On the Way to the Orient - Part 2

We stay a little longer in Romania which is a real surprise country for us. In Transylvania, better known under the name Transylvania, the settlement with German settlers mainly from the Rhine and Moselle area began in the 12th century. Only after the fall of communism at the beginning of the 90s did a massive wave of emigration to the Federal Republic of Germany and also to Austria set in. The people are all very friendly and in many places German is spoken which makes communication a bit easier.

Our next destination is Sighisoara or Schäßburg. The place-name signs and the tourist information are in Romanian, German and Hungarian. There are kindergartens where German is spoken, a primary school and a grammar school where German is used as the language of instruction. The school even offers the German Abitur, which is recognised by German universities. The unique historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and really worth seeing. The city's fortifications are still very well preserved and the Stundturm, with a height of 64m and a wall thickness of 2.4m, is the city's landmark. It is simply fun to stroll around and you can also visit the house where Prince Dracula is said to have lived. But you have to be able to endure the tourist hype that is made of it. Anyway, you can still imagine what Sighisoara looked like when German colonists founded the town around 1200. 

We leave Transylvania and drive to the North Carpathians to the Vltava monasteries. We have chosen a route with 5 of the most famous monasteries and the first monastery, Moldovita, is a real gem. The inner courtyard and its surroundings radiate a truly heavenly peace. The exterior frescoes are still very well preserved and the interior of the church is a feast for the eyes. The other monasteries differ only in the number of bus tourists and the running of the gauntlet through the stalls until you reach your destination, especially in Sucevita and Voronet. 

During a short stop on a parking lot it is suddenly wet under the car. Unfortunately it's not the condensation from the air conditioner, but the radiator. But we have luck in the misfortune and find in Niklasmarkt a very competent truck workshop which takes care of the problem. Now we have a welded radiator and hope that it holds. After three days of forced break we continue up to 1100m altitude to St Anna Lake. Here is bear area and the camping site is surrounded with a heavy current fence. During the day we hike around the nearby lake hoping to see some brown bears, but it's just a triathlon and the bears prefer to stay in the woods and among themselves. In the afternoon two German couples come to the place. Sonja & Benny are on their way to Georgia with their MB 507 camping bus and Uli & Andy are travelling the East and South of Europe with their truck for a few weeks. So there is a lot to tell and we spend a nice humid evening at the campfire before we part ways again. 

In the area around Brasov there are some very well preserved 15th century fortified churches into which the population could retreat in the late Middle Ages during tartars and Turkish attacks.  We visit the fortified church in Honigberg and the next day another one a few kilometres further in Tartlau. The castles are equipped with battlements, loopholes as well as storage and living chambers and you can crawl around in all corners and even climb the bell tower in Honigberg via adventurous staircases. Incredible buildings that protected up to 1500 people. 

Since it is already mid-July, we put a tooth in it, leave Brasov and Bucharest to the left and drive quickly to the Black Sea. That is however sometimes not quite easy because in the many roundabouts the exits which we want to take are often closed for more than 3.5 tons. On a beautiful mountain road we don't go any further at a viaduct because apart from the 3.5 ton restriction nothing fits through which is wider than 2m. There we had probably not taken the inconspicuous sign at the beginning of the distance so seriously and thus we were allowed to drive back the 60 km again. At Silistra we take the Danube car ferry which brings us to Bulgaria in a few minutes. We drive quickly further to the Black Sea and look for a nice place between Varna and Burgas on the sunny beach where we stay a few days behind the dunes. 

A little further south on a rocky peninsula is Nessebar with its picturesque houses and medieval churches. However, the village is fully developed for tourism and the big buses are jammed in the parking lots. We take a walk through the village and try the Bulgarian cuisine in a nice restaurant overlooking the bay. Afterwards we drive a few kilometres to the cliff for the night and enjoy the view to the illuminated Nessebar.

In Burgas we actually wanted to stroll a little through the Sea Garden, but the search for a parking place was unfortunately in vain. Obviously the whole city is there on Sundays. On a camping site a little further south we have a washing day again and wonder about an overcrowded beach where you can hardly find a place for your towel. 

Then we continue over the border into the European part of Turkey. There is not much going on and after a short waiting time we are already inside, thanks to Google translate even with 90 days visas for us and MOMO.

We drive straight on to Edirne and place ourselves there on the parking lot of the big mosque for the night. This has the "advantage" that you are guaranteed to wake up early in the morning from the muezzin's wake-up call. The Turkish architect Sinan created this miracle at the end of the 16th century and it is considered to be the most beautiful in Turkey. Apart from the big mosque, there are two others nearby that are no less impressive. In contrast to Morocco, non-believers may also enter the mosques in Turkey, in appropriate clothing of course. We eat köfte, drink Chay and have a look at the city. Here again there is really southern life on the streets and alleys and we feel really well. 

Equipped with a Turkish SIM card, a motorway vignette and a full diesel tank for less than one euro per litre, the journey continues. Every now and then there are signs pointing to radar controls, and from time to time there are police car dummies on the roadside with solar-powered flashing lights. But obviously nobody is interested in that and with 50 in the village, one is rather a traffic obstacle. The streets are all in an excellent condition and mostly even 4-lane. In the small fishing villages at the Dardanelles the local vacationers are mostly among themselves and in a small bay we stay 2 days. Beside us the fishermen meet in the evening for an evening Raki and we talk with sign language and gestures. Of course we have to try the fish as well as the raki. 

In the morning we drive a few kilometres to the ferry that brings us to Canakkale. Now we have finally left Europe and are in the Near East. What we experience there you will find in the next blog. Until then have fun reading and looking at pictures. 

And finally a few nice snapshots

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