Monday, 27 November 2017

E3: Romania Part 3

On my way out of Caransebes I chose my own route to avoid a long road walk - and stumbled coincidentally across the colorful monastery Teius. Romania is predominantly Romanian-Orthodox and the most religious country in the EU. 98% of Romanians believe in God or a spiritual power and only 2% are atheists or undecided. No surprise I saw so many churches and monasteries in Romania. This one was in incredibly good shape, too! 

I was now hiking in Banat where many villages still have German names like the abandoned Lindenfeld. A bit further on Wolfstal is now popular tourist place. Most inhabitants have long ago immigrated to Germany but still come back during summer holidays to look after their properties. Here I still heard old German spoken in the streets and the cemetary was full of German tombstones. Most of the pittoresque houses have been turned into holiday homes or second homes for wealthy Romanians.

 I was now in the Semenic Mountains and National Park. Waymarking and signposts were now impeccable. When the trail started to follow an old abandoned railway line I first did not think much of it. The line was overgrown and going was difficult, but I found the three old tunnel fun when going through them with a headlamp. There was no other hiker than me around. The route runs along the river Nera and I had seen on the map that the trail crosses it.

But I was shocked to see how! The river gorge is 41 metres deep here and the only way to get across is the old dismantled railway bridge. Blazes on the old steel construction left no doubt. But for anyone with only a slight fear of height this is a leap of faith. You have to balance over a small steel beam that is covered with bolts. The handrail is one metre away and you can only grasp it with one hand. There is no net or any other safety construction. The bridge is over 100 metres long and if you slip and fall - you die! When I crossed I tried not to look down to the raging river 41 metres underneath me ... I was shaking and sweating when I had made it across.

By now I had realised that Romanian walking trails have to be taken serious so I was very cautious when the signpost said 6 to 9 hours for a 12 km walk ... Ahead was one of the most spectacular sections of the E3 in Romania, the Cheile Nereil. Although the trail started easy along the river it soon became technically difficult. There was one river ford that I could easily do because someone had left plastic sandals on the shore. I crossed without getting wet shoes.
The trail got more adventurous all the time. At some places it was cut directly into the rock and steel cables helped to secure the passage. I even had to climb up steeply on a rock face which again was only possible with cables. Going was very slow but I made the 12 km passage in six hours. A trail running guy even tried to do a yo-yo. But I was a bit shocked when I saw a family with 10-year old kids entering the passage at 2 pm. I could not dissuade them from continuing and I highly doubt they made the entire section that day. 

It was now only a short distance until I reached the Danube - another big milestone in my hike. The E3 now follows the main road - as does the Danube bike trail. Therefore I saw several long-distance cyclists and a big American tour group. I started a conversation with an American lady who turned out to be a native Romanian. As a harpist she fled the country during an international tour of her orchestra in the 1969. Originally from Bukarest, Dorella Maiorescu has now been living in New York for decades but was visiting her home country.

I stayed in a posh hotel in Orsova which even had a swimming pool. Although it was mid-September by now it wa still warm enough to swim and sunbathe! Orsava is full of hotels for the tourists - but also full of drab housing blocks for the locals. Again "Siebenbürgischer Karpatenverein" had changed the route which used to follow the main - and very busy - highway to the border crossing. With a new gpx track I was now sent up the mountains which was a big detour - but offered fantastic views. Alas the descent was so steep that I had to slide down on my butt at times. But finally I reached the dam at Djerdap which also is the border crossing to Serbia.

1 comment:

Gayle said...

I'm really not sure that I could bring myself to cross that bridge. It makes me nervous just thinking about it.