For the next
2, 3, 4 nights, we chill with nothing but glorious weather, fantastic views and great company. Life feels great in Romania!
We are parked up in the middle of a field with our own sunflower and lavender garden and lovely backdrop of the Carpathian mountains. It super and we love it. There is no question we have fallen in love with Romania. It is rough, shabby, knackered but full of character, charm and architectural detail that ticks our box. The countryside is awesome from flat plains to rugged mountain peaks with birds of prey to tiny humming birds. The orthodox churches and the monasteries are just outstandingly beautiful with every inch of the interior covered in paintings, tapestries, wooden carvings or gold etchings. Colourful gypsy characters make you smile yet we remain cautious at the same time. I could go on and on, we just love it.
In between doing nowt, we walked into the village, explored the countryside on Eor, played frisbee with the dogs and danced our little socks off when no one was watching. Loads of BBQ’s, a few beers and a boogie under the stars, its what motorhome life is all about.
Every evening, we walked in to Cirta village. Outside the campsite an old chap with a big beaming smile tempting you to take a photo for a cheeky bob of two (we weren’t tempted). As we walked through the village, a number of small lanes, every doorway gave a glimpse of daily life and people at work. From some doorways there were sparks shooting out, from others we could see men with buckets of recycled plastic. Everyone seemed to be doing something. Little old ladies sat outside chatting and making sure the kiddies stayed out of mischief.
We constantly had to move out the way of people pushing wheelbarrows, riding bikes, driving tractors or walking the geese. Nearby a commotion from the gypsy quarters as the horse and cart head across river in to town. Once across river, he shouts friendly banter to the farmer tending to his new born foal. The children playing on a cart of broken roof tiles as we walked towards the village bar. We take their picture then show them the photo on screen. A mixture of surprise and shyness soon turns in to laughter and smiles.
The Roma people are a friendly bunch and as we say hello they reply with beaming smiles. The ladies dress in typical gypsy skirt and headscarf, the men in farm overalls with wide brimmed hats. The small bar in the centre of the village is the hub of activity with young and old enjoying a cheeky beer after a hard day work in the fields. A young lad pulls up in his tractor, chins a beer and then offers to give his mates a backy home on the tractor. Laughing and enjoying life they sway over the road causing an old chap on his bicycle to swerve. He steadies himself then he raises his hands and laughs, he remembers how good it feels to be young and carefree.
The small village of Cirta is mainly populated with Roma gypsies. Some live in well maintained properties with large plots of cultivated land, whilst others live is what appear abandoned or disused buildings. The Roma people are the most discriminated people in Europe. They belong to no particular country and therefore have no true land to call home. Traditional sources of income like making metal pots and pans and offering metal repairs services are a dying trade. Equally, horse rearing to support the traditional farming methods are slowly being replaced with modern tractors and machinery.
Here in Carta horse and cart are still the main mode of transport. With poor eduction support the children are often segregated within the schooling system. To boost their income it is not uncommon for them to beg or exchanging cash or goods for a cheeky photo shot.
After passing 100’s of villages, it is only here in Carta we discover the reason all the villages look and feel the same, it is down to their Saxon origins. Rows of houses presenting a solid wall to the street and fortified churches are hallmarks of their Saxon origins. Quite often the houses do not have a front door just a side gate to which you enter the grounds of the property.
Within 10 minutes of the village you are deep in the Romanian countryside with elevated views of the plains leading right up to the carpathian range. Here the tiny villages feel very different, no gypsy quarters just peasant farmers. Its just pure nature enhanced by rural shabby architecture.
It’s not just the scenic beauty or the long, empty roads, but the privilege of seeing fields tilled by horse-drawn plows. Women and men in traditional garb working the fields by hand picking potatoes and corn on the cob. Exploring the villages is like stepping into a living museum, where old folk sit mutely on benches in the sun against stonewalled, timber-framed homes, just as their ancestors have for years and years. Alleys and lanes in these villages are impassable by car potholed, and sometimes thick with cow dung and mud.
An old woman bent two double but happy plodding on and walking her goats. Lazy dogs just sniffing around and looking for the odd scrap, whilst an old grey chops shelters from the blistering sun under a huge stack of hay. A school minibus pulls up with a handful of kids, spotlessly clean and immaculately dressed. They scurry home after waving to a young boy of similar age, he rides bare back on a young horse.
Just outside the village of Somartin a quaint orthodox church on a small hill. We climb the stone path covered in roses bushes and marigolds. At the entrance, we are greeted by Elenaor, a young girl in her early twenties. She smiles before bowing her head. We are unsure if we can enter, so we ask if it is OK to look inside. She nods and invites us inside. It is beautiful. I gaze up, all carved timber with intricate detail inset with turquoise and gold paintings. I slowly step forward whilst looking at the ceiling.
I hear a voice, Elenaor is talking to some, I look down and at that point, I see a coffin. The coffin is open and inside, her grandmother. We had no idea and feel it its best to leave. We slowly move towards the door. Elenaor rushes over and asks us to come back inside. We explain we do not wish to intrude, she offers us water and cake and starts to tell us about her grandmother. A sad but beautiful story, about how her grandmother raised her after her parents died. We never met Elenaor’s grandma but she was a remarkable lady and there is no doubt she will have a place in heaven.
Our campsite is super and suits us perfectly. Owned by a Dutch couple, Tudorel and Manatte. Like most Romanian property, the side gate entrance bears no reference to what is hidden inside. The iron gates swing open to reveal a hidden gem. The small tree line track leads you to a wonderful camping ground surrounded in flower beds, corn fields and quaint little rockery gardens with huge sunflowers. It might fall under the category as ‘campsite’ but it feels more like someone’s back garden. A home stay with plenty TLC just for campers. Dotted all around the site are little home touches like old stove doors, potties with plants and frog ponds. Tudorel and Manatte personal touch is welcoming and such a refreshing change.
As well as a shower block, a rubbish area, service point there is a BBQ section with table, chairs and homemade wooden canopy with a complementary darts board. The kitchen area is stocked with lots of extra’s accessories making it easy for bikers and campers to pull up at any point in the day. The kitchen area is also a dining area and free wifi spot.
With plenty open space there are loads of spots to chose from. With or without electricity. Once you’ve found your spot you return to the reception to register and receive a little welcome gift, which is truly a lovely touch. The homemade liquor made with fruit from their garden is well nice. As most of you know, we mainly wild camp and rarely recommend campsites, but this one deserves a big thumbs up. It not only feels like you are staying in a friends garden but it allows you a taste, an experience of living in a Romanian village. It is excellent. Price wise, 53 ron (£10), a bargain.
Our Bumble: Carta offers a unique glimpse in to Roma and village life, true wonderful experience.
After a mini break we got Vin ready for his next adventure…the Top Gear No 1 drive! Stay tuned folk for the drive of your life, whoah!
Our motorhome sleepy spot: Camping De Oude Wilg
Paid Camping GPS position Carta N024.567482, E045.784401