Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut. I was on the Mountain and I loved it.
Being in Bucharest can sometimes be a little overwhelming, it’s Romania’s capital city with over 1.8 million people and it can feel very claustrophobic with so many people around, so it’s often necessary to get out and go elsewhere. Go somewhere completely different, go up into the mountains.
At 7 in the morning, one of my housemates and I took a bus up to Baneasa Shopping centre, just outside Bucharest to catch our carpool up to Brasov. This was not only stressful due to the early start but also because of the infrequency of the bus system meant we were running slightly late to the car, luckily he was too, so it all worked out. The three of us got to Brasov a few hours later and collected our hiking gear, we packed two tents into my bag and set off to the train station where we met up with the rest of our hiking group, 6 of us in total.
From Brasov, we took a train to the nearby town of Zarnesti and after collecting enough food for dinner, breakfast, and snacks, we set off. We marched through the town, following signs for Prăpăstii and arrived at the entrance for the National Park of Piatra Craiului. We stopped a few kilometres down the road for a quick break, refilled our water bottles and started the actual hike.
As it’s been quite a long time since I did any hiking, or any actual exercise for that matter, it wasn’t long until I was out of breath and sweating, but I persevered. We followed a relatively simple path through the forest, stopping occasionally for a little break until we reached a bench and a spring to fill up our water bottles. It was here that the thunder we’d been hearing for the last hour started to get progressively louder and the skies started to drizzle a little. In a state of rather being safe than sorry, we donned our waterproofs and continued on our trek. Just before a clearing, the heavens opened so we stayed in the woods to protect ourselves from getting too wet, luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for the rain to subside and we were able to continue within a few minutes.
While I was growing up back in the UK, my family and I spent many a weekend up in the Lake district, roaming through the countryside, and the next part of this journey felt tremendously similar. We exited the forest and were greeted with rolling hills, green fields and a nostalgic scent of sheep dung. The 6 of us trudged across the clearing and back into the cover of the forest. It was here that I got my first pain; the muscle just above my right knee started to spasm and I had to slow my pace, luckily the group didn’t leave me far behind and instead waited for me to catch up. I then took the lead and endured through the pain until it stopped a few minutes later. About half an hour later we reached Cabana Curmătura, the mountain lodge, and our base for the night.
As a reward for our triumph, we all had a hearty soup and then set up our tents for the night. The sun set slowly over the mountainside and we joined the rest of other hikers to drink and enjoy being away from the chaos of the cities. I called it a night around midnight as I was absolutely worn out and I knew I had to hike back down again the following day.
I was the first to rise the next morning as the sun shone through my tent and right into my eyes so I used this time to reflect and enjoy the peace and quiet of being out in nature and out in one of the seven natural wonders of Romania. The other five got up a few hours later and after breakfast we broke down our camp and the gang marched on down the other side of the mountain.
This route was a little trickier than the way up as we had to not only contend with the down slope, but also the damp leaves and mud underfoot; I did slip up once but only because I was so happy with being in nature I wanted to be even closer. This path felt a lot quicker and soon enough we were back on the gravel track. We strolled through the mountain pass and it felt like we were being engulfed by nature as the cliff sides bore down on us; as we trekked for nearly 11km through scenes out of Lord of the Rings, our fellowship came back down to civilization and the town of Zarnesti. We stopped off in the town for a quick bite to eat before we jumped on a train back to Brasov and then my housemate and I took the next train back to Bucharest.
We were only out of the city for just over 36 hours, but it felt like we’d been gone for a lot longer.
I really hope I get to go into the mountains again before I leave Romania.