Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Day 63 - Sibiu

Well it is still in the 40s everyday but there is no point going on about it, I just have to live with it.

Monday was a really easy ride, only 50k and hardly a hill in sight. Destination was Sighisoarsa, the birth place of Vlad Dracul (Dracula). I made another early start but had a lie in until 6, but had still found a room by 10. Romania is a bit confusing with its currency. It recently knocked 4 0s off so 1,000 lei is now 1 lei, easy enough. But they sometimes quote room prices in Euro, their currency of the future, but if you want to pay in lei they convert to there old currency. Wouldnt it be easier just to use their current currency? I took a room for 30 lei thinking what a bargain, then realised my error and it was 30 Euro, 3 times the price. I stuck with it though as it was a really nice place and as I was there from 10am I was getting my monies worth. The conversion works in their favour as they inflate the exchange rate and can effectively overcharge, so I then had to haggle the price back down to the correct conversion rate. They are always on the lookout for way of overcharging or not giving change here.

I am now back with other tourists, the first I have seen since leaving Hungary, but most of them are Hungarian, but I did hear some Americans talking today.

The ride towards Sibiu was pretty straight forward and not exactly exciting. With about 25k to go there was the first climb of the day and in a layby were a couple of cycle tourists, the first I have seen since Austria. They were Mikael and Norbert from Berlin (photo) on a 2 week holiday. They were heading for Orca Sibiului where there are some salt pools. Being one to be easily distracted I took them up on their offer to join them. It was only about 15k away and when we arrived I was amazed at just how busy the place was. Norbert had been here before 3 years ago and knew where to go and lead up to a round pool with steep sides dropping into it with access by flights of steps. They were soon changed and in the pool floating around with everybody else. It to me a little longer as being a non swimmer I didnt like the queues of people going in and out so I waited for a quiet spell. When I went in I was surprised how deep it was as my feet didnt touch the bottom, so I stayed floating with little confidence and hanging on to the step rail. It got busier again and not being very happy I got out and went up the steps that nobody was using. I soon found out why as they were really hot and I had to make a dash for the top as my feet were really burning. Mikael came out and said he was going to one of the mud pools so I joined him. These were jet black only waist deep so I was happier and waded in. It was strange stuff as the water felt really soft but instantly covered you in a layer of black silt. You could pick it up off the bottom and plaster it on but there wasnt much need, so I spent an hour or two just floating around and chatting. Once out of the pool the heat of the sun quickly dried the silt and my whole body was covered in the stuff (photo). After a while we decided to stay and camp so we found a shaded spot under the trees and set the tents up and had a liesurely afternoon at the bar, washing a few clothes or having another swim. In the evening they cooked a meal for the 3 of us and put my tinned food to shame as out came a small chopping board and fresh vegetables to make a spicy noodle sauce with sausage, followed by real coffee from a coffee maker. There was live music in the evening and we eventually turned in at about 12:45.

I am now used to the early starts and had my tent packed up before they even stirred. There was no rush as it was only a very short ride into Sibiu, where we checked in at the hostel. They are mixed dorms and I will be spending the night in a bunk bed sleeping above a very attractive Greek girl, but I am sure that nobody will appreciate my 5am start tomorrow morning! Everybody else staying there are backpackers and I feel a little bit out of place, but at least I have Mikael and Norbert as company. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the lovely town and went to an organ concert in the church this evening, good value for one pound.


aoiffe said...

Mally says - hi, visited the summer exhibition at Royal Academy of Arts, think you should enter some of your photos for next years exhibition - the photos were nothing compared to yours. This could be the start of your new career, you have an artists eye.

aoiffe said...

Mally adds - you'll have to cut your journey short - otherwise you won't be back in time to submit your stuff!! I am enjoying reading the print out of your blog from the comfort of the loo; blog on the bog.

aoiffe said...

James is already scarred for life after seeing the photo of you in South America wearing only gloves so perhaps I had better edit the next crop of photos - I say to Caroline 'beware - close your eyes or resign yourself to years of therapy!'

Caff said...

Can't see the photo, it hasn't appeared on my blog. Reminds me of my mudbath in the thermal lakes of Rotarua. The winter June temperature was close to freezing so I really enjoyed the hot water and hot mud. Not sure about doing that in temperatures of 40+! Those 2 guys sound fun to travel with especially with their culinary skills with fresh food - sounds like you are going to have to do better in that respect!

S said...

If you rush back to France today you could be in with a chance of winning the Tour De France - everyone else has been thrown out or pulled out because of drugs infringements. You must be fit enough by now to compete!

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