Having parted company with Andrea, I found accomodation in the town of Busteni. This place lies in a narrow valley sitting below a high plateau that has a rock formation know as the Romanian Sphinx. Some proponents of the lost civilisation theory have suggested that this could be another relic from that forgotten past, so I came alone to see and judge for myself. I found the tourist in formation office and was surprised that I could get very little tourist information. I wanted to know the best way to reach the sphinx, were there walking routes and was there any animal dangers ie bears etc…..I got a very nice map of Busteni but little else.
With the pound being so strong against the Romanian LEU, everything is Uber cheap, including accomodation, so I booked in for a few nights at a local B&B for less than it is for a packet of cigs in the UK. One of the waiters spoke very good English and really should be working in the Tourist info centre because he told me everything I needed to know (and yes there is a bear threat…but not drastic…..as long as your not the one the bear decides to get drastic with)
I was advised to take the cable car to the summit as the route up still had some snow blocking the path in places. So with this information on board I tried the next day to get the ride to the top, but on arrival at the cable car I was informed “its too windy…maybe later”..I was told this by a guy who was painting the ceiling inside the main entrance and I got the impression that it didn’t matter if it was dead calm, that cable car wasn’t going anywhere today.
Instead I went walking in the foothills and just had a really nice day walking through the woods with my headphones on and the sun Ian my face.
By 08:30 the next morning all signs of decorating had vanished and the cable car was running. A 15 minute ride to the top provided some excellent views of the stunning mountain scenery. Once at the top it was a 15 minute walk to the ‘Sphinx”; From the angle you approach you can see why people think it has been intelligently made / carved, as it definitely looks like a very old and weather battered sphinx. Once you begin to move around the monolith though the illusion is lost and it is difficult to maintain the picture. That doesn’t necessarily mean its not a man made megalith, as I’ve been to a number of locations where only one angle has been carved to portray its view to a certain direction (see my write up of Markawasi & Manchu Pichu by clicking ‘Forgotten Past’ at the top of this page). However I have to say that I personally wouldn’t cite it as proof of the lost civilisation theory.
I then toured all around the plateau for the next 4 hours and have to say it was glorious. The sun was out but occasional cloud intermittently shrouded the mountain. I walked to the Giant cross which sits on a peak overlooking the town of Busteni (similar to the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio), and chilled out for some lunch with some really awesome views. It was the kind of day I really love.
Valour then sneakily stuck a leg out and tripped discretion over and I made the decision to walk down. I consulted some locals at the cable car station and they said yes it was safe and to follow the signs marked with a blue cross. I was also informed it would take me 3 hours. I set off and it was a very steep route with the path not always well defined. There was a lot of unmelted but hard snow patches which needed traversing in places and on one in particular (about 30 meters wide and with no path or previous signs of anyone traversing), it found myself in a position where the slightest slip and I would have taken about 13 seconds to get to the bottom not the 3 hours! If I’m honest…I was bricking it!!! I eventually coxed myself over then sat down and contemplated the true meaning of the word stupidity.
I do have to mention that 3 hours to the minute I emerged from the wood line back into Busteni…damm fine time appreciation by the guy who runs the food stand at the cable car!
Over the next 2 days I then moved to the town of Costesti to visit the ‘Trovant Stones’. It became a 3 day camel ride to reach the place and I was kind of mugged along the way (please see the blog below this one), but I do have to say ‘Thank you Ladies….I think?’. It did however bring my into the situation of sitting at breakfast with the entire Steaua Bucharest FC team…(Yes I know the name of the club , no I didn’t know any of the players but at least they got to have breakfast with Dave Mills).
I also found the exact opposite of the Busteni tourist information office, in the town of Râmnicu Vâlcea, where the two beautiful ladies couldn’t do enough to help you and really made you feel welcome to their town, of which they demonstrated so much pride; thanks ladies your were fantastic..
I am currently heading towards Bucharest (again), but this time will visit the city for a day or two rather than pass through it. There are 10 days until the champions league final in Kiev and I’m slowly edging my way towards the place. I am also really looking forward to the World Cup, but also wondering if my tickets will ever turn up!!
England team announced today..