Today was our first day in Romania, so far it seems like a latin version of the balkans. The Tunnel of Love is our first destination here.
We attempted to get to Romania yesterday, but the border crossing of our choice (Jasa Tomic/Foeni) was only open from 7:00 to 19:00. We left Novi Sad in Serbia around 17:30: not enough time when your car doesn’t go over 80 km per hour. We arrived at the border around 20:00, too late! So we decided to spend the night in Jasa Tomic and cross into Romania first thing in the morning.
So today we woke up at 6:00, prepared Box and took off. The Foeni border is very calm and not at all busy. The border police here is extremely friendly, respectful and helpful. The guard gave us touristic information and talked with us about his favorite TV shows. This was the first border crossing in months where we were not double verified or sniffed by a drug dog. What a nice welcome!
Once we crossed the border we were impressed with Romania. It is like time travel: we saw lots of shepherds, no gas station for a long while, also no sign of internet, or anything that looks modern.
Our first destination in Romania was the Tunnel of Love (Tunelul Dragostei). Valine read about this on a blog about hidden destinations. Later we would find out that this spot was even more hidden than expected!
After a few hours we arrived in the town closest to the tunnel of love. We asked for directions. People kept sending us back and forth for hours, eventually we realized that one thing in common among all the directions we received was: ‘Go to the center of town’ (Otelu Rosu). So we programmed the GPS to take us to the center.
Now that was another challenge. For us to believe that the GPS was taking us to the center of town, was simply impossible. Nothing looked like we were going towards the center of town. Much to the contrary: we could clearly see that we were going away from the center: the road got more and more steep with ever more holes. We also met some cows on the road. So now even the GPS was giving us the wrong directions. But how can you argue with the GPS?
I asked Valine to stop the car so I could again ask for directions, we stopped by a group of 4 teens, they had no idea what we were talking about. The GPS indicated that the center of town was just 50 meters ahead of us. And we could clearly see that whatever was ahead of us was nothing close to the center of town.
Eventually an adult came to help us, he tried to give us directions in Romanian. It was very clear to all of us that it was not working, so with the resource of body language, he asked us to wait. He walked to a house some 50 meters ahead of us and knocked on a window.
His friend came out and spoke to us in fluent English. His directions were very clear and precise. After a few minutes in the conversation it turned out that this guy was the exact person who discovered the tunnel some 3 years ago! Mihai is a professional photographer and when he and his friend were looking for a place to photograph some trees, they found this spot by accident. Thank you GPS, for bringing us exactly to his house!
In the video below you can hear his story:
Romania so far is simply astonishing in all aspects. Landscapes and people. Thank you Romania for a great welcome!