, there is still a lot to see, so we entered the tunnel (the longest in Romania) at the top of the mountain, passing into Arges county. At the other side, the road starts spiraling downwards and it is pretty much the same as on the other side, only this time it is the other way around: trees get bigger, the view-distance gets smaller, the nausea goes away 🙂 … oh yes, and some friendly donkeys greet you on the other side 😀 .

Next stop: Lake Vidraru, a huge artificial lake on the banks of which the road twists and turns without allowing a proper view of the lake. After about half an hour of twisting and turning around the lake, however, one gets to the dam which holds back this great mass of water. Here all the twisting and turning pays off: the view is, again, breathtaking and the place is, again, filled with boutiques 🙂 .

After all that twisting and turning the road between Lake Vidraru and Curtea de Arges (our destination) gets straighter and houses will re-emerge, forming a never ending village chain (frustrating) until one gets into Curtea de Arges and ends the drive through this great piece of road…

Pictures have been uploaded here.


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