We made it through the night but only after we were forced to pay protection money to a local. As it turns out, Benjy wasn’t a bad boy after all and he stopped anyone from playing knock, knock in the night. A pure mix up of breeds but one lovely natured and well mannered dog. In return for his guard, we handed over a fistful of tasty morsels, a bowl of fresh water and a tickle behind the ears.
As we arrived quite late last night, we decided to get Eor out the garage and retrace our streps. Press rewind a few miles back up the hill. After the Fagaras mountains the quite spectacular lake Vidraru and dam. The dam is the second largest in Romania and is pretty damn big and impressive. We stood at one end and admired the huge structure. After Craig worked out the thickness if the dam wall and the pressure per square inch, we crossed the dam wall. On the other side hundreds of pouting people taking selfies. To our left, a rear view of Dracula’s castle. To be honest, it just looked like a small ruin perched on a hill
You can then choose to drive down the right or left hand side of the lake to the town of Curtea de Arges. We took the road down the lush and twisty valley with ancient bridges and large rock over hangs. A rather dark and damp feel about it but still very pretty and dramatic. Our last bend brings us to the foot of the ruin of Dracula’s Castle at Poienari.
Perched on a rock pinnacle the ruins certainly look…ruined! This is Vlad’s pad, the real castle unlike Bran’s castle, which is famous through the Dracula films. Although we guess Bran’s castle looks the part. To reach the castle you need to trudge up 1480 steps but our legs weren’t feeling the desire to climb. Instead, we stood by the steps, took a picture and then wondered which way Vlad fled to escape the Turks…the scenery around here is certainly beautiful.
Our Bumble Verdict: scenery great but the castle a bit of a flop.
Back at base and lunch time for Benjy, Mac n Tosh before we carry on down Dracula’s trail to Curtea de Arges.
We parked on a quiet, free, central car park just to the side of Arges Monastery. Plenty space for a motorhome and away from the buzzing crowds and coaches queuing to enter the monastery. Another hot day, so we closed all the blinds and cracked open the roof vent in an attempt to keep the heat out and headed off for a toot. An attractive little town, once a former princely capital that is home to some interesting churches and palace ruins.
Built in 1514 the monastery stands in impressive grounds with a number of religious buildings. The main orthodox church is made of white marble and alabaster and resembles an fancy wedding cake with roses, twisting columns and all manner of tiny trimmings. Inside is equally attractive with elaborate tombs of King Carol I and King Ferdinand.
To the right, a burial chamber but for us, it was a little weird. The main entrance to the central chapel was closed but to either side open archways. Some with closed curtains and some with open curtains. Crowds gathered at the open arches to view the recently deceased. The bodies dressed in their usual clothing were just laid on a double mattress with no cover or cooling chamber. Surely in this heat, it cant be good. For us, it just felt a little bit strange.
Inside the Princely church you can see tombs of the early Basarab rulers. The elaborately decorated walls with frescoes, colourful archways and intricate columns is beautiful. A queue forms to the right as worshipers patiently wait to receive communion. Photos (inside) are not permitted without paying a small fee.
Our Bumble Verdict: worth a stop off.
With the tour over we headed back to Vin. What now? Shall we make a bee line for Bulgaria? Yeah, lets do it! But before we do we need to spend the remainder of our currency. No point taking it with us. Within site a Lidl, so we zoomed over stocked the cupboards with ever item possible. Several heavy bags and Vin full to bursting only cost £25, it is so cheap here. We still had the about £50 left, so we will fill up with diesel.
An hour or so later and the Bulgarian border came in to view. We topped up with LPG and used the last of the Romanian fuel station with LPG at 0.34p and diesel at 0.88p, its a bargain. As we headed towards the border we zoomed passed the endless lorry queues. Poor guys have a long wait to cross the border. Thankfully, only a dozen or so cars in our queue…or so we thought. For 2 hours we sat and waited as the Bulgarian border police carefully and slowly checked every document and ticked every box. Meanwhile, the lorries trickled by and overtook our tiny queue. Eventually, we reached the control box and passed through in a nano second? Can you believe it. Their own people are stopped and rigorously checked whilst we smiled at and waved in. Bazaar.
Once through border control we parked up and walked over to the vignette office. More queues but this time it was shift swap. At 8pm everyone changes hands and the swap over takes an hour to go through all the handover duties. The lorry drivers were clearly not impressed with more delays to their delivery times. Eventually, we purchased a 1 week vignette for €21, a toll bridge ticket €6 (to cross the border river) and exchange €100 for some Bulgarian Lev.
By the time we left the border crossing it was pitch black, so we travelled a short distance to the first town. A bit of a hicks ville but it will do for tonight.
Our motorhome sleepy spot: dead end town called Dimovo next to a load of bins and scrounging dogs. Not highly recommended unless you are desperate and have a sense of humour.
Wild Camping GPS position Dimovo, Bulgaria N043.741634, E022.727026
Route: Arefu to Dimovo, Bulgaria