Adventures in the marvellous Mini of doom!

Dave Smart

Interesting roadside furniture
Interesting roadside furniture

Day 18:
Off to Transylvania

After little thought I decided to keep on going East and headed for Transylvania and managed to get lost on the way out of Budapest, my only real regret about this trip is not having detailed maps for this area on my GPS as I could wander off the beaten track more easily.

Once underway, there were many great bits of road to drive, long straights where I could build up a head of steam in the Mini and get past slower stuff and good windy twisty bits where the Mini was, as you would expect, great fun.

As I headed towards the Romanian border, the standard of driving seemed to deteriorate, particularly by cars with Romanian plates.

This was the first border crossing I was stopped at and asked a few questions by the burly border guards, one of them reached into the car and picked up a book of matches I’d been given in a salsa bar and asked where they were from and if he could have them, not wanting to suffer the ravages of the rubber glove treatment, I dutifully said ‘Sure’. Heading into Romania now there were more and more hills and twisty bits, this was great fun, but the Mini really needs more grunt.

I headed for Cluj-Napoca, which I later found out is the capital of Transylvania, rolled into town, found a bank and took out 400 Lei having no idea what this was worth. I found a pleasant café and sparked up the laptop to find a hostel. The staff were very helpful and gave me directions. A quick drive around to find the hostel made me feel like I’d just been dropped into a game of Grand Theft Auto, the driving around here was mad! I checked in at about what I thought was 9pm only to be told it was actually 10, Romania is an hour ahead of central Europe. I then asked about secure parking and found a car park about a 10 min walk away.

On the walk back I spotted a good Italian restaurant, but decided I would like to try something Romanian, but as it was so late I couldn’t find anything, so I returned to the Italian. This turned out to be a great choice as the food was wonderful and very well priced, dinner and 3 beers for under £15, I think this was the best meal I have had so far.

Looking for a quiet night after the madness of Budapest, I returned to the hostel only to find an organised evening of drinking games – well, it would have been rude not to join in.

Keith Adams

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