In France, many small country towns are dying. How many do we know like this? Not long ago, you could find a baker, a butcher, a hairdresser, a corner store or other small local businesses along the main street. They closed one after another, leaving empty windows, some of which have become makeshift art galleries. We have these dying towns all across France. In Romania, we rediscovered what rural life could be. Even the tiniest village is alive: retirees sit in front of their homes and talk while watching the passing cars, kids ride their bikes, a woman leaves the bakery carrying two big loaves and waves to two men in hats, tractors drive by harnessed carts, the terrace at the only neighbourhood bar is packed with people… In short, there’s life. These towns have kept their souls, their energy. The farming culture is still here and you can sense pride in a heritage no one wants to lose. We would love for the rural French towns to fill with people again and spread peace like what we experienced here.
Driving in Romania is quite a challenge! Hold on and make sure you pay attention! You’ll frequently be passed at any time and by any method. Pedestrians are walking on the roadside at night, there are tractors, horse-drawn carts, cows, ponies, dogs… ! Many roads have potholes and when there’s construction work, few drivers have the patience to wait for a green light… they go whenever they feel like it! Luckily, Bertrand learned to drive in Marseille!
In the Apuseni mountain nature reserve, we tested Patrick’s four-wheel drive and his all-terrain tires. The roads are often narrow, rutted, rocky, muddy or filled with water but Patrick has no fear. He even impressed us! And he impressed passers-by. This big van that looks quite heavy goes anywhere and we’re delighted by it. With its all-terrain options, we can go looking for even more adventures on relatively untravelled roads in magnificently-preserved landscapes.
Romania is a beautiful country. And its inhabitants are very welcoming. Still, we do have one reproach for them: rubbish… Even the smallest stops along the mountain roads are littered with rubbish. Toilet paper, food wrappers, broken glasses, all kinds of waste… It’s as if people thought it wouldn’t stay long, as if they expected someone would come by and clean up in a few minutes. So, suckers that we are, we picked up what we could, but in some places, we would have needed trucks! It’s so easy to keep a small litter bag in the car and take it home to throw out properly… my dear Romanian friends, this is one time we just don’t understand what’s going on…