Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vatra Dornei, RO

Vatra Dornei, RO

RO is the international abbreviation for Romania. 

We are on the road today, with VatraDornei being the closest, largest town near the painted Monasteries in the North of the Country (Bucolic), our targets for the next few days. We are in the Carpathian Mountains. We are not on a race in Romania, so we ride about 5 to 6 hours a day and then stop and smell the roses. Vatra Dornei is just a normal town. Sure they would love to be a ski resort and maybe they are, but for me it is a stopover. We were lucky to have found a hotel that is modern, air conditioned, with secure parking, elevator, breakfast included and near town; a really nice place: HotelBelvedere.

Riding a motorcycle needs to be an adaptive sport. Just because you can ride in, let’s say, Germany or the U.S, does not mean you know the small intricacies of riding in Austria or Hungary or Romania. There is something different here. Just like there is a difference between Mexico and the U.S.

I once rode from Mexico into Guatemala and noticed a difference there, too. It happens almost instantly: just cross a border and something changes. The effect is immediate: Canadians drive and ride differently than their Southern Neighbors. It is difficult to put into words but I feel it. So my awareness needs to adapt. I need to be ready for new things. In Romania the roads are narrow and winding. The highways are not international interstates with wide aprons on the side of the road. The roads here are the old roads, established over centuries, just paved over. They still twist their way through the center of towns, up and down mountains and are used by dogs, cows and horse drawn carts.
Horse's Pace Of Life 
Anticipate the unexpected in Romania, you will even see geese or pigs standing in the road, right after a curve, looking at you and seeming to ask: “What are you doing here on my road?” Riding a bike is full of small adventures. Six hours of full attention to the road is about all I can give of myself before I feel a fatigue creeping in.
So we don’t push ourselves to make it to the ultimate goal.  We know our limits and bunk down even if we are near to where we have to go. I find it better to see the attraction we headed for the next day. Fresh like a daisy I get better impressions of whatever we came to see. How many miles I ride a day is totally irrelevant! What matters is that we ride safely and get there. Time seems to have a different value in Romania. The horse carts I mentioned are slow but seem to be on a mission. Just imagine commerce being done at their speed. Of course there are many trucks on the road but still, there is also the time-forgotten way of one step at a time, living at a horse’s speed.
The towns, similar to Hungary, have a layout I do not understand. When going into a town, I see deep ditches on the left and right side of the road. The town road is just two lanes, and then comes the deep ditch. Beyond that is a narrow strip of land and then the houses start. The houses are built in a row. Yes you can call them row houses but each house is different, yet they are very close together or even touching each other. The strip of land in front of the house is sometimes made into a garden, other times it is a parking spot. Small bridges cross the ditch; each house has their own bridge from the road to the house. It’s a strange look and I noticed it first in Hungary, but now I see it in Romania, too.
I can understand the purpose of the ditch in heavy rains, it drains the roads, it might even have drained effluents years ago, but this is 2015. Still, those are historic setups and do not seem to change. I cannot understand why a town was laid out that way, though.
Idyllic? It Was A Nice Ttown !

A Well Deserved Drink 

Vatra Dornei is not laid out that way. Somehow this town is like other European towns, a bit old and yet it has its own charm. A pedestrian street (no cars allowed) full of outside restaurants is in the center of the town, we had dinner there. A wide shallow river flows through the city, flanked by railroad tracks. People walk instead of driving cars. The general feeling is of contentment with a dash of ambition for something new. I like this town.
Sure I yelled at the woman who was parked, blocking the entrance to our hotel, leaving us vulnerable on the street amid a construction zone. She had plenty of room to park anyplace else, but no, she was lazy and had to park in the most convenient spot, disregarding the difficulty she caused for anyone else. People are people, including me. I get all steamed up when I see idiots and I let them know it.

But I smile at myself too, for being the other idiot.

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